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MacBook Air 13-inch and 11-inch Review
For the longest time, laptop users have been restricted by the lack of battery performance with their portable computers. Many users, prior to Apple’s enclosed battery system, would have carried multiple batteries just to get them through the working day.
With the recently updated MacBook Air 11 and 13-inch models, this Achilles’ heel is a thing of the past.
The 11-inch MacBook Air can now deliver up to 9 hours of wireless web usage, whilst the 13-inch model has increased to massive 12 hours of wireless web usage.
If you don’t wish to work, and would prefer to sit back and watch a HD movie that you recently acquired via iTunes, you will be able to view this content for up to 8 hours on the 11-inch model, and 10 hours on the 13-inch model. There are truly no power limits with this new update, especially when you add the ability to standby the MacBook Air for up to 30 days.
Power Nap is an included, and relatively new, technology that allows you to receive new E-mails and Calendar invitations whilst your computer is asleep. No longer will you have to load up the Mail app and wait for your new emails to be delivered to you in the morning. It is this user friendly approach that truly appeals to Mac users.
MacBook Air 2013 Specs
Whilst Power Nap is impressive, you won’t be waiting long for this MacBook Air to get to work – about 12 seconds from a cold start. This is thanks to the storage that is centered around ultra-fast flash modules that are up to 45 per cent faster than the previous models, and up to an astounding 9 times faster than a traditional 5400-rpm notebook hard drive.
Adding to this increased performance, Apple has also increased the entry level storage offering from the paltry 64GB that was found on the previous 11-inch model, to a more respectable, and usable, 128GB of flash storage. You can configure certain models of the MacBook Air to include 512GB of flash storage, but this needs to be done at the time of purchase, as the internal storage options are not upgradeable within the MacBook Air line.
Likewise, a RAM upgrade will need to be performed at the time of purchase. All MacBook Air models ship with a standard 4GB of RAM, that is expandable to 8GB. It is strongly recommended that you perform this upgrade, especially if you are looking at doing any intensive tasks such as video, audio, or photographic editing. For all web browsing, writing, and researching tasks, you should fine with the 4GB option, but it may become restrictive if you intend on holding onto your MacBook Air for a number of years.
All processing requirements for the MacBook Air line are handled by Intel’s 4th Generation Core i5 and i7 processors, codenamed Haswell ULT. This new processor architecture is what assists immensely with increased battery performance. Coupled with this processor update, is the new Intel HD Graphics 5000 chipset that delivers up to 40 per cent faster graphics. This is perfect for anyone wanting to play games, or use their MacBook Air for graphic-intensive tasks.
Apple also packed the brand new 802.11ac wireless draft specification into the new MacBook Air model. The big improvement here is speed and Wi-Fi range from 802.11ac compatible routers. It is important to note that the MacBook Air is backwards compatible with all popular Wi-Fi standards including 802.11 a/b/g/n networks.
Physical connectivity didn’t change in this update. You still have two USB 3 ports, a Thunderbolt port, headphone jack, MagSafe 2 power adapter, and on the 13-inch model you also get a SDXC card slot.
There is no need to worry about the limited selection of ports as you can get a Thunderbolt to Gigabit Ethernet Adapter, and a Thunderbolt to FireWire adapter at an additional cost. You can always use a USB hub with the MacBook Air, should you wish to connect more than two devices at a time, and Thunderbolt allows the daisy chaining of devices and most importantly the connection to Apple’s Thunderbolt Display.
The only minor change to the chassis is the dual internal microphones that are designed to pick up audible sounds better than a single microphone. This makes FaceTime and Skype calls louder whilst offering a clearer experience for the person, or persons, on the other end of the call. Background noise has also been reduced to help with Dictation functionality.
Apple never stops innovating, and with a powerful relationship with Intel, battery performance in the ultra portable MacBook Air line has seen a major improvement without jeopardizing performance, weight, or the overall size of the MacBook Air.
Add the 802.11ac draft specification and you have complete flexibility to work from any office location you desire.
The decision to purchase a MacBook of any flavor has just become more difficult. When the Haswell ULT chipset is further utilized, in the MacBook line, similar battery performance is likely to be seen in the Pro models. But can you wait until the next update?
The only limitation of the current MacBook Air lineup is the lack of a Retina display. With that in mind, the improved battery performance would likely have been lost if a Retina display was included. It is fair to say that users of this ultra portable Mac would much prefer the extended battery life over a Retina display. I know I do!
So will you be upgrading? If so, how and where will you be using this new MacBook Air?