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.

As expected from a laptop with a 11.6in screen, this Air has a resolution of 1,366x768 pixels which is significantly more spacious than the 1,024x600 resolution of most 10in netbooks. Text is sharp and legible with wide horizontal viewing angles, although vertical viewing angles are more restricted. It's very bright, even when brightness is turned down to conserve battery life. The screen appears to be smaller than it actually is due to the large metal bezel around the screen.

The display has a glossy finish to boost brightness and contrast. Although it's more reflective than screens with a matte finish, when placed under fluorescent strip lighting the resulting glare isn't as intrusively distracting as the glare we've seen from other glossy screens.

Like other Apple MacBooks, the Air's power supply has a magnetised MagSafe connector. This disconnects easily when tripped over, instead of dragging the laptop to the floor or being wrenched out and potentially damaging the connector or the socket. The rest of the power supply hasn't been ignored by Apple's designers either it's small and lightweight with prongs for winding up the power cord. Both MagSafe and the rest of the power supply's design have been around for a while, but it's so useful we're surprised that it hasn't been aped by rival laptop manufacturers.

One welcome, if minor new feature is the system restore USB flash drive. This makes much more sense than a traditional system restore DVD for a laptop that lacks a built-in DVD writer. We wouldn't be surprised to see other manufacturers copy this clever idea.

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.

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

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