Apple's Macbook Air 13 (2010 Model): The Future of Laptops?
This is my review video of the Macbook Air 13 (2010 model). This version has the 2.16 Ghz Intel Core 2 Duo CPU, 4 GB RAM, 256 GB SSD, NVIDIA GeForce 320M GPU, Bluetooth, 802.11b/g/n WiFi. It has no CD/DVD drive. The unboxing video can be found here; I kept this laptop for the full two weeks before returning it to Apple. Returning it was a hard decision, because there were so many things I liked about the Macbook Air.
The screen - oh, that SCREEN - was truly excellent. High-quality screens are so hard to find on Windows laptops, but Apple takes screens seriously and I've yet to see any Apple product with a screen that looked pale and washed out, which is sadly typical on many Windows laptops. The best screens on Windows laptops are usually only found on larger laptops, and even then often only on business/enterprise models. I will say though that the screen on the Sony Vaio Z looked quite good; good screens are out there on Windows laptops, but they're hard to find on a laptop that also meets the other requirements I was looking for as a buyer.
The physical design of the product is quite impressive - it's amazingly thin at 0.3-1.7cm (0.11-0.68 inch) - and feels fairly light in the hands at 1.32 kg (2.9 pounds). Being a Windows user, the keyboard button layout gave me headaches, but I can't fault the tactile feel of the keys, or the fact that Apple - much to their credit - lets users pick if they want an English or French/English keyboard when they buy the product. That means a full-sized left shift key. Are you listening HP? Sony? Acer? Asus? Stop forcing French/English keyboards on Canadian users.
Figure 1: The Windows Experience Index score, as measured under Windows 7.
I published this video on YouTube a bit over a week ago, and I've been surprised by two things as I've read and responded to the comments. First, that some people really appreciate the length of the video - I really dove into a lot of detail, especially about the battery life on OS X vs. Windows, but I wasn't sure how many people would be interested in that. I'll be publishing a separate article on that topic, because I find it quite fascinating.
The second thing that surprised me was how offended - for lack of a better word - some people got that I was pushing the Macbook Air to see what it could and could not do. That I would even try to edit HD videos or raw photos on this thin and light notebook was somehow ludicrous and upset people. I stand by my decision: while the 13" Macbook Air that I bought might be thinner and lighter than a netbook, it still packs a 2.13 Ghz Core 2 Duo CPU - a CPU that far outstrips anything shipping in a netbook today. This isn't an Atom processor after all; it's perfectly reasonable for a reviewer to see what the combination of that CPU and the SSD can and can't do.
I in no way fault the Macbook Air for not being able to measure up to my needs; for 95% of the people out there, the performance this laptop has would be more than sufficient for anything they wanted to do. For me though, it didn't quite measure up when compared to the $1800 price tag, so I'll be keeping a keen eye on Apple's next refresh of the Macbook Pro line. Ultimately something with a Core i5 or Core i7 is likely what I need. I also saw some interesting laptops at CES 2011 that caught my attention.
I've since returned the Macbook Air for a refund - the employee I was dealing with at the Apple store really wanted to hit me with the 10% restocking fee, but I talked my way out of it - but I'm happy to answer any questions about it that you might have if I can.
Further, be sure to check out Really Refreshing to benchmark the battery life on your own laptop. We'll be changing the sites we're using on that soon, but for now, it's still an interesting test of battery endurance.
Jason Dunn owns and operates Thoughts Media Inc., a company dedicated to creating the best in online communities. He enjoys photography, mobile devices, blogging, digital media content creation/editing, and pretty much all technology. He lives in Calgary, Alberta, Canada with his lovely wife, his wonderful son Logan, and his sometimes obedient dog. He wishes more Windows laptop OEMs cared about creating iconic hardware designs.
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