back to article Apple MacBook Air 13in late 2010

When Apple introduced the MacBook Air in January 2008, one of the biggest price hikes in its build to order options was the choice of a 64GB SSD. Those with slightly shallower pockets for this slimline ultraportable wouldn’t hesitate to opt for the 80GB hard drive version instead. Yet if you’re tempted to take the Air today, you …


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  1. DaveyP

    This should be fun...

    I shall offer a prize to the first person to post that their laptop is 50 times faster and only cost 12 shillings and sixpence...

  2. That Awful Puppy

    OK, I want one

    Happy now?

  3. Anonymous Coward


    I'll have three 11"ers please.

    Wait...they cost how much???? Maybe not then. Shame - they looked good too.

    Geniunely interested question - which other laptops out there have "instant on", and can match the Air's form factor and battery life?

    1. hexx

      what title?

      none and none at that price

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Instant on

      It's weird to me that Apple is making such a big deal about this. One of the selling points of Apple laptops has ALWAYS been that they go to sleep and wake up quickly. Even old models with hard drives are basically instant-on. And the two seconds you might have waited is decreased to basically MacBook Air speeds if you replace the drive with an SSD. My old MacBook came to life from sleep at least as fast as my new 11" MacBook Air.

      That being said, the 30 day standby time is a terrific new feature. I always had to remember to keep my MacBook plugged in, otherwise it would run down its battery completely in < 2 days. Very annoying. At least Windows laptops can be configured to hibernate after a few hours of sleeping. (This feature was never 100% reliable unfortunately but still useful.)

      I'm not sure how they get the standby time. If the laptop were in any of the "sleep" modes supported by the standard PC hardware/chipset it would run down in a couple days. If it were turned off, I'd expect it to be able to "stand by" for 2-3 months before the battery drained due to disuse. Maybe Apple's proprietary battery chemistry doesn't have good standby time.

      So I think the MacBook Air basically hibernates when you close the lid. One thing about SSDs is that they have good random access time. So when you wake the computer up, there is no advantage to the typical "wake from hibernation" process ... i.e., sequentially reading the contents of memory back from the hard drive. So you can simply start using the computer and the data will be read back into memory as you need it... makes things slow for the first few seconds/minutes but not horribly slow. This seems to jive with my personal experience. Often when I wake up my MacBook Air it is a slightly crunchy for the first 30 seconds or so.

  4. Anton Ivanov

    Shiny... Shiny...

    Reaching for the battered dead badger (sorry, 2002 1GHz G4 MacBook Pro) and opening it... And the wake up time with Debian and a new 5400 RPM samsung drive is... drum roll... drum roll... drum roll... around 1s.

    Let's be real. 2-3s of wakeup is actually staggeringly bad. On a machine which is that expensive and that new the wakeup should be near-instantaneous. FFS, my Atom based Lenovo s10e (once again under Debian) with its factory fitted geriatric SATA disk achieves an average sub-3s wakeup from sleep even after I plugged a whole lot of scripts in the hibernate hooks. So 2-3s are definitely nothing to shout about.

    That is as far as the "iPad like experience" is concerned.

    As far as actually using it for anything real - it is too light. Even with the rather low feedback Apple keyboards it will wobble madly around your knees when typing. So you either need a table or one of those Ikea laptop pillows to keep it stable. So much for "work anywhere".

    Same as the previous Air it will be bought by magpies who need to show off and not really work on the road. The latter will stick to MacBook Pro 13 or their PC maker of choice.

    1. Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Shiny... Shiny...

      I had one of the previous MacBook Airs and it never "wobbled around" on my knees.

      Can some people really not place a notebook on their lap and keep it steady?

      1. Steve Coburn

        Re: Shiny... Shiny...

        But even the author said

        "As a portable, its low mass was probably the most obvious difference, as it freely wobbled around on the lap, where rather heavier beasts would typically stay put."

      2. 45RPM Silver badge
        Paris Hilton

        Depends what website I'm looking at.

        Paris - isn't it obvious?

    2. Airhead

      wake time

      I picked one up as I was in America when they were launched the other week (thus saving me the Apple tax). The reviewer does it a bit of a disservice. Waking from sleep is as near instantaneous as makes no difference. By the time you've lifted the lid to 90 degrees, the desktop appears, with maybe another quarter of a second for the wireless symbol to indicate it's connected. Are you sure your Debian boxes aren't just switching the monitors back on, rather than waking from sleep?

    3. Alastair 7

      Not sure

      That the Air can ever be 'too light', given that the lightness is it's sole reason for being.

      It might come with drawbacks, but it's worth it if you are on a move a lot.

    4. 45RPM Silver badge
      Jobs Halo

      In fairness...

      2-3 seconds would be waking up from hibernate - deep, deep, deep sleep. Waking up from normal sleep is quicker than blinking. At any rate, it's quicker (by far) than opening the lid of the laptop.

      Mine (a fully maxed 13") is on order (after extensive testing of a demo unit). I was deeply impressed - so much so that I decided not to buy a 'Pro after all. Mine will mostly be used for coding (Mac and Windows), Office, 'Net and Email, and (almost certainly) Civilization V.


      1. Goat Jam
        Paris Hilton

        Civ V?

        Uh, where do you put the CD?

        1. Richard 74
          Thumb Up

          @Civ V?

          "Uh, where do you put the CD?"


    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      More instant on

      Well, Linux and OS X wake-from-sleep times have always been pretty good but these laptops will usually be compared to Windows laptops, and the Windows wake-from-sleep is a stuttering mess in comparison.

      I can easily use my MacBook Air on my lap. Actually that is one of the key reasons I bought it--better LAPtop computing experience. My MacBook was heavy enough that it became uncomfortable to use for more than an hour or so at a time, and it would also get hot enough under load that it became uncomfortable. And actually once it had warmed up for a while it was a little too warm for me. So the MacBook Air is light enough and cool enough that I enjoy using it on my lap for hours at a time. I don't know why you can't seem to keep yours from shaking around while using it. Might want to consult your doctor about that.

  5. JDX Gold badge

    Actually doesn't seem that expensive

    A regular MacBook is a designer laptop, basically. But the Air doesn't really have too many competitors (a few, no doubt?) and higher prices for ultra-slimline laptops are normal.

    I'd say this is perhaps the "best value" Mac around. Cue people chiming in "no Mac is a value Mac", who lug a 6Kg £350 Dell around :)

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Programming note:

    It's taken as read that all the Apple-bashing posts in the 11" MBA review are just as applicable to the 13", so let's not duplicate them here, eh?

  7. Jamester


    "With the key dimming function keys now absent, Apple has the far right function key performing the power on duties."

    Think you may find that this has actually taken the place of the now pointless eject button...

    1. Ted

      You need the eject button...

      you still need an eject button when you eject cds / dvds...

      1. John 62

        You need the eject button...

        to eject cds / dvds when you actually have a cd / dvd drive. Take another look at the Air :)

  8. AdamWill


    "And don’t let that 1.86GHz processor put you off either. The new MacBook Air is very snappy. The graphics upgrade and the SSD appear mask any shortcomings the CPU might have for more demanding tasks."

    That rather depends on the nature of your 'demanding tasks', doesn't it? A graphics card upgrade and faster storage is going to do approximately naff all for, say, video transcoding, or code compilation (okay, okay, depending on the nature of the code an SSD can help there, but still).

    1. Dave 126

      @ Wot?

      A graphics card can do plenty for video transcoding, using OpenCL (in OSX). Not only that, but Adobe productivity applications are coming to use these techniques as well, supported by the later versions of OSX. The general snappiness of the operating system is aided by having its Quartz system offloaded to the GPU.

      Hell, on a Windows PC Adobe's latest Flash uses compatible GPUs for hardware accelleration, and programs such as ray-tracing renderers and physics processors can use the GPU.

      Using a GPU as a General Purpose Processing Unit is becoming more common by the day it seems, so maybe its understandable that your comment gives the impression that you haven't reading too much of The Register in the last couple of years.

      I take your point- a GPU won't help with every task using today's software, but you could have chosen a better example than video transcoding.

    2. Giles Jones Gold badge

      Video encoding

      If you're doing video encoding on a Mac you're better off with an Elgato turbo.264 HD anyway, why tax the CPU when you can have hardware assistance?

      A Mac with a Turbo.264 will beat most other Mac computers at encoding HD video.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Halo

    Agree on value

    I've long looked at MacBooks and even Macs in general, and could never quite pull the trigger except on two base spec iMacs (one in 2005 and an upgrade in late 2009) which I bought for my wife. Reason being that I do at least want *some* value for money, and in the higher-end models and until now MacBooks you are paying quite rip-off prices (hundreds of EUR for slightly smaller screens or 10-20% increases in CPU speed anyone?). And that's coming from someone who grew up (starting as a 5 year old) with the Lisa and later Macintosh (which taught me my love of all things computer).

    So I spent the last couple of years with a 4 kg Dell 17" laptop (rather desktop replacement), dreaming about the day Apple would deliver a good value for money laptop. Then the new Air came out, and I ordered a 13" with 4 GB RAM upgrade the same day. Is it good value if you purely look at the raw 'technology' specs? Not really, at least it's no better than the MacBook Pro's which I passed on until now. No, where the real value is with this machine is the design and useability. In there are attributes which the MacBook Pro's also have, but complete that with the miniscule dimensions (given size of an USB port and 13" screen they physically could not have made it any smaller) and 'instant-on' (which really is an eye opener to me) and you just have a package that as whole is so 'right'. But most importantly based on the engineering challenge which I'm sure was involved (and probably written off over the first gen MacBook Air) I think it's actually great value.

    I've been using mine for 3 days now, and already I can't imagine that in the next 5-6 years there would be anything I'd want to replace it with as my general-purpose leisure computer. That too makes it good value. Sure, eventually it won't be able to run the latest/greatest games anymore (something which remarkably it is actually capable of doing today, which is amazing when you put it next to my 3-year old top-of-the-line Dell which can't outperform it), but with the 4GB RAM upgrade I figure I'm safe for browsing, mailing, office tools, etc. for a very long time. And it's not as if they are going to release a version that is significantly lighter or smaller (laws of physics and all that).

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Battery life?

    The battery life figures seem strange - the chart has MBpro, MBair, Dell, PBell at 105, 143, 188, 252. respectively.

    Is that anywhere near correct? Only about two hours?

  11. Snapper
    Thumb Up


    bugger me backwards with a bargepole!

    A reasonable group of comments with no WinTards thinking they are gods gift for picking something a tenth as good for a third the price!

    Okay, you can take the bargepole out now!

    1. Hieronymus P. Organthruster


      Perhaps because the "WinTards" you speak of are getting on with some work on their biscuit encrusted, letter-W-faded keyboards and appreciate that if anyone wants to spend three times the going rate on a posh monument to their consumerist lifestyle then that's their choice?

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Perhaps, yes...

        ... I guess there's a first time for everything.

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