Few luxury laptops have as much visual impact as the MacBook Air. Thousands of column inches have been devoted to its tiny frame. It isn’t just in the looks department that this laptop impresses, however.
Build quality is also superb. There’s hardly any flex in the remarkably thin screen, especially when rival machines this month have screens with flimsy protection. The wristrest is surprisingly solid, too. It also packs trademark Apple touches, such as the magnetically attaching power cable, so you can’t trip over it and pull the laptop with you.
Using the Air is a breeze thanks to the comfortable, Scrabble-tile keyboard that offers plenty of travel and a huge, responsive trackpad. The screen is surprisingly good, too, offering bright colours and sharp detail despite its slim design.
While it undoubtedly looks and feels good, however, features are on the thin side. The chassis is bereft of ports: there’s a mini-DVI socket, a single audio jack and a single USB port. There’s no optical drive or even built-in ethernet (the latter is available, but via an optional USB dongle).
The components inside the Air are lightweight, too. An Intel Core 2 Duo L7500 processor runs at 1.6GHz and is an energy efficient part with a TDP of only 17W. But despite its green credentials, there’s little power available: the Air stumbled to a 2D benchmark score of 0.60 – the slowest in this group – and will struggle with anything more than basic tasks. Rival machines also provide more hard disk space than the 80GB here.
The selection of low-power components have a positive effect on the Air’s battery life. In our light-use test, the MacBook lasted almost five hours. Just note, you can’t replace the battery yourself.
It’s this sort of limitation that cripples the MacBook Air. It may exude class, but the lack of performance and features mean that it struggles to compete, and that’s unlikely to change, even with better graphics on new models released just as we went to press.
This Review appeared in the December, 2008 issue of PC & Tech Authority Magazine
Source: Copyright © Alphr, Dennis Publishing