Lenovo’s MacBook Air Parody Nails Thinnovation Gets Wrong

My ambivalence toward the MacBook Air is pretty well-known. While I think its basic idea is compelling, Apple’s execution just leaves too much to be desired with just one USB port, terrible iPod hard drive, and no mobile broadband radio. This parody from Lenovo that’s been circulating to its suppliers in China sort of sums up the flaw in Steve’s vision for a truly wireless laptop. I mean, how can you release a machine with one USB port when the iPod and iPhone both need to be synced over USB and not WiFi?

Bonus points for the warbly parody of the MacBook Air song.

YouTube – test Via Fake Steve

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  • michal

    Someone should point out to Lenovo that their product may have more USB ports, but it’s friggin’ expensive. More than MBA. And x300 is plain ugly.

  • Andrew DK

    “I mean, how can you release a machine with one USB port when the iPod and iPhone both need to be synced over USB and not WiFi?”

    Plug it. Sync it. Pull it out…
    I mean, really. THAT’S your best argument?

  • J

    iPod and iPhone both need a usb. Who actually has both an iPod and iPhone and needs to sync both at the same time? Go on, tell me. Who?

  • Pete Mortensen

    Reading comprehension, folks. Most people have many more peripherals than just an iPod or iPhone. Constant swapping between mouse, iPod, flash drive, and printer just isn’t fun for anyone.

  • j.c.

    “Constant swapping between mouse, iPod, flash drive, and printer just isn’t fun for anyone.”

    Mouse: wireless.
    iPod: okay… plug it in every once in a while to sync it up.
    Flash drive: don’t need it.
    Printer: wireless.

    Next…?

  • Mark Hughes

    I have a MacBook Air, which I use as a portable workstation; it goes from home base station, to work, to the cafe, back home, then I sync up. I do all my work on it now, I barely touch my MacBook Pro. I leave a power supply at work and at home, and almost never carry one with me.

    I use wifi for networking. I back up to a Time Capsule; that happens automatically when I get in range of it. I don’t keep my 80+GB music library on the Air, but I can listen to 16GB of music on my iTouch, or use the 60GB iPod for long trips. I sync those when I get home.

    If I want a bigger keyboard and mouse, I turn on my bluetooth gear. I never use the 1 USB port it has. I carry *NOTHING* with me except the Air.

    People who think there’s stuff “missing” on the Air are living in the past, dinosaurs. You’re the people who complained when the original iMac didn’t have a floppy drive, too, and you were proven wrong then, as well. I’d think by now you’d learn, but I don’t see any evidence that you’re capable of learning.

  • C Rolls

    Air is not a desktop replacement. Trust me — ultraportables are much more attractive in person.

  • Robert McLaughlin

    A ridiculous video. Those who need that number of USB ports have no business buying an ultrathin laptop. This class of laptop isn’t for those who have no alternatives for their peripherals. The counterpoint is to show someone walking around Starbucks (etc) with an x300 with 4 USB peripherals sticking out the sides. How COOL! The point is.. in our wireless future there won’t be any need for wires. This is a bit like the controversy about the original iMac having ONLY USB ports (remember?).

  • J is Here

    What Mark Hughes said…

    I’ve had my MBA for just over a month and am amazed at how useable the thing is. It comes with me everywhere, and means that my MBP has turned into a desktop and only really gets used as a workstation nowadays.

    They hit the target with the air – the only thing I’d really like is bigger HD capacity…

  • Martijn

    The parody is very well executed, it is funny and in the market place out there, Lenovo is free to do so and come up with a product they think is better. As an ultra think workhorse, the Lenovo is probably better than the Air, but as an ultraportable the Air is the only laptop out there which just works for its intended purpose.

    However, I think mister Mortensen has found a hobby horse and will ride it until we all have chips implanted in our brains: Apple Has Got It All Wrong With The MacBook Air And I Told You So, But You Won’t Listen To Me!

  • clicknathan

    Its a shortsighted vision where one can’t see that things are already wireless…download your apps, no need for a mouse when you’ve got an Apple trackpad, and don’t sync your phones and iPods while you’re at the coffee shop.

    Progression is so much fun for those who can wrap their brain around it.

    Though wireless syncing of iPhones/Pods should definitely be happening already.

  • Brad Bell

    I’ve been testing an Air in the work place. I suggested we do a real test: take Apple at it’s word and use the Air without any extras. The extras make it expensive.

    It was fine. It took longer setting it up, as Migration Assistant was copying GBs over WiFi, and setting up Disk Sharing was fiddley, but it worked without a CD drive or any cables. It just wasted extra time for me setting it up.

    I *did* enjoy the video though. Why not have everything *and* thin? (Oh, yah. Weight.)

  • Kevin Swan

    Yeah, but who would want to own something so ucking fugly? I don’t care how many ports it has.

  • phoenix

    Bonus points? More like points off – that parody was horrible….

    Don’t get me wrong, I give Lenovo points for the X300 because it’s richly featured and is similar size, but really? The product stands on its own without having to be compared to the MBA – comparing it to the MBA is a really sad way to get people to pay attention to it.

  • Mark Hughes

    Oh, and… The ugly Thinkpad is $1500 more (no non-SSD option), and less than half as fast. The Air isn’t noticeably slow running Leopard and a bunch of apps. The Thinkpad would be.

    The aesthetics are nothing to sneer at. I feel happy every single time I pick up my smooth, light little Air.

    Years ago, I had a Thinkpad. Solid machine, but horrible aesthetics and feel. The AK-47 of laptops.

  • theguycalledtom

    Let’s hope the iPhone 2.0 will share its 3g connection with Macbooks and end all the complaining about not having a radio built in.

    I’m a Filmmaker that uses a one machine, a Macbook Pro, for both writing scripts and editing projects on FCP. The reality it is, the more things plugged in, the more tied to the desk the Macbook is and I sometimes wonder why I got a portable at all.

    Macbooks really shouldn’t have anything plugged in apart from the occasional memory stick and occasional sync of an iPhone. The macbook air can do both of this and still stay truly portable.

  • coljac

    I second the motion – if you need 5 USB devices, what are you buying an ultraportable laptop for?

    I’m super happy with my MBA – I can take it with me without a thought, only carrying my HSPDA modem and nothing else. That’s just about the only thing I ever stuck in the Air’s USB port. When I need to use a scanner or printer, I’m back on my desktop or using wireless. Anyway, if you’re at your desk what’s so terrible about having a USB hub if it came to that?

    Recently I’ve been using the Air to do software development, and the performance has been fine. The multitouch trackpad is great, I’ve never longed for a mouse.

  • me

    You don’t have an MB Air. I do. It’s fantastic. It’s my second computer. All my cables go into my 24” iMac.

  • antizealot

    Wow, clearly some of the posters above are authorities on how people should use their portables/laptops. Allow me to paraphrase:
    “You need to use two USB ports at the same time – crazy fool! If you’re doing X, then you clearly don’t know what you’re doing! I do it like this and it works, so clearly you’re an idiot. No, no – you should obviously have wireless doodad X, Y Z if you have a MBA! Are you stupid?
    What, want to play a DVD some business partner gave you on you travels? WHAT? you expect to have a DVD drive in the chassis…are you insane???? If they did that it wouldn’t be the sleek machine we know and love! But you can use a portable DVD drive…!”
    People need to accept that not everyone has the same needs when travelling about with a laptop. This machine is being punted as something people who want “portable” computing should have. They don’t provide more features because there is no space – simple (and obvious, if you spend a few seconds thinking about it). When you engineer a machine like this, something has to give. Then you pass it on to your marketing spin-doctors who discover a whole new niche which covers its deficinies. And convince an adoring market that this is “the futre of mobile computing”. Rather clever. I have a macbook pro – which has a number of faults of its own – but there’s no way I would view this machine as an upgrade.

  • Kevin

    “I mean, how can you release a machine with one USB port when the iPod and iPhone both need to be synced over USB and not WiFi?”

    Get a shirtpocket-sized 4-port hub & plug it in, Einstein.
    Maybe 7 bucks at a dollar store.

    (Am I just smarter than those who bemoan the single-port issue???
    hmmmmm…..)

  • AdamC

    Doesn’t says much but points more to the suspect intelligence of the creator of the parody – who can’t differential a mobile laptop from a stationary desktop and expect a very expensive laptop to function like a cheapo PC desktop with all the peripherals attached.

About the author

Pete Mortensen

Pete Mortensen is a design strategist for consulting firm Jump Associates and the co-author of Wired to Care: How Companies Prosper When They Create Widespread Empathy, a book and blog that are significantly more interesting than you might initially think. Pete's particular Apple avocations are both around design--interface and industrial. Follow him on Twitter!

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