Macbook Air: Another choice
MacBook Air of Apple is
not official Ultrabook, which is the reason why we did not include them in this
month’s test. There is a strict rule of clothes to join Intel’s club, and
MacBook does not meet it.
However, anyone looking
for Ultrabook to buy will be crazy if not considering it as another choice.
Anyway, slim laptop of Apple is the thing starting everything, by stuffing low
votage Intel processor and solid storage into the thinnest laptop in the world
we have ever seen. Currenly, this brand is the fourth generation and has all
characteristics of a mature product.
There are two models
for you to consider. 11.6-inch model launched in 2010 is a miniature copy of
its older brother, and is a miniature frame produced for laptop whose size is
nearly equal to a netbook. 13.3-inch model, just rather inferior to mobile, is
more perfect, and integrates strenghth level similarly to larger screen with
higher resolution. Weighing successively 1.08kg and 1.35kg, these two devices
are as light as any existing Ultrabook.
The two models are also
eye-catching. Metallic monolithic design creates two laptops bringing
luxuriously hard feeling while there are the smallest elasticity at the bottom,
and the above perfect screen which is impressively hard. Surface quality is
also shocking – all lines and edges are equal and perfectly polished.
However, MacBook Air’s
beauty is not expressed by its appearance. SSD drives in the two models help OS
X Lion operating system execute cold start in about 20 seconds, and regardless
of which model you choose, low voltage Intel CPU makes everything so fast. With
Windows 7 installed in Boot Camp of Apple Core i5 processor (1.6GHz) in
11.6-inch MacBook Air reaches 0.56 points in Real World Benchmarks tests.
1.7GHz Core i5 in 13-inch model is rather faster with 0.58 points.
While rather easy to
runs Windows 7 through Boot Camp, or virtualize an installation with Parallels,
MacBook Air best runs with OS X Lion operating system. The first different is
battery life: in OS X Lion, 11.6-inch MacBook Air’s battery runs 6 hours 59
mins; in Windows, it just reaches 4 hours 22 mins. It’s the same story with
13-inch model; 8 hours 13 mins OS X in comparison with 6 hours 42 mins in
In safety and labor
efficiency’s field, Apple’s software and hardware is a pair borned by god.
While many Ultrabooks provide unreliable gesture indentity, all typing and
finger-scanning in OS X bring instant and smooth reaction. Zooming and
scrolling are all velvet while scanning by 3 and 4 fingers takes a little time
to adjust, we miss them when going back to laptop running Windows.
Regardless of which
operating system you choose, Apple’s back-illuminated keyboard is so good.
While 11.6-inch model miniaturizes function keys along the top side, all the
most important keys have the same sizes in both models, every key is pressed
with a light typing and reopened eagerly by fingertip.
Another field by which
MacBook Air outdistances its rivals is screen quality. Calibration at Apple
company takes advantage of LCD screen together with contrast ratio larger than
600:1 and extremely back-illumination, so images and films look greatly nice,
black is deeply and stably presented, and colors are showed in a lively and
precise way. It is so great when seeing the two models provide reasonable screen
resolution: 13-inch Air increases more space on desktop with 1,440x900p
resolution while 11.6 inches associates with 1,366x768p screen.
Though we criticized
lack of port and connectivity of the two devices, they are not worse than a
medium Ultrabook. The two MacBook Air both have two USB2 ports (each in every
side), one Thunderbolt port, headphone/microphone-jack, and 13-inch model
together with SD card reader. With 802.11n Wi-fi (two wavebands) and Bluetooth
3 including connectivity, we do not expect anything else.
The only real weakness
is price. Except you are ready to accept 2GB RAM and 64GB SSD of the basic
11.6-inch MacBook Air, you just need at least 1,349 USD – and it excludes
Windows 7’s price. The question is whether they are deserved with that additional
cost? Certainly, that depends on your point, but for Windows users, we will say
no. Do not forget that Air has advantageous start on Ultrabook – 4 developed
generations have witnessed them develop to completed products as we see
nowadays. With this Ultrabook generation providing faster, larger SSD drives
with better performance, Apple finally has a serious competition.
Our Real World
Benchmarks’ tests shows there are not many things to differentiate these seven
Ultrabooks. Even the Core i7 models just pass the Core i5 ones by about 12%.
That is the reason why
we also chose to check SSD’s speed (or mechanical hard drive in Acer) in every
system to determine the transfer rate type that you can expect. These rates may
be unfluential to the fact that how fast the app runs, but they will affect
loading time, and create a system with faster feeling.
All time is the same
that battery life is an important part of laptop’s performance. The test using
light battery did not bring any big surprise, but digits in the test using
heavy battery showed that some models did better than others. These are the
biggest batteries, and their most efficient design proves their value.
Data from screen test
disaapoints. Acer and Lenovo’s models appear to be quite dim and struggling to
be seen under sunlight. However, contrast ratio digits are poor with most are
struggling to reveal shadow in image and film. Just Samsung presents good
contrast ratio, and its cold blue tone is damaged. However, there are many
things contributing more to image quality than luminosity and contrast ratio –
that is the reason we determine problems with color preciseness in each