back to article Apple MacBook Air 13in Core i5 laptop

The lightweight, streamlined design of the MacBook Air is undeniably attractive, and still leaves most of its ultraportable PC rivals looking like a chaotic collision metal and plastic. However, that sleek design has always come with something of a premium price – especially given the relatively modest specification of its …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Megaphone

    Away they go!

    "Apple....MacBook......that sleek design has always come with something of a premium price"

    ...on your marks people and let battle commence!

    1. N13L5
      FAIL

      Aplle computers are for people who are in love with things

      oh how sleek it is

      look how shiny

      and so clean

      i'm in love with my object

      it is miiineee

      I will care for it

      and clean it

      and protect it

      as if it is my woman!

      You know, love for things is a degradation of human consciousness.

      1. Nick Pettefar

        The post is required, and must contain letters.

        Is your woman unable to clean herself then?

        That must get a bit tiring after a while.

        I have the self-cleaning variety, much more practical. And she has her own Mac!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      FAIL

      buying this mediocre thing means you have been had, unless you are in love....

      = equal

      - less

      + better

      in summary, compared to the rest of the world :

      = looks

      - graphics

      - no ethernet

      - no dvd+-rw

      - cpu in relation to the price tag.

      -- price tag

      in other words,

      end score is double minus..... considering what you get for the price you pay

      and believe me, there are laptops and notebooks that really look good, and are delivering much more bang for the buck.

      Even dell does have them ......

      AC

  2. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

    Ah, good timing..

    I've been toying with the idea of buying an extra machine (although I'm keeping my Linux NAS rig, thanks) - my problem was that 11" just wasn't enough (stop sniggering in the back).

    The big "however" is that I do like a direct plug-in backup route. If this machine doesn't have a USB or Firewire port that I can use to hook up an external drive when traveling it's not going to be much use to me..

  3. Si 1

    Gaming

    I've always thought that if OnLive really takes off, then something like the MacBook Air would be ideal for a portable gaming machine. The weight saved on the laptop can then added back on lugging around a bulky USB joypad! ;)

    Instead I currently use an Alienware M11X R3, the i7 CPU and GeForce 540M make light work of most recent games even on max to high settings.

    Honestly, if I wasn't a gamer all I'd need is a netbook for most of the stuff I do...

    1. jonathanb Silver badge

      Re: good timing

      It has two USB ports. At some point, someone will release a Thunderbolt hub which will provide firewire and ethernet ports.

      1. Thomas Davie

        You mean...

        Like the Apple Cinema Display which does exactly what you ask?

        1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: You Mean

          A 27" LCD sounds like just the portable port replicator Fred was after.

        2. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

          Yeah, sure..

          I'll carry a whole display with me when I travel so I can plug in my small backup disk. The idea of a laptop is mobility (on the topic - I still miss the ability to stick a SIM chip somewhere).

    2. Jolyon

      Gamers

      That's where this product falls between two stalls for me - it's neither the gaming machine I'd be willing to spend the money on nor the cheap browsing device I'd have kicking around for other uses.

      I guess the heat would be too big a problem with that sort of processor AND higher end graphics in the tiny shell.

      My next Apple purchase is more likely to be an iPad than an Air.

  4. BorkedAgain
    Trollface

    Okay, I'll bite...

    So this is what, a thirteen-hundred-pound netbook?

    1. Thomas Davie
      Facepalm

      I get that you're trolling...

      But honestly, you're comparing an Atom to a Core i5?

      1. Blitterbug
        Happy

        Core i5 vs Atom

        ...well, actually...

        Several 'cheapie' i5 lappies I picked up for clients recently (Packard Bells & Dells iirc) were sickeningly sluggish out of the box, even after ripping all the crapware out & running Autoruns on em. Turns out there's a sort of budget option i5 that is a wee bit crippled. My stripped-down XP nettie was about neck & neck, tbh.

        I'm sure the new Air is a great deal faster tho - just in case you thought I was trolling !!

    2. Wyrdness
      WTF?

      Netbook?

      So explain to me how this machine differs from the plethora of rival 13" Sandy Bridge Core i5 SSD netbooks out there.

  5. Anton Ivanov
    Devil

    The new apple display has all the connectivity it needs

    The connectivity problem no longer exists. It means however that you will have to shell double the dosh.

    1. Guido Esperanto
      Coffee/keyboard

      connectivity limitations

      change your topology & connection medium.

      not that big of a deal is it?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        FAIL

        Riiiight

        'Cos buying an external screen for a PORTABLE computer, because it didn't come with decent connectivity out of the box, is such a great solution :-\

  6. Fuzz
    Trollface

    Stupid keyboard

    If it wasn't for the stupid mac keyboard I'd consider getting one and just run Windows on it. It's a beautiful piece of kit and deserves a decent OS.

    The missing Ethernet port isn't too much of an issue, a USB dongle for the odd times you need to hook up a cable will be fine. Non upgradeable SSD and RAM is less cool.

    128GB Disk and 4GB RAM is going to look very poor in 3 years time when the rest of the laptop will still be fine.

    1. Michael Jennings

      You will be able to upgrade the flash drive.

      Apple uses a non-standard module for the flash drive, and although it is theoretically not user-serviceable, there are third party upgrades available. Therefore, you should be able to upgrade to a bigger flash drive in 3 years time. You are stuck with the 4Gb of RAM though, which may be a drag.

      My present 2007 Macbook Pro came with 2Gb and 120Gb when new and I have upgraded it to 4Gb/640Gb, and it still works just fine with pretty much any current software, so I know exactly what you mean. However, the truth is that most laptop owners do not upgrade the RAM and only upgrade the disk when one fails, which is going to happen much less frequently with a flash drive anyway. If you want a machine you can upgrade in future, there is the Macbook Pro.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. purplefloyd
      Linux

      Re: "deserves a decent OS"

      [tux@air /]$

    4. Guido Esperanto

      /title

      "I'd consider getting one and just run Windows on it...........and deserves a decent OS."

      That's some oxymoron.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Headmaster

        Shirley...

        More of a juxtaposition of opposites than an oxymoron?

      2. Jolyon

        @C ardoso - keyboard

        That's what I'd like to know, review doesn't mention it but there's normally something hideous about Apple's keyboards (the physical ones at least - the on-screen keyboards are pretty good, albeit basic).

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Happy

        "deserves a decent OS"

        The guy was being funny, geddit?

  7. John Latham

    Integrated 3G

    I didn't see mention of 3G in the review, so I assume it has none, again.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    More hype

    I can't believe a worse videoconferencing / gaming machine is considered an improvement in theis web 2 0 age.

    Shiny though ;-)

  9. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

    I am looking for a new lightweight,

    For a machine this expensive, I would like more graphics grunt. For people who do not need OpenCL or Visa it may not be a problem.

    1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

      Visa should be CUDA

      Bloody autocorrection

    2. Jolyon

      3G

      Seems an obvious inclusion for an ultra-portable device.

      It's almost as though they want you to buy another device for 3G connectivity.

  10. Craig Vaughton
    Happy

    Re: Stupid keyboard

    What's wrong with the keyboard? I'd rather type on one of them than any other I've used since my last original IBM PS2 keyboard died! And yes, I've had plenty of machines from the dark side, except now I can run Win7 as a VM when I'm desperate.

    As for the OS, each to their own I suppose, but if pushed, I'd only swap OS X for Linux.

    I'd also lay good odds that in 3 years time, OS X 10.8 (?) will work just fine in 4Gb of RAM and leave at least 120Gb of space on a 128Gb SSD. I even expect it to run on my now last generation MacBook Air. I very much doubt Windows whatever will run as well on a PC of equivalent age.

    My boss summed up the Air and the iPad, when I turned up with my 11" Core2 Duo Air. "An iPad is an iPod Touch for people with bad eye sight, and Air is a Netbook done properly" Fitting i5 and restoring the illuminated keyboard just makes it even better.

    Thunderbolt will only be OK when there's something useful and affordable to plug in to it. New Cinema Display is useful, but rather fails th either bit!

  11. DaveyP

    Got mine yesterday...

    Wasn't going to get an Air - was going to get a MBP, but then I realised with a NAS doing all the heavy duty storage, this was a better bet. It's a stunning bit of kit (it's for my business, so the gaming not being great isn't an issue for me), and does everything I want it to plus more. Big advantage for me is the shut down and start up time. Don't think I'll ever use sleep on this - on my PC I never use anything else...

    It isn't cheap, obviously, but it should be reliable, and there's an Apple Store just down the road if I need em. Personally I love the keyboard, so easy to use. And I think the onboard storage is becoming less of an issue as we move to domestic NAS and Cloud solutions, but if it's an issue, that's what the MBP is for.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    I don't get it

    The article states it's much faster, the bench markdowns show negligible improves?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      WTF?

      "twice as fast" - WTF?

      I also fail to see substantial improvements in the benchmarks. And the nVidea graphics of the previous version clearly are better than the Intel stuff. To me it the benchmarking suggests a solid incremental upgrade from the previous version and a step backwards in graphics perf.

      Apple used the nVidia graphics with the older chip in the previous MBA because Intel won't license nVidea for the later chips. The package in the 2010 MBA is better for it and I expect cheaper than a straight Intel solutioin would have been as well. Obviously, the i5 dictates Intel's substandard graphics solution.

      Anyway, where did that Title quote come from?

      Dweeb

      1. Gleb
        Joke

        Re: Twice as Fast

        ... This was never intended to be taken as a factual statement.

  13. Mark 65 Silver badge

    Did I miss something?

    "And, for comparison’s sake, I also used Apple’s Boot Camp to instal Windows 7 in order to see how it fared against some of its PC rivals."

    Couldn't find any results in the article - my attention deficit must finally be getting the better of me.

  14. marc 9

    Windows

    How does Windows play with the power management/? Will the battery still last for a long time when it's in sleep mode? That's one thing I wish my (otherwise excellent) Acer would do.

  15. Big Bear
    FAIL

    RE: "twice as fast" - WTF?

    "Intel won't license nVidea for the later chips" - not sure what you are battering on about here!! Intel doesn't "license" nVidia for anything... they have their components sit alongside nVidia components within systems.

    Sandy Bridge introduces enhanced onboard graphics compared to Arrandale, so no discrete GPU is included, as the current range offer vastly improved graphics compared to Core-i first generation and C2D. The previous MBA with the C2D has very rudimentary graphics so required a GPU to handle the pretty pictures and videos that the users would want, though in the form of a weak card. The new model uses only the Intel graphics solution without a discrete card.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Headmaster

      See Ars Technica

      Over at Ars Technica there is a recent coverage of this subject in an article about this topic (which I read after my post and note here for your reference only). The information was public knowledge forever.

      Try research, it helps.

      Dweeb

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Pint

      You haven't been following

      http://arstechnica.com/apple/news/2011/07/intel-integrated-graphics-not-hampering-sandy-bridge-macs.ars?comments=1&start=80#comments-bar

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Go

    Good hardware

    I got the previous (the core2duo 13" non-backlit kb) version for mom, so it's basically doing duty as a svelte netbook with a larger screen and good battery life. I only wish the system fonts (menus etc) were resizeable for her imperfect eyesight.

    It is quite pricy, but a comparable light, all metal PC is comparably priced, if not more expensive (Samsung series9, for instance). Lack of an ethernet port on an ultraportable is not a big issue. The most likely place it'll get tethered is the charger anyway.

    Unlike most users, I am not in love with OSX. It is good enough, looks nice, but there are a lot of niggles and annoyances bundled with it too. Shock and horror, I prefer Windows 7 for my daily needs. Flame me, see if I care.

    I may get an i5 11"'er for myself as the tote-around device, and install W7 on it. Lack of some keys for windows may be an issue (such as the insert key which I use), but there are easy ways around it.

    1. Gleb

      Re: Good hardware

      I got me mom an apple lappy about 5 years ago, back before the whole unibody craze. If anything, these laptops hold well - can you imagine that nothing broke for the last 5 years? And she uses it almost every day for skype, email and interwebs.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @DaveyP

    You made a good purchase!

    I've had my MacBook Air for a couple of years now and its still by far the best machine I've ever had, and I've had loads of computers over the past 30 years from ZX81 to a Dell Latitude E6400.

    Its perfect for Word processing, excel, web browsing, emailing, itunes, xcode, ftp'ing, bit of webdesign, etc.

    Not sure how good it would be for gaming though, but I'm not really into games anymore!

  18. Big Bear

    RE: See Ars Technica

    I assume this was directed at me. I vaguely remember reading about that court case a while ago, but my point still stands: I don't see what having Nvidia created software would make any kind of difference with a SB i5 as compared with Intel's own software... it's the fact that there is no dedicated GPU in the 2011 system that is the important thing. That being said, I am impressed that the new CPU isn't that far behind the 2010 system in the gaming benchmark, and I've seen reports that the fps on certain games weren't actually that bad.

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