The MacBook air started the revolution which Intel now calls the Ultrabook, the super thin, light, yet high performing laptop that allows you to do everything you want to do with your computer yet easy to carry around and great looking. Last month Apple updated the MacBook Air range for 2013 – EFTM has been using one for several weeks here’s what we think!
It’s testament to the design and vision Apple have that the very same MacBook Air form factor which Steve Jobs launched in 2008 is still the same you will find in Apple stores over five years later – what’s changed is entirely on the inside.
Over the years the MacBook Air has changed, incremental improvements have kept it in line with the market when it comes to choosing an ultra-portable computer. So what has changed in 2013?
If you sat the original MacBook Air side by side the 2013 model, you’ll struggle to notice the difference. The same brushed metal look with black keys are an iconic Apple look which appeals to many when shopping around.
Some of the most basic features of the Macbook Air are still key to its success, such as the light weight “lid” making it easy to open with a single finger and the back-lit keyboard making usability at all hours exceptional.
It’s deep inside the MacBook Air where the difference really becomes clear. As one of the very first device available with Intel’s 4th generation”Haswell” processors the additional performance in both applications and graphics.
As always with processor changes you will struggle to notice a radical change at a glance, however with regular use an existing MacBook Air owner will notice the performance enhancements.
The 100% SSD or “Flash Memory” MacBook Airs are always going to perform well. Flash memory means no spinning disk no lag on application launching and faster file access.
Apple claim an additional 45% improvement on the previous model. My i5 processor 128GB SSD model was snappy at every turn and really made me question my traditional laptop with spinning disk hard drive.
The new WiFi called “ac” has been available in the market for a while now on routers and modem/routers – the problem being you need a compatible device. Perhaps the biggest flag toward a 2013 iPhone feature addition is the addition of Wireless “ac” to the 2013 MacBook Air. You’re getting faster wireless speeds and better wireless range with the new model.
That only works when paired with an “ac” capable router (Such as the Airport Extreme from Apple announced at the same event last month).
Don’t worry though, the fall-back to “n” gives you great speed and range as it is, but as an “ac” owner any MacBook Air purchaser from now on will want to be sure to consider an upgraded home network to take advantage of this capability.
Without doubt the star pupil when it comes to the enhancements in 2013. Battery life is ridiculously good. Up from 5 hours to 9 hours on the 11 inch model, and from 7 hours to 12 on the 13 inch model this really makes the power cable a once a day requirement for even the heaviest users.
In my day-to-day use I had the 11 inch MacBook Air working hard for me from the early hours right through the day. Interrupt your day with meetings, calls, lunch and more and there wasn’t a single day I needed to charge my MacBook Air while at the office.
I experimented with having the power cable at work on charge most of the day except when roaming on WiFi and then at home I’d be free from the tether of power. Whether you charge at home or at work, you wont need to take your charger with you no matter what you do.
With a battery-life like this, I find it hard to consider any other portable computer right now. The 11-inch model I used was an Intel core i5 processor and I never felt the need for more. I doubt I’d want to do video editing on the MacBook Air so the need for the i7 processor may not be there for me.
Starting at $1,099 for the 11 inch base model and $1,249 for the 13 inch base model you’ll find yourself wanting to customise to suit and spending that little bit more, but without a doubt the MacBook Air is a leader among its peers despite it’s 5 year age. Upgrading the inside has given the outside design a long long life.
Trev is a Technology Commentator, Dad, Speaker and Rev Head.
He produces and hosts two popular podcasts, EFTM and Two Blokes Talking Tech. He also appears on over 50 radio stations across Australia weekly, and is the resident Tech Expert on Channel 9’s Today Show each day and appears regularly on A Current Affair.
Father of three, he is often found down in his Man Cave.