Apple MacBook Air 11.6in sub-notebook
The beauty and the boast
Review I took a look at the 11.6in MacBook Air for Reg Hardware almost a day after the new line-up of skinny Macs was announced. I've now had a chance to use one in earnest - and benchmark it - to see if my initial thoughts are born out by longer term usage.
Apple's MacBook Air 11.6in: smaller and lighter than a netbook, but much more powerful
From both performance and portability perspectives, the 11.6in Air turned out to be better than I'd hoped. I had the bottom-of-the-range 1.4GHz Core 2 Duo SU9400, 2GB 1066MHz DDR 3 memory, 64GB SSD model to play with. The CPU is clearly no Core i - it may be a dual-core chip, but it lacks HypeThreading - yet it can lick any Atom processor you care to name, including the new 1.5GHz two-core, four-thread N550.
The Air, then, is no mere netbook.
And yet it's a darn sight more portable than one. The component that most affects the Air's size is its keyboard - full-size and a joy to use, as is the huge trackpad that puts all those piddly netbook ones to shame. The keyboard is wider than the 1366 x 768 glossy display, which makes the Air in turn larger than most notebooks. It's a good 35mm wider than the 10.1in Asus Eee PC 1015PEM I have on the bench next to it, and slightly deeper.
But, oh, how much thinner and - crucially - lighter it is. The Air's footprint isn't going to trouble anyone, but what might is its thickness and weight, both of which matter if you're carrying a computer around in your hand or under your arm.
I don't think I've ever had a computer that's as comfortable to close and carry as this one. It's 15mm at it's thickest point - the back end - and it's just so easy to hold as you would a folder or a book. Its 1.1kg isn't taxing it all.
Slim is in
The Eee PC, by contrast, is 35mm - more than twice as thick - and that, like the figure I've quoted for the Air, excludes the feet. It feels positively bloated by comparison. It's only 20 per cent heavier, but you notice the extra.
Next page: Compromised for size
Re: I disagree on price
Small point: the Air's 11.6in screen isn't 'far superior' to the displays found in other 11.6in notebooks.
Like all of these, it has the same resolution - 1366 x 768 - and while some are a little better than others - the Air's is one of the better ones - there's actually not much to choose between them.
I say this having reviewed the Air *and* ten 11.6in notebooks recently.
I have one
(Redacted from a post somewhere else)
I purchased one of these almost the moment they were relased (1.4 Duo, 2GB, 128GB)
I have to carry my computer with me at all times, and my unwillingness to lug much more than a Kg lead me immediately to a Netbook - I have been running a Hackintosh (MSI Wind) for a few years. After the first MacAir was released a colleague acquired one. My analysis was “almost there”. After 3 seconds with the new model, I simply took one home. Game over.
1: Metal computers are really a better option for people who carry them at all times and travel constantly. This machine is exactly the correct size to fit in my backpack. It is lightweight and durable. No additional protection required. Check…
2: The machine is sufficiently powerful for any realistic task I am likely to perform, as ripping DVDs and HD video post-production are not in my list of daily activities. Check…
3: Relatively speaking, the cost is in the same ballpark as similarly configured sub-notebook/netbook class machines. Check…
4: Like most Apple products, the MacAir simply is a masterpiece of design and engineering. For the epicurean, this is the machine to own. There really is no competitor. Check…
5: I happen to use a large flat screen monitor when stationary. I can live without an ethernet port. Check ...
6: OSX runs fine in 2GB (as do most Unix implementations). 4GB would have been overkill. Check ...
7: The single MS-Windows program that I absolutely must have for my job, that has no Mac equivalent, runs just fine in Parallels. I wish I could live without it and parallels, but until I retire I am stuck with it.
Missing: I might have liked and SD slot, but I have a USB SD that I can use on the very few occasions I need it. Ditto ethernet.
Having used the machine constantly for several weeks now, I can say that it has met my expectations 100%.
Since the speed of OSX does not degrade exponentially with every version in the same manner as Windoze (it's the opposite I think), I expect this machine to be a workhorse for many years to come, so the additional cost with sublime portability & ruggedness and acceptable battery life are a good balance.
Finally ... Why do reviewers obsess about the bandwidth rating of various networking connector options? They are for all practical purposes irrelevant for a single machine connected to any network.
"Finally ... Why do reviewers obsess about the bandwidth rating of various networking connector options? They are for all practical purposes irrelevant for a single machine connected to any network."
Because they matter if you want to move large files around. And large can mean a lot smaller than a DVD. 100Mbit/sec ethernet is slower than modern hard disks. And you can't get 1Gbit/sec out of a USB 2 port. Would have been nice if it had had one USB3 port.
Re: Ethernet Connectivity
This is what I mean by 'lack of extras'. For the price it's charging, Apple really should have bundled this adaptor, if only to say on the feature list that the Air does 10/100Mb/s Ethernet.
Yes, it's piffling, but on any other netbook or sub-notebook you don't have to pay it.
I agree with everything
I agree with everything you've said.
But I still want one!