One aspect of the Air that many will view as no great loss at all is the absence of the flip open door that would house various ports. The new shape allows for two USB ports – one on each side – with a mic grille, headphone output and magnetic power adapter also featured on the left, with the DisplayPort and SD card slot appearing on the right.
Headphone output, but just a mic input – on the other side, the 13in models feature an SD card slot
The 13.3in glossy screen is far from being a distracting mirror that features on other MacBook models that have a panel extending to the edge of the lid. The MacBook Air’s display bezel is more akin to those MacBooks that feature the antiglare screen, having a metal margin around the panel.
The screen itself, while not as dazzling as those offered on a MacBook Pro, is certainly bright and crisp. It’s also a higher resolution than previous models and, at 1440 x 900, it even beats the 13.3in MacBook Pro (1280 x 800) and matches the 15in model. Furthermore, one of the hardware tweaks is the GPU. This is now an Nvidia GeForce 320M with 256MB of DDR3 SDRAM shared with the main memory and is featured across all new Air models.
On the subject of chippery, the entry-level 13in MacBook Air on review here has the same 1.86GHz Intel Core 2 Duo SL9400 CPU as with the previous model. Also, like its predecessor, there is a 2.13GHz (SL9600) option. However, where previously memory was fixed at 2GB, for £80 you can now upgrade any new MacBook Air from its standard 2GB DDR3 SDRAM configuration to 4GB, as a build to order option.
The portability of the MacBook Air has to be experienced to be fully appreciated. Having personally gone with the desktop replacement 17in MacBook Pro 18 months ago, using the lightweight Air was quite a contrast, but not in ways I’d expected. With both the keyboard and the trackpad the same size, there were no awkward compromises in usability. As a portable, its low mass was probably the most obvious difference, as it freely wobbled around on the lap, where rather heavier beasts would typically stay put.
The thin end of the wedge is given over to battery cells
Travelling with the Air in a backpack was barely noticeable too, and having no designer zip case to hand, a Jiffy bag turned out to be just as effective. Indeed, slipping the sleeping Air out of the bag when using it throughout the day, is much the same as opening a letter – waking from sleep is under two seconds and is near instantaneous. Apple wants to deliver the iPad ‘instant on’ experience to the laptop and has pretty much succeeded. With no waiting around for a hard disk to spin up and Wi-Fi connectivity from the off, it’s hard not to be impressed. Even if the boot up time isn’t exactly instant on, it’s anything but tardy.
This should be fun...
I shall offer a prize to the first person to post that their laptop is 50 times faster and only cost 12 shillings and sixpence...
More instant on
Well, Linux and OS X wake-from-sleep times have always been pretty good but these laptops will usually be compared to Windows laptops, and the Windows wake-from-sleep is a stuttering mess in comparison.
I can easily use my MacBook Air on my lap. Actually that is one of the key reasons I bought it--better LAPtop computing experience. My MacBook was heavy enough that it became uncomfortable to use for more than an hour or so at a time, and it would also get hot enough under load that it became uncomfortable. And actually once it had warmed up for a while it was a little too warm for me. So the MacBook Air is light enough and cool enough that I enjoy using it on my lap for hours at a time. I don't know why you can't seem to keep yours from shaking around while using it. Might want to consult your doctor about that.
bugger me backwards with a bargepole!
A reasonable group of comments with no WinTards thinking they are gods gift for picking something a tenth as good for a third the price!
Okay, you can take the bargepole out now!
Agree on value
I've long looked at MacBooks and even Macs in general, and could never quite pull the trigger except on two base spec iMacs (one in 2005 and an upgrade in late 2009) which I bought for my wife. Reason being that I do at least want *some* value for money, and in the higher-end models and until now MacBooks you are paying quite rip-off prices (hundreds of EUR for slightly smaller screens or 10-20% increases in CPU speed anyone?). And that's coming from someone who grew up (starting as a 5 year old) with the Lisa and later Macintosh (which taught me my love of all things computer).
So I spent the last couple of years with a 4 kg Dell 17" laptop (rather desktop replacement), dreaming about the day Apple would deliver a good value for money laptop. Then the new Air came out, and I ordered a 13" with 4 GB RAM upgrade the same day. Is it good value if you purely look at the raw 'technology' specs? Not really, at least it's no better than the MacBook Pro's which I passed on until now. No, where the real value is with this machine is the design and useability. In there are attributes which the MacBook Pro's also have, but complete that with the miniscule dimensions (given size of an USB port and 13" screen they physically could not have made it any smaller) and 'instant-on' (which really is an eye opener to me) and you just have a package that as whole is so 'right'. But most importantly based on the engineering challenge which I'm sure was involved (and probably written off over the first gen MacBook Air) I think it's actually great value.
I've been using mine for 3 days now, and already I can't imagine that in the next 5-6 years there would be anything I'd want to replace it with as my general-purpose leisure computer. That too makes it good value. Sure, eventually it won't be able to run the latest/greatest games anymore (something which remarkably it is actually capable of doing today, which is amazing when you put it next to my 3-year old top-of-the-line Dell which can't outperform it), but with the 4GB RAM upgrade I figure I'm safe for browsing, mailing, office tools, etc. for a very long time. And it's not as if they are going to release a version that is significantly lighter or smaller (laws of physics and all that).
2-3 seconds would be waking up from hibernate - deep, deep, deep sleep. Waking up from normal sleep is quicker than blinking. At any rate, it's quicker (by far) than opening the lid of the laptop.
Mine (a fully maxed 13") is on order (after extensive testing of a demo unit). I was deeply impressed - so much so that I decided not to buy a 'Pro after all. Mine will mostly be used for coding (Mac and Windows), Office, 'Net and Email, and (almost certainly) Civilization V.