Feature

Apple 11-inch MacBook Air


This ultraportable breaks the mold with a strikingly thin and light design and the ability to start working (and playing) in an instant.

Configurations

While our 11-inch MacBook Air configuration (1.4-GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, Nvidia GeForce GT 320M graphics, 2GB of RAM, 128GB hard drive) cost $1,199, consumers can get the same processor and graphics, but a smaller 64GB hard drive, for $999, the starting price for the 11-inch MacBook Air. That’s not a lot of storage, but it should be enough for those who do most of their computing in the cloud. Other options include a slightly faster 1.6-GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor ($100) and 4GB of RAM ($100).

Software and Warranty

Apple bundles the new iLife ‘11 multimedia suite with the 11-inch MacBook Air, which includes improved versions of GarageBand, iMovie, and iPhoto. iPhoto now features a more friendly full-screen view for enhancing photos, and lets you easily share your favorite pics via Facebook, Flickr, e-mail, and other options. You can also create slideshows using fun new themes. For instance, Places zooms around a map based on where the photos were taken before zooming in on them. Meanwhile, iMovie adds the ability to turn your creations into Hollywood-style trailers, and GarageBand boasts a new How Did I Play? feature, complete with accuracy meter.

Mac OS X Leopard also comes with an easy-to-use mail client, iCal, iChat, Photo Booth, and Time Machine for backups. In approximately 90 days, Apple will roll out a new Mac App Store for downloading all sorts of apps and games, making finding programs for your Mac as easy as it is for your iPhone and iPod touch.

Apple backs the 11-inch MacBook Air with 90 days of free telephone support and a one-year limited warranty. To see how the company fared in our Tech Support Showdown, click here. (Spoiler alert, they won again.)

Verdict

Apple said it would never make a netbook, and it hasn’t. The 11-inch MacBook Air is a powerful ultraportable that makes other systems in its class look positively bloated. More important, this machine never keeps you waiting, thanks to the way it uses flash memory. We just wish the hinge for the display were a bit tighter to prevent unwanted movement. Some may prefer the new 13-inch MacBook Air ($1,299), which offers a higher-resolution screen, faster CPU, and a SD Card slot. If you’re torn between Windows and Mac, the $899 Acer Timeline 1830T offers a much faster Core i7 processor and longer battery life but integrated graphics and a much less compelling design. But if you want the thinnest, lightest Mac experience ever, this Air will leave you elated.

Benchmarks

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