Apple MacBook Air (13-inch, mid 2011)

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Reviewed by sephiap (Currently owns)

Users of the previous generation MacBook Air likely hate this iteration of the machine, with fair justification. It is, to all intents and purpose, the machine they should have had when this shape was introduced. As it stands, it is simply the best 'ultrabook' form factor device currently available, but don't confuse that with the best laptop available.

Firstly, the device is light. Real light. I carry it in a backpack to and from work (around 12km per day) and have no issues whatsoever doing so. Further to this, the battery life is excellent for non-intensive usage - being a software developer, writing code all day is about as pretty non-intensive as you can get. This is the i7 model and I average between 5 - 6 hours with wifi and constant usage.

Many people praise the highlights of the Air so I won't go over them too much but, instead, forewarn of the limitations of the device in this review. The display is sharp and bright but blacks are represented poorly, being a greyish tint when displayed (likely the reason this display hasn't been implemented on the 13" MBP). The keyboard is very usable but the keys are, simply due to the depth of the machine, shallow to type on which can feel a bit weird if you're used to hammering keyboards as I am.

The graphics performance of the HD3000 / i7 combo is admirable for its size but, realistically, you aren't going to be doing much gaming here. With resolution and quality down I can achieve playability in Portal 2. In fairness, this is not what the machine was intended for - what it is intended for it performs very admirably in consistently. 1080p MKVs and streaming are no issue. Sound is loud but very focused on the upper frequencies with bass response being (expectedly) MIA.

If you are doing anything above and beyond word processing, web surfing you will find that the machine gets seriously hot, jet-like loud and battery life drops like a lead zeppelin.

Overall, this is an awesome device but it is most definitely a second, luxury device. I can't shake this feeling that I'm temporarily using a 3/4 size guitar whilst my main axe is at home, waiting whilst using this device. It is definitely the best in its class right now, but I think we will see better soon.

The Breakdown

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  • 5
  • 6
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  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
  • Design 8
  • Keyboard 8
  • Touchpad 9
  • Display 9
  • Performance 9
  • Heat / noise 7
  • Battery life 8
  • Software 9
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