The MacBook Air has been refreshed, and impresses more than ever. Not that the earlier version wasn’t impressive enough!
This is probably the longest time Apple has ever let a product be, without any updates. Two years and now the MacBook Air range get some new stuff. And the new stuff does make a major update. The 13-inch MacBook Air is now accompanied by the 11-inch version as well. If ultra-portable could get any more portable, this is where the transformation happened!
Packaging and Contents
Typical Apple packaging- all white in color and tightly (yet very neatly) packed. The power cable, the trademark white adapter and a lot of stuff to read accompany the MacBook Air. But the question is- with a notebook so beautiful in one hand, would you bother reading some tiny bits and pieces of paper? I didn’t, which meant I could start using the machine straightaway!
Well, admittedly, the Air makes you go “Wwwwwwwwooooooowwwwww” (or something similar!) in amazement, no matter what your mood or mental disposition. The slimness of the machine is astonishing; even in an age when every single gadget manufacturer is selling gadgets by touting them as slim, on some pretext or the other.
The front of the machine is literally as thick as a couple of credit cards stacked on top of each other. This leaves no scope for any connectors or ports here! Hence the 2 USB ports are placed on either side, one each. There is a memory card reader on the right side panel as well. The left side panel has the power input, and the 3.5mm earphone/headphone jack, the microphone and 1 USB input.
The MacBook Air is powered by Intel’s Core 2 Duo processor clocking at 1.86GHz and paired with 2GB RAM (expandable to 4GB). The major difference between this and the previous generation is the 256GB solid-state drive instead of a traditional hard drive. Expect super quick boot times.
The 13.3. inch screen provide a resolution of 1440×900, utilizing the real estate space on the screen more effectively to show up more content in one frame itself.
The chiclet style keyboard is extremely comfortable to use (and does not make too much noise as well. Reminds me of the scathing remark I heard the other day about my mortal notebook’s keyboard being “noisy”!) The keys are spaced out a bit more than usual (or is it just me?). but that’s a good thing since users won’t press the neighbouring key by mistake.
The touchpad feels huge, particularly if you don’t use a Mac. Super sharp accuracy and the multi-touch works brilliantly because of the space on offer.
Across the range, Apple have done away with the conventional hard drives and introduced the flash storage. The 13-inch MacBook Air we had for review came with the 256GB storage option, something that allows for just 10 seconds of boot up time. General performance is also vastly improved, and you can immediately feel the difference since the apps respond in a snappier fashion. Sufficient storage, if you save most of your data on an external drive. However, keep in mind the fact that the Flash Memory cannot be upgraded.
The graphics chip across the MacBook Air range is the same- the NVIDIA GeForce 320M. It is great to have a dedicated graphics card in a notebook so slim, but don’t expect this to do any hardcore anytime soon. Keep the settings to medium and you may get to play a few of your favorite game titles. However, thanks to the graphics card, the 13 inch Air can play back even Full HD video files without any stutter.
However, we should not forget that this machine is designed for full day battery backup, while being ultra-portable at the same time. And it does a superb job of doing what it sets out to do. Battery backup of about 7 hours is fantastic. This can be further improved if you turn down the screen brightness and turn off Wi-Fi if you are not connected to any access point.
The OS X Snow Leopard operating system comes on a USB drive, with the machine, just in case you need to install the OS for any reason. Also, the Air comes pre-loaded with the iLife’11 multimedia suite- iMovie, iPhoto, iWeb, iDVD and GarageBand.
However, the Air does have it’s share of issues. First, there is no optical drive. The slimness of the machine does not allow for an optical drive! Secondly, Apple has done away with the Ethernet port, probably because it is too fat! You will need to buy the USB based Ethernet cable separately.
Also, it is surprising to see that the new generation Air does not have the backlit keyboard as an option.
The MacBook Air is the sleekest and slimmest notebook to have graced the surface of Mother Earth. And it is more powerful than the predecessor.
The 13-inch notebook I reviewed here will cost you Rs 98900. However, the same 13-inch machine is also available with 128GB storage for about Rs 79990.
If however, you want the 11-inch version, then the 64GB version will cost Rs 60900 and the 128GB version will set you back by Rs 72900.
I would suggest you buy any MacBook Air version, which suits your budget. It is possibly the best mix of style, functionality and performance I have seen in a long time.
Price- Rs 98,900
Intel Core2 Duo processor 2 1.86GHz
256GB Flash Storage
NVIDIA GeForce 320M graphics
2 USB ports
Memory card reader
Mac OSX 10.6.4 Snow Leopard
ILife’11 suite preinstalled
Solid build Quality
Great battery life
No optical drive
Storage cannot be expanded
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