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MacBook Air 11-inch review

Has the MacBook Air finally come of age with this new 11-inch version?

Our Verdict

Product features

  • Screen Resolution : 1366 x 768
  • Processor Core : Dual-core (2 Core)

View full specification

For

  • Flash storage
  • Great new graphics chipset
  • Enhanced battery life
  • 30-day standby mode
  • High-resolution screen

Against

  • Processors relatively slow
  • No backlit keyboard
  • No SD card reader
  • No 3G internet
  • Still a little expensive

Although an excellent technological achievement, the MacBook Air has previously struggled to find its niche in the Apple notebook range. It was too expensive to compete with the low-end MacBook, and not powerful enough to replace the higher-specced MacBook Pros. It was light, beautiful and desirable, but unnecessary.

The late 2010 release of the MacBook Air represents a major update for Apple's ultra-thin notebook. The form factor has had a major overhaul, and there's now four off-the-shelf MacBook Air configurations instead of two. Interestingly, two of the MacBook Airs have 11-inch screens, making them the smallest Apple notebooks since the Powerbook 5300 Series back in the mid-'90s.

The two 11-inch models use 1.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processors and cost £849 and £999 respectively, while the two higher-end MacBook Airs once again use 13-inch screens, run on 1.86 GHz Core 2 Duo processors and cost £1,099 and £1,349.

The new MacBook Airs benefit from several technologies developed for the iPad. While the last generation of MacBook Air offered a high-end flash storage model and a cheaper release that used a hard drive, the entire MacBook Air range has now gone over to solid state drives.

In fact, the two 11-inch MacBook Airs and the two 13-inch releases are differentiated only in the amount of solid state storage they have. The 11-inch MacBook Airs have 64GB and 128GB respectively, while the 13-inch models offer 128GB and 256GB.

But there's more to the new MacBook Airs than a switch to solid state storage. The new notebooks have an interesting new form factor, extended battery life and although processor speeds are nothing to write home about, new graphics technologies give them a power that belies their on-paper clock speeds.

But can the late 2010 revision reinvent the MacBook Air as a realistic alternative to a MacBook or MacBook Pro, or is it still no more than a useful second notebook?

Tech Specs

Product TypeNotebook
Green CompliantYes
Hard Drive CapacityNo
Processor ManufacturerIntel
Graphics Controller ManufacturerNVIDIA
Graphics Controller ModelGeForce 320M
BluetoothYes
Wireless LANYes
Optical Drive TypeNo
Graphics Memory AccessibilityShared
Maximum Battery Run Time5 Hour
Solid State Drive Capacity128 GB
WebcamYes
Backlight TechnologyLED
DisplayPortYes
Product FamilyMacBook Air
Operating SystemMac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard
Brand NameApple
Processor Speed1.40 GHz
Processor TypeCore 2 Duo
Screen Size29.5 cm (11.6")
Screen Resolution1366 x 768
Standard Memory2 GB
Weight (Approximate)1.04 kg
Cache3 MB
Processor CoreDual-core (2 Core)
Green Compliance Certificate/AuthorityENERGY STAR, EPEAT Gold
64-bit ProcessingYes
Graphics Memory CapacityUp to 256 MB
Display Screen TypeActive Matrix TFT Colour LCD
Wireless LAN StandardIEEE 802.11n
Bluetooth StandardBluetooth 2.1
Total Number of USB Ports2
Memory StandardDDR3-1066/PC3-8500
Height17.3 mm
Width299.7 mm
Depth192 mm
Screen ModeWXGA
Memory TechnologyDDR3 SDRAM
ManufacturerApple, Inc
Product ModelMC506B/A
Product NameMacBook Air MC506B/A Notebook
Pointing Device TypeTrack Pad
Product LineMacBook Air
Aspect Ratio16:9
Manufacturer Part NumberMC506B/A
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.apple.com/uk
Marketing Information

We learned a lot from iPad. The new MacBook Air is proof. It's designed around all-flash storage for better responsiveness and reliability. It features a trackpad with full Multi-Touch support. And though it's incredibly thin and light, its large battery gives you portable power that lasts for hours.

Maximum Memory4 GB
Battery ChemistryLithium Polymer (Li-Polymer)
Package Contents
  • MacBook Air MC506B/A Notebook
  • Lithium Polymer Battery
  • Power Cord
  • AC Wall Plug
  • Software Reinstall Drive
  • MagSafe Power Adapter
  • Printed and Electronic Documentation
Limited Warranty1 Year
Bus Speed800 MHz