This is my review of Apple's 11.6" MacBook Air, after owning and operating my own for several months now.
Today I am going to be outlining my experience with the MacBook Air. In the summer of 2011, I purchased a refurbished 11.6" Air from the Apple website, and have been using it as my sole portable computer ever since. I am first going to list what I think the pros and cons of this laptop are, and then give you a comparison to other netbooks, laptops, and desktops available on the market.
Light Weight: This is by far one of the best features of the Air. The model I own weighs in at 2.3 pounds, and is A LOT lighter than any other laptop I have handled. It even feels lighter than some netbooks I have used. This is nice for travel; it goes into my backpack or leather bag easily and I do not even notice it is there. The same cannot be said for a full-sized laptop, which typically weighs 5-7 pounds.
Quick Startup Time: Due to the solid-state hard drive (SSD) within the Air, the laptop boots in under 15 seconds. I have BootCamp enabled, allowing me to run both the OSX Lion and Windows 7 operating systems, and both boot in this amount of time. Very nice compared to the traditional boot time of 30+ seconds with a normal hard disk. Stay posted for my article on SSD's vs. traditional hard drives in the coming days.
Aluminum Casing: Not much needs to be said about this. It is durable, does not scratch easily, and gives you peace of mind when carrying the laptop around. A+.
Battery Life: The brightness setting you use affects this drastically; however, the lowest brightness setting still appears quite bright to me and gives me 6 hours of battery life. Even on the highest brightness, the battery life is longer than the traditional 2 hours most standard laptop batteries get.
Screen: The screen is very high quality and looks extremely nice, especially when the brightness is turned up a bit. No complaints here; however, make sure you clean your screen with a safe cloth every once in a while to prevent it from looking dirty.
Keyboard: This is the number one selling point in my opinion. The keyboard is a FULL sized keyboard; you can find the exact same keyboard on the larger MacBook Air and all of the MacBook Pro models. My number one complaint when using a netbook is that my hands feel cramped and I cannot type anything longer than a line without giving up. Apple solved this problem by including the full sized keyboard on all the Air models, making it a delight to type on them.
I'm sure I could list many more pros, but these are the main ones that stand out to me. On to the cons...
Lack of DVD drive: I have to list this as a con, because in all fairness there is a point where using a DVD as opposed to a flash drive is beneficial. However, I have never needed to use a DVD while using my Air, and do not forsee a time in the future when I will. So no big deal. If you must, transfer the data from DVD to a flash drive, and use the USB ports on the computer.
Only 2 USB ports: Again, not a big deal unless this is your one and only computer, and you want a keyboard/mouse/speakers all hooked up at once. In that case, you can buy a $10 USB hub and solve your problem. I only use one port at any given time, so it makes no difference to me.
I cannot find any more cons. Solid piece of hardware, and well worth the money.
I will attempt to compare my Air to using a netbook, regular laptop, and a desktop (briefly), just for the sake of someone making a decision between any of these items.
Air vs. NetBook: This is by far the easiest comparison. You will be hard pressed to find a netbook that comes close to the performance and durability of the Air, and it will not be any less expensive. The $200-$300 netbooks are blown out of the water when compared to the Air. If you can afford it, buy the Air and don't look back.
Air vs. Laptop: Again, my preference lies with the Air. If you are going to go without a desktop computer (ie. you only intend to own a laptop), then you may want to look at the larger model of the Air or another laptop if you do a ton of document editing and web browsing. The 11.6" screen may be hard on your eyes if you use this all day, but this can easily be solved by spending a bit of money on an external LCD monitor. You can find laptops at the same price point with better performance, but keep in mind: they are bigger, heavier, the battery dies faster, and in all likeliness they will not have an SSD. In summary, look to a bigger laptop if this is all you will own, but if you have a home desktop/laptop, buy the Air for value and portability.
Air vs. Desktop: Not an easy comparison here. These two items serve entirely different purposes. If you intend to game, model graphics or spend your entire day in from of the computer at home, buy a desktop. A desktop at the same price point will outperform the Air, but of course, you lose the portability of a laptop.
In conclusion, let me state that the MacBook Air is a very powerful and capable laptop. It boots fast, looks clean and will run pretty much anything you throw at it. I have even tried my hand at playing a few video games on the laptop, and it handles them very well.
Even in comparison to the more expensive MacBook Pro, the Air will do pretty much everything at the same speed (or faster if you are talking about boot time). Apple refurbished products are, in my opinion, as good as new - they carry the same one-year warranty as the brand new laptops and come factory packed with no signs of use AT ALL. I saved $400 by picking up the Air refurbished, with free shipping directly from the Apple online store.
To sum it up - awesome laptop, no complaints at all, very hard to find anything wrong with this one. Let me know in the comments below if you have any questions or concerns, and I will do my best to address them.
Until next time...