Scott did good!  After busting my ass for the last few weeks putting together the house, my girlfriend ordered me a Macbook Air 13″ (the new one) for a Christmas/thank you present.  It arrived today all shiny new…

So, first impressions:  It’s bloody thin!  The thickest part is the same as the iPad, the front is practically flush with the table, making typing incredibly easy.  It fits quite well in my backpack — although in the box, it barely fit in my Maxpedition sling bag (one of the zippers could not be fully closed.)  And it is very, very light — about the same weight as the Walther P99 fully loaded that was sharing the bag with it.  Maybe a shade under 3 lbs.

Opening the box, you get a power cable, including an extension cable.  You get a small box with the warrant info, instruction booklet, and a USB restore “disk.”  The computer fires up immediately — they have it in sleep mode coming from teh factory in China and it’s darned impressive.  You open the lid and boom! you’re up.  The screen is bright, crisp, and has a 1440×900 resolution.  It looks great.  The battery had only suffered a 20% or so drain on it’s trip to the States.  I can believe you’ll get the advertised month on sleep out of it.

I played with it for about 5 hours or so — including synching my iPad and downloading docs and pics from a USB key.  I still had 13% of the battery left when I plugged it in.  The fan has not kicked on once — it’s superbly quiet, well made — the aluminum body is thin, but there’s no creaking when picked up or typed on.  the keyboard is comfortable and responsive.  The touchpad took some getting used to.  I couldn’t get it to respond until I gave it a good press and heard click! — there’s your left button.  Two fingers together and click for right button, PC folks.

There’s a learning curve on moving from PC to Mac, and I still think the PC stuff makes a bit more sense for how they do things — especially in Windows 7, but the Air is nicely easy to use.  Mine came with the iLife and iWorks installed.  It’ll read .doc and .dcox files, .pdf, and for the old WordPerfect stuff I downloaded Open Office 3.2.  With all of my documents, some of my music, the downloaded movies from iTunes for the iPad (more on that in a moment), and a few picture files (I’m keeping most media on an external drive, if I don’t use it a lot) — I’ve got 93GB of 128 left.

Speed: it’s fast — on par with my 2.26GHz, 4GB Ram Dell Inspiron 14.  Maybe a bit faster on opening programs.  Start up from off is about 13 seconds, and it’s about 3 seconds from sleep.  The solid state drive makes things smooth, swift, quiet, and cool.  I like it.  A lot.  Granted, I do primarily heavy word processing, page layout, Acrobat stuff, with heavy web surfing and email, some picture manipulation…it’s more than enough, but I could see where games might be a bit jumpy on this platform.  But then again, a lot of graphic intensive games on the iPad work just fine and it looks like Apple is angling to use a lot of the same app design for the new OS X upgrade.

iTunes — the bane of most people’s computer use:  the new iteration is good and smooth, but it’s still a kludged mess, overall.  HOWEVER…you can set up home sharing and move the stuff you purchased on iPad or cut to iTunes from your PC to your Mac.  It took about half an hour to move a few movies from the old Dell to the Air.  No issues.  Firefox, Thunderbird, Dropbox, and Open Office loaded no issues. Fonts transferred with no issues.  Merging my contacts from the iPad — no issues, but the iCal doesn’t look to synch with the iPad.  I’ll look into it later.

Reloading the battery took about 2.5 hours from 13% percent, and the power cable has a cool magnetic clip — the cord snaps to the side of the Air by it’s own volition and if you accidentally kick the cable (not that I did, mind you!) it simply unplugs and doesn’t drag your machine off the table.

So, for the 1.86GHz, 4GB Ram, 128GB SSD Air (late 2010), I found my first day with it to be, in a word, delightful.  It’s incredibly light and thin, the keyboard and touchpad are excellent, as is the general build quality, the screen is bright and clear, and the performance is top notch for the average, non-gaming user.  Style/design is unbeatable — this thing is stunningly beautiful.  For a PC user, the Mac interface will take some getting used to, but the next update promises to move the look and feel closer to the iOS devices like the iPad (which I am in favor of), so those issues might disappear.  Was it worth the $1200 or so?  Yes.  Unequivocally.