The 11.6” Samsung display panel in my Air evaluation unit is actually the same one I had on my last MacBook Air, though the one before that had an LG panel. This is all based on the panel supply lottery, and while it’s been alleged that the Samsung is a superior quality panel in terms of contrast and viewing angles, I honestly can’t say there’s too much of a difference overall between the two. I’ve never had them side-by-side, and color calibration can certainly skew visual perception significantly, so let’s just say that your mileage may vary. If you don’t like the panel you get, take it back and try another one—Apple Stores seem to cater to discerning customers (or they have with me).

Pixel Density Comparison Obviously, given our familiarity with the Air 11”, there’s nothing surprising here with the 2013 edition. It’s roughly the same as the last few we’ve had, beyond standard panel to panel variations. Contrast ratio and color reproduction are pretty decent, as they were before, and viewing angles are solid by the standards of TN panels. This is still the best 11.6” TN panel I think I’ve come across, but it’s been eclipsed many times over by the 1080p IPS 11.6” panels that are shipping in basically any higher-end 11.6” Ultrabook these days.

LCD Analysis—Contrast

LCD Analysis—White

LCD Analysis—Black This is probably the biggest issue that I have with the 11” Air. The 11.6” 1366x768 TN panel was industry standard when the first Air 11” hit the market, and the panel quality was actually pretty decent. The display size, pixel density, and aspect ratio each specifically aren’t bad on their own, but the combination results in a pretty unsatisfying viewing experience in this day and age. I’ve never liked the 1366x768 resolution for notebook displays, regardless of panel size; the lack of vertical pixels just kills it for me. Even 1280x800 in the 13” MacBook Pro (non-Retina) is better. I don’t mind 16:9 as an aspect ratio, even at this size, but I just want more pixels. That’s really the biggest part of what makes the 13” so much more usable, the 1440x900 display in that also won’t blow you away in terms of dot pitch or even visually when compared to the Retina MacBook Pro or a modern Ultrabook, but it offers a much more pleasant experience than this 11.6” panel.

 
CPU Performance The iPad Question
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  • solipsism - Saturday, August 10, 2013 - link

    Your first paragraph compares a RAIDed system to a single drive system that then says it's "just as fast" then your 2nd paragraph argues that the MBA can't benefit from having a PCIe SSD over a SATA SSD.

    Do you honestly don't know what faster storage can do for disk reads and writes? Do you think Anand lied about the results of his 2013 13" MBA comparison?

    128K Sequntial Writes:
    2010 MBP — 89 MB/s
    2013 MBA — 714.2 MB/s

    How exactly does that not offer any benefit?
    Reply
  • ESC2000 - Saturday, August 10, 2013 - link

    Anyone who reads this review and thinks there is anti apple bias is himself biased toward Apple. You've made your position pretty clear.

    Anandtech has done three major articles/reviews of Mac laptops in the past two months and basically none on any other laptops. That should be pro Apple enough for you.
    Reply
  • ESC2000 - Saturday, August 10, 2013 - link

    Just to be clear, that is a response to darwinosx not Vivek. Reply
  • IHateMyJob2004 - Friday, August 9, 2013 - link

    $999? Who would spend that much on a small screen laptop? Only fools .... Reply
  • solipsism - Friday, August 9, 2013 - link

    Because the performance, quality and utility of a device is based solely on the size of the display? I guess that means it's foolish to even spend $200 on a cheap cellphone since the display on those is much smaller¡ Reply
  • purerice - Friday, August 9, 2013 - link

    Good point. Actually in the end you end up paying over $600 for that $200 cell which just adds to your point. This can handle 1600p resolution on an external display. Not for Crysis but it will run Excel fine.
    I used to have a 12" laptop with 1024x768 screen that I attached to a Dell 2407 when at my home office. At the time 4.6 lb (2.1kg) was light for a laptop. Having a small laptop for the road that you can plug in to a beautiful display at home is the best of both worlds. I would rather have a fully functional, 2.4 lb 11" laptop with SSD for $1000 than 15" laptop that weighs 3x and has a 5400 rpm hard drive for $600.
    I replaced that 12" laptop with a 6 lb, 15" Penryn-based Dell laptop that got 90 minutes of battery life new, that was about $600. I use it when I have to for work and looking back I gladly would trade portability, HD speed, and battery life for the higher screen resolution, a little speed, and $400. Most gladly.
    Though now that Toshiba's IB-based U925 is no longer available, I am hoping they replace it with a Haswell version. Touchscreen+tablet mode are features I would rarely use, but in certain cases they would be extremely helpful.
    Reply
  • jutre - Friday, August 9, 2013 - link

    And what about the RAM ? Is 4GB (not up-gradable) acceptable for anybody ? If you buy your laptop today, it is for using it for the next couple years. I guess forking 100$ for the extra RAM in order to futureproof your laptop a no brainer ? Reply
  • purerice - Friday, August 9, 2013 - link

    I think so. LPDDR3 memory that Apple uses here and Sony uses with the Vaio Duo is (almost?) always attached to the motherboard, unlike most DDR3L memory. There will likely be other bottlenecks for sure, but especially with shared vram, the 4GB is closer to 3-3.5GB. Reply
  • name99 - Saturday, August 10, 2013 - link

    Are you people retarded?
    This is not a machine being sold to run huge Mathematica simulations, or to host 4 simultaneous VMs. It's a machine sold to people who perform "normal" computing tasks, basically email, web, reading PDFs, maybe MS Office, maybe some arranging photos, maybe some light gaming.

    You're like people who look at the specs for a 2-door sedan and complain "But what if I want to use it to tow my boat 24 hours a day?"

    If it doesn't fit your computing needs, don't fscking buy it. It doesn't meet my needs (which DO include substantial Mathematic usage), so I bought a quad-core 16GB 15" rMBP. The difference is I don't waste everyone's time by claiming that the entire damn world has the same computing needs that I do.
    Does it meet my GF's needs? My mother's needs? My two sister's needs? Yes, yes and yes.
    My programmer brother's needs? No.
    That's why Apple makes multiple laptops!!!
    Reply
  • TheinsanegamerN - Sunday, August 11, 2013 - link

    dude, roid rage much?
    nobody is retarded here. they were having a legitimate conversation on the ram found in the macbook air, and then you butted in.
    normal users can run over 4 GB of ram usage. ask anyone who runs multiple tabs while a video is playing in the background.
    and nobody was claiming that the world has the same computational needs as them.
    so kindly shut up and go back to your "Mathematical equations" and leave socializing to people who are not incredibly rude morons.
    Reply

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