Apple MacBook Air (11-inch, Late 2010) review

In the second part of our coverage of the new MacBook Air range, we take a look at the new 11in model. Is this sleek and small ultra-portable laptop worth its high price? Read our review to find out.

Reviews
25 Nov, 2010
4
Price 
£850
ex VAT
Verdict 
The 11in MacBook Air is an impressively slender, lightweight laptop with a large, comfortable keyboard, a bright screen and long battery life. If you can afford it, it’s a good choice if you want an ultra-portable laptop that’s more capable than a netbook. However, the 13in MacBook Air remains our favourite ultra-portable laptop. Although it’s more expensive and is a bit bigger and heavier, it has the benefit of a higher resolution screen, a bigger SSD, faster applications performance and dramatically longer battery life.

We’ve already reviewed the 13in version of the MacBook Air, Apple’s 1.33kg ultra-portable laptop. That model isn’t the lightest, smallest Mac laptop available though – that honour goes to the new 11.6in version which weighs little more than 1kg. It’s more comparable in size and weight to the iPad or a netbook than it is to any other ultra-portable laptop we’ve seen. Carrying it around all day is almost effortless and its low height means it’s more comfortable to use in cramped spaces, such as an economy-class airline seat.

Like the larger 13in model, this new Air isn’t just very light, it's also eye-catchingly thin. The tapered design is just under 2cm thick at its chunkiest point and less than half a centimetre thick at its thinnest point. Despite its slender, lightweight build it feels rigid, robust and very well-made thanks to its aluminium construction.

A few compromises have been made to achieve this very low weight and slender profile. Unlike the 13in model, there’s no memory card reader so if you want to copy data off SD cards then you’ll need to occupy one of the two USB2 ports with an external memory card reader. Like all previous Airs, there's no built-in Ethernet or optical drive, although Apple sells a portable USB DVD writer and a USB-to-10/100Mbit/s Ethernet adapter separately.

More disappointingly, there's no built-in 3G. Not only is 3G internet access increasingly a necessity, not an optional extra, for frequent travellers, a dongle would occupy yet another precious USB port.

Specifications 

Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo SU9400, 1.4GHz

Memory: 2GB 1,066MHz DDR3 RAM

Graphics: Nvidia GeForce 320M integrated

Hard disk: 128GB solid state disk

Display: 11.6in 1,366 x 768 pixels, LED-backlitscreen

Features: 0.3 megapixel camera, microphone, stereo speakers

Connectivity: 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR

Ports: 2x USB2, mini DisplayPort output, 3.5mm headphone and microphone combination audio socket

Dimensions: 300x190x20mm (WxDxH)

Weight: 1.06kg

Warranty: 1yr C&R or customer carry-in warranty

OS: MacOS X 10.6 Snow Leopard

Part code:MC506LL/A

BENCHMARKS

Image editing 59

Video encoding 40

Multiple apps 44

Overall 44

Light usage battery life 8h23m

POWER CONSUMPTION

Idle 6W

Active 46W

Pages