Apple's new MacBook Air: 5 things it didn't get

The new MacBook Air is certainly a great improvement over previous models, but there were a few oversights in the new models

The new MacBook Air is certainly a great improvement over previous models - namely the move towards exclusive solid-state storage in a laptop is a welcome paradigm shift. However, there were a few notable oversights in the new models that I'm sure a lot of people are disappointed about. Here are a few of them, and the reasons behind Apple's omissions.

1) Intel Core i3

While the GeForce 320M graphics card and solid-state storage will improve performance of the new MBA to a certain degree, including the same 1.86GHz Core 2 Duo as the previous model was a slightly disappointing move. Intel's Core i3 Mobile processor tops the Core 2 Duo in almost every way in terms of performance.

And although Apple didn't explicitly say anything on the topic, in the last MacBook refresh, Apple decided to stick with the Core 2 Duo because of its compatibility with nVidia's integrated graphics system (moving to the Core i3 would require Apple to use Intel's integrated chipset).

Reasons for omission:

-Cost, power consumption (read: battery life), and hardware compatibility.

2) USB 3.0

The new USB spec was announced back in 2008 and consumer products started arriving last January. High-end PC's are now shipping with USB 3.0 and Apple was the first to widely adopt USB with the first iMac, yet we haven't seen a single Mac ship with the new standard.

Reasons for omission:

-Cost, Intel Core 2 Duo chipset not designed for USB 3.0.

3) SD Card Slot on the 11inch model

The 11.6-inch MacBook Air can be configured to include either 64GB or 128GB on-board storage. Both are relatively scant amounts of space on a laptop by today's standards. The 13" model includes a convenient SD Card slot for increased (removable) storage capacity. While high-capacity SD Cards aren't that cheap yet (a 64GB SDHC card will run you over $200), you could always get a few 32GB cards to expand your storage for a bit less money. This would have been a much handier option on the 11" model, which is in more dire need of expandable storage.

Reasons for omission:

-Cost, enclosure space.

4) HDMI-out

Apple hasn't indicated they are planning on phasing out its Mini DisplayPort in favor of the HDTV audio/video all-in-one standard any time soon, but a man can dream, can't he? If anything, we'll see this on MacBook Pro first, but I'm not holding my breath either.

Reason for omission:

-Mini DisplayPort is smaller, no other Macs or Apple Displays use HDMI. Probably cost, too.

5) Retina Display and Touchscreen

It's fairly obvious the reasons this was omitted, but if Apple really wants to combine the iPhone/iPad and MacBook lines in the MBA, the screen should have touch input. Some of the new OS X Lion UI additions like Launch Pad and Mission Control are just begging for touch input. The increased resolution on the screen is nice, but a full-on Retina-display would have been nicer.

Reasons for omission:

-Phil Schiller noted in the MacBook Air video that touch-input on a laptop screen is awkward. I can't imagine it's anymore awkward than performing gestures on a Magic Mouse. Once again, it really all comes down to cost.

I think we can see a common thread here. Apple wants to put a fully solid-state, bare-bones laptop in the hands of a lot of people (without just making a netbook). Only offering flash storage was a great move and hopefully leads the way to more solid-state laptops. The original MacBook Air was priced like a luxury good with features that didn't quite add up. The new models, while they aren't quite cutting-edge in the performance department at least now have a price to match.

Follow Mike Keller and GeekTech on Twitter.

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Appleinteloperating systemssoftwareMachardware systemsapple iphonedesktop pcsapple ipodapple ipadmac laptopMac OS

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Mike Keller

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill


I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?