The MacBook Air has arrived, a third MacBook model that brings incredibly small size to the MacBook line at a premium price.

As far as we can tell, the MacBook Air's keyboard is identical to the one on the MacBook, complete with square keycaps and the same solid feeling when typing.

Aside from Remote Disc, the other big new software addition with the MacBook Air is the modifications to the Keyboard and Mouse preference pane to support the new multitouch enabled trackpad. In our demo, we saw the gestures at work in both iPhoto and Safari, although presumably these are features that third-party developers will be able to add to their applications as well.

In Safari, we saw the iPhone's pinch gesture adapted to allow you to size the text in your browser window up and down. You can also swipe with three fingers to use the browser's forward and back buttons.

It's quite a mind-bender to see full QuickTime movies in the System Preferences pane, but that's the interface Apple has chosen to get across the various gestures the trackpad supports. The more prosaic side of the preference pane collects the gestures by finger: one-finger actions (tap, drag, drag lock), two-finger actions (click, scroll, pinch, rotate, zoom), and one three-finger action (swipe).

Finally, it's worth mentioning that the MacBook Air's tiny .16in thin front side still has room for two pieces of actual hardware: an infrared receiver and the ubiquitous pulsating sleep light.

OUR VERDICT

The story of the MacBook Air is a story about compromise, the decision about whether the MacBook Air is a product worth having can be answered by one question: How much are you willing to compromise? Judged merely on the cold technological specifications, the MacBook Air can't measure up to Apple's other laptops. For those to whom the tech specs matter above all else, the MacBook Air can't be seen as much more than an overpriced, underpowered toy. But there will be those who, small drive and slow processor be damned, will adopt the MacBook Air as their primary laptop - simply because they want that laptop to be as small as possible. For those who factor size, weight, and — yes, we'll admit it — style into the equation, the MacBook Air begins to make more sense.