The Bottom Line
- Extremely Small And Light
- Quick Response Thanks To Solid State Drive
- One Of The Best 11-inch Displays On The Market
- Limited Storage Space
- No Aftermarket Internal Upgrade Options
- Mediocre Battery Life
- 1.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo Mobile Processor
- 2GB PC3-8500 DDR3 Memory
- 64GB Solid State Drive
- 11.6" WXGA (1376x768) LED Backlit Display With 1.3 Megapixel Webcam
- NVIDIA GeForce 320M Integrated Graphics Processor
- 802.11a/g/n Wireless, Bluetooth
- Two USB 2.0, Mini DisplayPort
- 11.8" x 7.6" x .7" @ 2.3 lbs.
- Mac OS X 10.6, iLife
Guide Review - Apple MacBook Air 11-inch Ultraportable Laptop PC
Feb 22 2011 - Apple's MacBook Air 11-inch model makes some significant changes from the past models. First, it is even thinner and lighter than the past model. This is impressive as the previous one was already incredibly thin. In fact, the MacBook Air 11 is more compact and lighter than most netbooks. The price has also dropped to $999 but this is still more than most competing windows laptops.
Powering the MacBook Air 11-inch is an older generation Intel Core 2 Duo processor running at 1.4GHz. This is fairly anemic compared to the newer Core i series processors but Apple had to go with this processor because of the thermal and power requirements. The base model also comes with just 2GB of DDR3 memory. While this is fully functional for the Mac OS X operating system, it does cause some degraded performance for intensive applications such as desktop video. Be warned that the memory is soldered into the system and not upgradeable. Users must order it with the upgraded memory at time of purchase.
While the previous version of the MacBook was available with either a hard drive or a solid state drive, Apple has moved the new version completely to solid state drives. The base 11-inch model comes equipped with a 64GB solid state drive. This means that the system has much less storage space making it less useful as a primary PC. What the solid state drive does do is make the system feel extremely fast in booting and application loading which mitigates the slower Core 2 Duo processor. There is no optical drive at all and the system does not feature a SD card slot like other Mac laptops. For system recovery, Apple does include a USB memory stick with the required software.
The MacBook Air 11 derives its name from the screen size as Apple now produces two different versions of the laptop. The 11.6-inch screen uses the ubiquitous 1366x768 resolution but it is the first of the company's laptops to use the 16:9 aspect ratio. The screen offers a very nice picture with wide viewing angles uncommon to many in this size range. It does use the glossy coating like Apple's other laptops that make it somewhat difficult to use outdoors. The graphics on the other hand use the NVIDIA GeForce 320M integrated graphics that offer a bit more performance than a typical Intel GMA integrated solution. This allows the system to be used for some light, low resolution casual PC gaming and improved HD video decoding.
Apple's battery life for its laptops have been incredible considering their size. Much of this is attributed to their use of lithium polymer molded into the available space. The 11-inch MacBook air has a relatively small 35WHr battery but with the extremely power conservative it still manages to do a pretty good job. In video streaming tests, it is able to run for just under four hours before going into standby mode. This doesn't give it the same longevity of larger ultraportables but that is the trade off for its size and weight.