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New MacBook Air July 2011

July 21, 2011

Along with the new Mac Mini, Apple also released new MacBook Airs. Both the 11″ and the 13″ Airs now have Sandy Bridge Core i5 processors running at 1.6 Ghz and 1.7 Ghz with the option to upgrade to a 1.8 Ghz Core i7 processor. Apple also brought back a highly requested feature to the MacBook Airs.

 

What is special about the MacBook Airs is the incredibly small notebook design, great battery life and the absence of a standard hard drive. The Macbook Airs are only .68″ on the back side and taper down to a tiny .11″ in the front and weigh only 2.38 pounds for the 11″ and 2.96 pounds for the 13″. 

The only way for apple to create such small wonders is to use Flash Storage in place of the hard drive. Unlike a traditional hard drive or even an aftermarket solid state drive (SSD), the flash storage is actually soldered to the motherboard as individual chips. This makes it impossible to upgrade the repair without changing the mother board or the whole computer. The flash storage, however, is so much faster than a standard hard drive that the computer boots up in about 15 seconds and wakes immediately. 

Despite the much better performing Core i5 processors, compared to the previous Core 2 Duos, the Macbook Airs still manage to squeeze out every drop of battery life giving us up to 5-7 hours depending on the model. 

 

As with the previous generation MacBook Airs, they include 2 USB ports, a mini Display port, headphone jack, microphone, Wifi/Bluetooth and an SD card slot on the 13″. Upgrades include a FaceTime HD camera, Thunderbolt, Intel HD Graphics 3000 (over the GeForce 320m), Bluetooth 4.0 for better power usage and a backlit keyboard. Yes, that is right. Apple has brought back the backlit keyboard like the original Macbook Air included as well as the MacBook Pros. 

 

Base prices for the Airs:

11″

$999 1.6Ghz, 64 GB SSD, 2GB Ram

$1199 1.6Ghz, 128 GB SSD, 4GB Ram

13″

$1299 1.7Ghz, 128 GB SSD, 4GB Ram

$1599 1.7Ghz, 256 GB SSD, 4GB Ram

 

My recommendation? If you want an extremely portable computer that does almost anything you need on the go, I would choose the $1199 11″ Air. The hard drive and ram are not upgradable in the Airs and the 2 GB ram and the 64 GB SSD on the base model just does not seem like enough to get by for the next couple of years. I would not purchase a 13″ MacBook Air over a 13″ MacBook Pro, however, because you get a faster processor and bigger hard drive starting at $1199 and it includes built in Ethernet and Firewire. If you want the super portable, go with the 11″.

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