Apple MacBook Air 13-inch 256GB Mid 2011

Sleek, sexy and expensive. But enough about us, is the new MacBook Air still the best ultraportable laptop you can buy? Alan Lu takes a closer look in our review.

There's still no Ethernet port, so for wired network access you'll need a (not included) USB-to-Ethernet adapter.

Don't expect to seen an optical drive though it's gone for good and Apple now expects most software to be downloaded from online stores such as its own Mac App Store. It hasn't even included a USB flash drive containing a factory image of the operating system. If you need it, there's a hidden recovery partition containing a stripped down web browser for re-downloading the OS. This can taken quite a while though, so we'd make a backup as soon it's out of the box.

Although the 13.3in display isn't quite as bright as we would have liked, it's still more than bright enough to compensate for the screen's glossy sheen, offsetting most glare-causing reflections. Viewing angles weren't quite as wide as we would have liked either and the screen doesn't tilt back very far. There's little to complain about when it comes to the screen's resolution though at 1,440x900 pixels it's roomier than similarly sized 1,366x768 pixel screens for working in applications with lots of windows.

We're glad to see that the connector for the power supply still uses a MagSafe tip. This disconnects harmlessly if someone trips over it, rather than wrenching out of the socket or dragging the laptop to the ground experiences we're all too familiar with. Apple's minimalist design means there aren't any hardware security features, such as a fingerprint reader. The one year collect and return warranty is a bit meager at this price, but this can be extended by two more years for an extra 200.

So what's our verdict?

Verdict

It's a tad disappointing that Apple's latest MacBook Air didn't last quite as long in our battery test as its predecessor, but it's still more than good enough for all but the longest trips. It's still the best ultraportable laptop you can get thanks to other features such as it comfortable input devices, high-resolution screen and excellent build quality. Although cheaper, less generously specified versions are available, it is still unavoidably pricy but surprisingly it's still better value than the comparable competition which is something we never thought we'd see for a Mac. If you can afford it, the MacBook Air really is the best ultraportable laptop available.

SPECIFICATIONS Processor: Intel Core i5 2557M, 1.7GHz Memory: 4GB 1,333MHz DDR3 RAM Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 3000 Hard disk: 256GB solid state disk Display: 13.3in 1,440 x 900 pixel, LED-backlit screen Features: 1.3 megapixel camera, microphone, stereo speakers Connectivity: 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 Ports: 2 x USB2, 1 x Thunderbolt/Mini DisplayPort, 1 x SDXC, 3.5mm headphone and microphone combo audio socket Dimensions: 325x238x11mm (WxDxH) Weight: 1.34kg Warranty: 1 year C&R or customer carry-in warranty OS: MacOS X 10.7 Lion Part code: MC966B/A BENCHMARK RESULTS Image editing 61 Video encoding 41 Multiple apps 39 Overall 43 Light usage battery life – 9h52m POWER CONSUMPTION Sleep 1W Idle 11W Active 42W

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