Feeds

Hands on with the new Apple MacBook Air

Netbook plus?

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

New design, same old performance?

When new, and with the wireless off and the backlight turned down, my first-gen Air gave me six-and-a-half hours or more usage before the battery died.

So no leap forward there, and no leap forward with boot times either, I'm afraid. The Air starts up from sleep quickly, but then no faster than any other MacBook does, especially when you disable Mac OS X's Safe Sleep feature, which writes the contents of memory to the hard drive. This is enabled by default on all mobile Macs, so there's a moment when the Air is showing the desktop but there's not yet a cursor to move.

Apple MacBook Air 13.3in

The 13.3in model has an SD card slot. The 11.6in Air doesn't

Starting the 11.6in Air afresh took 29s from the press of the power key - now part of the function-key row - and the appearance of a usable desktop. That's compares well with Windows 7, say, but it's not much faster than a fresh MacBook Pro.

Apps like iTunes didn't appear to load sufficiently faster than they do on other Macs, but it'll take head-to-head timings to show how much quicker the SSD is. Don't forget too that 64GB SSDs tend to be the slowest of the lot, the read and certainly the write speed rising as you pack in more capacity.

Verdict

So am I tempted to toss £849 on an 11.6in Air? As a lover of small, slim, lightweight computers, I sure am. The problem is that, since performance is inevitably limited by form-factor in this and all similar sized machines, it's not going to be radically better than my year-old Acer Aspire Timeline 1810TZ, which, incidentally, can deliver 50 per cent more battery life than the Air and has Gigabit Ethernet, a third USB port and a SD card slot.

But it's also heavier and considerably thicker. And it runs Windows 7. I could hackintosh it, but those who have report that not all the parts work under Mac OS X, in particular the Wi-Fi and sleep mode, two features I rely on.

Yes, there will always be a comparably sized machine that's cheaper and/or more featured than the 11.6in Air, but you'll be hard pushed to find one as good looking and a sheer bloody portable. And as anyone who, like me, has dropped an Air before, that aluminium casing can't half take some punishment. ®

Group Test 11.6in notebooks

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Official: European members prefer to fondle Apple iPads
Only 7 of 50 parliamentarians plump for Samsung Galaxy S
Fujitsu CTO: We'll be 3D-printing tech execs in 15 years
Fleshy techie disses network neutrality, helmet-less motorcyclists
Space Commanders rebel as Elite:Dangerous kills offline mode
Frontier cops an epic kicking in its own forums ahead of December revival
Intel's LAME DUCK mobile chips gobbled by CASH COW
Chipzilla won't have money-losing mobe unit to kick about anymore
First in line to order a Nexus 6? AT&T has a BRICK for you
Black Screen of Death plagues early Google-mobe batch
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
How to determine if cloud backup is right for your servers
Two key factors, technical feasibility and TCO economics, that backup and IT operations managers should consider when assessing cloud backup.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
The Heartbleed Bug: how to protect your business with Symantec
What happens when the next Heartbleed (or worse) comes along, and what can you do to weather another chapter in an all-too-familiar string of debilitating attacks?