Apple just streamlined its line of laptops! The old white MacBook is out, which leaves the 11-inch MacBook Air ($999) as the only sub-$1,000 notebook the company produces. It’s lightweight and shiny, and it foregoes the usual hard drive in favor of flash memory, which is extremely fast and has no moving parts to jam or break down.
It’s also the smallest laptop Apple makes though, which presents some problems for those of you who want to use it as your primary laptop. Because while its almost netbook-size chassis are great for an airliner’s folding tray tables, it’s also great for promoting eyestrain and sore wrists if you use it for long enough.
Here’s what you need to turn your MacBook Air into a workstation:
OSHA’s ergonomics guidelines for computer workstations say that the top of your computer’s screen should be roughly at eye level. A 15-inch laptop has a large enough screen that a laptop stand would work, but for a tiny computer like the MacBook Air, an external display might be preferable.
Apple makes some great monitors, like the 27-inch LED Cinema Display ($999). It features a charging connector and three USB ports, letting you plug more devices into your laptop and set it charging without reaching under the desk. It costs as much as the lowest-end MacBook Air itself though, so you might want to set your sights a bit lower; a generic-brand 19-inch screen can be easily had for around $100, but will require a MiniDisplay Port adapter for use with the MacBook Air. This one by Lenovo ($34.99) should work for most monitors.
External keyboard and mouse
Don’t want your MacBook Air’s screen in the way while you’re looking up at your new monitor? Try an external keyboard, like the Apple Wireless Keyboard ($69); other wireless keyboards should work, but Apple’s includes the same Mac function keys as on your MacBook Air’s built-in keyboard. As an added bonus, you can use it with an iPad as well.
Because it’s wireless, you can easily position it anywhere without stringing wires across your desk. OSHA guidelines say your forearms should be roughly parallel with the floor while typing to avoid wrist strain.
Don’t want to keep reaching up to the touchpad? Try Apple’s Magic Mouse ($69), which has a multi-touch surface that lets you use the same gestures you’re already used to. A Magic TouchPad is also available for the same price, if you’d rather use that.
Whether you turn it into a home workstation or just use it on the go, have fun with your MacBook Air!