The Bottom Line
- Extremely Small And Light
- Quick Response Times Thanks To Solid State Drive
- Higher Resolution 13-inch Display
- Smaller Storage Space From Solid State Drive
- No Aftermarket Internal Memory Or Storage Upgrades
- 1.86GHz Intel Core 2 Duo Mobile Processor
- 2GB PC3-8500 DDR3 Memmory
- 128GB Solid State Drive
- 13.3" WXGA+ (1440x900) LED Backlit Display With 1.3 Megapixel Webcam
- NVIDIA GeForce 320M Integrated Graphics
- 802.11a/g/n Wireless, Bluetooth
- Two USB 2.0, Mini DisplayPort, SD Card Slot
- 12.8" x 8.9" x .7" @ 2.9 lbs.
- Mac OS X 10.6, iLife
Guide Review - Apple MacBook Air 13-inch Ultraportable Laptop PC
Feb 22 2011 - Apple's MacBook Air 13-inch may offer a larger display than it's diminutive 11-inch version, it actually only adds a bit more to the dimensions and a little more than half a pound in weight. With a base price of $1299, it is more expensive as well than the 11-inch model but it offers a number of significant upgrades that makes it the much more attractive of the two versions.
Powering the MacBook Air 13-inch is an older generation Intel Core 2 Duo processor running at 1.86GHz. This doesn't give it as much performance as most Windows based ultraportables that use the Core i processors but it is a significant boost over the smaller 11-inch MacBook Air. It is disappointing to see Apple only include 2GB of DDR3 memory in the system. While this is sufficient for Mac OS X it will get bogged down at times in more intensive tasks such as desktop video. It should also be noted that the memory can't be upgraded after purchase so if you want 4GB of memory you must get it when you order.
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 13-inch model comes equipped with a 128GB solid state drive. This means that the system has much less storage space but enough for it to be used as a primary PC if you don't store a lot of media. 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.
With the larger screen of the MacBook Air 13, Apple could have used the traditional 1376x768 resolution like most other 13-inch laptops. Instead, Apple has put in a higher 1440x900 display that gives it a larger graphical workspace that is quite welcome. The display has excellent contrast and viewing angles making it a joy to work with. It does use Apple's glossy coating that can make it difficult to use outdoors. The graphics are handled by the NVIDIA GeForce 320M integrated graphics. This gives it some additional performance over the traditional Intel GMA solution. It does have limited capabilities for 3D gaming and graphics at lower resolution and detail levels.
The thin dimensions of the MacBook Air are very restrictive in terms of the battery size. In fact, much of the internal space of the 13-inch model is taken up by its 50WHr lithium polymer battery. In video streaming tests, the laptop was able to run for just under five hours, a good hour longer than the 11-inch version. This should allow it to yield its roughly seven hour of typical usage that Apple claims and is more inline with competing Windows based ultraportables.