Feeds

Hands on with the new Apple MacBook Air

Netbook plus?

Mobile application security vulnerability report

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

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
Report: American tech firms charge Britons a thumping nationality tax
Without representation, too. Time for a Boston (Lincs) Macbook Party?
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Apple gets patent for WRIST-PUTER: iTime for a smartwatch
It does everything a smartwatch should do ... but Apple owns it
Microsoft takes on Chromebook with low-cost Windows laptops
Redmond's chief salesman: We're taking 'hard' decisions
For Lenovo US, 8-inch Windows tablets are DEAD – long live 8-inch Windows tablets
Reports it's killing off smaller slabs are greatly exaggerated
Cheer up, Nokia fans. It can start making mobes again in 18 months
The real winner of the Nokia sale is *drumroll* ... Nokia
Microsoft unsheathes cheap Android-killer: Behold, the Lumia 530
Say it with us: I'm King of the Landfill-ill-ill-ill
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.