Product snapshot: Apple MacBook Air

Apple's 2013 MacBook Air gets better efficiency and longer battery life thanks to Intel's 4th gen Core CPU

Apple today announced an all-new range of MacBook Air laptops, citing major improvements in everyday usage scenarios thanks to Intel’s fourth generation Intel Core CPU (codenamed Haswell).

Indeed, the new MacBook Air laptops can thank Haswell for bringing much greater processing efficiency to the fore, allowing better graphics performance at lower clock speeds, and, in turn, reducing overall power consumption.

As a result, Apple says the new MacBook Air laptops can provide all-day battery life. The 11.6in model goes from supplying five hours of battery life in the previous model to nine hours of battery life in the new model, while the 13in model goes from supplying seven hours of battery life to a cool 12 hours of life.

Importantly, Apple’s Phil Schiller said during the Apple WWDC keynote that the battery life for common tasks is improved, with the 11in model capable of supplying up to eight hours of iTunes video playback before conking out, while the 13in model can supply up to 10 hours of iTunes of video playback. He also said that Apple worked closely with Intel on the power states of the new CPU, and that the new MacBook Air models have a wake-up time of just one second, and a standby time of 30 days. The PowerNap feature allows the MacBook Air to continue receive email and calendar tasks while it's sleeping so that everything is ready to use once you open the lid.

In addition to the latest and greatest Intel CPU, Apple claims that the storage in the new MacBook Air units is 45 per cent faster than the storage in the previous-generation MacBook Air laptops. Furthermore, the 11in model now comes standard with 128GB of storage, rather than 64GB, and it’s also available with 256GB. The 13in model comes in the same capacities, with Apple claiming that the 128GB model is $100 cheaper than the previous model at the same capacity.

Networking gets a boost, too, thanks to integrated 802.11ac Wi-Fi, while can supply much faster throughput over longer distances than 802.11n. To take advantage of this capability, Apple has also introduced new AirPort Extreme and AirPort Time Capsule wireless routers, which support 802.11ac and have beamforming antennas that are optimised for transferring data to and from 802.11ac devices.

Many people will be disappointed with the display resolution, which remains at 1366x768 pixels for the 11in model, and 1440x900 pixels for the 13in model — no Retina love for the MacBook Air models yet. Physically, the units still look the same and the connections around the edges are the same for both models (you get two USB 3.0 ports, a headphone port, and a Thunderbolt port), with the 13in laptop also having an SD card slot.

The new MacBook Air laptops are available to purchase from Apple now and the cheapest model starts at $1099 (the 11in, 128GB version), while the top-end model is the 13in Air with 256GB of storage for $1449. All models have the same Intel fourth-generation Core i5 CPU, Intel HD 5000 graphics, and 4GB of RAM.

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Elias Plastiras

Elias Plastiras

Good Gear Guide

@pcworldau

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