Is Macbook Air The Best Laptop Ever?
In July 2011, Apple updated its Macbook Air ultraportable laptop family. The new models come with the Intel Sandy Bridge processors, Thunderbolt connectivity, and a backlit keyboard. The new machines all run the latest Mac OS X Lion operating system, too. Does all that make Air the best laptop ever? Read on...
The Best Laptop Best Ever?
This refresh of the Macbook product line, first introduced in 2008, has Apple fans excitedly exclaiming "Macbook Air is the best laptop ever!" You'd expect a lot of Apple aficionados to say that, but does this statement have merit when you look beyond the bubble that Mac users live in?
Let's take a look at the Macbook Air family of four machines. The Macbook Air is available in two screen sizes, each of which is available in a basic or "performance" configuration.
The 11.6 inch Macbook Air has a resolution of 1366 x 768. Its $999 basic version includes a 1.6GHz Intel Core i5 processor, 2 GB of RAM, and a 64 GB solid-state drive (SSD). The $1,199 performance version boosts RAM to 4 GB and the SSD to 128 GB. Options include a faster Core i7 processor, 4 GB of RAM, and even larger SSDs.
The 13.2 inch Macbook Air has a resolution of 1440 x 900. Its $1,299 basic version sports a 1.7 GHz Intel Core i7 processor, 4 GB of RAM, and a 128 GB SSD. The $1,599 performance version comes with the same processor, 4 GB of RAM, and a 256 GB SSD. A 1.8 GHz Core i7 CPU is an option.
Interestingly, the price difference between 11 and 13 inch models decreases as you add options. With all of the options available, the 11 inch Macbook Air costs $1,650; the 13 inch model, $1,699.
All Macbook Air models come with WiFi and Bluetooth wireless connectivity, two USB 2.0 ports, and a headphone port. A microphone and a Webcam are built in. Intel's HD Graphics 3000 powers the display.
The 13 inch Macbook Air weighs 2.6 pounds while the 11 inch model weighs 2.33 pounds. Both are only 0.68 inches thick at their hinges, tapering towards the user. Batter life is rated at 5 hours for the 11 inch models and 7 hours for the 13 inch models.
Personally, I wouldn't call the Macbook Air the best laptop ever made. Here's why... The upgrade to SSD is a dramatic improvement; bootup time is cut to seconds and read/write operations are lightning fast. The backlit keyboard is a nice touch. The Macbook is sleek and very stylish, all to its credit.
But at best, it's the best Macbook ever made. Ironically, there's one big problem with the Macbook Air - it runs Mac OS X. Now before you accuse me of some form of zealotry, keep in mind that at least 85% of all computers still run some version of the Windows operating system. And that makes the Macbook Air a non-starter for at least 8 out of 10 people. There is an Intel processor in that sexy case, and the Macbook Air can run Windows 7. But Apple is not likely to offer that option in any year that starts with a "2".
Even on a hardware level, I have issues. There are no user-replaceable parts in a Macbook Air. RAM is soldered into the motherboard. To replace the battery (which does wear out eventually), you have to send the whole computer back to Apple or leave it at an Apple Store or authorized repair shop for a while. Come on, Cupertino. Almost every other laptop in the world has a panel that provides user access to the RAM, battery or hard drive.
And moving outside the bubble, the Macbook Air is outshone in several areas by high-end ultraportable laptops that run Windows. The 13 inch Sony Vaio Z, for example, is 0.3 pounds lighter than the 13 inch Macbook Air. Whereas the Macbook Air uses a low-voltage processor, the Vaio's CPU is a faster standard voltage model. While this makes the Vaio run hotter, it also boosts performance into the desktop class. The Vaio also has USB 3.0 while the Macbook Air stuck with USB 2.0. And it's not bad looking, either.
What's your opinion? Agree or disgaree, post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 25 Jul 2011
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Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved