back to article Apple MacBook Air 13in review

Two years ago Apple got really serious about thin and light laptops - and did something really quite important. It replaced its original Air model – that was by then almost three years old – with two new designs. The first Air had been widely perceived to be an expensive novelty, over-priced and under-powered, and it didn’t look …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Less for more it seems.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      To those who value quantity over quality, yes.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        And these people

        Also tend to like eating at McDonalds and won't statistically live long with us to be much of a worry in the end.

    2. dougal83
      WTF?

      Asus should sue on Design infringement. What goes around comes around and all!

      http://www.asus.com/Notebooks/Superior_Mobility/ASUS_ZENBOOK_UX31E/

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Except the Macbook Air was out first.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Got a Macbook Air just over a year ago - have to say it is 'by far' the best laptop (for me) I have ever had and not just saying that because it's the newest. As someone who actually carries their laptop around (rather than being just a desktop replacement) it's been fantastic - so much smaller and lighter but still just as useable.

    No I do not need a built-in DVD drive - so it's fine for me - for the few times I do (perhaps 1-2 times in the last 12 months) I have an external drive than is barely larger than a audio CD case. 9.5/10 - for what it is can't fault it - screen res is perfect for it's size, battery life is great, solid state is more reliable / rugged. The whole lot is like carrying an A4 pad and even the power adapter is barely bigger than a plug on a conventional laptop.

    I'll admit it was not the cheapest but for what it is it's near perfect - the real test - if I lost it would I replace it - yes immediately.

    1. johnnymotel
      Pint

      the screen...

      I'd be interested in your feelings about the screen in real life use. Anandtech said in their review that they felt the screen was subpar when compared to the Macbook Pro series. Specifically, angle viewing and colour gamut.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: the screen...

        Well as a laptop it is typically only used by me - so viewing 'angle' is not really an issue - but I've had 2-3 people (side by side) viewing the screen and also seemed fine - probably as much as you can expect. As for colour - a colleague had a Spyder3Elite so did various tests and calibrations on it and the changes recommended were 'minor' to say the least.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Up

        Colour gamut

        The problem is real. It's not as rich or deep in the blues or reds as a Pro or my ageing Dell professional monitor.

        Having said that, the Air screens have better pixel density than the Pro screens, and for me that's more important in actual use. Mine feels much, much sharper than even a pro-grade Dell Ultrasharp at normal viewing distances, and less glossy than a Pro's screen. Unless you're doing very serious pro photo editing the Air screens are near-perfect.

    2. Rufus McDufus

      I got one about a year ago too. It's a great laptop, but light it is not. That metal case doesn't help.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Light it is not? Really - compared to laptops it's very light and for the quality of build it's very light and rugged. Mine gets carried every day and is basically 'as new'.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    External storage

    I agree that the prices Apple charges for memory are insane. But then, they have always done so, it really shouldn't come as a surprise anymore.

    As for large collections of files, I either store them in the cloud or on an external disk.

    1. Philip Lewis
      Holmes

      Re: External storage

      Every computer manufacturer since the beginning of time has charged "over the odds" for memory supplied by themselves. IBM, DEC, Sun, HP etc. etc. Apple is no different and this shouldn't be news.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: External storage

        Yep: try and buy server hard disks or RAM upgrades from HP or IBM, but be prepared to whince!

        1. Neill Mitchell

          Re: External storage

          "Yep: try and buy server hard disks or RAM upgrades from HP or IBM, but be prepared to whince!"

          The Air is a server? How much is the rack mounting kit?

          "I agree that the prices Apple charges for memory are insane. But then, they have always done so, it really shouldn't come as a surprise anymore."

          That doesn't make it right.

          "Every computer manufacturer since the beginning of time has charged "over the odds" for memory supplied by themselves. IBM, DEC, Sun, HP etc. etc. Apple is no different and this shouldn't be news."

          You are being fleeced and no amount of apologist hand waving can hide the fact. I doubt HP get away with a 40%+ mark up these days. Ditto Lenovo, Dell etc.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: External storage

            As to the comment 'that doesn't make it right' - remember part of the extra cost is because that component is then covered by the warranty. I remember buying drives for HP servers and they were significantly more expensive but were then covered on the on-site warranty at no extra cost.

            The 11" Macbook air with 64Gb storage is £849 - the same one with 128Gb is £929 - so yes it's £80 for 64Gb. Yes I can get a cheapo 64gb USB stick for £25-30 but it's not got anything like the same performance - so is it really that expensive?

            1. Fuzz

              Re: External storage

              yes it really is that expensive, forget your cheapo USB stick. You can get a 128GB SSD for £80 that's the whole drive not just the extra 64GB of memory.

          2. Tom 38 Silver badge

            Re: External storage

            I doubt HP get away with a 40%+ mark up these days. Ditto Lenovo, Dell etc.

            Dell's prices are public record, go buy a Dell branded hard disk.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: External storage

        "Every computer manufacturer since the beginning of time has charged "over the odds" for memory supplied by themselves."

        Yes, remember this years ago when we were buying our first Sun workstation at work - Sun salesperson actually told us not to order additional memory from them and pointed us to someone who made "compatible" memory for about 1/3rd of their cost!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      All Apple prices have a 10% gullibility tax added

      You can have it removed here:

      http://store.apple.com/uk/browse/home/specialdeals/mac/macbook_air/13

      (They have 2012 models in stock already.)

  4. djstardust
    Meh

    Expensive flash and no ports .....

    Again Apple rip you off on the cost of flash memory, and put less ports in so you have to buy adapters.

    I have a Toshiba Z830-10U ultrabook which is actually lighter than the 13" Air ... it also has 3 USB ports (one of which is USB3), a full size VGA out, HDMI out and a LAN port.

    Beauty is it cost under £500 and is just as good. Only thing that lets it down is the display, not as good quality and only 1366x768.

    Apple are just a rip-off!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Expensive flash and no ports .....

      Does it run OSX? nope, there you go then.

    2. Gordon 10 Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: Expensive flash and no ports .....

      hmmmm

      just as good = inferior display - what planet are you on?

      Think what you meant to say was for your particular use case you were only willing to part with £500 (btw was that real retail - a quick google suggests the online price of the current version is closer to £650).

      So in short your comment should read" I have no need for the features the air has over my tosh - therefore I question the value of the Air for my own little world but I fully understand that others need to have a better screen or different OS validates their desire to pay more".

      Agree with me or just having a thinly veiled dig at Apple for no real reason?

    3. Steve78

      Re: Expensive flash and no ports .....

      Cost is not the most important factor. You pay a slight premium for the MacBook Air but as soon as you start using the machine you know it was money well spent.

      For me, the best feature about any Mac has always been the touchpad. No windows based laptop has ever had a good touchpad. Samsung have got close to having a decent one in some of their premium models, but that’s the exception.

      Going back to your daft cost argument, if you pick up a base MBA and intend to use it for 3 years, then that's barely £350 per year. It's an investment even the most hard-up students don't even flinch at when purchasing the machine. Plus if you want to use OS X, then you don't even look at the PC alternatives, your decision is between the MBA or the MBP.

      As for spending money on a 1366x768 machine in 2012, I'm not sure what to say. I don't know whether to laugh or sympathise.

      1. Andrew Lobban
        Thumb Up

        @steve78

        There are many great features about mac laptops that I love but you are spot on with the trackpad comment. That is obviously your main means of interacting with the device and every single non Apple trackpad I have personally tried hasn't even come close to the muti touch pads used on macs. Worth the premium alone in my opinion.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Expensive flash and no ports .....

      I just looked up the Toshiba Z830-10U - don't know where you got it for £500 (inc. VAT) with the same spec. as the Macbook Air - the cheapest ones I saw were much nearer Macbook prices and I've seen the Toshiba - it feels flimsy in comparison and as you say the screen is not as good.

    5. Chris_Maresca
      Facepalm

      No depreciation

      It doesn't matter that XXX brand costs 10x less. After 18 months, brand XXX will be worth exactly 1% of what you paid for it.

      In contrast, pretty much any Apple hardware will retain the vast majority of it's value for years. I just sold a 2008 MacBook Air for $630, just as an example. Show me a non-Apple machine from ANY brand that's worth more than 5% of it's value after four years....

      Just looking at the initial cost of the machine is shortsighted - over the long term, the Mac's deliver much better TCO.

      Of course, if you don't have the money for a new Mac, then it's a moot point. Even then, you should still buy a used Mac, even if you are only going to run Windows on it. Anything else and you are just burning money...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: No depreciation

        TCO is made up of many factors and for most people / companies Apple kit will cost less - i.e. lasts longer, worth more at resale and the biggie lower support costs or higher productivity. I have a friend who heads who says support time was cut in half for their users that switched to Mac - that is real $$$'s

    6. Anonymous Coward
      WTF?

      Z830

      Seen it, like it, know a very rich lawyer who works off it and loves it a lot-but where can you get it for £500? Keen to know...

  5. Stacy
    Thumb Down

    So like the new iPhone

    Less features for the same or more money, but it's (supposedly) pretty.

    The original Air was a cheap and heavier take on the Sony TT (Released around 2008 or so IIRC). Hardly revolutionary.

    If screen real estate is what you need Asus has a much better option in the same bracket. If power and screen real estate are what you need Sony's Z series without the media dock comes in for a similar price these days with full HD not just 1400*900. Much better SSD, memory and processor (a full spec IvyBridge rather than the U version) - and at 2lb is even lighter, whilst keeping the 6+ hours battery life. (And personally I think the Carbon Fiber Sony looks oodles better...). Oh.. And all the connectors you need for day to day without having to buy an adaptor.

    Why does this score so high?

    1. Scott Earle
      Stop

      Re: So like the new iPhone

      The MacBook Air (released January 2008) is Apple's take on the Sony Vaio TT (released September 2008)?

      How does that work?

      1. Stacy

        Re: So like the new iPhone

        Err, extrememly small, light, ultra portable, with a good screen.

        They are the factors that seperate the TT and the Air from other machines. At least until Intel introduced it's UltraBook standard.

        The point I was trying to make is that contrary to what the review says the Air was not the first laptop to bring this type of machine to market.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: So like the new iPhone

          So you are still claiming that a machine that ware released in September 2008 influenced the design of a machine that was released in January 2008? I'd go and have a think about that if I were you...

          1. Stacy
            FAIL

            Re: So like the new iPhone

            Er no... I beleive that I said I was wrong. You see, not being a fan girl, but a grown woman I can admit to mistakes.

            What I said is that I think this years machine is lacking.

            I admitted my mistake, are you adult enough to so the same?

            1. Anonymous Coward
              WTF?

              Re: So like the new iPhone

              I posted that at around 9pm last night. Don't blame me for El Reg mods laziness.

              1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

                Re: Re: So like the new iPhone

                "Don't blame me for El Reg mods laziness."

                With that attitude, I can't imagine why you were at the back of the queue :P

                C.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: So like the new iPhone

                  Did I say lazy? I meant over worked, clearly!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So like the new iPhone

        The Sony Vaio TT is really nothing like the Macbook Air - the 'TT" was like any other small laptop at the time.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. Stacy
          WTF?

          Re: So like the new iPhone

          Re: So like the new iPhone

          Bull! How many other 11" laptops from the time had HD Ready screens, built in optical drives, full connectivity and real processors instead of Atoms?

          There is a reason it was many times more the cost of a NetBook or 15" laptop - because it was a full computer in a tiny, carbon fiber case! Before I killed it by dropping a large peice of metal on the screen (Oops!) I ran VS 2010, TFS Server 2010 and SQL Server 2008 on mine so that I could develop on the move. If you can say which other 11" laptop from the time would do that I'd be impressed!

        3. This post has been deleted by its author

      3. Armando 123

        Re: So like the new iPhone

        "The MacBook Air (released January 2008) is Apple's take on the Sony Vaio TT (released September 2008)?

        How does that work?"

        It involves a Delorean.

        1. Stacy
          FAIL

          Re: So like the new iPhone

          Oops :) I just re-read the review... My bad I thought that the Air was 2009, not 2008. I stand corrected (and in which case, yup I can see that it was pretty impressive for the time).

          So yes, it seems to have beaten the TT...

          I stand by my comment that the current one isn't that great when comparing with the alternatives though.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So like the new iPhone

      The Reg have started getting comments from Apple now, rather than simply being ignored. Around the same time, this and the iphone 5 both get 90%.

      Coincidence?

      1. Euchrid

        Re: So like the new iPhone

        "The Reg have started getting comments from Apple now, rather than simply being ignored. Around the same time, this and the iphone 5 both get 90%.

        Coincidence?"

        Err, have you been reading *all* of El Reg's coverage about Apple? An overly obsequious tone isn’t a criticism that can’t justifiably be made.

        Also, IIRC, Apple started giving comments to El Reg before these reviews.

  6. This post has been deleted by its author

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Did it have a rotten Core?

    No mention of opening it up to see if it has any nailed down features.

    Apple like to glue them down to stop or break would be tinkerers like me.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Did it have a rotten Core?

      Yeah because when I've just spent £1000 on a laptop the first thing I do is open it up.

      Tinkerers are probably 1% of the market and less than 1% of Apple customers.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Did it have a rotten Core?

        "Yeah because when I've just spent £1000 on a laptop the first thing I do is open it up."

        Well, I just want to know "does it blend"!

    2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Did it have a rotten Core?

      Ever heard of google?

      http://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/MacBook-Air-13-Inch-Mid-2012-Teardown/9457/1

    3. PassiveSmoking

      Re: Did it have a rotten Core?

      Ultrabooks (at least proper ones rather than the slightly thinner ones with "ultrabook" stickers slapped on them) are not for tinkerers. The thinness comes at the cost of components soldered to the board instead of being in sockets, which takes up more space.

  8. Silverburn

    I have the same itunes/iphoto problems, with a 160gb and 560gb respectively. I solved this through setting up 2 external drives, and storing stuff there.

    - for itunes stuff, I just transfer the stuff (videos/tv shows mainly) to the internal drive locally when it's needed. Plays just fine using quicktime; itunes itself is not needed.

    - for iphoto, I leave it all on the external, and use the photostream feature for stuff you want portable, though it's a bit hit and miss.

    - 2nd drive is for time machine.

    Not an ideal setup I admit, but at these sizes of both libraries not many laptops (win or OSX) can take both completely.

    No, the real problem is imovie. It's a storage bitch if you plan to be portable.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Foul!

    This journalist obviously likes Apple stuff. He shouldn't be allowed to write about it.

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: Foul!

      He is a proper user of the device not just some 'hack journo' that only does and install and a few hours playing with a device before writing their story.

      Frankly, I'd rather read this sort of review (as in this article) than one of those.

      so what if he likes apple stuff. He does list the shortcomings he finds.

      My take is 'nice device' shame about the glossy screen. If I had one I'd get one of these

      http://www.everydaysource.com/product/iluv-macbook-air-13-anti-glare-screen-protector/Y00-0639247788435?s=1

      1. Martin Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: Foul!

        "so what if he likes apple stuff. He does list the shortcomings he finds...."

        to wit - no wired network, no matt screen, lacking in memory and disk, and insanely expensive - and he still gives it 90%. Shiny-shiny counts for a lot, it seems.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Foul! @Martin

          I have an 11" MBA

          1: No wired network and I don't miss it

          2: I have Cloud storage when I am out, and a server at home. I have more than enough storage for mobile use.

          3: 4GB RAM is not enough for you?

          4: It's not insanely expensive. This facile argument gets tiring. You just rate the value of certain elements lower than Apple and its customers.

          I might prefer a matte screen, I find it a little shiny too.

          I don't give a flying fuck about your puerile and envious "shiny shiny" comment though, and neither do Apple nor their customers. We rate design, build quality, OSX and Apple's customer support a lot higher than you do. Keep your "dull, dull" machine and be happy, rather than slagging off at those who have more epicurean tastes and/or alternate notions of a value proposition.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Foul! @Martin

            My Macbook Air is well made - it's handled being carried around much better than the (many) laptops I have had before. It's fast, efficient, proper keyboard and pad, good battery life, solid state storage, great screen and really good support from Apple. Friend had a Macbook - well out of warranty - hard drive failed and they replaced it with a new 1Tb drive for about £100 inc. VAT - fitted (which at the time was the same as the bare drive cost). They reinstalled the OS and showed him how to reinstall his data with TimeMachine - less than an hour later he was working again.

          2. Martin Silver badge
            WTF?

            Re: Foul! @Martin

            "I don't give a flying fuck about your puerile and envious "shiny shiny" comment though, and neither do Apple nor their customers."

            Obviously, you DO give a flying fuck about it. Or you wouldn't have bothered to say so.

            I concede it was a slightly puerile comment. I emphatically deny that it was envious.

            1. h4rm0ny

              Re: Foul! @Martin

              "Obviously, you DO give a flying fuck about it. Or you wouldn't have bothered to say so."

              Alternately, what bothers him is not that you dislike what he likes, but that you think that he cares. The two are not the same thing and the latter can indeed be more irritating than the actual opinion.

              1. Martin Silver badge
                Happy

                Re: Foul! @Martin

                So...

                You think that he is irritated because he thinks that I think that he cares that I dislike what he likes.

                Is that right?

          3. This post has been deleted by its author

            1. Arctic fox
              Trollface

              Re: "And as someone who sometimes works out of coffee shops," You're out, you're proud.......

              .....and you're a Barista? :P

              1. joejack

                Re: "And as someone who sometimes works out of coffee shops," You're out, you're proud.......

                Nice.

                Though I imagine taking a laptop to the can with you is about as sophisticated as rolling up a Playboy, so no, not proud...

    2. Steve78

      Re: Foul!

      I used to say less than complimentary things about the iPhone, Mac's & MacBook's. I didn't even own an iPhone until I got sick of HTC's offerings and took the plunge with the iPhone for in 2010. I was one of those Android users who used to enjoy the light-hearted banter about mocking Apple and it's users but then I realised just how damn good and superior the iPhone 4 was compared to everything else on the market.

      Since 'moving' to iOS devices, I've thoroughly enjoyed the iPhone 4S and I can't describe in words just how good I think the iPhone 5 is. Yeah, Maps is crap but it will get better and I'm damn sure Google will have their own Maps app out before too long.

      I'm not sure what the point of my post is, I just think that instead of bashing Apple all the time, a lot of people need to give them enormous credit for the hardware they produce. In my opinion, the iPhone 5 doesn't have an equal and Apple are so far ahead of their rival Notebook manufacturers it's embarrassing for the entire industry. It's like no one else is trying.

      And for the record, I am not an Apple fanboy, I'm primarily a Windows guy who appreciates owning and using other stuff.

      1. S2S
        WTF?

        Re: Foul!

        the iPhone 5 doesn't have an equal ?

        If by this statement you mean equally not so smart smart phone,2 years behind

        the competition then I have to say I agree with you.

  10. Kevin7
    FAIL

    External drives?

    As soon as you start adding lots of external drives it kind of negates the entire point of it being light and/or portable.

    1. Silverburn

      Re: External drives?

      Not really - unless you're planning to video edit a 1080p holywood blockbuster, or finalising that nuclear reactor design in AUTOCAD while sitting in starbucks. Which I doubt. For 90% of users, what they do while portable will not be the same as the stuff they do at their desk.

      For most, the most storage intensive stuff (while mobile) will be showing off family vids and photo's and watching/listening to a few (not all) of their media files while travelling, whereas Word and powerpoint stuff will barely register. So the Authors comments about iphoto and itunes are pertinent for the majority of users.

      And if you're the minority who wants more while portable, why are you even looking at the Air? Surely a fully specced retina or Win box with conventional high capacity spinning media is more your thing?

  11. Mage Silver badge
    Holmes

    Decent? Really?

    "decent display featuring a 1440 x 900 resolution." Only if it's rotatable to portrait, maybe.

    That's very low. you need at least "something x 1200" to read A4 / Letter documents without scrolling. Which is why I'm waiting for the "big" kindle to get cheaper. There is no other eReader that can sensibly handle A4 PDFs. 12 years ago I had 1400 x 1050. For 10 years I've had 1600 x 1200.

    These are toys. Also anything with a shiny screen *WILL* give a headache if there is reflected movement and is seriously poorer for reading than "matt". I've had "Matt" Laptop screens for about 15 years. Best CRT before that was in 1981, ACT Sirius 1 / Victor 9000

    1. TheRealRoland
      Flame

      Re: Decent? Really?

      Why downvotes for that? I completely agree with Mage.

      I loved my Dell monster with 1920 x whatever it was - at least there was enough vertical room for seeing more than just a letterbox view of your code, document, or anything else.

      Vendors should stop pretending that these laptops are useful for the 'professional' group of users. They are not.

      But, if 'professional' means 'having lots of disposable income', then they're right on the money, of course. So maybe it's just semantics. Potato, Potato.

      I, for one, would welcome the vendor overlords that provide me with larger vertical resolutions.

      1. Ivan Headache

        Re: Decent? Really?

        depends on the profession.

        See my previous post below.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Decent? Really?

          If you are a graphic designer / architect / programmer then yes you probably want a super high-res screen but there are PLENTY of professionals that use their laptops for web, email, word, excel etc. for which the resolution on the MBA is just fine.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Decent? Really?

      How short sighted - yes anything that does not meet your specific requirement is a 'toy'. Can assure you I use my MBA all day and it's no toy. You may need some massive screen to play games / do your work and maybe you don't mind carrying it. I do mind carrying some 'beast' around all day - horses for courses and to each their own.

  12. Ivan Headache

    Overall agreement

    I have 2 clients who use MBA's, both of them writers as it happens.

    Both of them also have desktop computers and one also has a 17' MBPro.

    I was visiting the latter last week as she had bought a new printer. She commented that since getting the MBA, her MBPro had been relegated to photo storage. All her work and business was now being done on the Air, with an external USB drive on her desk for back-up every evening.

    The only downside I found was transferring all the stuff she needed from the MBPro and in stalling softare from DVDs using wifi - somewhat tedious to say the least.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Overall agreement

      You can solve the problem by just getting an external DVD drive for about £40-50 or use the drive sharing for the occasional time you use it.

      1. Flatpackhamster

        Re: Overall agreement

        Most external DVD drives that I've seen (which isn't all of them, I admit) have two USB connectors. How d'you plan to connect them on to the Macbook Air with its single connector on each side?

        1. Ivan Headache

          Re: Overall agreement

          Not sure why you were downvoted there because what you say is true,

          I have since bought an external drive for this very purpose and it is exactly as you describe.

        2. Paul M 1

          Re: Overall agreement

          Is that 2 USB connectors to try to draw additional power? If so then surely that only works if you've got 2 separate USB controllers?

          Best get a drive that can run off 500 mA then if that's the case.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @Flatpackhamster

          "Most external DVD drives that I've seen (which isn't all of them, I admit)..."

          So do what any other semi-sentient commentard would do and use your $FAVOURITE_SEARCH_ENGINE. Here, I'll even help you; http://lmgtfy.com/?q=macbook+air+dvd+drive

          1. Flatpackhamster
            FAIL

            Re: @Flatpackhamster

            £70 + delivery for an external DVD Writer?

            By Grabthar's Hammer, what an amazing deals.

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Overall agreement

          Pretty sure my MBA puts out up to 2A on it's USB ports (will certainly charge and iPad) - the cables with 2 USB connectors are for older USB ports that only output 500mA each. Saying that I use the Apple DVD drive and it just has a single connector - so may as well get that one as it's about the smallest one I have ever seen (literally barely bigger than an audio CD case).

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    switched to mba from alienware 17x

    yes, i do programming and the occasional photo/doc/movie. The screen is a bit too small but since you can plug it in to any other screen, I really don't miss the alienware laptop anymore. it doesn't break a sweat when programming with a couple of documents open (although for xcode is a bit too small). Only when using multi megabyte documents in word or in ibooks author, it gets a bit slow (programming is done usually at the same time via windows vm). I'm surprised that this old mba (late 2010) with 4Gigs of RAM works so well (the alienware was blazing fast at the beginning, but now it's become slower). At the moment I find it hard to justify investing in a new laptop. It only has a 256 GB hard drive, but even the alienware laptop didn't have enough space on the hdd for my needs. I'm using an external wd passport for mac drive (1TB), which is very small and useful (Aperture library is > 40GB). Very good stuff - I have the best of both worlds now (win and osx).

  14. Thomas Gray

    Missing the point slightly

    I have had my 11" Air since December 2010, and find it to be a very capable machine. However, I don't expect it to be a desktop replacement (or even a full-featured laptop replacement). I bought it because I travel a great deal by train (1.5 hour commute each way daily, plus regular 12 hour jaunts between my places in Switzerland and France), and I needed something that I could sling into a bag, pull out and use with the minimum of delay, and on which I could comfortably research the Web, cut and paste into a word processor and presentation programme, and do some light trimming and colour balancing video and photographs. At the time I had just had an Acer Aspire One fail on me (largely due to the physical abuse it got during travel), and I had just bought an iMac, so I was interested in standardising.

    My choices at the time were MacBook Pro, MacBook Air or iPad (which was about the same money to get the same amount of storage, 64Gb). The Pro was too heavy and expensive, the iPad lacked a keyboard or any decent software (and needed a stand to watch movies), but the Air fitted the bill. Aluminium body for strength, decent keyboard for touch typing, clear screen, and decent wireless communications. I bought an Ethernet adapter, but I think I have used it three times. Sure, the SDD is limited in size, but this isn't a machine for long term storage. Yes, my iTunes library is too big, but the speakers on the Air aren't up to listening for very long. Yes, I can't fit many DVDs on it, but the screen is too small to watch anything comfortably anyway (as would a 13" screen be, if my experience of other laptops is anything to go by).

    So, as a travelling companion to a bigger and better desk bound machine, it's actually very good: rugged, light and powerful enough - and mine is running a much less capable processor than the new ones. I'd still buy one now, even though tablets are much better than they were, because with a tablet you still need to get a good keyboard and a stand in order to work for more than a few minutes. I might be tempted by some of the Ultrabooks, but they aren't hugely cheaper (and with the exception of Sony and Lenovo, build quality is usually very poor), and I'm finding the Windows world too bloody frustrating over simple things like driver and codec compatibility. Say what you like about Apple (and there is much to criticise), their products either fail very quickly or run forever - and more often the latter.

    And before anyone accuses me of being a fanboi, let me recount a tale of two REAL Apple nuts. As I said, my Netbook had just suddenly died, and I was booked on the train to France for two days hence, planning to get some serious work done. So I nipped out during lunch to buy the Air, and on my return two of my colleagues (one male, one female) independently of each other actually made cooing noises as they stroked my new computer. Not something you'll find me doing.

    1. That Awful Puppy
      Thumb Up

      Re: Missing the point slightly

      Re: cooing noises:

      I did that once. Sarcastically.

      Otherwise, I use it in very much the same way as you do - as a companion to my desktop, not as my main computer. And the iTunes library problems can easily be solved by signing up for iTunes Match, which makes all my songs available for download on my MBA.

      (Also, in a display of sheer laziness, when my iMac started blaring the alarm clock in the morning, I grabbed my MBA, opened Screen Sharing, and turned the damn thing off. Deadlines will be missed, but it did feel good.)

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Missing the point slightly

        Apple's amazing, beautiful, and marvellous Screen Sharing feature which will transform the way you work, otherwise known as VNC.

        1. That Awful Puppy
          Thumb Up

          Re: Missing the point slightly

          I was looking for the right word, couldn't remember it, and just went with the iWord. Thanks for reminding me.

    2. Psycho Flump

      Re: Missing the point slightly

      I've also got an 11 inch Air, one of the 2012 ones. I bought it to be the little, more mobile brother to the too heavy 15 inch 2010 Pro sat on my desk. I'm a web designer and front-end dev so I thought I could use the Air for the dev stuff on the move whilst keeping the Pro for the CS6 stuff. Six weeks into using this machine all I can say is I'm getting rid of the Pro, I was dubious of the claims on various mac forums claiming their Air "smoked my old Pro". Clearly a bit of emperors new clothes I thought. My Air has no problem running CS6, Parallels with Windows 7 and my IDE of choice (Espresso, the one app that keeps me using OSX) all at the same time.

      I plug in three cables and I've got it hooked up to all my desk-bound peripherals, monitor and power. For what I do I just don't need anything more powerful, my Air is the best of both worlds for me; really portable, powerful enough to not need anything bigger, I couldn't have been more surprised.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Next up...

    ... on The Reg's timely reviews of new releases: a review of the ZX Spectrum +3.

    1. Silverburn

      Re: Next up...

      I'm sure el reg could have tested within 24hrs of release had they wanted to.

      But - just like the car mags - the real value comes in the long term tests, where they are exposed to real world usage. And given the stupendous prices Apple charges, you'd really want to be extra sure you were making a good investment.

    2. ThomH Silver badge

      Re: Next up...

      Proprietary disk drive, proprietary joystick wiring and it _still_ doesn't do clash-free graphics? Not to mention the wallpaper operating system — we've had menus for years.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    Another scenario...

    I laughed at a colleague when they bought the original iPad, and then offered to buy their MacBook (not a Pro). I thought that buying an iPad and 'downgrading' from a MacBook was insanity. To add to that, I was a Windows person back then too, so cue the typical non-Apple sniggers and smirks.

    Now fast-forward 3 years to earlier this year. Apple releases the 'new iPad', with Retina display, and all sorts of interesting gubbins. That's when I got interested. The weight, instant-on (well, instant resume), the good display, the processor power were all instrumental in me going for it as a 'short-term MB stand-in'. Not a complete replacement, but a companion, something I could take with me for a day away and still be able to browse, check email, read a book, watch a movie without lugging along the heavier MB.

    For me, value for money is a big deal, but so is build quality. I currently wince at the eye-watering prices for the Air, especially considering the disk and RAM specs and the fact that you can't upgrade anything in it, but then when I think about previous experiences with Windows laptops of various brands, it's all of a muchness really. When it comes to eventually replacing the MB, we'll see what the future brings. I just spent £150 upgrading it to an SSD to eke just a little bit more in terms of performance out of it before I have to consign it to the scrapheap and get something new. Who knows... it might just be an Air, if the specs are right and they beat what I currently have.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Similar story to Thomas Gray from me. I was after an ipad to make me more productive on the move, but didn't get on with it at all. I opted for an 11inch Macbook Air. Having owned several netbooks and laptops previously (including hackingtoshed Dell minis)

    It took me a whilst to get used to the odd button keyboard and trackpad, but as far as netbooks go, they are the best I've now used, but I've had much better keyboards on bigger laptops, they are not the be all and end all for me.

    After prolonged use (which is testament to the Mac, as I couldn't stay on Netbooks that long) I find the 11inch has become a bit of an eye strain, even accelerating poorer eyesight and now wish I'd gone for the bigger screen version.

    The front edge is too sharp for sitting with knees up in bed or funny angles on the sofa, it cuts in to the palms in that stopping it slide position.

    My feeling now is that I would probably opt for a bigger more powerful machine, not just a bigger screen. I can now only accept either super lightness or super slimness if both weren't available, no more heavy fat laptops. I don't feel as tied to OSX as much as I thought I would be, so other manufactures will always still get a look in.

    If Apple were more aggressive with their prices, I wouldn't hesitate in getting a Pro and keep the Air purely in the old netbook role. As it is, I'm able to run 3 other windows machines for the price and still be in the position to look at the increasingly improving cheaper tablet market.

    For now thought the Air remains top choice being quick and easy to pick up and throw in and out of a rucksack. The pretty good battery life, backlit keyboard and mag connector are always missed when having to borrow a regular laptop.

  18. TheOtherHobbes

    Ha ha ha ha

    "It’s almost as light as the leather shoulder bag I carry it in"

    Well, it made me laugh.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I bought a Macbook Air to replace a (pretty crappy) Windows netbook - there is NO comparison - yes it's more expensive but it's a different world for people who actually carry these things. Good keyboard and screen, great trackpad, solid state drives and it's fast to use.

    It works so well in fact it's now replaced my desktop machine so overall the cost has been very reasonable - far easier having one machine for both tasks but it had to be an 'Air' for the amount it gets carried around. Just upgraded to Mountain Lion - some great new features, was dead simple and cost something like £13 to upgrade all my Macs (new copies of Windows 7 cost how much... each?).

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The big deal with Macs is having Mountain Lion - easy, secure full disk encryption, time machine for backups - exactly what you want in a mobile machine.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    People are critical without even using it. Yes it's expensive compared to a £300-400 luggable but compared to it's peers the price is similar especially when you factor in the support you get. If you don't like Mountain Lion just run Windows (it runs very well) - either dual boot or wipe it and use for Windows only.

    In reality part of the value is in having Mountain Lion - for a mobile user it has some great features.

  22. Kevin
    Mushroom

    Apple stock photos for use in a review?

    The Reg is often accused of being a bit pro-Apple (or is that The Inq,? I forget). Anyway, when you pad your review out with Apples marketing photos I think you lose some credibility... At least include a couple that you have taken yourself, please!

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Shiny shiny shiny

    Shiny shiny shiny!

    AC 'cos I have trouble remembering my own name.

  24. stu 4
    Happy

    MBA11

    Is my workhorse.

    I find the screen great. I'd love it to be retina, though I understand some people find it too high DPI as it is - not me.

    thunderbolt adapters now for gigabit as you say, and also FW 800.

    This allows me to have my portable, bus powered 2TB WD 'My passpost Studio' HD with FW800 with me with all my music, photos, vms, and video collections, and camera footage on it, and keep the 256MB SSD relatively clean.

    Get 60MB/sec read/write over the FW adapter which makes running parallel VMs, and editing HD video direct off the drive perfectly fine.

    I have a MBP17 that now sits in a corner gathering dust.

    The air screens have never been as horribly glossy as the pros (my MBP17 is matte) so I find them ok.

    I'd love the extra screen real estate of the 13", but it is just soooooo big.

    stu

  25. Thomas 7

    Just get one...

    I spent 1.400 EUR (sorry no sign - US International keyboards all the way for me) on a 'reborn' MBA 13" with 4GB RAM upgrade the day it was announced in late 2010. Now two years later this is still by miles the best laptop I have ever owned. However what is truly impressive, is that performance wise it's still lightning fast today - and this is with a humble CoreDuo processor. There is very little that I can throw at it which doesn't execute instantly... apart from games and seriously intensive stuff.

    So while I've now bought a MBPr to get my Mass Effect 3 kicks and replace an ageing iMac, the go-to machine for anything that doesn't involve my huge iPhoto library, video editing or gaming is still the MBA. Looking at the way it's RAM consumption has evolved over the last two versions of OS X, I expect that it will still be used 60% of the time in the coming 2, 3 years (25% for the MBPr and 15% for the iPad). All in all, incredible value. Just don't forget to always upgrade the RAM.

    So just get one.

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