Just over a week ago, Apple finally took the wraps off of the new 2011 MacBook Air models, giving Air fans more good reasons to upgrade their laptops. The updates bestowed upon the 11.6” and 13.3” MacBook Air models significantly improved the processing power inside of the incredibly thin devices, while ensuring that there was little decrease in battery life or usability. Now that different sites have had a chance to review the new 2011 MacBook Air machines, let's take a look at what some of them had to say.
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GigaOm thoroughly reviewed the 11.6” MacBook Air, calling it a 'petite powerhouse'. The site lauded the very fast startup and shutdown times that the MacBook Air is capable of, thanks to the speedy solid-state drive that comes standard with the device. The site reports that boot times are in the fifteen second range, with shutdown and sleep times a much speedier three or four seconds. The main downsides that the site noticed were that the 11.6” didn't seem to have as much battery life and the fact that the MacBook Air lacks an optical DVD-ROM drive and has very few ports. Users that are concerned about having the most battery life possible with their MacBook Air will probably want to go with the 13.3” option, which has a much larger battery and will offer at least a couple extra hours of use when compared to the 11.6” MacBook Air.
Engadget took the time to review the 2011 MacBook Air, taking a close look at both sizes that the MacBook Air is available in. The site reported that the 2011 MacBook Air's new trackpad is much better, offering a quieter clicking sound and getting rid of the hollow feeling that plagued the previous MacBook Air's trackpad. The keyboard also received a warm reception, having a more solid, springy feel than the previous Air keyboards, and none of the looseness that many users reported with older Airs. Of course, the keyboard now comes standard with LED backlighting, which nearly everyone can appreciate as soon as they need to type something up with poor lighting in the area. The site wasn't too happy that both MacBook Air models come with the exact same display as last year's Airs, with the 11.6” having a resolution of 1366x768 and the 13.3” coming with a 1440x900 display. While both of these displays are capable of displaying 720p content, the 11.6” is hampered by not having enough vertical real estate.
Across the Atlantic, UK newspaper The Telegraph took an in-depth look at the 11.6” MacBook Air, reporting that it's a very powerful computer in a very small package. With Apple's newest operating system on board, OS X 10.7 Lion, the smaller Air becomes quite a bit more usable. Lion packs a feature that allows applications to expand to use the full screen, and Apple wasted no time incorporating the feature into its most frequently used programs like the Safari web browser. The reviewer stated that with such limited screen real estate on the 11.6” Air, the full screen mode is incredibly useful, as are the many gestures that one can use via the glass trackpad. The review also pointed out that the base model of the 11.6” MacBook Air comes with just a 64GB solid-state drive, which is going to feel very limited for those that are accustomed to having their entire music and movie collection sitting on their laptop. However, thanks to the Thunderbolt port that comes with all of the new 2011 MacBook Air models, attaching some external storage is very easy and can provide a virtually limitless supply of hard disk space.
It can be tough to choose which model of the new 2011 MacBook Air is going to be the right one for your usage scenario, but based on the many reviews available, it seems that the 13.3” is the right one to go with. If budget is a limiting factor, ensure that you splurge above the $999 base of the 11.6” MacBook Air to get the 128GB solid state drive, and if possible, also upgrade the amount of RAM in the machine. 4GB is somewhat of a standard in today's computing world, and having less than this amount can end up being limiting and slowing the machine down considerably.
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