Apple MacBook Air 13-inch (2011) Review

The previous generation Apple MacBook Air was only released last October, but it seems that Apple felt an upgrade was needed just 7 months later in mid 2011.

We’ve managed to get the mid 2011 edition of the 13-inch Apple MacBook Air to review for you guys. The mid-range upgraded models all feature Intel i5 processors and 4GB of memory, which, when compared with the previous late 2010 models that featured Intel Core 2 Duo processors and 2GB of memory, is definitely a significant power boost. Let’s see how it performs…

Apple normally pride themselves on the high quality nature of their products, and even at first glance many will be astounded at how light and thin the MacBook Air actually is.

The tests should be quite interesting, especially for me, because I’m currently rocking a late 2010 MacBook Air, so the performance increase will be more than welcome.

Now, onto the design.

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The MacBook Air is features a unibody design, meaning that the entire notebook is a higher precision, less complex design with virtually any parts. Thanks to the unibody design, this means that Apple have been able to create a sturdy, yet ultrathin, notebook that’s durable enough to handle everyday use.

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As with all Apple products, we have the Apple logo on the lid of the notebook. This, as with most Apple products, lights up when the notebook is turned on.

The bottom of the MacBook Air is very simplistic in nature (there’s no cheap plastic acting as a cover for the RAM or HDD here) with all of the copyright information located centrally at the top and a rubber foot in each corner to prevent slipping.

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If we take a quick walk around the side of the product you’ll notice that there is one difference on the exterior of the mid 2011 Apple MacBook Air, that being that the Mini DisplayPort has been dropped in favour of the new Apple Thunderbolt port.

As well as the Thunderbolt port, we have a USB port and Card Reader on the right side, and the MagSafe power socket, second USB port, 3.5mm headphone jack and microphone on the left.

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Obviously, Apple have tried to make the MacBook Air seem as simplistic in design as possible, but I’d have liked to have seen at least one more USB port.

Apple state that the Thunderbolt port is the fastest and most versatile I/O ever, with it supporting high-resolution displays as well as high-performance data devices through a single, and very compact, port.

After opening up the MacBook Air, the first thing I noticed was the keyboard. Having used the late 2010 MacBook Air ever since it was released, I immediately noticed that the top row of keys had undergone a change around.

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The previous generation of MacBook Air featured both an eject key and also a blank F5 key. However, the eject key has disappeared to make way for the backlit keyboard buttons, which either turn off or on the backlight on the keys.

The multi-touch trackpad, which is probably one of the most famous parts of a MacBook, is also still here allowing us to interact with applications via swiping, pinching and a whole range of different gestures.

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A high-resolution glossy display will also be found on the MacBook Air, with the whole display being just 4.86mm thin. The resolution and display quality is extremely high, partly thanks to both the graphics chip and the display itself, making the whole experience feel like you’re looking at a much larger screen. This is much more noticeable on the 13-inch model due to the native resolution being 1440×900 pixels, the same resolution that’s seen on most 15-inch notebooks.

The Facetime camera remains unchanged from the previous generation MacBook Air.

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