Laptop Macbook Air 11-inch
Weight: 1.06 kg, Processor: 1.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo; Display: 11.6-inch, 1366x768; Memory: 2 GB; Solid-state drive: 128 GB; Graphics: Nvidia GeForce 320M; Connectivity: Wi-Fi n, Bluetooth.
Contact : Apple India
The new 11-inch Macbook Air is one of Apple’s most interesting launches to date. Apple has so far famously refused to enter the netbook game, choosing instead to give users the MacBook Air last year, an unbelievably thin and light system that still had a regular notebook’s screen and keyboard. This refresh now gives users a choice of screen sizes, and also marks Apple’s first small-screen offering since the much-loved 12-inch iBook and PowerBook models were retired without replacements in 2006.
The most interesting factor here is that the entry-level 11-inch MacBook Air costs the same amount as an entry-level Macbook. Apart from the obvious size and weight differences, the Air comes with a comparatively slower CPU, only 64 GB of solid-state storage, non-upgradeable RAM, no DVD drive or SD card reader (the 13-inch Air does have this), a metal body, no Ethernet port, and half the battery life. Both offer Bluetooth 2.1 and Wi-Fi N connectivity, and come with Mac OS X and the iLife suite as standard. Surprisingly, the Air’s 11.6-inch screen runs at a higher resolution of 1366x768 pixels than the MacBook’s 1280x800. This raises some interesting questions about which option is better value for money—buyers will be divided over which one is the better choice for them.
Looks and usage
The 11-inch Air is 1.7 cm thick at its thickest point and weighs just a hair over 1 kg, making it easy to slip it into pretty much any backpack, sling, or even handbag. It will undoubtedly be popular with frequent fliers, road warriors, college students, and anyone who’s ever suffered shoulder ache from carrying a heavy laptop around every day. It isn’t the most comfortable for extended use though—while Apple promises the keyboard is full sized, we found it a bit too shallow for comfort. The body is also so small that your wrists are likely to rest right against the device’s front edge, which isn’t comfortably rounded off. The trackpad is typically oversized, but is centered to the Macbook’s body rather than to the keyboard, so your palms will drift across it quite often. Finally, the high-res screen is just a tiny bit too cramped
Connectivity is improved with the addition of a second USB port, thankfully spaced on the right edge so oversized plugs don’t block both ports. There are even stereo speakers, as opposed to the older Air’s single mono one. Our review unit was the more expensive one with 128 GB of storage which costs Rs 12,000 more than the base 64 GB option, so anyone who wants to carry even a regular-sized music and movie library will end up carrying an external hard drive everywhere too. One minor inconvenience we found was the lack of a keyboard backlight—something we’ve grown very used to on Apple machines.
In ordinary usage, we found the new baby Air to be a delight. No netbook so far has felt as well-rounded and easy to carry. On the flip side though, the hardware seems to be only just about capable of running OS X; even the simple dock animations sometimes felt laggy. Ordinary tasks such as Web browsing work just fine, but graphics- and CPU-intensive tasks performed in iPhoto and Garage Band can quickly bog this system down, so we wouldn’t recommend trying any heavy Photoshop or multimedia work. That said, the solid-state drive affords unbelievably fast boot and shutdown times, and resuming from standby takes barely a seconds. We didn’t benchmark the Air with our usual Windows-based benchmarks, since it’s unlikely that anyone will dual-boot with only 64 or 128 GB of hard drive space, and the Mac experience depends on tight hardware and software integration.
Battery life was a bit of a disappointment. The 11-inch model is rated at five hours of continuous usage with Wi-Fi enabled, but we found this to be a bit of an optimistic figure. The Air’s battery also famously depletes faster depending on what software is installed, particularly things like Flash that keep the CPU and graphics processors churning. It’s unrealistic to think that people are going to go very long without seeing something wrong on their favorite websites and following the instructions to install Flash, so we hope that future software updates will at least help slow the drain. Apple also touts a new sleep state that allows the Air to remain suspended for up to 30 days, during which it will also resume instantly when the lid is opened. We did notice surprisingly little battery drain while asleep, but the claim of instant resumes is a bit exaggerated. Those who need longer battery life might consider the 13-inch Air, which is rated at 7 hours.
The new MacBook Air gives us a glimpse into the future of Apple’s designs: innovations seen on one model usually make it to all the others, so we can expect the same solid-state storage and maybe even better battery life in the next generation of MacBook Pros. Once low-voltage CPUs become a bit more powerful and the price of flash memory hits parity with regular hard drives, it’s possible that there won’t even need to be a seperate Air line, and the successors to today’s models will simply replace the bulky MacBook line, serving everyone’s basic home and student needs. Those who need an optical drive or better connectivity will always have the MacBook Pro as an option. On the other hand, those who need an even lighter or simpler device have the iPad.
The close ties between Apple’s hardware and its Mac OS will be all the more apparent with the impending Mac App Store launch, which will bring iPhone-like simplicity to finding and downloading software as early as January 2011. Previews of OS X 10.7, which releases next year, indicate even more iOS-inspired touches including an app launcher and tighter trackpad gestures. The baby Air is already just barely larger than an iPad, so with next year’s software update as well as its keyboard and USB ports, it could be just the right mix of comfort and portability that people find lacking in the iPad.
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