3/27/2012 4:28:07 PM

Macbook Air: Another choice of Ultrabook?

Description: Macbook Air

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 Windows 7.

Description: Macbook Air

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 assessment.


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