As always, the test was run with Wi-Fi on. The Air can connect using 5GHz 802.11n, and this will consume more power than 2.4GHz Wi-Fi. I had the Air set to the former, and that won't have resulted in the best score of which it's capable. But had I switched to 2.4GHz, the Air would still have put in a below-average performance.
And, as I found when I previewed this model, the 64GB SSD doesn't let the Air start or recover from sleep as quickly as the more capacious ones can. You shouldn't expect any more from a bottom-of-the-range model, of course - a point which neatly brings me on to the key point here: the price.
Small dimensions, big price
Yes, even at £849, the Air is expensive - too expensive. Aside from that, it's a machine that can hold itself up alongside rival vendors' laptops. Yes, it has fewer ports, but arguably it has the features that matter in a machine not aimed at geeks or gamers. On the plus side, it's a darn sight thinner, lighter, more portable and faster than the competition.
But when the asking price is more than twice as much for half the thickness of a rival offering, you really have to need that portability to be happy paying so much over the odds.
If you have any sense at all of the aesthetics of computing products, you have to agree that the 11.6in MacBook Air is a beautiful laptop. It's more portable than any netbook or sub-notebook, let alone 13-inchers and above. It's a real joy to use. It delivers a performance that puts other small form-factor laptops in the shade. In all these criteria, it warrants a very high rating indeed.
But... when such a little machine costs such a lot - and with no extras chucked in - it makes it hard to recommend, as gorgeous as the MacBook Air undoubtedly is. ®
More Mac Reviews
Apple MacBook Air 11.6in sub-notebook
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!