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back to article Apple MacBook Air 11in Core i5 notebook

For years this particular Mac user preferred to carry around an X-Series ThinkPad, despite having a house full of Apple laptops. That's because Apple could offer nothing with comparable size and weight. It was worth putting up with Windows or Ubuntu to gain the convenience of a smaller lighter machine. Apple MacBook Air 11in …

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Does it have integrated 3G?

If not, it's just another Apple-shaped doorstop.

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Facepalm

It shouldn't have built-in 3G

Why do some insist on built-in 3G?

Hey, I know, I'll pay extra to commit the computer I have for the next 2-4 years to a particular cellular technology that will probably be obsolete halfway through its lifecycle!

It's not even a very efficient use of tech. It would be smarter to get a MiFi or other pocket router; for the same money, you can get *any* device you own on 3G or 4G, not just one. The pack also helps you save battery life on the notebook.

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'Intel HD Graphics 3000 processor with 256MB ($999 model) or 384MB ($1199 model) of DDR3 SDRAM shared with main memory'

All the Air series use the Intel integrated GPU solution.

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WTF?

If you wouldn't mind explaining?

I seem to have done quite a bit of work on various ThinkPads and MacBooks, and none of them had integrated 3G. Does that render everything I did on them imaginary?

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Anonymous Coward

Nope but...

It comes with an integrated "Apple basher for the sake of it" repellent. The clamshell closes sharply the second one of those lay their fingers on the keyboard.

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Err.

I've never once found a machine where the integrated 3G was anything like 'good' - as such all of our remote staff begged to have the plug in USB dongles back. So why not do the same?

Or pair it with your smartphone and use that 3G connection. Or find some WiFi Access Point, they're rather prevalent.

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Anonymous Coward

3g

has to transmit over several kilometres, often; wifi over metres, with subsequent implications for battery life for both. it's a very specialist requirement for a laptop - not a mainstream one.

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Some strange definitions

I totally agree with the OP. You have a strange definitionof efficient.

Firstly in the real world 3G has been around for years and in the Uk at least will still be around for another 5-10.

Secondly a mifi is another piece of kit and charger to carry. Additionally the lid of a laptop gives much better space for bigger cellular aerial. Both are more efficient than your suggestion.

Thirdly with 3G active you are not likely using wifi so it can be powered down so battery life is not an issue.

Lack of 3G is the only reason I haven't bought an 11" Air myself. It's ridiculous that something that is meant to be ultraportable lacks this as at least an option. It's the whole reason I spent Air money on a vaio TT.

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What service costs?

What do you expect to fail within 18 month?

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FAIL

The battery, apple has a terrible rep with regards to batteries, look at the ratings on the apple.com/ukstore for the old replaceable batteries.

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The battery

Laptop batteries are good for a few hundred cycles.

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You'd probably need a new battery; it'd would have degraded enough by then and it is not user replaceable....

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Re: What service costs?

I "assume" he was referring to the battery - but it would be useful to include statements in a review rather than veiled inferences.

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The battery perhaps? It probably won't fail completely but it will lose a lot of its charge capacity.

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The battery, presumably

Though 18 months may be a little bit of artistic licence. If Google is to be believed, the Airs ship with a lithium polymer battery, which normally means about 300 charge cycles. If you do a complete charge slightly more often than every other day then you get 18 months.

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I would hazard a guess at the battery - non user replaceable

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What service costs?

The battery, presumably.

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Indeed

Especially with 3 years of Apple Care as ANYTHING even remotely broken gets sorted of free (minus the cost of Apple Care of course).

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these service costs

I *suspect* he's talking about the battery and it's actually rather bogus.

Apple laptop battery management is very good now - I sold a 3 year old macbook (black plastic) which spent most of it's time connected to the mains. It's battery was showing sub 50 charge cycles and something like 95% of original capacity.

The battery life of the Air is huge so, even if you use it all day away from your desk you're probably only charging it over night so 18 months is only 500 charges (and the battery is meant to be good for > twice that).

In reality it's possibly a 3 year service cost and Apple only charge about the same for it as a genuine battery for most other laptops (my experience with aftermarket Li-Ion batteries for laptops, iPods, drills and phones has been very poor - I'd only buy genuine in future).

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The usual laptop consumable at a guess ...

Do Apple batteries actually last 18 months, or are they like most other laptop batteries - using the computer plugged in and about 6-12 months the battery is dead ?

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Really?

I've had mine for almost 3 years of fairly heavy use, but the battery is still fine. It's not what it was when brand new (STOP PRESS SHOCKER!) but I still get two hours, easily, unless I'm doing some heavy-duty stuff.

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Apple's new notebook batteries have a much longer cycle life than normal replaceable batteries--at about 1,000, about 3 times the number of cycles. I suspect the battery will last as long as the machine itself...

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That would be true if Apple used ordinary LiPoly batteries and charging technolgies for its built-in batteries, but it doesn't.

From Apple's page on batteries: "Your new Apple notebook features advanced battery chemistry that greatly extends the battery’s lifespan. The built-in battery of your MacBook, MacBook Pro or MacBook Air is designed to deliver up to 1,000 full charge and discharge cycles before it reaches 80 percent of its original capacity. In addition, Adaptive Charging reduces the wear and tear on the battery giving it a lifespan of up to 5 years."

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@B33k34

Li-Ion batteries and it friends deteriorate with age, so even if it has 1 charge cycle, it will have a crappy capacity after a few years.

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From my experience

The battery should last longer then this, even on my 2006 white Macbook the battery still has some 85% capacity after more than 500 cycles.

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Anonymous Coward

everything EXCEPT batteries that have worn out through use rather than a manufacturing defect.

I just looked this up on the Apple site. As someone else has pointed out, this is a 'while you wait' repair with an appointment and costs the same as the 'user replaceable' batteries on the older macbooks.

ie - stop griping - the upsides of an integrated battery outweigh the downsides.

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Sure. But Apples battery monitor also tells you the capacity. There was no significant deterioration in capacity showing either.

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Megaphone

Err...

What upsides?!

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This post has been deleted by its author

WTF?

Phew...

"Resources are things we invent, folks, the outcome of our ingenuity"

Thank Christ for that. I'll sleep more easily tonight knowing we can rustle up more oil and gas by using our ingenuity. I've been labouring under the misaprehension that these and other substances only existed in finite quantities on this planet. How wrong can a man be?

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Invented resources

I guess the reviewer should put that to the families of some coal miners in Wales (or anywhere else, for that matter). They obviously died in vain.

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(Written by Reg staff) Bronze badge

Re: Phew...

I hate to break the news, but we're almost out of whaleblubber too.

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(Written by Reg staff) Bronze badge

Re: Invented resources

What an idiotic comment - and you've made quite a few.

You should apply for a job as a presenter.

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Idiotic comment?

Not according to the 0 thumbs up, 8 thumbs down you got so far for saying that.

A presenter? There's only one wannabe Jeremy Clarkson here, and it's not me.

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Devil

Very expensive netbook?

I am not an Apple owner, nor am I a member of the Jobsian Cult. But, this actually looks like an Apple product I would use, especially when you look at the price of the thing compared to when the first one was released.

Devilish face as I referred to the "Jobsian Cult" with the full intention of garnering the wrath of the Apple Fanbois :)

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JDX
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I wish I was wealthy enough that I could choose a laptop on factors other than grunt/£ - it looks beautiful.

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iWaste

battery not replaceable -> product designed to last 2 years. At that point the capacity of the battery has dropped enough that the user complains and looks for an alternative

My 3-year old dell is enjoying its second battery, and will get a new one next year. Since it is still fast enough, there's no need to replace it when battery life is OK.

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My unibody MacBook is on its third year and the battery is now showing signs of needing replacement. But the laptop has been upgraded from Leopard to SL and then to Lion and still runs like a champ.

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Anonymous Coward

And how much do Dell charge you for a replacement batttery?

My very unscientific research (go to Dell site, click on random model) gave a price of £105 (shown as being discounted from £130) for the Inspiron M301Z

That's MORE than Apple charge to fit a replacement battery to a Macbook Air.

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Anonymous Coward

when a regular netbook sells for over £350...

The Register say that it's "overkill" and "has missed the point of small form factor machines"

yet, now, strangely it sees the point of them being more feature rich and costing 3 times as much.

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sure

an Atom is so close to an i5, you'll see no difference.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: when a regular netbook sells for over £350

Your post would have a point if the Air was a netbook, which it clearly is not. In the same way as a certain brand of car can be overpriced in its class, you wouldn't then judge a supercar unfavourably against it. Apples and oranges my friend.

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A regular netbook...

...comes crippled out of the box by Intel and Microsoft, has a barely usable CPU if you want to do more than three things at once - on any operating system, not just Win XP/7 - and has a fairly low res, almost certainly low quality screen. Brazos Netbooks look like changing that, mind, and forcing Intel to pull their finger out over Atom. I've played with a couple now, they're pretty tasty for the price.

The Macbook Air comes with a chunky Core i5 and is actually pretty damned close to being a mobile desktop replacement* in terms of the grunt it has for everyday use, on either Mac OS or Windows 7. The compromise (other than ports) is minimal, and that's why you pay more for it. The compromise with a proper netbook is massive, that's why you pay less for it.

Bear in mind it was only a few years ago that machines of the MBA class (ultra-ultra-portable with usable grunt) were going for closer to £1500 from the likes of Sony and Toshiba, and Apple itself - for what it does, the price isn't half bad.

In the end, that's why paying £350 for a traditional, barely-better-than-my-mobile-phone Atom netbook gets baulked at, and paying £900 for an ultra-ultra portable near desktop replacement is lauded.

Ah, crap, just seen the post it note on my screen - don't feed the trolls. Bah.

Steven R

*for day to day stuff - obviously if you're doing full on video editing or software compilation, you're probably going to go another route.

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Anonymous Coward

Yesh

And wow, a huuuge 2gb of ram

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Love my Ver 1

I've had mine for a while and I'm quite happy with it. It's been beaten to death and still works fine. Yes, it would be nice if it had more performance, but it seems more solid that my old Dell work laptops at about 2-3x the weight and it is SO much more handy to own that a Dell XPS, which is approximately the size of a battleship anchor and not quite as useful.

All I can say is that my next laptop, paid for with my own cash, will be an Air.

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Nice review, and I must say I'm very happy with mine, but for a few frustrating QC issues which resulted in me having to get 2 replacements- newest one is perfect though.

No integrated 3G, but not so much of an issue if you have a phone to tether with.

However, they're all using dual-core processors, not quads as stated on the first page.

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Possibly the battery - if cycled every day that would be around 500 cycles, or the 'official' lifespan of a battery.

I have a friend with one of these, and it's a genuinely nice bit of kit, however the lack of general connectivity would annoy me.

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Anonymous Coward

I thought MacBook Air's were disposable.

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top gadget

I bought the i7/256mb/4gb 11" when it came out - replacing my previous 11" 1.6 core duo.

it really is an amazing little powerhouse. My MBP17 has been resigned to the study now, and the air has become my main work computer (I travel with it everyday).

I've never seen the beef with non-replaceable batteries. If you are tech-savie you can easily buy a replacement and DIY. If you are not, you just take it into an apple store and they do it while you wait + properly dispose of the battery (which is probably more than most of use do normally).

Combined with the fact that the latest apple battery tech seems to not really degrade very much compared to lipo, I don't think I'd ever expect to have to replace the battery - my 2 year old MBP still has 100% charge for example.

Surprised you didn't mention CPU usage with HD playback - this is incredibly low thanks to the tight integration with the intel 3000 HD - playing 1080p* mp4 or mkv full screen barely registers on stat CPU gauges at all (old nvidia model was around 30%).

*cue muppet moaning about playing 1080p on non-1080p screen... sigh.

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Anonymous Coward

Thunderbolt

Why is this even being touted as a feature/ plus point..?

Firstly, there are next to no devices that currently use thunderbolt.

Secondly, it may be (theoretically) faster than USB3, but that's irrelevant as hard drives/ SSDs cannot keep up with the speed of either in the first place. So for moving files/ data thunderbolt is no better than USB3.

But, USB3 has the advantage of being backwards compatible with USB2, and thus, thousands of devices. So why are people believing all the FUD Apple are spouting about thunderbolt, when it offers no advantage to the user over USB3?

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