Taming the Lion
The revamped Mac OS X Lion interface looks to bridge the gap between Apple's desktop and handheld devices. Mac OS X Lion borrows heavily from Apple's popular IOS mobile operating system, and future upgrades are likely to see these two operating systems continue to merge.
One of the main features is multi-touch gestures, which are very stylish and are more than a superficial inclusion.
Swiping three fingers upwards on the trackpad activates Mission Control, which automatically re-arranges the screen to display all programs in a 'birds eye' view. Mission control groups similar programs together so a specific internet page or document can be found easily among a raft of windows, for example.
Meanwhile, the Launchpad feature simulates the icon-based interface found on IOS devices. With popular apps such as Facetime and Garageband already installed and the ability to download software from the App Store, the Macbook Air almost acts as an Ipad 2, albeit with a physical keyboard instead of a touchscreen.
Additional multi-touch functionality includes the ability to pinch-to-zoom, rotate images and swipe between apps using the trackpad. When using a web page, it is also possible to swipe left and right to go backwards and forwards between the pages, another small but time saving feature.
Regular scrolling has been inverted, but it doesn't take long to get used to this. Perhaps the biggest omissions are the lack of Adobe Flash and Java Runtime out-of-the-box, but users can download these manually, so it's not a big deal.
Mac OS X Lion has also dropped support for Isync, which will irk users who are used to syncing contacts and calendar with their smartphones.
Accessorising Is A Must
Anyone needing a laptop with lots of native connectivity should look elsewhere. The paper-thin chassis simply does not allow for anything more than a couple of USB 2.0 ports, a single Thunderbolt connector and a headphone jack.
The Macbook Air has been designed for portability, so chopping weighty features like optical and mechanical drives was a no brainer, although it should be noted that the Thunderbolt port goes some way towards mitigating the lack of other ports.
Not only does the Thunderbolt port aim to provide transfer speeds up to 20 times faster than traditional USB, it also allows the Macbook Air to connect with VGA, HDMI, mini Displayport and DVI devices via adaptors.
Only a power cable is provided in the box, so it's best to stock up on accessories when ordering the device. The INQUIRER opted to get a number of peripherals including a Thunderbolt cable (£39) and a mini Displayport to VGA adaptor (£21), which allowed us to simply plug the device into a 21in monitor.
We also used a Superdrive (£66), which allowed us to feed our addiction to Lovefilm, and which allows us to burn DVDs. The functionality of the high-end Macbook Air means that it can conceivably double as a desktop replacement.