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MacBook Air

The MacBook Air is the long time needed replacement for a MacBook that was damaged a while ago. I decided to go for the 11″ model for the unlimited in mobility.

The price of the 11″ model starts at £867 — thats for a machine with 2GB of RAM, a 64GB SSD and a 1.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor. While that doesn’t sound like much the combination of the CPU and fast flash based storage makes this much faster then the raw specification indicates.

The first indication I had that this thing is small was the box that showed up at my door. So, how small is the 11″ Macbook Air? Check out the photo below. Thats an iPad sitting on top of it. Its the same depth as the Macbook Air and just about as thin. Weight, the MacBook Air is 2.3 lbw and the iPad weighs in at 1.5 lbw. Considering that you can put both devices in a small bag and it still ways less then a 13″ MacBook Pro (4.5 lbw) this is the perfect road machine.

The MacBook Air is also amazingly thin, I’ll let a picture do the talking for me here as well.

In apps that aren’t processor demanding the MacBook Air is actually faster then my my iMac with a 2.8GHz, 8GB RAM and Intel i7 quad core. Launching Microsoft Word 2011 after a reboot of the machine took 3.5 seconds onto MacBook Air and about 5 seconds on the iMac. The Air feels snappy and thats mostly due to the SSD.

Weather or not that speed will still be there in a few year s is another question; System Profiler currently shows the SSD does not support TRIM. TRIM is a Mac OS command to inform a drive which blocks are no longer in use and can be wiped. this sort of garbage collection keeps the speed of a drive. Weather or not this can be added in a firmware update is unknown.

Apple advertises the battery life of the 11″ MacBook Air as begin up to five hours of wireless web browsing. So far that seems about right. I was using the MacBook Air to build this site. I worked continuously for over 4 hours without the battery life indication going below 15%. If I’d of pushed it it could of gone for 5 hours straight. I also like the fact that this flash based laptop can remain in standby for up to 30 days. Perviously, if I put a regular laptop into sleep the battery was usually be drained in a few days.

The LED backlit display seems crisp, sharp, bright and clear. At a native resolution of 1366×768 pixels, it seems extremely sharp, I can easily read small print on the the screen from serval feet away.

The keyboard and trackpad are awesome, even with the tiny case the keyboard is full sized. In fact, theres a half-inch space between the keyboard and the sides of the MacBook AIr, so Apple could of made the Air even smaller. The feel of the keys are almost identical to that of all Apple keyboards that i’ve used everyday with my iMac.

The trackpad is a bit smaller then the one on the MacBook Pro’s, but it’s very useable. It’s the standard glass trackpad with multi-touch gestures, so if your using the Magic Trackpad or any of the other recent MacBooks the trackpad will feel right at home.

When using this computer the lack of noise and heat is fantastic. When using the MacBook Air the only noise you hear is your keystrokes. Booting is quiet, since there is no internal SuperDrive or mechanical noise from a hard disk.

I don’t even miss not having the SuperDrive. I can share the drive in my iMac over the network for the rare occasion when I need to install software from a DVD or CD. That’s a good thing too, since my experience with the built in DVD sharing feature on the MacBook Air isn’t that slow. I can’t say I miss a built in Ethernet port. The only time I ever use Ethernet now is when I’m troubleshooting a network and the USB Ethernet adapter is perfect for those situations.

One thing I was happy to see was the inclusion of a Mini DisplayPort for connecting external monitors. I have the Mini DisplayPort to VGA adaptor for connecting the Air to TV’s and projectors. There are also Mini DP to DVI and HDMI available from Apple and other venders.

One thing I do wish for in the MacBook Air is better speakers or at least speaker capable of more volume. Theres also problem that should go away soon; the Air doesn’t alway wake up straight away when opening the lid.

Available from: AmazonApple UKApple US • Amazon US

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Reviewed by Matt on 31 January 2011

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