Free MacBook Air
The super-slim MacBook Air was first introduced at the Macworld Conference on 15 January 2008. The Air has been revised twice since launch and here we
take a look at the latest version, available since mid 2009.
The main and most striking feature of the free MacBook Air is its super thin Aluminium unibody casing which measures just 0.76 inches or 1.94cm at its thickest point. On launch the Air was claimed by Apple to be the thinnest notebook computer available, a claim which has since been challenged by Dell with their Adamo. Other notable competition in the super slim segment are the Lenovo Thinkpad X301 and the HP Voodoo Envy 133.
MacBook Air versions
The MacBook Air is currently available in two versions, one featuring a 1.86GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor with 120GB SATA hard drive running at 4200RPM
and the other with a 2.13GHz Core 2 Duo processor with a 128GB SSD (solid state drive). Both versions have the same 13.3" LCD display, 2GB of RAM, nVidia
9400M graphics processor, integrated wireless networking and a webcam, which is situated above the screen. An external monitor can be connected via the
units Mini DisplayPort. All MacBook Air's currently come with Mac OS X Snow Leopard 10.6.
Other neat features of the MacBook Air are the large trackpad that allows you to use iPhone-style actions such as swiping, pinching and rotating, and the MagSafe power connector that allows the wire to easily disconnect from the computer if snagged.
MacBook Air battery life
Due to its diminutive size, the MacBook Air understandably has a shorter battery life than the regular MacBook range. On its release Apple SEO Steve Jobs claimed a five hour battery life out the Air. Subsequent test by various media outlets have shown a true battery life of around 3-4 hours under normal use, which is still very impressive for something so small.
MacBook Air specs
Several regular notebook features were omitted from the MacBook Air in order to achieve the size and weight reductions. The most notable is that the lack of a built-in CD/DVD drive, with the user either having to purchase an external unit or use Apple's Remote Disc software that allows the notebook to wirelessly access the drive of another computer. The FireWire port, Ethernet port, line-in socket, memory card slots and Kensington Security Slot are all absent from the specification. The Air also has only one USB port and a single mono speaker. As with the MacBook Pro range the battery is non-serviceable and not user removable. One further limitation is that the RAM memory is permanently soldered onto the motherboard, thus removing the opportunity to upgrade this element.
MacBook Pro or MacBook Air
Whether the MacBook Air is for you will depend on how you use your notebook. For many a free MacBook Pro might be the more sound choice thanks to its full range of features and longer battery life. We also think that the latest unibody MacBook Pro's are better looking than the Air. If you are an intense user looking to use the device as your main notebook then we think the Air will prove a frustration over the long term, mainly because of the specification omissions that were made to get the size and weight of the unit down.