back to article Apple MacBook Air 13-inch 2013: All’s well that Haswell

El Reg’s review of the latest 13-inch MacBook Air comes in two parts: here, I take a look at one of the build-to-order configurations offered by Apple, which upgrades the standard 1.3GHz Intel Core i5 processor, 4GB of 1066MHZ mobile DDR3 RAM, 128GB solid-state drive specification to a 1.7GHz Core i7 machine with 8GB of RAM and …

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Silver badge

Battery life

I can still get 11 hours plus out of my 2010 Air…

Really? I've yet to own a computer battery where performance didn't deteriorate significantly (< 60 % initial capacity) after two years. That is the mean reason for wanting to be able to replace it.

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Go

Re: Battery life

I'm using a 3-year old MBP (2010) and the battery is still at 77% health, swapping out the original drive for an SSD did improve the battery life a little, nonetheless no-where near the 11 hours plus which the author speaks of.

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Re: Battery life

Lucky you! But how do you measure the health? My 2009 MBP hasn't give me more than 2 hours real use for more than than a year.

BTW. the 11 h in the report are for a MBA so not comparable with our hardware.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Battery life

It's all down to sat using your laptop while plugged in. Allow the battery to charge, unplug, allow the battery to almost discharge - plug back in.

This is the main culprit for knackering any laptop battery.

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Re: Battery life

My 2010 Air has 87% capacity 5839mAh vs 6700mAh, as reported by the Battery Health app.

This is a machine that has been used for three years with a casual disregard for correct charging protocol (whatever that is) by several people.

I agree that 1400x900 is just a *little* low res for 13". I also don't understand why my 13" screen sits inside a lid with a 15" diagonal. I want less bezel and more pixels.

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Re: Battery life

My MacBook Pro is at least 2 years old and the battery life is pretty much the same. Maybe paying a bit more for a computer results in better hardware or maybe you don't use your computer in such a way that's good for the battery.

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Re: Battery life

@DijitulSupport - MBP batteries are non-removable.

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Re: Battery life

@ Charlie Clark

I know.

Last time I checked though users had the option to either plug in, or unplug the charger. At both ends of the charger.

This would be what I meant by "unplug". I was suggesting users bork batteries by leaving them (whilst STILL INSIDE THE MACBOOK) plugged into the mains when they are fully charged and not in need of charging.

The chargers, traditionally, have a "plug" at either end. Neither end need to be "plugged into" anything when the battery does not need charging.

I'll try again.

For best battery life only connect your laptop (of any flavour, removable battery or otherwise) to the mains when it actually needs charging up. Not always possible, but doing so as much as psosible will drastically increase the effective lifespan of a battery to act as a battery, and not simply a device for discharging power as quickly as possible.

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Bronze badge

MBP battery removability

Charlie, ifixit.com has instructions for allowing mere mortals to remove the battery from their MBPs. The trick is in having the appropriate screwdriver for the particular MBP’s battery retaining screws, and exercising a bit of care with the thinner components. (And not doing so until the warranty/AppleCare coverage period has expired.)

They might have instructions for MBA battery transplants as well — I didn’t check.

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Re: Battery life

My 2010 MBP has never given me anything like 11 hours but it’s a machine I rarely use well away from a power source, so I’ve been called on to push it.

My basic rule for battery longevity is ‘only connect the charger when you need to’. I have wrecked too many batteries by leaving their hosts plugged in while in use.

Now, I operate off battery power whenever I can, even if I’m at home, close to a mains outlet. If I’m working and I need to recharge I will, but I prefer to do it overnight while the laptop’s asleep or powered down.

Bottom line: batteries are happiest when they’re used, so use them as much as you can.

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Re: Battery life

There's a balance, if you always have it plugged into a charger while you're at your desk, and rarely run it on battery then it will sit at 100% which will be detrimental over time, similarly, if you religiously charge and discharge it you will rapidly eat into the charging cycle lifespan which will also be detrimental, additionally it will often have less power than you need when you have to pick it up and go without warning.

I'm often using mine in places where a charger isn't an option, so I try and keep it charged, I can always replace the battery if its knackered.

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Re: Battery life

@jubtastic1

I think you may have hit the nail on the head: using a notebook as a desktop replacement as I do it is routinely plugged in - the dual-DVI adapter alone pretty much predicates this. But there are times when I need the notebook as a notebook which is why I got it and not just a mini. So my battery has had 99 charging cycles but apparently needs "maintenance".

That said, how come machines with docking stations don't suffer as badly? I've also got a Lenovo which also spends most of its time docked and the battery there seems to be fairing better. Is all down to some clever electronics in the docking station?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Battery life

"For best battery life only connect your laptop (of any flavour, removable battery or otherwise) to the mains when it actually needs charging up."

Is there any scientific evidence to support this idea?

I have a 2010 MacBook Air that I use maybe twice a week for brief periods of time. It only has 168 charge cycles on the battery. Otherwise it's plugged into the wall. The "Battery Health" app tells me I have over 90% of the battery's original charge capacity left and this is confirmed by the occasional instances when I use the laptop enough to run down the battery.

In other words, I have my laptop plugged into the wall literally 97% of the time and it is working like new after 3 years. According to your theory it should be ruined by now.

Notice that Apple's firmware will happily let the battery run down from 100% to ~97% while the computer is plugged into the wall, which must take several hours if the computer is in sleep mode. So leaving it plugged into the wall is identical to having it unplugged for hours, then plugging it in for a few minutes. Repeat. I don't see how or why this would be bad for it.

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Re: Battery life

Yes, plenty. Google is your friend. IF you'd have treated a Dell unit in the same way it's battery would be a thing of minutes only by now.

If you were in the habit of leaving your macbook open, on and plugged in it probably would have made a difference. If it is, as I suspect, plugged in and closed then it's fine. I clearly was talking about when the thing is IN USE.

But can I be bothered to trawl for links to counter your anecdotal case of one laptop? One that started life as having one of the best battery/hardware combos available? No.

I'm pretty happy that after looking after thousands of laptops of many flavours I know what tends to happen to laptop batteries that are left plugged in while in use every day from 8-6. They don't last as long as they should. Talk to anyone who has actually worked in IT in an organisation that dishes out laptops, ask how long the average 2-3 year old laptop will run when unplugged.

If you wish though you could try re-reading the other comments where you will find, equally anecdotal evidence that contradicts your own.

Intel seem to think it's worth a mention in a post that's only a few paragraphs long on battery management that was the top result in the one, really obvious, google search I tried. I imagine there will be plenty of evidence, what with me being correct and all.

http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/tech-tips-and-tricks/laptop-power-management.html

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Battery life

It's more likely the fact that a battery is a chemical device, and the chemical reaction causes deposits to form in the electrolyte over time.

Heat increases this process and we know that batteries get warm.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Battery life

"Intel seem to think it's worth a mention in a post that's only a few paragraphs long on battery management that was the top result in the one, really obvious, google search I tried. I imagine there will be plenty of evidence, what with me being correct and all."

Er, you might not be as good at Googling/reading as you think you are. I just read that page twice and it doesn't say anything to support your point. It does say that once you start discharging a battery, you MIGHT be better off discharging it completely before recharging it, but that's not your point.

I'm going to call shenanigans on your point anyway, i.e., that you shouldn't use your laptop while it's plugged in. When a laptop is plugged in, it uses power from the wall. The battery is unaffected. I don't know why it would be affected. Do you think that the laptop uses power from the battery which must then be recharged and the battery is in a weird constant state of both charging/recharging if it's in use while plugged in? I can promise you that's not the case. Just remove the battery from a laptop entirely and see if it still works when plugged in. (It does.)

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Anonymous Coward

Sensible?

"I want to be able to increase my computer’s memory and storage capacities over time as I see fit. But I also find myself increasingly wondering whether that’s as sensible a view to take as it once was."

It depends. When the option to do something is systematically and calculatingly denied to you, can you really call it sensible to accept the only choice left? The closed case is increasingly the rule. I've been frustrated in my recent search for a new notebook.

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WTF?

Low resolution

Why is it that you feel 1400x900 is a bit low for 13"?

My 15.6" laptop is only 1366x768.

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Facepalm

Re: Low resolution

Why is it that you feel 1400x900 is a bit low for 13"?

My 15.6" laptop is only 1366x768.

Why is it that you don't find that a little bit low?

The Google Nexus 10 tablet's 10" screen is 2560x1600.

See what I did there?

Seriously, though, if your laptop had a higher resolution panel you would have the option of displaying the same amount of information on screen but much more sharply, or of displaying more information at a time. It may be that you don't see any advantage in doing either, but please don't try to suggest that that means nobody else should wish to do so.

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"Now I - and, I suspect, most of you lot too - find this irritating. I want to be able to increase my computer’s memory and storage capacities over time as I see fit."

I'd find it irritating if I owned one, but I don't, so... Apple can build it however they like, it doesn't meet my requirements so I won't take it into consideration for purchase.

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Anonymous Coward

The IPS LCD has splendid viewing angles

They're the same TN panels as last year, albeit good panels they're not IPS

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Battery drainage with lid closed

Surprised you think it's bad. My 20 month old 2011 Air is still more than adequate for one of my 2-3 week business trips, if I forget to power it down before I leave. It might still be good for the 30 days quoted by Apple.

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So why didn't you compare it?

"My travel machine is still a 2010 Core 2 Duo-based 11-inch Air with a mere 2GB of RAM"

As I also have one of these, I would have liked to see it as the baseline in your Geekbench tests. It is, after all, the one to which you yourself must compare when contemplating an upgrade, not?

It's not like you didn't have one on hand to make the comparison, is it?

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: So why didn't you compare it?

Fair point. You’re looking at a score of around 2000 for the 1.GHz Coere 2 Duo-based 2012 11-inch Air.

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Unhappy

Re: So why didn't you compare it?

"Fair point. You’re looking at a score of around 2000 for the 1.GHz Coere 2 Duo-based 2012 11-inch Air."

Well, I asked about the 2010 11" MBA (CoreDuo) item, and since they only came in 1.4GHz and 1.6Ghz varieties, it's hard to determine to which machine you actually referred :-.

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Anonymous Coward

MacBook Airs are fairly user-serviceable

Of Apple's product lineup, the Airs are not as locked down as this review would lead you to believe.

Getting the bottom plate off is a matter of undoing 10 screws for the 2010 11" model. From there you have easy access to the battery, SSD, and cooling fan, which are the parts you would likely want to service. It's easy to disconnect all of these things and replacements are easy to find online. The only thing that isn't upgradeable that you might expect with a laptop is the RAM.

As for the inability to easily switch out the battery, and thus potentially running out of juice on a long flight, there are a few external batteries that are designed specifically for the MacBook that neatly solve the problem. It isn't nearly as big a deal as haters make it out to be.

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Boffin

Resolution

"a 13in laptop should really be 1920 x 1080 in this day and age"

Man, you've got good eyes...

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Boffin

Re: Resolution

"a 13in laptop should really be 1920 x 1080 in this day and age"

Man, you've got good eyes...

I'd say that a 13" laptop should be at least 1920x1200 (and preferably more) -- I don't like 16:9 on a telly, let alone a computer.

Have I got good eyes? No. Not at all. I can't see the screen at all without my glasses -- I have got good glasses, though, and the poor image quality of low-resolution screens is very annoying. If I can see the pixels, they're too big -- they should be small enough that they don't intrude on the image.

That's what Apple's "retina" thing is all about, and it's about time everyone started doing it.

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Quite. 1366 X 768 on a 13" screen is shoddy these days, although I'd be happy with the MBAs 1440 X 900. 16X10 and a decent vertical resolution are so much better for work. One of the things that puts me off upgrading my current 2008 macbook (1200 X 800) is the lower vertical resolution that so many otherwise good non-apple machines have.

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