The Apple MacBook Air is a powerful, ultraportable notebook with a regal attitude, a considerable personality, and an egotistical price — the model we reviewed retails for as much as Rs. 67,900. Few computing devices can claim those lofty attributes in the year 2011, and fewer can muster up the design pedigree.
And with the new Intel Sandy Bridge processors, Apple delivers a spectacular ultraportable, unmatched in almost every aspect of design, performance, and build-quality. The Air brings to the table everything that a very demanding consumer wants: a sophisticated, powerful, and an ultra-thin computing device--a status symbol of sorts. Sure, it demands an arm and a leg to give you all of those features together. But to those who can afford it, all the pitfalls of owning one--and there are some--quickly fade into the background.
Design and Build Quality
The super-thin 11-inch Macbook Air measures only 3-mm at its thinnest edge, and weighs just 1.08kgs (an Apple iPad 2 weighs 613gms). Overall dimensions are very much slate like: Height: 0.11–0.68 inch (3–17 mm) x Width: 11.8 inches (299.5 mm) x Depth: 7.56 inches (192 mm). The variable thickness (Height) is what gives the Air its unique wedge like shape. The rapidly tapering thickness of the body is probably the main reason why more ports aren’t accommodated on the sides of the notebook—you only have two USB ports.
Unibody design form
Compare these dimensions directly to the iPad 2, and you’ll be surprised that the iPad 2 is roughly 25% smaller, of course much of that is because of the smaller 9.7-inch screen compared to the 11.6-inch screen on the MacBook Air. These dimensions are very impressive design and engineering achievements. And you’d be hard pressed to find another notebook manufacturer that follows high-end machining processes to build “just the body”. The base of the Macbook Air is built out of a single aluminum block, which is then passed through CNC and milling stages to carve out a body-cum-chassis to house all the core components. This is what gives the Macbook Air a clear edge over its competition, and also causes the price to rise significantly. But what that gives you back is equally significant: a built-to-last, non-flexing, solid metal body. Aluminum has other obvious benefits, it makes the entire body a heat-sink, and the cooling requirements drop to a great extent. I for one couldn’t hear any fan, not even the slightest of whirring during extended use--although, a small variable speed fan does exist.
The trademark full-size backlit chiclet keyboard with 78 keys is great to use, although I often find the feedback a bit lacking while double-pressing keys, and that’s probably because I’m used to keys with greater travel. The backlighting of the keyboard is adjustable too, using the function keys F5 and F6. The function keys on the top row of the keyboard appear to be less than half the size of a regular key, and while the keys look great and operate alright, they wobble around quite a bit giving them a rather flimsy feel.
Multi-touch trackpad with gesture support
Also present is the large multi-touch trackpad, which is very responsive and supports inertial scrolling (the faster you flick, the faster the scroll), pinch, rotate, swipe, three-finger swipe, four-finger swipe, tap, double-tap, and drag capabilities. If you haven’t used one before, you’ll quickly get used to it, and once you’re hooked onto gestures, you’ll have a hard time using anything else.
A very basic low-res (0.3MP) webcam is used as a FaceTime camera which does not capture images over the resolution 640 x 480. Its use obviously is limited to use in chat, and that’s just about what it manages to do.
Keys light up for night-time typing
Probably the only major concern with the MacBook Air’s design is its display hinge. This was the case with the earlier Air models, and Apple does not seem to have addressed this issue with this release as well. While initially the hinge holds on well, it is prone to loosening up, causing the screen to wobble or even just fall. Not just that, the hinge mechanism looks fragile, and since the display does not flatten backwards it may very well break if it happens to receive some unnecessary pressure. There is even a dedicated section for loose and cracked hinges on Apple’s support site.
The review unit we received was a Macbook Air 11-inch powered by an Intel Core i5 1.6GHz with 3MB of share L3 cache (1.7GHz and 1.8GHz models are available as well). The processor is supplemented well with either 2GB or 4GB of 1333MHz DDR3 SDRAM--we received the one with 4GB. And here’s the important bit about memory configuration, do not make the mistake of buying the 2GB Macbook Air under the impression that you will upgrade it after a while or install a cheaper aftermarket stick. The Macbook Air’s memory is soldered onto the board, so you cannot upgrade later.
Thunderbolt for lightening fast connectivity
Storage doesn’t suffer the same problem, and you could potentially upgrade the SSD at a later date. Apple currently offers three options for the 11-inch MacBook Air: 64GB, 128GB, or optional 256GB of flash storage. The model we reviewed came installed with 128GB of flash storage. While the capacities on offer are pretty limited, SSDs do offer significant advantages: chief among them being better reliability and lower power consumption.
Updated 18 May, 2013, 5:40 pm IST
Popular searches: , , , , ,
Leaked Images, Availability, Pricing,