Final Words

The 11-inch MacBook Air may be portable perfection, but by default it’s not the perfect notebook. It’s slow, the battery doesn’t last all that long under actual use and the screen resolution, although appreciably high, makes things a little difficult to read.

The 1.6GHz/4GB upgrade comes at a steep cost but it directly attacks one of those complaints. There’s a tangible difference in regular use between the base and upgraded models. While I wouldn’t consider either fast, I’d say that extra 10 - 20% performance increase you get from the upgraded CPU and memory makes a very big difference. If all you’re doing is writing and web browsing I’m not sure it’s necessary, but anything beyond that could probably make use of the upgraded specs.

At $1399 there's almost no way to rationally justify the price and rest assured that within 12 - 18 months Apple will have a much faster version available, likely at an even cheaper price point. The upgrade obviously does nothing to address that part of the equation. You do get a pretty good display, great form factor and of course the ability to run OS X, but any way you look at it $1399 is a lot for a lightweight notebook. Then again, I did pay a lot more than that for my first Transmeta notebook about a decade ago.

The impact to battery life is minimal, although it is measurable. Having used the 11-inch MacBook Air exclusively on my last business trip I can say that the battery life experience lines up with what our benchmarks show. Even for simple tasks the 11-inch MacBook Air doesn’t last anywhere near as long as the 15-inch MacBook Pro. Heavy use throughout the day will require the aid of a charger.

Traveling with the system is great however. You don’t need to take it out of your bag when going through airport security and it’s light enough that I hardly noticed I was carrying it. As I write this final paragraph in the dark cabin of a plane, I do still miss the backlit keyboard. Apple really should bring that back.

Battery Life


View All Comments

  • Jon03021 - Monday, November 08, 2010 - link

    It seems Toshiba has released the exact same SSD blades used in the new MBAs.

    Anand, would you be so kind to see if the 11'' is upgradable to the 256gb stick when they become available? I would really appreciate it!

    Thank you,

  • lemonadesoda - Monday, November 08, 2010 - link

    Yes, the 256GB sticks are 8 chip rather than the current 4 chip designs. An 8 memory chip design should be faster... but also fatter. Will it fit? Reply
  • Rasterman - Monday, November 15, 2010 - link

    I would like to replace my 2008 13" MB with an 11" Air, but the features and options are poor.

    What I want in the 11":
    SD card reader
    Ethernet port
    HDMI port
    default 1.86Ghz cpu with 2.4Ghz upgrade

    If this were the case it would be a no-brainer upgrade for me for $1500, but as it stands I'll just keep what I have, maybe the second revision in 12 months will be better... Perhaps after i7 is 2 years old it will be in an Apple machine! lol
  • mevensen - Wednesday, November 17, 2010 - link

    Any chance of getting a similar comparison with the options available for the MBA 13?
    Also, I agree that doing head to head comparisons with other Windows ultra-portables would go a long way to providing some valuable decision points for (us) consumers.
  • roddiekn - Monday, November 22, 2010 - link

    I am glad with Apple’s new 11-inch and 13-inch MacBook Airs. because new generation and new companies are demanding new technology in their filed.So that is one of the good reply on this way. I appreciates it.. Reply

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