Feeds

Hands on with the new Apple MacBook Air

Netbook plus?

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup

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

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

More from The Register

next story
Raspberry Pi B+: PHWOAR, get a load of those pins
More USB ports than your laptop? You'd better believe it...
So, Apple won't sell cheap kit? Prepare the iOS garden wall WRECKING BALL
It can throw the low cost race if it looks to the cloud
Now that's FIRE WIRE: HP recalls 6 MILLION burn-risk laptop cables
Right in the middle of Burning Mains Man week
Apple promises to lift Curse of the Drained iPhone 5 Battery
Have you tried turning it off and...? Never mind, here's a replacement
Apple's iWatch? They cannae do it ... they don't have the POWER
Analyst predicts fanbois will have to wait until next year
Super Cali signs a kill-switch, campaigners say it's atrocious
Remote-death button bad news for crooks, protesters – and great news for hackers?
HUGE iPAD? Maybe. HUGE ADVERTS? That's for SURE
Noo! Hand not big enough! Don't look at meee!
AMD unveils 'single purpose' graphics card for PC gamers and NO ONE else
Chip maker claims the Radeon R9 285 is 'best in its class'
prev story

Whitepapers

A new approach to endpoint data protection
What is the best way to ensure comprehensive visibility, management, and control of information on both company-owned and employee-owned devices?
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Maximize storage efficiency across the enterprise
The HP StoreOnce backup solution offers highly flexible, centrally managed, and highly efficient data protection for any enterprise.
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.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.