Apple’s MacBook Air was initially an expensive luxury, but with an update in 2010 became an affordable, excellent machine. It’s light, well-made, and relatively powerful, and it’s become the choice of many people willing to trade the raw computing prowess of a more high-end machine for a device that’s a little easier on the spine. Last year’s model brought a new level of computing power to the Air, without changing much about the design.

New year, old story: last week at WWDC Apple announced the latest revision of the Air, changing the internals without altering the body at all save for the new MagSafe 2 port. The Air’s always been a looker, but with Intel’s Ivy Bridge processor inside along with faster flash storage, it looks like its brains might finally match its beauty. It’s not the only thin laptop out there, though. Plenty of other manufacturers have built excellent ultrabooks — many that shamelessly ape the best features of the Air, many that successfully go a different way.

We spent a lot of time using and testing the base-spec 13-inch Air, with a 1.8GHz Core i5 processor and a $1,199 price tag. Does it still stand apart in a much more crowded market, with a two-year-old body and brand-new internals? Read on.