A gaggle of new MacBook Air reviews reconfirm that not only was the MacBook Air the first “Ultrabook,” it’s still the best.
AnandTech Reviews The 2012 MacBook Air (11 & 13-inch)
Anand Lal Shimpi says AnandTech’s that Apple laptop characterizations are becoming confused, with the MacBook Pro having once stood for tons of power plus upgradability but with the new Retina Display model it’s now just tons of power, the new Pro machine now essentially being a thicker, faster MacBook Air.
Lal Shimpi notes that MacBook Air doesn’t help in the clarity department, since you can now order an Air with up to 8GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD, so users who were once forced into Pro territory because of RAM and storage requirements can now happily live with an Air, and the Air is now more affordable as well. While the 11-inch model still starts at $999, the 13-inch version is now only $200 more, while getting Ivy Bridge, USB 3.0 and faster SSD upgrades.
He observes that the 11-inch MacBook Air is a great option for those who want the portability of a tablet but find themselves wanting to attach a keyboard to it most of the time, its 11.6-inch display boastinf the highest pixel density of all of Apple’s non-Retina displays at 1366 x 768, and with Thunderbolt, the 11-inch MacBook Air can give you the best of both worlds: an incredibly portable computer when you’re on the go, with enough power to serve as your desktop Mac when docked to a Thunderbolt Display. However, Lal Shimpi says if couldn’t have more than one system he’d opt for the 13-inch MacBook Air.
He comments that thanks to architectural, frequency and thermal improvements, one of the cores from a 2012 MacBook Air ends up being faster than two from a 2010 MBA, or stated another way; the 2012 models end up being more than twice as fast as the 2010 models in many CPU bound tests, and battery life has also improved thanks to Intel’s 22nm silicon, and by offering 8GB RAM and 512GB SSD BTO options Apple has made the MacBook Air a reasonable upgrade for owners of older MacBook Pros.
Apple’s MacBook Air 13: The Perfect Ultrabook
VentureBeat’s James Pikover says that being generally considered the premier Ultrabook (though its not officially labeled one), the MacBook Air remains the thinnest and lightest 13 and 11 Ultrabook, offering a near-perfect balance of size and power, and what’s remarkable about the 2012 model is that it drops the price by $100 and offers the updated i5 or i7 at faster clock speeds while also doubling the RAM to 8GB, so for less money, this year’s stock MacBook Air outperforms last year’s high-end model by 150% for nearly every application.
Unfortunately he also reports that running certain processor-intensive tasks the 2011 models fan will scream and the left side of the keyboard heat up to around 100F while on the 2012 MBA the same thing can happen, but it rarely does thanks to the improved performance of Intel’s Ivy Bridge processors which make it nearly impossible to stress the Air to that point in normal use, and battery life is greatly improved too.
Apple MacBook Air 13″ Mid-2012 Review From A Windows User’s Perspective
TechSpot’s Shawn Knight notes that while the new MacBook Pro with Retina display has been hogging most of the press attention, the 2012 MacBook Air has been upgraded with Intel Ivy Bridge processors sporting HD 4000 graphics, higher capacity storage and memory options, an improved 720p Facetime HD camera, and support for USB 3.0, with the 13-inch model also receiving a $100 price cut, now starting at $1,199.
Knight approaches the MacBook Air as a strictly Windows user, noting that the setup process for a new user isn’t much different than you’d find on a Windows machine, and that one of the great things about working on a Mac is that only one company sells it and Apple doesn’t load the Mac down with licensed bloatware designed to further line their pockets and cause headaches to the end user.
Knight summarizes thar four years after its unveiling, the Air is still one of the sexiest notebooks on the market and with the recent slight price adjustment, it seems to be competing well even on value terms.