In an effort to stimulate the rather moribund economy (and my gadget wunderlust), I finally gave in and got myself a Macbook Air. I told myself that this is my premature Christmas gift to myself.

It came in from Amazon a few days ago – and I have been giving it a spin for the last few days and decided to post my first thoughts on this forum.

First, like all reviews that I do – I wont necessarily try to rehash everything that you can read on technology sites. This will try to be a much more of a review from an (relatively sophisticated) end users’ perspective.

Regardless, if you want to read a technology review, this is the absolute best – its meaty, detailed, non-fluff (and what ultimately convinced me to get one of the Macbook Airs).

But read on, if you want a review that goes beyond just the specs – and may give you a little insight if you decide to shell out a ton of money to get one of these shiny babies.

First, off the baseline specs of the device I am reviewing  – this is the Macbook Air 13 inch, 2GB RAM, 256 GB HDD, 1.86 Ghz Intel Core 2 Duo Processor. So lets get going with this.

First, if you are like most people who will buy the Macbook Air – you probably have a desktop at work, another conventional laptop or desktop at home and you are probably considering this because you want to have a lightweight laptop to take with you during your travels, commute or just something that you can use more comfortably at home.

If the above is true, then consider this – your usage would probably primarily involve web browsing, blogging, updating social networks and maybe some light productivity work on Office. So first advice – most tech specs are really immaterial – my advice would be that you stick with the basic version (the 13 inch is a better value). You can choose to get a higher disk size (which is what I chose to do) but that was primarily based on the fact that I have a fairly decent sized music library that I wanted to carry around with me.

Like most things Apple, my Macbook Air worked wonderfully right out of the box. Owing to the solid state memory, launching applications was very snappy – much snappier than my 15 inch MBP actually.

Web Browsing, picture viewing and basic editing of my blogs felt no materially different with my Air as compared to my MBP. The screen is gorgeous – and it certainly isnt as glossy as my MBP – which is a good thing for actual usage in bright sorroundings.

As I sit on the couch with the Air on my lap and type this, the form factor seems perfect – actually, now my MBP seems too large and heavy for such situations. The keyboard is the perfect size – my hand travel as I type is much lower on my Air compared to my Pro – and it actually makes typing much more comfortable.

And that I think exemplifies the distinguishing characteristic of the Macbook Air. For such an ultraportable laptop, it is fully functional – and I repeat, fully functional.

Can you do heavy Photoshop editing on the Air. You should be able to – assuming you upgrade the 2GB RAM to the 4GB option (for another 100 bucks) – but you’d probably be better served by doing your heavy lifting tasks on a fully featured machine. But for 95% of what we do on our laptops, the MBA is more than fully equipped.

A little bit about the hardware – its like stating a cliche – the MBA is a typical Apple product. Fantastic build quality. The MBA doesnt have the backlit keyboard – so that’s a disadvantage – presumably a design decision to protect battery life. And one more thing that I wanted to bring up. The tapered design of the MBA actually enables a superior typing experience in my mind. Compared to my MBP, when I use the laptop on well, my lap, the MBA provides a much superior typing experience due to the ergonomics of a slight sloping form factor. It comes equipped with the signature Apple trackpad that makes other trackpads seem obsolete. I use an HP for my work as a Management Consultant and I have always used an external wireless mouse to avoid using the trackpad. Not with the Macbooks. The trackpad is a joy to use – just another small reason why shelling out the extra cash to get the Macbook seems the right thing to do.

Overall, a very positive experience out of the box. Actually much more positive than I expected when I ordered it. Totally recommended.

Postscript: An important rejoinder. For those of you who happen to own another Mac – the MBA comes with the ability to transfer data, applications and settings. And it works seamlessly. My transfer (about 20 gigs) took 10 hours. But when I woke up the next morning, my MBA was a replica of my MBP. Totally seamless. And extremely valuable. Just something I thought I should mention and you should know about if you are buying this to complement your existing Mac.