Feeds
90%
Apple MacBook Air 13in Ivy Bridge

Apple MacBook Air 13in review

The other Ultrabook

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Boost IT visibility and business value

Getting wired

What’s annoying is that some professional features are still lacking from the Air. Falling component prices has allowed Apple to sell its Air for less than the 15.4in MacBook Pro. But why hamper it? For instance, there’s no option for a matte (‘antiglare’, in Apple-speak) screen. Rather more annoying is the lack of a Gigabit Ethernet port. Apple’s rivals cater for you rather better, here - the Samsung Series 9 Air-alike includes a mini-Ethernet port and an adapter.

Apple MacBook Air 13in Ivy Bridge 2012

Storage costs spoil and otherwise impressive user experience

While WLAN is perfectly adequate at getting you online, and surfing at a decent pace, it simply can’t match the throughput of wired I/O when high speed network throughput is required: for instance, for backing up to a server across a LAN. I get at least five times the throughput with my home server using a wired connection. Remember that Apple’s USB to Ethernet dongle is 10/100, to get Gigabit Ethernet you'll need to fork out £25 for the Thunderbolt adapter. Oh, and if you ever invested in an Apple remote, it won't work here – no infrared, alas.

And then there’s the price.

Apple is the largest purchaser of flash memory in the world, but it ruthlessly uses flash to segment its product line so it can pad out its own margins. The two models of 13in Air differ only by the amount of flash memory storage installed, and if you opt for a 256GB Air it carries a $300 premium. The street price of the memory is around $100. But, wait! If 256GB isn’t enough for your needs, then you need to pick the 256GB and then another $500 (£400) to bump it up to 512GB. So you’ve paid $800 for memory that costs [$400/£250]. This takes you well into Retina Mac territory.

The upshot of all this is that the Air, while a beautiful machine, either carries a hefty premium for ‘pro’ features, or does not make these features available at all. If you have a substantial movie, music or photo collection then the Air is not the Mac for you. If it’s storage you need, buy a Mac Pro, and swap out the hard disk with a low cost replacement of your choice – although this will invalidate the warranty.

Of course, Apple is only charging what the market can bear. No one obliges you to pay this, or even buy a Mac for that matter. And falling component prices mean that, fairly soon, large SSDs and Retina displays will no longer carry a premium at all. It’s just something to bear in mind today.

Verdict

RH Recommended Medal

Overall, I found the combination of weight, features and performance to be ideal. Used constantly over several weeks, it made itself a strong candidate to be the nicest laptop I’ve ever used. It’s just a shame that even the 256GB Core i5 model can’t accommodate my iTunes and iPhoto libraries… ®

Thanks to Square Group for the loan of the MacBook Air.

The essential guide to IT transformation

90%
Apple MacBook Air 13in Ivy Bridge

Apple MacBook Air 13in review

Apple's 13in Air gets an Ivy Bridge refresh.
Price: £999 (128GB SSD), £1249 (256GB SSD) RRP

More from The Register

next story
Apple takes blade to 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display
Shaves price, not screen on mid-2014 model
Top Gun display for your CAR: Heads-up fighter pilot tech
Sadly Navdy kit doesn't include Sidewinder missile to blast traffic
iPhone 6 flip tip slips in Aussie's clip: Apple's 'reversible USB' leaks
New plug not compatible with official Type-C, according to fresh rumors
FEAST YOUR EYES: Samsung's Galaxy Alpha has an 'entirely new appearance'
Wow, it looks like nothing else on the market, for sure
YES YES YES! Apple patents mousy, pressure-sensing iVibrator
Fanbois prepare to experience the great Cupertin-O
Steve Jobs had BETTER BALLS than Atari, says Apple mouse designer
Xerox? Pff, not even in the same league as His Jobsiness
TV transport tech, part 1: From server to sofa at the touch of a button
You won't believe how much goes into today's telly tech
Things are looking up in Flappy Bird sequel
'Swing Copters' offers the same gameplay but in a different direction
NVIDIA claims first 64-bit ARMv8 SoC for Androids
Mile-High 'Denver' Tegra K1 successor said to rival PC performance
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
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.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
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.