Laptops: Compare features & prices Apple MacBook Air 11-inch review http://www.which.co.uk/technology/computing/reviews/laptops/apple-macbook-air-11-inch/review/
Apple's MacBook Air set the standard for the ultra-thin, ultra-light laptop, and paved the way for the ultrabook format. The latest version is the fastest and most versatile yet, but can Apple's wonder machine stay ahead of the competition? We took it to find out.
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Another piece of Apple kit that just does what it says on the tin Very well
My family and friends combined to buy me my Macbook Air (MBA) for my sixtieth birthday as a replacement for my 10 year old Mac Powerbook. The first thing that you notice is how light and thin it is! Is this a proper computer? Most definitely YES.I had some reservations, no DVD drive and the much criticised Mountain Lion OS being the main ones. However the remote disc facility works seamlessly with my iMac and £20 bought me an external DVD drive that I use to watch movies when I work away from home. I'm not quite sure why Mountain Lion is so disliked, sure some of it is not as good as Snow Leopard which is the OS on my iMac (2008) and any attempt to migrate the iPhone OS to the rest of the Apple range would be a mistake, at the moment Mountain Lion is a reasonable compromise between a proper OS for serious computing and the slick but more limited IOS (iPhone's operating operating system). In these days of "convergent technologies" having similar operating methods across different devices is important to me. The downside of that is it does tend to lock you into one manufacturer's view of how computing should be. As an aside I suspect that this is at least part of the reason for the antipathy that exists in some areas between Mac and PC users. I'm used to the Apple way of doing things, that does not make it better or worse than MicroSoft, what I would say is that I use XP a fair amount as well, I recently helped a friend set up their Windows 8 laptop and it took some time to adjust to the different way 8 works in comparison with XP, more of a revolution than evolution it would seem. Reviewers often criticise Apple for it's evolutionary approach to its products after the initial revolution, but for long term users this is a benefit in my view.I hate track pads and nearly always used a mouse with the Powerbook, the pad on the MBA is a different proposition, it works the same way as my iPhone and Magic track pad that I use with my iMac. It did need some tweaks in the System preferences so that it worked the same way as the phone and Imac, and I have to say that Apple support for sorting this out was not as good as I expected (they did not know how to get the gestures on the trackpad to be the same as they are on my other devices). There's no Rosetta support so many of my ancient apps like my Adobe CS1 won't work, but there are plenty of cheap photo manipulation, drawing and page makeup apps that do most things an amateur photographer would want, given the limited screen size.The tweaks to the OS for using a small screen are excellent, like the ability to lose the menu bar to give more useable screen area and the reader facility in Safari which on a lot of sites just gives you the text full screen, so it's easier for these old eyes to read!!The hardware I'm sure is not as fast as the latest Windows laptops, but is way quicker than my 2008 iMac core 2 duo. The startup speed is astonishing, due in part to the solid state drive (SSD) . The other benefits of the SSD will be that as far as data is concerned this laptop will survive being dropped better than a conventional Hard Drive. For something so slim and light it appears to be very robust. It runs very cool and the battery lasts an extraordinary length of time, I rarely shut it down I just close the lid and it goes into some sort of deep sleep, over 3 days or so in this mode it used about 1% of the battery I think.The keyboard uses the same key type as the Apple keyboards supplied with their desktops, tactile and positive.My Powerbook had a matte screen which I prefer, but I've not really had any issues with the gloss screen yet, the colours do appear more vibrant, so for me the jury is still out on that one.Other typical Apple thoughtful details are things like the magsafe power adapter, what could possibly be thoughtful about a power adapter you may well ask? It is this, the connector is attached to the MBA by a magnet, so if you trip over the charger lead it does not do what most others do, ie either breaks the connector off in the laptop or perhaps worse drags it off the sofa/table/desk onto the floor with the consequent damage to the laptop and you, as you fall over, it simply disconnects avoiding all the above! There is also a very discrete neoprene seal round the edge of the screen so when the lid is closed it is more or less dust proof, a real plus for me on construction sites.I did wonder about paying Apple's premium price for what is only middling performance, so I bought an Apple refurbished one (these are items returned to Apple as faulty from new and then refurbished by them with a full warranty) saving me just over £200. My partner has had 5 or 6 mid priced laptops over the last 10 years so assuming that this one is going to be as reliable as my other Apple kit in the end long term it may actually be cheaper. I have Apple computers going right back to my MacPlus from 1985, they all still work, in the end I am forced to upgrade because software support stops and the world moves on leaving me with working but essentially obsolete equipment, very frustrating but I've only had to do that 5 times in nearly thirty years.There are not many expansion ports. The Thunderbolt port has limited use at the moment, but there are adapters to several other formats, HDMI, DVI etc, although the prices are little short of a rip off! The USB3 ports (2) are quite quick, I've seen sustained transfer speeds to my 1Tb external drive of 45Mb/sec with peaks at over 70Mb/sec. Although this does seem to depend on whether you are transferring hundreds of small files or a few large ones. My itunes library (90Gb or thereabouts) took around an hour and a half, but it definitely runs faster if you just leave the MBA to that task alone. Using it whilst it is copying large amounts of data does not slow the laptop down just the transfer speed.The wireless connection works very well, often making a connection when my iPhone fails to find one.The SD card reader slot is maybe a cheap way of expanding storage, although I'm not sure that the write speed gets anywhere near USB3, but it would probably work well for say an Itunes Library. The only thing is that part of the card sticks out the side, unlike some other card slots which take the card fully into the machine with an eject button.Transferring my files and apps from my Powerbook was relatively painless, the only thing being the apps that wont transfer from such old technologyAll in all a huge leap in performance and usability over my Powerbook. There are other ultra books around now which are probably faster and cheaper, there may even be a few as well built as the MBA, but by the time you get to them they are not much cheaper.If you don't object to the closed world of Apple a highly capable and useable device, and by the way, the battery is user replaceable 8 screws and you are there (not as easy as a conventional laptop, but you would struggle to do it the conventional way with such a small form factor)
First foray into Apple
Can't believe how fast it is to come on. Normal size keyboard makes typing easy. Very responsive and easy to use touchpad. Good battery life, excellent portability. Have had 4 Acer laptops since 2004 and ALL have developed faults out of warranty (screen, battery) and become slow with each change / Windows updates. Went to shop to get an iPad mini as a backup for my Acer laptop and to try out Apple but out of stock. Played with the Air and Pro whilst there and went off to have a long hard think ....... did some reading up and bought one reconditioned from Apple online (saving nearly £200). It was absolutely like new and has full warranty etc etc.Has taken a bit of getting used to but less than a month in I'm hooked. Liked it so much I bought an iphone 3GS for £90 and put my SIM in. SOOOOO much better than the HTC Wildfire - and my photos automatically turn up on the MacAir like magic.No regrets so far!
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