MacBook Air Review Part 1: Specs and performance

I’m really pleased to bring you the

first of a four-part audio review about the new MacBook Air, released in July of 2011.

In this first part, we’ll discuss its features and specifications, along with what makes it stand out. In part two, we’ll be focusing on cases. Traditionally, bags for the MacBook Air have been more fashionable than functional. I’ll talk about some bags that look good, but get the job done. These bags are not economical, but are well-made.

The MacBook Air has an excellent battery. Traditionally, it lasts about 4.5 hours under Windows and about 5 hours when using Lion. However, even the longest batteries run down, and often at the most inconvenient times. Part 3 will cover portable battery and charging options.

To wrap it all up, part 4 wil compare and contrast the MacBook Air and the product most similar to it… the iPad.

For a long time, earlier versions of the MacBook Air were viewed as laptops that people carried around to look cool, but couldn’t do that much. These early versions were very expensive. The Air’s initial claim to fame was as the laptop that could fit in an envelope. In fact, if you put the MacBook Air in a FedEx envelope, it will fit easily. The device is slightly thicker in the rear, and tapers down to the front where it is quite thin. You can even check out this video on YouTube of a man using the sharp edge of his MacBook Air to cut vegetables.

As Apple saw the wisdom in making the MacBook Air more valuable than just functioning as the must-have fashion accessory for the traveling executive, the price has come down, and the latest version of the MacBook Air sports more power than previous models.

The most recent incarnation of the MacBook Air comes in 11.6 and 13-inch models. I’m totally blind, and I see little compelling reason to buy the larger screen size. The 13-inch model has a slightly larger battery, but actual battery life is only extended by about 30 minutes. Additionally, both screen sizes come with the same processor options.

The base price for an 11.6 inch MacBook Air is $999.00. With this configuration, the standard is a 1.4 GHZ Intel processor with 4 GB RAM and a 64 GB Solid State Drive. In fact, all MacBook Airs use solid state drives. The next step up outfits the MacBook Air with a 1.7 GHZ i3 processor with 3 MB L2 cache. Finally, the 1.8 GHZ i7 processor has 4 MB of L2 cache. That extra megabyte can really make a difference, especially when doing processor-intensive tasks like viewing YouTube videos.

Because MacBook Airs use solid state drives, , there are no moving parts, and boot times are quite fast. On average, it takes about 10-12 seconds to boot into Lion, the operating system for the Mac, and about 20-25 seconds for Windows to start. When I reopen the lid after putting the Mac in standby, access to information and internet connectivity is back in roughly 4 seconds. Drives come in 64 GB, 128 GB, and 256 GB capacities. However, with Apple, all things are not necessarily created equal. Price difference between the 64 and 128 gb drives averages between $60 and $100, but there is a $300 price difference between the 128 and the 256 gb drives. Additionally, benchmarks show a decrease in speed with the 256 gb drive that is not seen with the others. Still, if you need additional storage, you are not without options. You can use external devices,like I’ll be covering in part 3, or access your data from the cloud.

The last configurable item is memory, and can have a maximum of 4 GB.

The audio is quite a bit louder than it is on a netbook or similar computer. An ingenious feature allows grooves near the hinges at the rear of the MacBook Air to function as speakers as well as vents for the fan.

The MacBook Air with 128 GB drive is not available from the Apple retail store, but can be ordered from the online store. It cost $1350, and would have been $1650 with the 256 GB drive.

The right side of the unit contains a USB port and a Thunderbolt Port for connectivity to an increasing number of devices.

The left side contains a second USB port, a headphone jack, a microphone, and a built-in camera.

In this age of smart phones and other internet-enabled devices, it’s rare that a laptop needs to run for 4.5 hours at a time. The MacBook Air has a small power supply that is easy to carry. The keyboard is full-sized and comfortable to use, although the arrangement of a few keys is different when using it under Windows. The keyboard is backlit, and its brightness, as well as that of the display, can be adjusted.

I mostly use Windows, but I use Lion to demonstrate Serotek’s Mac-compatible products. I have had this MacBook Air for three to four weeks,I feel that Lion is functional but not necessarily productive for my personal uses at this point in time. I love the MacBook Air’s solid build and quality and I like the fact that Windows can be run on a Mac.

This is by no means a full review of this machine it’s just my personal opinion as a consumer. If you have questions on something that I didn’t cover in enough detail or comments, I would love to hear from you. Contact us either by submitting an iReport on iBlink Radio, (available for Android and iOS), or by calling the Blab Line at 866 997-blab or 997-2522.


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