PC Mag's Review of the 13-inch MacBook Air

Posted by Kirhat | Saturday, October 17, 2015 | | 0 comments »

MacBook Air
According to Brian Westover of PC Magazine, Apple tends to change things only when it needs to, which explains its incremental, yet impactful upgrades to the 13-inch Apple MacBook Air. While it uses the same aluminum unibody design and many of the same components as its predecessor, the latest MacBook Air 13-inch is updated with one of the newest Intel Core i5 CPUs.

Even with this modest improvement (and the same list price as last year's base model US$ 999), the MacBook Air stays ahead of the pack in terms of performance, and astounds with its 17.5-hour battery life. It remains a top choice for general computing tasks, and is PC Magazine's Editors' Choice for midrange ultraportables.

The MacBook Air 13-inch measures 8.94 inches long and 12.8 inches wide, and it weighs 2.96 pounds. It tapers in thickness from 0.68 inches at the back of the system to 0.11 inches at the front. Other 13.3-inch laptops, like the Acer Aspire S7-393-7451, the Asus Zenbook UX305FA-ASM1, and the Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro, are slightly thinner and lighter, but anybody will still have no trouble toting the MacBook Air around. The 12-inch MacBook is currently Apple's thinnest and lightest laptop at 0.52 by 11 by 7.75 inches (HWD) and 1.98 pounds.

Compared with the 1,920-by-1,080 or higher resolution that's common for midrange Windows laptops, the MacBook Air's 1,440-by-900 resolution seems relatively deficient, at least on paper. However, the screen appears clear and bright in real-world use. It should be sufficient for day-to-day tasks, like writing office documents and Web browsing. If users need a higher-resolution Mac laptop, they will have to go for the pricier Apple MacBook and its 2,304-by-1,400-resolution screen or the latest Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch with its 2,560-by-1,600-resolution display. There is currently no option to add a high-resolution Retina Display to the MacBook Air; it would increase the system's cost and weight and decrease battery life.

Ports are unchanged from last year's model. On the left side are a headset jack, two microphones, a MagSafe 2 power jack, and a USB 3.0 port. The right side sports an SDXC card slot, a Thunderbolt 2 port, and a second USB 3.0 port. While this seems sparse, it's pretty typical for the ultraportable category and will be sufficient for many users. User will need an adapter cable for HDMI or other display connectors, but the Thunderbolt port works just fine with mini-DisplayPort-equipped monitors without an adapter. Wireless connectivity comes via 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0.

The keys on the backlit, chiclet-style keyboard have an excellent feel, and it's easy to use the glass-covered trackpad for multitouch gestures. The trackpad lacks the extra Force-Click capabilities of the 12-inch Apple MacBook and the Apple MacBook Pro laptops, but those gestures are still unsupported in most third-party applications. Like all Macs, the MacBook Air lacks a touch screen.

Many would like to see more memory in the MacBook Air, since the standard 4GB is a bit low for a US$ 1,000 laptop. Users can only upgrade up to 8GB during their initial purchase (which is what PC Magazine's review unit of last year's iteration is configured with), so users will need to consider if the extra US$ 100 is worth it for multitasking or for their multimedia projects. Flash storage is also a relatively low 128GB, but that is less of an issue these days, since online cloud storage is so inexpensive. Thankfully, the system is unencumbered by bloatware.

The flash storage is PCIe-based, which makes it faster than the SATA-based solid-state drives (SSDs) and flash storage in older ultraportables. This helped the system boot in only a few seconds and the apps to load quickly in testing. The MacBook Air comes with a one-year warranty, which is on par with its Windows-equipped peers.


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