Apple MacBook Air (13in, mid-2011)

Apple MacBook Air review: The Air remains a relatively expensive proposition, but Apple's entry level MacBook offers excellent performance and portability

Apple MacBook Air
  • Expert Rating

    4.25 / 5

Pros

  • Excellent performance
  • Superb design
  • Great battery life

Cons

  • RAM isn't replaceable
  • No matte screen option
  • Still pretty pricey

Bottom Line

Apple's latest MacBook Air still lacks replaceable components, still has an annoying glossy screen and remains relatively expensive. However, its performance upgrades with new Core i5 processors give it the extra grunt previous models were missing. Combined with a superb design and great battery life, the MacBook Air is an excellent notebook for any user after a combination of speed and portability.

Would you buy this?

Apple's latest MacBook Air may look virtually identical to the previous model, but it's under the hood that most of its improvements lie. Faster Intel Core i5 and optional Core i7 processors gives Apple's ultra portable notebook a huge performance boost. The Air is still an expensive proposition on the whole, but the extra grunt combined with a thin and light design, fast, flash-based storage, and excellent battery life make it a worthy option for road warriors.

Apple MacBook Air: Design and display

The Apple MacBook Air is once again a superb piece of industrial design. Like the MacBook Pro, the Air is made from a "precision aluminium unibody enclosure" crafted from a single block of aluminium. The result is a lightweight notebook that feels well constructed despite its tiny footprint. Particularly impressive is the screen, which exhibits minimal flex when twisted, and the sturdy feeling hinge. With the demise of Apple's plastic-clad MacBook, the MacBook Air is now Apple's entry level laptop.

The MacBook Air is just 0.3cm thin at the front edge when closed, and just 1.7cm at the rear. The downside to the ultra-thin design is the lack of ports; the MacBook Air has just two USB ports, a MagSafe power connector, a Thunderbolt jack (more on that later) and a stereo headphone jack. The 13in model we reviewed also has an SD card reader; however the 11in model doesn't get the same treatment due to the lack of space.

The MacBook Air lacks built-in 3G connectivity — a feature that's available on some competing ultra portable notebooks — and there's also no IR sensor for remote control capability, nor an Ethernet port for wired connectivity. The Air also lacks a sleep notification LED, as seen on the MacBook Pro range.

The Apple MacBook Air may lack some ports, but the full sized keyboard and trackpad are both excellent considering the small footprint of this machine. The Air's keyboard and trackpad are almost the same size of the entire MacBook Pro range, with the exception of the top row of F keys, which are slightly smaller. The keyboard is now backlit, which was a huge criticism of the previous model. Tellingly, users won't feel cramped or limited in the slightest while using the MacBook Air despite its small size.

The MacBook Air's screen has a resolution of 1440x900 and is LED backlit, which Apple claims makes it more power efficient than a standard notebook display. Under florescent office lighting the glossy screen can be distracting, and viewing it from off-centre does result in a slight yellow colour shift. We would love to see a matte screen option, which would suit users working outdoors in sunlight, or inside an office with bright fluorescent lighting. We also think that power users, such as those editing photos or videos, would appreciated a higher resolution display. Thankfully, unlike the MacBook Pro's glossy black bezel, the MacBook Air's silver bezel is not reflective at all.

Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?