Apple’s new MacBook Air is svelte-as-can-be, but the device’s limitations and lack of traditional components raise some interesting troubleshooting/general questions:
- What happens when the battery loses capacity or runs out? The battery is apparently not user-replaceable. This means you can’t swap out batteries to extend operating life, and you’ll likely need to seek authorized service to get the battery replaced when it inevitably loses capacity or fails altogether.
- How do you perform an emergency boot? What if you can’t startup from the built-in drive and need to boot from a separate volume? The MacBook Air lacks an optical drive, meaning you can’t boot from an inserted DVD like the Mac OS X Leopard install disc unless you purchase the $100 optional, external SuperDrive. It’s not yet clear whether the MacBook Air can boot from an optical drive in another Mac via the “Remote Disc” function, but we doubt it.
- How will you apply major Mac OS X updates? If you can’t boot from an installer disc, how will you be able to install the next major iteration of Mac OS X? Traditionally, Mac OS X installers have required the system to boot from the disc.
- How will you use target disk mode? The MacBook Air lacks a FireWire port. This means you can’t use FireWire target disk mode — an invaluable troubleshooting tool.
- How will you NetBoot? The MacBook Air lacks a built-in Ethernet port, so NetBoots won’t be possible by default, precluding yet another option for emergency boots. You’ll need to purchase the $20 [sic] USB Ethernet adapter.
For the first item, take a look at Michael Gartenberg’s battery comments here. It is points two, three, and four that speak more loudly to me.