I'm going to keep typing after this first sentence, but before we begin something must be said: This review can be summed up in the single moment when, after using one of the new MacBook Airs for an extended period of time, you go back to your old laptop. And it feels like it has suddenly contracted elephantiasis.
My "old" laptop is a unibody 15-inch MacBook Pro with just under two years of mileage on it, which makes the contrast even more dramatic. Both machines share the same overall design language, and both feel modern, sleek and sexy, true to their maker. One just feels grossly, almost comically oversized.
Because after using the 11-inch MacBook Air for a week, a tiny axe-blade wedge of machined metal (that folds out into a computer, I had to keep reminding myself), it's hard to remember why I needed such a "huge" machine in the first place.
Here are my thoughts on the 11-inch; on the next page, Mike Haney stacks the new 13-incher up against the previous-generation Air.
Previously available only in the 13-inch configuration, the new 11-inch form-factor is the smallest Mac laptop ever made. Also new in both Airs is solid-state flash memory as the only storage option, in 64GB or 128GB sizes on the 11" (128GB or 256GB on the 13"). Graphics are handled by the same Nvidia GeForce 320M processor found in the 13-inch MacBook Pro. The cases have been slimmed and sharpened and an extra USB port has been added (the previous Air only had one).
Speed: There hasn't been a Mac laptop with a clock speed as slow as the entry-level 11-inch Air's 1.4 GHz Core 2 Duo since mid-2005. But processors have changed a lot since then. Despite running at a slower clock, the Air's brain has two cores for more power. That doesn't mean number-crunching tasks like video encoding won't run significantly slower on this machine than every other modern Mac --for that kind of stuff, you'll be better served by something with more processing beef.
But what's amazing here is how little that matters for the other 95% of the every day computing tasks the 11-inch Air handles with effortless speed. Ditching a hard drive's spinning platters for flash memory is a huge reason for this--disk reads and writes are crazy fast (it scored a 229.47 on Xbench's disk test, compared to a 33.06 for my late-2008 MacBook Pro's 5400-rpm hard disk), which boosts the feeling of real-world speed immensely. Full restarts happen before you can even decide whether to get up and fix yourself a drink, and a new ultra-low-power mode can stay asleep for up to 30 days and still snap back to life just like a wake from regular sleep. Milquetoast web work, email and word processing feel as snappy as they are on a brand new Core i7 iMac. I was most surprised to find that even running imports and image processing with Aperture, one of the biggest resource hogs I use frequently, is done without the slightest choke (something I certainly can't say for my two-year-old 2.53 GHz MBP). It almost feels like you're being tricked.
No Compromises: You could look at the spec sheet and the tiny size and immediately cry "Mac Netbook," but the 11-inch Air shares none of that class of laptops' barebones sacrifices. The screen, while small, is a crispy 1366 x 768 pixels dense--plenty of room to work with. The keyboard, save for some skinnier function keys in the top row, is the exact same full-size keyboard on every other Mac laptop. Ditto for the glass multitouch trackpad. Everything feels like a real computer, shrunken in all the right places.
It Needs a Companion: I would so badly love to sell my MacBook Pro for this machine. It's everything i want in a portable computer, and is powerful enough to handle most of what I do at home. But that slow processor and a lack of storage space are still dealbreakers for this being my primary (and only) machine. I could probably plug in to a big external drive to store my media and a larger display to make things a bit more palatable when I'm at home, but the whole setup makes a lot more sense with either a huge network-attached storage drive acting as a media server, or another more powerful Mac to handle the more intensive tasks. Even though I haven't regularly used a desktop computer for over 10 years, it feels wrong for that primary home machine to also be a laptop. Maybe it's time to build that Hackintosh desktop I've been dreaming of?
$999 for the base 64GB/1.4 GHz configuration; $200 more gets you 128GB of storage for $1,199. Both trim lines can be brought up to 4GB of RAM for another $100, and the 128GB model can get a processor bump to 1.6GHz for $100 as well.
I've wanted so badly to love the iPad when I'm traveling. But if I'm traveling for work, I'm often taking photographs and shooting quick videos with a DSLR, processing them, loading them along with words into our content management system--basically working with files. I can do none of these things easily with an iPad.
What can I do on an iPad that I can't with an 11-inch MacBook Air? Hmm. On the Air I can use the perhaps less design-y but equally if not more functional version of apps like my iPad's beautiful RSS reader, my beautiful note-taker, my beautiful weather widget--many in that old-fashioned thing called the web browser. It's just as portable, more durable, has a higher-resolution screen. I guess it doesn't make quite as nice an e-reader, but I'm still an old-fashioned book devotee. So, why do I need you again, iPad?
Carry on to the next page for Mike Haney's take on the 13-inch version
I was compelled to leave a comment after reading the arguments above. i'm not a computer boffin but more a creative. the surge of negativity against Mac products from users above really prompted this comment.
My experience with Mac so far: i bought the first Mac titanium laptop about 8 years ago.
it traveled the world with me for work and only in its 4th year did it need a memory upgrade. it was dropped (accidentally) a number of times) - needed no repair. It served me for work (constant use on excel, powerpoint) and personal (I-tunes, photographs). it lasted 5 years in total. a worthwhile investment indeed.
i find Mac customer service superb and have now expanded into I-Mac, and have been an I-Phone user since first model.
I can't help feeling that the above negativity is jealousy and how can you possibly leave comments like this without actually using the products...? it invalidates your opinions. Its fine if you want to stick to your PC's, I won't spend time pointing out why PC's don't work with my life, but I'll finish by saying friends have replaced computers four times over while my Mac products are still running just fine.
I bought the 11" Air last week. Mine is the mid-grade model (128GB SSD, slow processor and 2 GB RAM) and so far this computer is so fast that my latest generation Core i7 15" MacBook Pro just sits at home. I use the big MacBook Pro for gaming in Windows, but other than that, the Air does EVERYTHING.
What I think is very telling about the 'anti-Mac' comments is they are all made by people who've never had one. I probably a typical Mac convert - someone who used to use Windows, thought that there must be something better, and took the leap of faith. Vista was the final nail in the coffin for me - an OS so outrageously bloated and clunky that it beggared belief. You'll find lots of people like me who, having tried a Mac, would NEVER go back to Windows (and hate having to use it at work). What you don't find are people who have had a Mac for 12 months and then gone back to PC. We how much better Macs are (and they are not perfect - just so much better). Quicker, simpler, more user friendly, less clogged and cluttered and they have a strong tendency to do what it says on the tin. I am often called upon to help others with PC problems, most of which stem from viruses, malware and those that don't are often caused by resource hungry anti-virus software. I have never been tempted to go back - ever. Don't knock what you haven't tried!
Okay, so I know that there is no firewire ethernet port for internet on the mabook airs, but do the macbook airs have built in airport cards for wireless internet access?
Yes, Macbook Airs have built-in Wi-Fi antennas, same as every other Mac except the Mac Pro by default... and the Mac Pro's might by now, I haven't checked recently.
If you really need to connect via ethernet on a Macbook Air, you'll have to use a USB to Ethernet adapter: http://store.apple.com/us/product/MC704ZM/A?mco=MTY3ODQ5OTY
I understand why one might simply assume Apple is "keeping their head in the sand" regarding their decision to exclude the new USB 3.0 "standard" in newer models, I mean this wouldn't be the first time they excluded a new, exciting, technology (Blu-ray anyone?) because of their own hard-to-understand reasoning. To understand why USB 3.0 was excluded when it could have easily been integrated into this latest design you have to dig a little deeper, specifically into a technology Intel is developing with Apple's full support, a technology called: "Light Peak". It's this very same new technology that's kept USB 3.0 from appearing in any other new computer, Apple or PC. Intel wants Light Peak to become the new world standard so they refuse to develop native support for USB 3.0 into any of their chipsets. If you're blood is boiling at the thought of an amazing new technology being held back for no other reason than the greed of a large corporation, fret not, Light Peek is a better connection in every sense of the word. It's the first cable to give us all what we've wanted for so long, one cable to rule them all, one cable to theoretically handle everything from connecting our high-def TV's to our DVR's and are computers to our external computer peripherals. Why settle for USB 3.0 when we can skip a decade ahead and have the equivalent of USB 10.0? It's been rumored that Apple has been so supportive of this new technology, to the point of even helping Intel develop it, that they stand to be the first computer maker to implement it into their products. Trust me, after looking into the specs of Light Peak one can only hope that USB 3.0 doesn't take off. Go ahead and Google it if you don't believe me.
One question to all those in the room who think Apple's technology is a joke, what's so great about cloning? Apple is not trying to be HP, Dell, Asus, or any other manufacturer of cheaply made, rapidly tested machinery on the market. They tried to play catch up in the 90's and nearly went under. Consumer satifaction, quality, innovation and style are what have taken Apple to the heights of commercial success. Having followed their history and especially the turnaround of Jobs and his board, I can tell you that they are successful because that make products they want to use.
Creating a product like iPad (which I'm writing from) or the new Air has too do with finding what's next. The iPad is an amazing 1.0 product with very little room for improvement. It just works and does what an in-between mobile device should. Now there are things it isn't designed for and the Air is a great next step towards a "what's next" notebook. While other companies are thinking about how to make something that will do it all, Apple continues to get a few things right. The Air is ultra compact, fast, long-lasting and durable like no other notebook. Price is in the eye of the beholder! Apple mostly makes products that are worth more than they cost and give the user an experience that keeps them at the top of consumer product ratings and the respect of the tech industry as a whole.
I use both Macs And PCs. They both have their place, and each does some things better than the other. What do all of you not get about that?
AND..... My HP PC, Iphone, Ipad, mac mini, acer netbook, apple TV, bigscreen TV, new coreI7 desktop, ASUS notebook, and assorted other devices around here all play nice together with a little effort from time to time. I love them all!
Windows is a good product for IT computer related course, you past your time to repair it and protect it.is why everybody windows owner know repair there computer.
With Windows you REPAIR IT, and with a Mac you WORK.That's true.
I wonder why non Mac owners are here. Mac users aren't on PC pages bashing them. Remember PC folks, ALL Mac owners have owned PCs, no Mac haters have ever owned a Mac. Mac owners are just different than you.
m$ fanbois and fandroids have echoed the majority of the comments on this article for nearly ten years:
"Macs aren't for gaming"
"Macs aren't for hardcore REAL PC users"
"Macs are too expensive. i.e. I can get a PC for $275"
"Macs are for jerks"
the only reason they comment is that Apple is doing so well and they expected them to fail ten years ago - but instead the reverse has occurred. so how do they react? the same crap from ten years ago. how original.
this is why the "Shut Up" Safari Extension exists, fanbois. and don't bother replying. this is a bugmenot account.
Any computer is great for any function a user sees fit. What I find most annoying are those that perpetually bring up gaming. The only best gaming computer are gaming consoles. They are designed to do a single function at the best possible performance and include some additional bonus features. For those who lightly label Windows as PC, well an Apple computer is also a PC (Personal Computer). So, instead of hashing over which is a better computer in "your eyes" and re-hashing the same tiring, old debate that will traverse time; name some VIABLE pros and cons. Yes, Apple computers do cost more, however their value extends much longer than Windows based computers. To compare that in vehicular terms, a Mercedes will hold its value over time more than a Ford or Chevy.
All things considering, the hardware is (for the most part) identical. The separation lies in the operating system. And if I really wanted to state my thoughts as to the best computer (i.e. operating system), I would lean to the time tested Unix OS (or it's cousin Linux).
I have owned, worked on, built, maintained many computers and servers since the Apple II\Commodore years to current. Once computer is identical to another and if you understand 1 type, you can easily work on another. The only downfall is how good you can operate the #1 computer: the human brain.
I am MAC and I am LapTop Too! Love This MacBook Air! No "Greenpeace!", You All Idiots!
you say "The mac is no BMW.
It is more like a Citron with maybe 1 or 2 neat features but overall more expensive, less capable, has its groupies, and you can only go to 1 source if it breaks."
I want to know, how much repair shop , repair your car?
that is the problem with pc, (One man plenty women).With mac (One man, one wife).
The sheer cost involved in a "market entry" model while they're already making money hand-over-fist would suggest some level of retardation on the part of The Almighty Steve to try and get into gaming... thanks !
I love all Mac products, i own a Macbook air, which gave me a lot of headaches, the cable that delivers the sound just breaks all the time, it was fixed 3 times and after complaining a lot to Mac i got a new Macbook air (newer generation) but 6 months later the same happened + logic board had to be changed, so i must say i love Macs but not Macbook airs...i bet the news ones still have this problem! The sound icon turns grey and we loose sound, a lot of people with this problem ... if you’re one of those just keep complaining to Apple
i'm a Mac user since day 1 of the Mac. I have used PC as well. Now i am wondering aloud if it is possible for the latest Mac AIR to evolve a Mac which is also an ipad and call it Mac Vaccum. on one side is the LED screen and on the other is the ipad which has the usual touch keyboard. now that will be exciting!!!!!!!!!!!
Arch: compression of forces, human and otherwise, in the making of archetypes whose circumference of interactions between being and things bind together
I: the ideas and ideologies of the circle: a group of individuals with global sites of operation form
Just like everything Apple makes, I love the Macbook Air and iPad the more I use them. Apparently, the rest of the world does too, just look at AAPL stock results for the past year!! Hooray for a company that only seldom needs to recall...Their products just work and work...There's nothing I cannot do with a Mac product....
I have owned many desktops and about 4 laptops. Due to constant hacking I decided to upgrade to a Macbook last month. After having used it only a couple of weeks, I would NEVER go back to a PC again.
MY only worry is will the keys last? I am a heavy handed typist who has had many keys fall off of inferior laptops and wonder if Mac will be more solid and if not will the warranty cover a new keyboard if needed as was the case with my HP Notebook?
Anyone know the answer to that?
My friend got a macbook air in this last weekend, and he already loves it. honestly, i'm still a macbook pro fan, but i would always prefer a mac to PC (before you accuse me of anything, like everyone has so far, let me say that i HAD used a PC for years), and moreover, even mac viruses are awesome! look up the newton virus on youtube... it's happened to one of my friends...
I use an Ubuntu workstation at the office. I built a Windows 7 gaming rig for home. And I love my new MacBook Air. It's easily the best laptop I've ever owned, and it's the only machine I trust for serious work.
What the Mac haters won't admit is that Windows computers are very expensive to maintain. I am dumbfounded by the crap my family manages to install on their Windows laptops. Despite specs that exceed the Air, those machines run slow and routinely require hours to clean up. Those hours add up. In the long run, Windows computers are more expensive than Macs.
I'm not shy about downloading interesting programs or storing documents but without intensive video or www.eveningdressol.com photograph file use it seems pretty easy to stay under even that 64GB limit.
i have to say its a nice net-book but the price for the one i want is to high(13in with 256GB)i will say $1,599.00 is a to much. the GB i will have is around 200GB. i just wish they will make it cheap like a pc. those net-books are more for the rich.
i love my 11" 64GB macbook air. i think i want to marry it. i came back to macs after 15 years away after endless PC traumas. it's fast and light and slips right into my purse. with office 2011 for mac i remotely connect to my imac at home and my pc at work. keeping under 64GB is pretty damn easy, a lot of people think they need more space than they really do.
Let's get real. The primary cause of upset among Mac-haters is their inability to afford the best. Mac-haters suffer from class envy. They resent those better off, those who enjoy nice things, those who can pay their bills on time, those who take nice vacations with their loved ones, those who can go to the ATM and actually take money out because their balance isn't $7.68 or $11.37. Sorry, Mac-haters. You need to have $20 in the bank to take out any money. Actually, it's probably closer to $21.
Seriously, the functionality, ease of use, attractive design, and overall intelligence underlying any Apple product makes it just plain silly to root against Apple as if it were a sports team you didn't like. The best simply costs more. Deal with it.
PC people, save your money. Be frugal. Drink fewer lattes. Buy in bulk. Do whatever have to do so that one day you too can afford a Mac. And then you will feel as blessed and, yes, happy, as the rest of us Mac lovers.
I've been using computers for over 25 years and just bought the new 27 inch iMAC, i7. This is my 1st MAC. After using it for 2 weeks, I would NEVER go back and I did vote for Palin. MAC is the ONLY way to go! It was sad having to get rid of all those plug-ins for my stand up; now I have only one cord. Games... who cares! I'm actually into having a life, learning, and making money to send our girls to college. I'll be buying the Air 11 this week. I was stupid for not buy MAC much earlier. This baby is great! I still have my HP printer to remind me of all the past mistakes I've made.
Best Regards to All and to All a Good Night!
"Rangers Lead the Way!" "GO ARMY!"
After years of agony running Microsoft products (I am a music professional) I finally took the advice of my friends in the recording industry in Germany and USA and bought a Macbook Pro with Logic. This is basically an entire recording studio on your laptop, the program is over 55 gig!
I have never lost 1 recording or idea due to the OS shutting down (usually at a critical time) since switching.
I am 100 per cent happy with my Mac and I wouldn't swap back if you paid me!
The only reason I wouldn't buy the Air is that the processors aren't powerful enough, but for everyday use it's definately the best out there especially in terms of mobility.
After many, many years of owning a PC store, selling and repairing clones because they were so inexpensive to purchase, I can share that they ALWAYS have one problem or another - a fact that keeps my store open even today!
However, my household has completely converted to MAC! We have MacBooks, MacBook Pros, Ipads, Iphones, Itouchs, Mac Minis, and Apple TVs - we also have no viruses, no hardware driver malfunctions, and I no longer have to spend any time repairing my family's Dell laptops or PC Clone desktops. Best decision I ever made!
I have read an awful lot of Mac hater comments and recall when I was first starting my PC Clone business that, I too, would say similar things about how much more you could get for your money by buying a PC. I think it is still true, but I now have tasted what it's like to own and operate the best and it tastes good, really good. I agree with others, who say if only these Mac Haters would try a Mac (assuming they can afford one - they are more expensive), I think they will never go back either.
As for the Mac Air, I would like one and am tempted because they would do more than the Ipad, but it is still hard to justify. However, if I was a traveler, there is no question that I would have one just for the light, and small form factor - it can go into a brief case or be carried like a newspaper so easily that you don't need a separate carry-on computer bag for it. I have heard from close friends that the older Mac Airs would get quite hot if you heavily used Office programs, so that is a consideration - probably a MacBook Pro would be better, but for about all other things, a Mac Air would be very, very nice.
There is one exception, for the gamers out there, it is silly to even comment on using the Mac Air for gaming. (More like comparing a Honda Civic to a Ferrari or Nascar race car.) I recently wanted to play the new Starcraft2 game and after trying on all my Macs, decided to build an i7 clone desktop so it could use a high-end video card (GTX 860 - a beast that needs its own power connection), which you cannot add to non-desktops, generally speaking (another reason why it's silly to make lame gaming comparisons toward Macs.
My 2 cents... Have a Merry Christmas everyone !
You write: "The minute my wife saw it, she wanted one to replace her dying MacBook, but her laptop never goes any farther than couch to table to desk, so I can't in good conscience let her spend an extra $500 to get an equivalent Air."
Umm, "can't let her"?
What century are you living in? Are you her spouse or her parent? Are you kidding me?
We are given to understand that your attraction to an Air for your own use -- well-travelled, busy, and important as you are -- is self-justifying. What is not clear is why whatever reasons your wife has for wanting one must be illegitimate because they don't fit the cost-benefit analysis you have dreamt up for her life.
Girlfriend, trade-in that broken-down model.
I would not be surprised if her computer (or something else) ends up traveling quite a bit beyond the orbit of couch to table to desk.