The Register’s Andrew Orlowski notes that prior to the MacBook Air’s debut in 2008, sub-3lb notebooks you could comfortably pick up with one hand had been seriously compromised performance-wise. The original Air was a paradigm-changer, although that wasn’t immediately obvious, and Orlowski deems the 13-inch Air, first unveiled just shy of two years ago, the first Mac to be both seriously portable at under 3lbs, but having a decent display featuring a 1440 x 900 resolution – characteristics he says that still make it perhaps the nicest laptop he’s ever used.
The third iteration of the MBA 13-incher got a healthy speed boost with the same Intel Ivy Bridge CPUs found in the latest Ultrabooks plus USB 3.0 at last, but otherwise virtually identical to the model it superseded.
Orlowski notes that with the Mountain Lion 10.8.2 update, gentle use with the screen at half or one third brightness yields in excess of seven hours battery life.
On the downside, he notes the unavailability of a matte display option and no Gigabit Ethernet port, a that Apple’s kludgy workaround – a USB to Ethernet dongle is 10/100, to get Gigabit Ethernet you’ll need to cough up for the Thunderbolt adapter. Then there’s Apple’s inflated memory upgrade prices at about three times the going rate, and the limited storage capacities of the available SSD storage drives.
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