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MacBook Air 11-inch review

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

macbook air 11 inch

The late 2010 MacBook Air represents a radical overhaul for Apple's ultra-thin notebook, not least because of the introduction of a new 11-inch model. The Intel Core 2 Duo processors are nothing special, but they combine with the Nvidia GeForce 320M graphics chipset and solid state storage to give the new Airs a much better performance than you might expect.

We liked

The Nvidia GeForce 320M graphics chipset is the most powerful integrated solution currently available. Switching to solid state storage and installing the chips and controller on a RAM stick-like circuit board instead of enclosing them in a 2.5-inch casing the same size as a hard disk drive is a masterstroke. Not only is it much lighter, but it frees up room for extra battery power.

Standby Mode, where an Air in Sleep Mode for an hour enters a deep hibernation state, means you can leave the MacBook Air switched on closed for up to 30 days, but have it instantly accessible as soon as you open it again. It's great to have two USB ports and stereo speakers too.

We disliked

There isn't much to dislike about the late 2010 release of the MacBook Air, but we do miss the backlit keyboard. It's a real shame this useful and popular feature had to go, but if you use your computer in the dark, maybe in bed, it's back to switching on your bedside lamp or tilting the screen forward to illuminate the keyboard.

Some will bemoan the lack of integrated 3G internet access, but we're not too bothered. You can always connect through a 3G dongle or a MiFi unit. It's a pity there's no SD card reader in this 11-inch model too, but we accept it had to go for the sake of space.

Verdict

With the late 2010 release, the MacBook Air leaves behind its novelty image and becomes a genuine rival to the entry-level MacBook and MacBook Pro. It has a power that belies its on-paper clock speed, a gorgeous screen and with its new battery and energy-saving technology, instant-on convenience.

We miss the backlit keyboard, though, and hope it returns in the next generation of MacBook Airs. It's still pretty expensive too, with the range starting at £849 and this particular model costing £999.

It might not be a notebook for everybody, but if you want something that's powerful, convenient and portable, it just might be the notebook for you.

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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