In many ways the story of the MacBook Air is the story of a series of compromises, all made in order to fit an entire Mac in a 1.3kg package that's 4mm thick at its thinnest point.
One door, three ports
To see more of the MacBook Air's feature compromises, look no further than the flip-down door on the laptop's right side. Upon lowering the door, you can see the MacBook Air offers only three ports: a headphone jack, a USB port and a micro-DVI port.
However, Apple hasn't compromised when it comes to the MacBook Air's video-out capabilities – you can attach an external monitor as large as Apple's 23in Cinema Display (1,920-by-1,200 pixels).
More of a compromise is the pathway by which users can attach peripherals to the MacBook Air: a single USB 2.0 port, so if you want to attach more than a single USB device to the MacBook Air, you'll need to invest in a USB 2.0 hub.
However, using USB devices on the road could be more problematic with the MacBook Air. If you usually count on having two open USB ports, you'll need to carefully consider if your working style will still function with only a single port available, or if you'll need to invest in (and carry around) a portable hub.
Keep in mind, too, that the MacBook Air's USB port is also the place where you must connect its SuperDrive (if you need to read or write from optical discs). And if you don't have a USB hub, you'll also need this port for connecting any other peripheral including the ethernet USB adaptor – there's no built-in ethernet port.
In other words, the MacBook Air's one USB port is going to be awfully popular.
Beyond its sheer… singularity, the MacBook Air's USB port has other ramifications. It's also a sign that the MacBook Air is the first Mac in years to eschew FireWire, the once-ubiquitous Apple-created connection technology that now seems to be slowly fading into irrelevance.
NEXT PAGE: limited specification options > >