Macbook Air review (13in 2013 model)


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The design and performance make the MacBook Air a standout product among the latest crop of ultrabooks. You can run any applications you'll need for business use, including Microsoft Office, and the trackpad and Mac OS X make the Air a pleasure to use.
Pros:
Lightweight, slimline design, great battery life, affordable price tag
Cons:
Waiting for Mavericks, no Retina display
Overall Rating:
5 Star Rating: Recommended
Price: £949 for 128GB or £1,129 for 256GB
Manufacturer: Apple

Specifications:
Model: MacBook Air 13in (2013 model)
Processor: Intel Core i5 1.3GHz, configurable to 1.7GHz dual-core Intel Core i7
RAM: 4GB of 1600MHz LPDDR3 memory
Storage: 128GB or 256GB
Display: 13.3in 1440x900 LED-backlit widescreen
Connectivity: 802.11ac WiFi, 802.11a/b/g/n compatible, Bluetooth 4.0
Ports: 2x USB 3 ports, Thunderbolt port, MagSafe 2 power port, SDXC card slot, dual microphones, headphone jack
Weight: 1.35kg
Dimensions: 325x227x17mm
Battery: Integral 54Whr lithium polymer battery


Review : 
 The original MacBook Air established itself as the benchmark for thin and light laptops, and with its upgrade to Intel Core chips in 2011, it got the performance boost to match its sleek design and build.

The latest 13in model launched by Apple in June is pretty much the same on the outside as the 2011 edition, aside from the addition of dual microphones on the left-hand side. Meanwhile, OS X Lion has been updated to Mountain Lion – you'll have to wait until the autumn to get hold of a MacBook Air running the latest Mavericks version – but Apple has made some tweaks to the battery to get more juice out of the machine.

We've been trying out the Core i5 1.3GHz 13in version with 4GB of RAM to see if Apple's battery promises live up to expectation, helped on by the inclusion of a processor from Intel's latest Haswell processor architecture rather than the previous Ivy Bridge and Sandy Bridge versions.

Build and design
The 13in MacBook Air doesn't quite meet its 11in little sibling's feather-light credentials, but it's still one of the thinnest and lightest laptops around, partly thanks to its inclusion of flash storage.

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It measures in at 325x227x17mm and weighs only 1.35kg, adding just under 300g compared with the 11in 1.08kg model, and expanding by just 25mm in width and 33mm in depth. Even with the rise of ultrabooks since Apple first released this hardware a few years ago, PC manufacturers have struggled to drive down weight and size, while retaining decent performance and battery life at a reasonable cost.

Even though the 13in MacBook Air is stick-thin and lightweight, build quality is superb and extremely sturdy, while the unibody design gives the laptop a sleek, high-end look. Apple has included a 79-key island backlit keyboard that is well proportioned into this 13in model, with 12 function keys and four arrow keys laid out in a user-friendly format. The keys have a short travel distance, meaning only a light touch is needed when typing.

Another key area where the MacBook Air surpasses the majority of its Windows-based counterparts is the trackpad. The trackpad itself is huge, and more than adequate to carry out swiping and pitching gestures comfortably, making it a breeze to scroll up, down and around the screen. But be warned – once you've got used to the trackpad, you'll find it difficult to downgrade back to a normal mouse experience.

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It's easy to tailor the trackpad to work in the way you want it, with options for one, two and three finger clicks, right clicking, as well as dragging up or down the trackpad. The only real downside we've found is that the trackpad can get glitchy – for example with the right-click functionality – once you've had your MacBook Air for a couple of years or more.

Display
The first downside to get out the way is that, sadly, Apple hasn't added a Retina display to the MacBook Air. Retina screens offer a resolution up to 2880x1800 on the 15in MacBook Pro models, delivering more screen real estate with amazing colour and definition. However, adding Retina would have likely added cost to the MacBook Air, and decreased battery life.

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The 13in non-Retina screen on the MacBook Air isn't a downgrade compared with other laptops, though. It has an LED backlight and comes with a maximum resolution of 1440x900, compared with the 1366x768 maximum on the 11in. You can also easily change the resolution to a range of preset options depending on your needs: 1280x800, 1152x720 and 1024x640 at 16:10 aspect ratio, or 1024x768 and 800x600 pixels at a 4:3 aspect ratio.

The display offers sharp colours and brightness, and isn't very reflective compared with many laptop models we have seen, so you won't get screen glare apart from in bright sunlight. The display is high quality for watching video or viewing images. The ambient sensor is also a great touch as it automatically adjusts the brightness of the screen and lighting of the keyboard, meaning you can use the MacBook Air in a dark room and still easily see all the keys and screen.

Ports
Anyone needing a laptop with lots of native connectivity should look elsewhere. The paper-thin chassis simply doesn't allow for a wide variety of ports.

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On the left-hand side of the 13in MacBook Air, you'll find the power connector, a USB port, headphone socket and dual microphones. Audio quality is decent on the MacBook Air, although if you're planning on using the speakers regularly to watch films or TV, or for webconferencing, you'll either want to invest in a comfortable pair of headphones or buy some extra speakers, as the maximum volume isn't very loud.

On the right, Apple has added a second USB port, a single Thunderbolt connector and an SDXC card slot, something not offered on the 11in model.

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The MacBook Air has been designed for portability, so it's necessary to chop features like optical drives and even an Ethernet port. However, for those not happy relying on WiFi connectivity, you can purchase an Ethernet adaptor to plug into the USB port for £25, an accesory we've found handy over our years using the MacBook Air.

The inclusion of the Thunderbolt port goes some way towards mitigating the lack of others. Not only does the port provide transfer speeds that are up to 20 times faster than traditional USB, it also allows the Air to connect with VGA, HDMI, mini Display Port and DVI devices, via adapters.
Unfortunately, only a power cable is provided in the box, with everything else needing to be purchased as an optional extra. A standard Thunderbolt cable costs £39 and a VGA adapter will set you back another £25.

Storage
While the 11in MacBook Air received a storage upgrade with the latest batch of releases – the entry-level jumped from 64GB up to 128GB of storage for the same £849 price tag and a 256GB version appeared for £1,029 – the 13in models were missed off the upgrade list, coming in the same 128GB and 256GB formats. But the good news is that the price tags have dropped, so the 128GB model is now available for £949, down from £999 for last year's model, while the 256GB model is now priced at £1,129, down from the 2012 price of £1,249.
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About Doru Somcutean

Hello, my name is Somcutean Doru and I'm from Romania.

I really like to read reviews and see what's new about technology, on D-BLOG I share with you articles/reviews that I find interesting. I also write some reviews in romanian...

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