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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

On paper, this 11-inch MacBook Air looks underpowered, but don't underestimate what it can do. Its solid state storage is twice as fast as hard disk drives, and its integrated Nvidia GeForce 320M graphics chipset is the most powerful currently available.

As a result, it's quite capable of playing in-depth and system-hungry gaming titles. Doom 3 ran at over 50 frames per second, even with the graphics quality turned up to maximum, and it plays a mean game of Call of Duty 4.

It can also handle high-definition movies with ease. Our 1,280 x 720-resolution copy of The Hurt Locker ran perfectly smoothly. Naturally, stereo speakers give the new MacBook Air's audio greater depth, but if you're serious about your multimedia, it's best to invest in a set of external speakers.

Although the 11.6-inch screen is the smallest to grace a Mac notebook in well over a decade, it's not at all difficult to use. Its screen resolution of 1,366 x 768 pixels is higher than that found on a typical 13-inch laptop, and its LED-backlit high-resolution display gives crystal clear image reproduction and great viewing angles.

Obviously those whose work demands a large screen won't be satisfied, but for everyone else, it's fine. After a while it doesn't feel any smaller than a 13-inch screen.

The 11-inch MacBook Air's battery gives five hours' use from a single charge and, like all modern MacBooks, if you close the lid without powering down, it goes into Sleep Mode. Thanks to technologies developed for the iPad, after an hour in Sleep Mode it enters Standby Mode, an ultra-low-powered state that can last for up to 30 days before it drains the battery.

Yet as soon as you open the lid again, it's instant-on. This is a fantastic feature that's great for those times when you use your notebook in short bursts instead of for long periods, such as when working away from your desk or on holiday.

There are one or two negative points. It doesn't have built-in 3G internet access, though you can get online using the Air's Wi-Fi or a 3G USB dongle. Adobe Flash isn't preinstalled, so the first time you boot up, you should go to http://bit.ly/mwfN1 and download it, and we mentioned the lack of an SD card reader.

But far more irritating is that there's no backlit keyboard for low-light conditions. This feature has proved incredibly popular in the past, but now it's back to tilting the screen forwards to light up your typing. Why this innovative and useful feature was removed is anyone's guess, but we hope it returns for the next MacBook Air release.

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