Feeds
90%
Apple MacBook Air 13in Ivy Bridge

Apple MacBook Air 13in review

The other Ultrabook

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Two years ago Apple got really serious about thin and light laptops - and did something really quite important. It replaced its original Air model – that was by then almost three years old – with two new designs. The first Air had been widely perceived to be an expensive novelty, over-priced and under-powered, and it didn’t look likely to change the industry.

Apple MacBook Air 13in Ivy Bridge 2012

Ivy Bridge on board: Apple's MacBook Air 13in

But the revamp changed all that.

Previously, sub–3lb notebooks – that you could comfortably pick up with one hand – had been seriously compromised. For years, laptops in this category used 11in or 12in displays with XGA resolution (1024 x 768) or, in the case of netbooks, something even lower. Think of the Thinkpad X series – say, this one from 2004. And you’d be hard pressed to squeeze more than two hours out of the meagre battery.

However, if you wanted to do some serious work – software development in a modern an IDE, a professional app such as Pro Tools, or a large Excel spreadsheet – you needed the largest display possible: at least 1400 pixels wide. There were plenty of models offering such generous real estate, but these monsters weighed in at 5lb or more typically, 6lb.

The 13 inch Air was the first Mac to be both seriously portable, at under 3lbs, and offer a decent display featuring a 1440 x 900 resolution. It vindicates Apple’s strategy of tinkering away at the margins, perfecting the design, until the price of components comes down enough for it to strike at a much bigger market. The iPod, we tend to forget, was one of these experiments. When it launched in the UK, it didn’t leave you much change from £600. The Apple TV might be another.

Apple MacBook Air 13in Ivy Bridge 2012

USB 3.0 at last

So why tell you something that’s ancient news? Because the 13in Air’s combination of one-handed pickup and decent screen size is still the singular characteristic of the MacBook Air 13, and it’s what makes it, perhaps, the nicest I’ve ever used. For years my main laptop was a 15.4 inch PowerBook or MacBook Pro - tipping the scale at close to 6lbs. Now you can have the performance and generous screen in something much more convenient. And what ever else you take away from this review - it's this miraculous combination of screen and weight that overshadows every other aspect of the machine.

Being fussy, it’s not perfect, and I’ll come to the drawbacks in a moment.

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know
'Missy' Cummings on UAVs, smartcars and dying from boredom
Xperia Z3: Crikey, Sony – ANOTHER flagship phondleslab?
The Fourth Amendment... and it IS better
Don't wait for that big iPad, order a NEXUS 9 instead, industry little bird says
Google said to debut next big slab, Android L ahead of Apple event
Microsoft to enter the STRUGGLE of the HUMAN WRIST
It's not just a thumb war, it's total digit war
Netscape Navigator - the browser that started it all - turns 20
It was 20 years ago today, Marc Andreeesen taught the band to play
A drone of one's own: Reg buyers' guide for UAV fanciers
Hardware: Check. Software: Huh? Licence: Licence...?
The Apple launch AS IT HAPPENED: Totally SERIOUS coverage, not for haters
Fandroids, Windows Phone fringe-oids – you wouldn't understand
Apple SILENCES Bose, YANKS headphones from stores
The, er, Beats go on after noise-cancelling spat
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.