Tech Review: MacBook Air

Posted on May 7, 2013

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Apple’s MacBook Air has led a technological revolution in the world of notebooks. Promoting itself as the “world’s thinnest notebook”, its iconic super-skinny 1.7cm chassis continues to be an inspiration for future notebooks in the ultraportable category. The latest model comes in two sizes, 11.6-inches and 13.3-inches.

But does that mean you should get one? I spoke to six Bangkok-based Indians about their recently acquired MacBook Airs to help you decide.

Weight

Its light weight—a little over a kilo—and compact size make it perfect on the go. One user said, “Hauling around even a small laptop can be taxing and annoying, especially if I have other things to carry. The 11-inch MacBook is perfect for whipping out at any time.”

Performance

The MacBook Air has a fast start up and shut down, due to its solid state drive (SSD). The processor speed, at 1.7 GHz for the 11-inch and 1.8 GHz for the 13-inch, makes the system fast and responsive. It’s also pretty stable. One Thai-Indian said, “It is the best gadget to use for creating and presenting a presentation. Plus it has no viruses.” The graphics, with over a million colours, look impressive on the glossy widescreen display, and the resolutions of 1366×768 for the 11-inch and 1440×900 for the 13-inch are great, too. The battery life problems with older models have somewhat improved. The newer Air runs for an average of three to five hours on a full charge for some and six to eight hours for a few. The speakers, however, do not fare so well, with many agreeing that they could be better.

Design

The sleek chrome finish and thinner-than-a-novel wedge design is undisputedly everyone’s favourite thing about the Air. One of our respondents gleefully says, “I love my MacBook Air. It’s easy to use, and it’s beautiful.”

Features

The backlit keyboard and multi-touch trackpad makes multitasking effortless. The storage is one aspect where many agreed Apple could work on. The capacity ranges from a mere 64GB for the 11-inch to 256GB for the 13-inch. For a regular laptop user like myself, it seems hardly enough. But if you’re iCloud-savvy, you can store all your files in a common server. External CD drives and an SD card slot can be purchased additionally, in case you miss them. Our respondents seemed not to care as much. One claimed that she missed it, only when she had to watch movies and upload music from old CDs. “But if you buy music online or download, then it shouldn’t be a problem.” Another said, “Initially, I was gutted that I would not have a CD drive, so I bought an external one. But I have never used it.”

The Best
+ Light weight and beautiful design
+ Fast performance
+ Quick start up, thanks to the next-generation flash storage technology
+ Stable processor
+ Excellent customer support

The Worst
– Speakers
– Smaller hard drive
– Lacks SD card slot and CD drive
– Expensive and needs accessories

The Verdict

The MacBook Air is great for surfing the web, video calling, and photo transfers. Its hardware, smooth performance, and portability also make it great for professional use. Its stable processor—one user points out, “It doesn’t crash like Windows”—and Apple’s excellent post-buy service make it hard not to stick with Mac. But with a starting price of B31,900 for an 11.6-inch the MacBook Air is not a bargain. While many users think the price is acceptable, others, including myself, think it could be cheaper, especially since competing ultrabooks offer similar hardware specifications. Purchasing the CD drive and SD card reader means more money, too.

Featured in Masala Lite, May 2013

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