Five essential accessories for your Apple MacBook Air

January 27, 2008

apple-macbook-air-10ax As thin and light as the MacBook Air is, it’s still “slow” (relatively speaking) and users of the laptop will have to make do with one USB port, one headphone jack and one external monitor connection.  It lacks even the most basic of connections which is a severe drawback.  If you can deal with carting a few extra accessories then it’s highly advisable to pick up these five.

A USB hub.  Since the MacBook Air has only one USB hub, it would be advisable to pick up a third party USB hub with at least four ports to expand your functionality.  If you want to use more than one USB device at a time, you’re going to need it.  Which is oh, say 99.9% of us.  I suggest looking up the “Mini Mirror Hub” as it will go nicely with the MacBook Air (or any Mac for that matter).

The Ethernet USB adapter.  Apple, in its definite wisdom decided to leave a dedicated Ethernet port off the MacBook Air.  It would be nice to have an Ethernet connection where you only have access to a wired jack or want a faster connection than wireless can provide.  Thanks for this Apple.  At least you can buy a USB Ethernet adapter, probably the second most important thing on this list.

An Ethernet cable.  Since the MacBook Air doesn’t have an Ethernet jack it stands to reason that it doesn’t come with an Ethernet cable.  You’ll only need this if you don’t have a spare cable lying around somewhere.  At least some of you will so this isn’t aimed at everyone.

Optical drive.  It’s possible to do without an optical drive on-the-go unless you are going on a plane ride and would like to watch DVDs.  However, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to burn media while you are at home and relatively stationary, of course it would.  The other cuts Apple made are bad enough but to not have an optical drive built-in, please.  I’m afraid you’ll have to use Apple’s external SuperDrive and it’s not even a guarantee it will work over the USB hub because Apple pushes extra power over the USB port specifically to power the drive.  The external SuperDrive was designed to function with the MacBook Air only.

Carrying case.  It’s nice to be able to show off the thinnest and lightest laptop from Apple but it’s probably not a good idea to carry it under your arm.  When traveling your laptop should always be carried in a protective case, especially a laptop that costs $1,800 to $3,100.  The company made a big deal of being able to fit the Air in a manilla envelope so why not buy the AirMail manilla carrying case.  Or go for something that can carry the laptop and your accessories.

It’s sad to say that this list brings the laptop up to what can be found built-in to your run-of-the-mill $499 PC laptop (save for the carrying case) and you don’t even have to carry “extra” things with you.  With the Air, many of us would be carrying the USB hub, Ethernet adapter and a flash drive on a regular basis.  And if you want to use both with the Air at the same time, you’ll be needing that hub.

The fact Apple had (Intel) to engineer this product is sad.  I could have designed a laptop at least as useless as the MacBook Air is.

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