back to article Faster Macbook Air pops out: What, a NEW Apple thing and ZERO fanfare?

Apple has sneaked slightly updated Macbook Airs onto its shelves with slightly tweaked price tags. Without any fanfare yesterday, Cupertino started touting the new super duper lightweight 'puters. They come complete with a slightly faster processor and, well, not much else. The new Intel Core i5 CPUs clock in at 1.4GHz, …


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  1. stu 4

    price dropped 100 quid

    You seem to have missed the fact the price has dropped 100 quid ?

    was 849, now 749.

    join and get another 50 squid off.

  2. g e


    Makes my £850 core i7 8GB/1TB/2.2GHz (no flash) 1080p 17" VAIO I got Xmas before last look like stunning value for money.


    1. jzlondon

      Re: Wow

      Really? You can run MacOS on it?

      1. g e

        Re: Wow

        No, that's the best part, I don't have to! Yes I've used MacOS and the only thing I like about it is 2-finger scrolling.

        1. Dr Insanity

          Re: Wow

          Most windows laptops in the last couple of years have multi-touch trackpads as well. Both my current HP and my previous Dell were multi-touch. Have you tried it on your Vaio?

          I always preferred having the scroll bar area along the bottom and one side of the trackpad rather than multi-touch, but that's just personal preference at the end of the day.

      2. AbelSoul

        Re: Wow

        You can run MacOS on it?

        Perhaps via this type of route?

        1. Gordon 10

          Re: Wow


          Minor downvote for no knowing that most Vaio's are absolute pigs to hackintosh well. I should know - I've tried. Lots of custom hardware chippery for Hardware buttons and the like. Lucky to get a clean build working well.

      3. Alan Edwards

        Re: Wow

        > Really? You can run MacOS on it? (*a 17" Vaio)

        Probably, provided it's not got AMD graphics. Atoms and AMD graphics are a no-no for Hackintoshes, which killed my plans to put OSX on a Lenovo Q180.

    2. ColonelClaw

      Re: Wow

      I would have sacrificed the processor for an i5 to get flash storage. I will NEVER go back to a mechanical drive, the difference feels like 10-year's worth of processor upgrades.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Wow

      NO laptop with a mechanical drive is a stunning value, even if free.

    4. stu 4


      Wow. awesome.

      AND your Vaio is like, 6x the size of a macbook air 11 too - so you are also getting like, 6x more physical stuff for your money. wow. awesome dude.

    5. Steve Todd

      Re: Wow

      The VAIO is not so good for portability and battery life though is it? Four hours of light use on a charge, seriously?

      1. Michael Thibault

        Re: Wow

        "Same, same... but different!"

        Ah, yes, I see.

    6. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: Wow

      Ah, the one you got just before Sony announced that they are stopping making & selling the VAIO line.

      not that I'm in the market for something like a VAIO or a Macbook Air, just saying.

  3. JDX Gold badge

    Zero fanfare == good

    It means it's an incremental update which is good - unlike iPhone where you get nothing between each generation it's good that their PCs gradually improve spec during a generation.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Zero fanfare == good

      "... unlike iPhone where you get nothing between each generation it's good that their PCs gradually improve spec during a generation."

      Huh? Even ignoring the fingerprint sensor and improvements to the camera, the iPhone 5S is roughly twice as fast as last year's model. In fact, Apple has more or less been doubling phone speed every single year since the 3G.

      If a vendor doubled their laptop/desktop speed every year for 5+ years, everybody would be practically pooping themselves with excitement. But do it for phones and I guess it's not worth mentioning... ?!

  4. Peter Storm

    Without any fanfare

    "Without any fanfare yesterday, Cupertino started touting the new super duper lightweight 'puter."

    "It comes complete with a slightly faster processor and, well, not much else."

    Just a wild guess here, but maybe the second line kinda explains the lack of fanfare maybe?

    1. Don Dumb
      Thumb Up

      Re: Without any fanfare

      I'm glad there's no fanfare, too many tech updates from Apple have come with huge (deliberate) hype for nothing more than a slightly longer and lighter model than the previous version with claims like - "it's a game changer!"

    2. Michael Jennings

      Re: Without any fanfare

      Apple gave one of its products a minor spec bump and a price cut. Both these things would be welcome if I were looking to buy one right now. (I am not, although I have the 2011 model and am happy enough with it for now. Undoubtedly some people are). Total non-story for everyone else, though.

  5. DasWezel

    Cracking value

    I mean, 4Gb of RAM in a £750 machine? How in the seven hells is that an acceptable level of memory for the price these days?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Cracking value

      It's perfectly acceptable for anyone not running a huge resource hog such as windows.

      1. DasWezel

        Re: Cracking value

        For the record, all my gear runs either Debian or Mint. ;-)

        I personally think that for £750, 4Gb is a little stingy. Dell's XPS and it's non-upgradable memory is even worse, I'll grant.

        @Steve Todd: Also for the record, my main laptop is a ~6-year old Thinkpad X61 with 4Gb of memory... It cost me a smidge over £100 on fleabay. Not a fair comparison I'll grant, but a couple of fresh batteries and an SSD, and it's more than capable. If I want a portable powerhouse, then while the new Macbook's internals would be better, the whole memory limitation comes straight back into focus.

        1. Steve Todd

          Re: Cracking value

          If all your £750 was buying was 4GB of RAM I might agree with you. The X61 may be perfect for your needs, but it is very much less capable than the Air. The Core i series CPUs that it uses are much more frugal on power (running for nearly 10 hours on a charge and weeks in standby mode), while being much faster (they can dynamically clock up to 2.7GHz to start with), the SSD is much faster than any SATA model, it comes with the latest 802.11ac wireless networking, can connect to the world via USB3 or Thunderbolt and generally is able to give a full desktop machine from only a year or two ago a run for its money.

          It's that combination of portability and performance that costs money. Windows PC makers have by now figured out that it costs money to make the same kind of device, and for what they are providing the Apple Air is competitively priced.

    2. Steve Todd

      Re: Cracking value

      So you've not ACTUALLY used one then? The fact that OS X 10.9 compresses memory images, plus the SSD is connected direct via PCIe (and can shift near 1GB/sec in and out of RAM) means that you can actually do quite a lot of work inside of 4GB.

      Go take a look at the price and spec of Ultrabooks, then come back and explain what a bad deal Apple are offering.

      1. Fibbles

        Re: Cracking value

        £80 for an extra 4GB of RAM is not 'cracking value' no matter who is offering it.

        1. Steve Todd

          Re: Cracking value

          This would be opposed, for example, to the DELL XPS 11, which comes with 4GB of RAM and has no upgrade options for £799?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Cracking value

      How in the seven hells is that an acceptable level of memory for the price these days?

      1 - more memory efficient OS

      2 - fewer resources needed to cache the disk (as it's SSD)

      3 - total price of ownership of a Mac is a LOT lower than Windows due to increased usabiliy, less interruptions for updates and *dramatically* lower cost of software with one notable exception: Microsoft software.

      So yeah, I can see this value. I used to buy VAIOs before, so for me the hardware costs are similar. However, the change to OSX was something else entirely. Well worth it the short pain (think 4..6 weeks to get comfortable with a different UI model).

      1. JLV

        re. Cracking value & 1 - more memory efficient OS

        Say what you want about the technology. I don't disagree with you. I have a 2011 MBP 17" and it is quite a good machine.

        But..., regardless of the rather nice OS, which needless to remind anyone, is BSD-based and sports a well-hidden but fully functional Bash shell*, I agree with the OP that Apple has the deplorable habit of pricing <$50 component upgrades at $100 or more. This is true for CPUs, HDD/SDDs, RAM and across the range, from iPhones to Macs. It's their traditional gouge tactic and the main reason iPhones will never get an SD slot.

        One redeeming TCO feature however is the low, and now zero, cost of OSX upgrades. If your hardware supports it, of course.

        Since I am getting older, one thing I like with my MBP 1080 17" screen is the size. For those of us who are pretending not to need bifocals (yeccch), the new 15" or 13" retinas are nice, but also somewhat missing the point :(

        * sssh, don't tell the sensitive Starbucks artsy fanboi types that such an ugly beast lurks under the covers of their pristine FB & Twatter gateways.

        and not just wannabe artsy types, but I have surprised two geek buddies who really should have known better by showing them it is a fully functional 'Nix machine.

      2. DasWezel

        Re: Cracking value

        I'll ignore the Windows-based stuff since I don't actually run Microshite.

        I would argue with you on #2 though... It's no more or less resources to swap to disk, it's just faster with an SSD. Secondly, relying on swap to make up for a lack of dedicated memory out of the box is pretty poor form.

        I'll grant that okay, it seems that my assumption of what should come with a ~£750 machine - Mac or otherwise - these days appears to have been a bit high, but can we forget about the damn OS and concentrate on the hardware?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Cracking value

          can we forget about the damn OS and concentrate on the hardware?

          Hmm, I wouldn't, because that exposes you to the "my bling is better than your bling" crowd. My preference for Apple is pretty much driven by facts and figures, I'm not into the whole cult thing (it was actually a barrier before I tried it). However, if you insist, it is also my experience that a MBP tends to be well engineered. This is probably also a general benefit as you have a defined spec to work with, but you're right insofar that it allows Apple to create a better margin for their hardware. If you would just look at the raw price, this may seem high, but that's like looking at a Mercedes as an expensive car or Armani as expensive clothes without taking into consideration just how long you have use of it (although cars are a poor example as you have a retained value but also have a weird 1st year value drop which I never quite understood).

          I have no real problem with a higher price if it works out better over time, and thanks to Sony I'm quite used to a higher price for what is better quality. If you want track record of getting away with high prices, in my experience that was a concept developed by PSION in the late 80s :).

          My VIAOs were generally dead after 2 years, and I tend to be very careful with my hardware. The 15" MBP I'm typing it on is hitting its 4th year and still going strong. I bought this with a hi-res screen (1680 x 1050) and 4GB of RAM, and it just works.

          So yes, Apple gear is expensive if you don't put the price in context, and I would agree with you that their option prices are stupid - but Kingston sells the same memory chips, and Seagate's hybrid hard disk fits just as well. The new ones cannot be upgraded, so I'll just buy the one but fattest one available, and that will probably see me through the next 4 years.

  6. grumpy feline

    No touch screen...

    Meh. My kids already think my iMac is broken.

  7. gregkelly1985


    When they have fanfare you bash the crap out of them. When they don't... you bash the crap out of them.

    Also they upped the specs and dropped the price. Strange how you missed that one.

    Lazy journalism.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Crikey


    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Crikey

      True, el reg lets itself down with articles like this.

      Too many articles seem to be written by either fanbois or haters, which is a shame as when el reg does an unbiased, objective article it's actually rather good.

  8. Salts

    Just for completeness

    They have also changed the SSD from mSATA to PCI-e, therefore (slightly)faster cpu & storage, plus cheaper.

    1. Michael Thibault

      Re: Just for completeness

      >therefore (slightly)faster cpu & storage, plus cheaper.

      Shock! Stop the press! Stop, I tell you!

    2. John Latham

      Re: Just for completeness

      I'm fairly sure the mid-2013 13" MBA had a PCIe SSD.

      1. Salts

        Re: Just for completeness

        Yep, my bad, sorry all :-(

  9. messele

    Meanwhile in his parent's spare bedroom...

    Trashy wanna-be hack plunges slightly deeper to find a negative spin on a story that anybody else responded "more for less, I have no problem with that" to.

    Target audience brand him a petty, worthless twat and lazy journalist*.

    More for less.

    *If sitting around in your underpants regurgitating shit that you found elsewhere on the internet infused with your own brand of spiteful vomit counts as a career these days.

  10. Nick


    How much memory do you need for posting on Facebook and Twitter?

    That seems to be the exclusive use of Airs in Clerkenwell...

  11. tempemeaty

    Good to see the improvements

    It's nice to know they do make incremental improvements when it's possible. Btw I'm on their web site configuring one and there is a 512Gb SSD option for this unit. I like that! If I could change ONLY thing it would be the graphic chip offerings. I know the Air line is not designed to be a graphics powerhouse but Intel graphics is such an aweful low-brow thing to see on any Mac. I would not mind seeing that changed to something better.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Good to see the improvements

      Eh, tricky. Right now the entire laptop has essentially only one chip that uses any significant amount of power or produces any heat, and that's the CPU (with integrated graphics). Add a discrete graphics chip and that'll roughly double the power consumption, halve battery life, increase heat, and increase the complexity (and noise) of the cooling system. I consider using integrated graphics to be a fairly significant advantage of the system.

    2. Jean-Paul

      Re: Good to see the improvements

      Actually the integrated HD5000 graphics are pretty good. Aperture is an OpenGL resource hog where the whole UI is dependent on graphics card performance. It runs superbly on my external 2560x1600 screen from my MBA (2013 model) together with a second monitor...

      As does the whole Creative Suite....Nothing wrong really with those integrated graphics. They are now very different opposed to earlier generations....

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The real story

    Minor spec bump and price decrease for most people is a non-story but the real story is for people who have been delaying an upgrade. Basically Apple is saying there won't be any major new upgrades/features for another year, so, go ahead and purchase. Personally I've been putting off buying for the last ~6 months so this is welcome news.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I really wish The Register writers would stop calling Apple users 'Fanbois'. It makes me cringe every time I read it and it often infringes on what is usually a reasonably informative article. It's very childish and makes it look like the article was written by a thirteen year old. Please stop it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      it often infringes on

      impinges? Just asking, I'm not a native English speaker.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Steve Todd

        Re: Fanbois.....

        You're trying to claim that he wasn't smart enough to buy the Mac version of Dragon Dictate, or if he was using OS X Mountain Lion or later he didn't try the inbuilt voice dictation software?

        1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

          Re: Fanbois.....

          he didn't try the inbuilt voice dictation software

          Dragon is offline, local. AFAIK, the built-in stuff is not really built-in insofar that it ships everything off to a service - not the kind of thing you want if you're working on anything sensitive :).

      2. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

        Re: Fanbois.....

        Umm, I have Dragon Dictate on my MBP, works fine. I do, however, have the MAC version :)

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