As predicted, Apple has launched a new version of its MacBook Air with dramatic design and storage changes. The Air was long overdue for an update (the new design was launched 500 days after the last version – the longest of any Mac computer).
The new Air is striking. From a design perspective, it follows the current iPhone/iPad/MacBook Pro styling with boxed corners and unibody construction and comes in two sizes; 13.3 inches and 11.6 inches. This unifies the Air with the rest of the Apple family and, to be honest, it looks incredibly cool. At only 2.3 lbs, it can be carried with ease.
But it is in the technical specs that things get interesting. The most significant item of note is that Apple has done away with the hard drive and replaced it with solid state storage. While this is obviously more expensive and does not offer the same volume of storage for the price, it means that the Air will instantly boot from off very rapidly (around 10-15 seconds) and data fetching will be blisteringly fast. This is good compensation as the 11 inch Air runs a 1.4 GHz Core 2 Duo processor which will not do well with complex tasks such as Photoshopping etc.
The battery has also been updated offering 7 hours of use, and the Air ships with full keyboard and glass trackpad. The usual array of connections are present including two USB ports. Notably, the Air does not ship with Flash installed but as this is a user decision to install at a later date, does anyone really care? Just another Apple jab at Flash it seems.
With the improved battery life and faster storage, the Air is a great laptop. Apple have also dropped the price so that the base model is $999 (You can save up to $50 by purchasing from MacMall). For the business traveller, student and those concerned with weight and portability, it’s a great purchase, especially when matched with a docking station (i.e. bluetooth keyboard, trackpad & external monitor). The speed of data retrieval offered by the SSD storage will more than compensate for the underpowered processors.
Go out and get one. But not if you already have an iPad.