The 11

While both models are extremely light, the 11-inch MacBook Air is portable perfection. It’s the closest thing to an iPad with a keyboard (short of an iPad with an actual keyboard). I’m afraid that’s where the comparison ends. Despite what Apple would have you feel, the new MacBook Air is no more an iPad than its predecessor. The size and form factor is really nice however.

Apple won’t call it a netbook, but that’s exactly what the 11.6 inch MacBook Air is: a netbook with much better hardware. You get a full sized keyboard, an old but faster-than-Atom processor and a great screen. If you’re a writer, the 11-inch MacBook Air is the perfect tool just at an imperfect price.

While $999 is much more affordable than the previous generation MacBook Air, it’s at least $400 more than you would expect to pay for a notebook with these hardware specs. We’re talking about 2GB of memory, a 1.4GHz Core 2 Duo CPU with 3MB L2 cache and an NVIDIA GeForce 320M integrated graphics chipset.

Using the 11-inch MacBook Air is great. Closed it’s small enough to painlessly carry around and open it’s functional enough to get real work done on. The keyboard is mostly unchanged from the rest of Apple’s lineup.

You do make three sacrifices with the 11-inch’s keyboard: thinner function keys across the top, a not-as-tall trackpad and not as much wrist-rest area. Overall they are worthy tradeoffs as none of them impact typing speed. Despite the smaller than normal trackpad, it’s still much larger than what you get on most similarly sized notebooks from other vendors.

Build quality is of course excellent. The MacBook Air employs Apple’s unibody construction. There’s a removable plate at the bottom of the machine that covers the internals, but the typing/mousing surface is carved out of a single piece of aluminum and is solid.

The weakest link in the design is the hinge, which I feel is actually a bit looser than the hinges in other Apple notebooks. While the display is far from floppy, the hinge isn’t strong enough to keep the display from opening/closing more when faced with sudden movements of the notebook. Picking it up from a desk without closing the lid would sometimes cause the lid to tilt back . I didn’t have the problem of the lid auto closing due to gravity when I used the 11-inch Air while laying down, but I wouldn’t be too surprised if that developed over time. In the quest for weight savings sacrifices have to be made. While the rest of the construction is flawless, the hinge isn’t.

The screen is an odd (for Apple) 16:9 ratio 1366 x 768 panel glossy, LED backlit panel. You don’t get the glass bezel from the standard MacBook Pro and as a result the display doesn’t seem quite as glossy. Reflections indoors were minimal at worst, but it’s not a matte screen.

There Once Was One, Now There's Two The 13
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  • bigboxes - Wednesday, October 27, 2010 - link

    Get it through your thick skull, an Apple is not a Ferrari. It's just another pc. An overpriced pc. As soon as you come to that realization you'll sleep better at night and save your $$. Reply
  • MeesterNid - Wednesday, October 27, 2010 - link

    Errr...it sure seems like your skull is much thicker there buddy as he just gave you solid, logical reasoning and all you did was post incoherent blabbering about how Apple is not a Ferrari. You should try searching Google for the meaning of a "metaphor" there.

    But alas, I fear logic and reason do not fit into your "reality" filtered through, what's probably baseless, anti-Apple bias.

    Good day.
    Reply
  • bigboxes - Wednesday, October 27, 2010 - link

    I know what a metaphor is. Do you really think I thought that an Apple PC is a car with four wheels that you can transport you from point A to point B using an internal combustion engine? Really?

    So, since you need clarifying... *sing along with me*... an Apple Computer is just another PC... an overpriced PC. A pretty PC with no cutting edge technology, but still more expensive nonetheless. No anti-Apple bias on my part because I point out the obvious. And no, Apple is not a BMW either (another metaphor in case you think I am mistaking a PC for an automobile).
    Reply
  • synaesthetic - Wednesday, October 27, 2010 - link

    Apple is more like a Lexus.

    A more expensive and shinier rebranded Toyota--err, PC.

    =)
    Reply
  • JVC8bal - Wednesday, October 27, 2010 - link

    A Lexus is nothing like a base Toyota. They use separate unibodies, engines, etc. and only share little things like cabling and mirrors - as do all car brands and their platform strategies. Let's not forget the extra engineering that goes into quality or a quiet ride.

    You obviously have not owned a Lexus or are intimately familiar with - and judging from your witt, never will.
    Reply
  • michael2k - Wednesday, October 27, 2010 - link

    A Mac is nothing like a base PC. They use separate cases, batteries, motherboards, etc. and share only little things like connectors and ports - as do all PC brands and their platform strategies. Let's not forget the extra engineering that goes into quality or superior battery life.

    You obviously have not owned a Mac or are intimately familiar with - and judging from your wit, never will.
    Reply
  • UltimateTruth - Monday, November 1, 2010 - link

    "A Lexus is nothing like a base Toyota. They use separate unibodies, engines, etc. and only share little things like cabling and mirrors "

    I'm sure he's not talking about base Toyotas. And yes, models do share MANY common components from little things like hose clamps, electrical connectors up to engines and transmissions in their platforms.

    The DI V8 in the bloated 350 IF-S is the same as used in the home market Toyota Crown. Variants are used in Tundras and Sequoias.

    Toyota and it's subsidiaries makes the components. Lexus is just an upscale brand of Toyota Motor Co..
    Reply
  • MeesterNid - Wednesday, October 27, 2010 - link

    Brother, your ability to carry on a coherent, rational debate with adults needs practice. Allow me to illustrate:

    1. While my assertion that you do not understand the meaning of the word metaphor was clearly sarcastic you proceed to define it in your response making it look like you either really didn't know what it meant or felt insecure enough to have to prove your knowledge.

    2. You, once again, spout unsubstantiated nonsense about Apple being "just another PC" while in fact Apple does a good bit of original design in their products unlike other PC OEMs (i.e. you should put forward, or at least attempt to, some reasoning that lead you to your conclusion).

    3. Your statement that Apple is not a BMW is redundant to your previous one of it not being a Ferrari, but beyond that you bring that comparison up for no reason. That just makes your previously illogical ranting sound childish.

    I'm not even going to attempt to debate your statement about your not being biased "because [you] point out the obvious" as I'm afraid reason may be lost on you.
    Reply
  • bigboxes - Wednesday, October 27, 2010 - link

    So, if I feel that Apple's products are underwhelming and overpriced then I must be biased. I see... :eyeroll:

    Use all the metaphors you want. Misinterpret my post for your selfish reasons that only you know.
    It's still just a PC. I don't care what OS it uses. If you actually want to compare technical specs and features then we have a discussion. But that's not really what you want. You're off on some mission defending the honor of your beloved Apple. <i>It's Sir MeesterNid and his knights of the stupid table here to save your honor Miss! At your service.</i>

    You know it's the same Intel cpu or did Apple do some design work there? It is thin like a cracker. Did you plan to use it as a frisbee? Make sure you buy the insurance.
    Reply
  • tim851 - Wednesday, October 27, 2010 - link

    And Ferrari is just another car. If you think there's $200k of engineering in there, your skull is thicker than mine. The main reason for the high price is that Ferrari positions themselves in a certain market segment. Price elasticity is given though, they would move more cars if they were cheaper. They just don't want to. Producing more cars creates new hassles and puts them in a different market position.

    Also, the primary benefit of a Ferrari - that is as a means of transportation - is rather bad, as they often seat only two people, have little luggage space, low MPG, frequent service intervals, high cost of operation.
    The technical superiority - i.e. the performance - doesn't matter on public roads. A Ferrari won't get you anywhere quicker than a Ford.

    People buy them because they are fun, they are pretty and they are representative. Buying a Ferrari is a more emotional act than buying an Apple.
    And I, for one, don't own an Apple. I don't care about those secondary and tertiary values and prefer a cheaper PC. That doesn't mean that Apple's market strategy is wrong - it's just wrong for me. Their overwhelming success shows that it's right in general.
    Reply

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