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Apple MacBook Air 13.3-inch Ultraportable Laptop PC

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Apple MacBook Air

Apple MacBook Air

©Apple

The Bottom Line

Sep 8 2009 - The Apple refresh of the MacBook Air adds some additional performance to the extremely thin ultraportable system, but fails to address some of the design decisions that can impact the functionality. The primary differences between the previous version and the new is faster DDR3 memory and the use of an NVIDIA GeForce 9400M integrated graphics for higher graphics performance. Apple still only supplies a single USB port and a non-swappable battery. And of course the optical drive is external and must be purchased separately. The net result is still a system that you will either love a lot or find lacking.
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Pros

  • Extremely Small and Light
  • Very Attractive Design
  • Improved Integrated Graphics for Better HD Video Playback

Cons

  • Optical Drive Not Included
  • Needs More Peripheral Ports
  • Non-Swappable Battery

Description

  • Intel Core 2 Duo SL9400 Dual Core Processor
  • 2GB PC3-8500 DDR3 Memory
  • 120GB 4200rpm 1.8-inch SATA Hard Drive
  • 13.3" WXGA (1280x800) Wide LED Backlit Display with 1.3MP Webcam
  • NVIDIA GeForce 9400M Integrated Graphics
  • 802.11a/g/n Wireless and Bluetooth 2.1
  • One USB 2.0, Mini-DisplayPort
  • 12.8" x 9" x .8" @ 3 lbs.
  • Mac OS X 10.6, iLife '09

Guide Review - Apple MacBook Air 13.3-inch Ultraportable Laptop PC

Sep 8 2009 - Apple's MacBook Air started the trend in high performance extremely thin laptop computer systems. The initial system while extremely small had a number of design decisions that made the system either great for an individual or the less than perfect choice. The new MacBook Air keeps the same external design while changing much of the internal hardware. The result is a faster system with better graphics performance but with the same drawbacks as before.

The big change was a switch from an Intel based chipset to an NVIDIA based one. This allows the system to use the newer DDR3 memory for faster performance than the previous model. The processor has also been upgraded to take advantage of the memory, but runs at the same clock speed as the previous model. As a result, only applications that really are impacted by memory will see a significant boost in performance.

The other major changes to the MacBook Air are the graphics. The previous model used an Intel GMA X3100 that had very limited 3D performance or high definition video playback performance. The new version uses the NVIDIA GeForce 9400M integrated processor that boosts the performance that allows it to handle high definition media much better than the previous version. Apple also has switched away from a Mini-DVI connector to a new Mini-DisplayPort connector for use with their new 24-inch LED Cinema Display.

Just like the old version, the MacBook Air still lacks an optical drive built into the system. In fact, users that wish to have a drive will need to purchase the separate DVD drive from Apple that adds to the already fairly high price tag.

The net result is still a stylish laptop computer that is best suited as a high performance secondary PC rather than a primary PC.

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