We benchmarked the MacBook Air against the MacBook and MacBook Pro to see how it held up comparatively. Predictably, the MacBook Pro outperformed its counterparts in the majority of our tests. But the MacBook Air (1.6 GHz Intel, 2 GB RAM) went toe-to-toe with the MacBook (2 GHz Intel, 1 GB RAM) in many of our tests, falling just short in most.
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About MacBook Air
The MacBook Air is a Macintosh notebook computer by Apple Inc., part of the MacBook family and the company’s first to feature a multi-touch trackpad and an optional solid-state hard drive. Apple CEO Steve Jobs revealed the MacBook Air at the Macworld Conference & Expo on January 15, 2008. Apple describes it as the “world’s thinnest notebook” at 0.76 inches (1.93 cm) thick at its thickest point and 0.16 inches (0.4 cm) at its thinnest.
To reduce the computer’s size and weight, Apple engineers omitted certain features long standard on their laptops. It is Apple’s first notebook since the PowerBook 2400c without a built-in removable media drive. Users may purchase an external USB SuperDrive, or use bundled Remote Disc software to access the optical drive of another computer. It lacks a security slot and an Ethernet port, although a USB-to-Ethernet adapter may be purchased separately. Some have complained about the excision of these features.
The Macbook Air is the only computer for which Apple offers an optional solid-state hard drive.
The CPU is an Intel Core 2 Duo chip that was redesigned for the MacBook Air to reduce its physical size by 60 percent.
The laptop has the magnetic latch system of the MacBook and an aluminum casing like the MacBook Pro. The trackpad offers iPhone-like Multi-Touch gestures, an improvement over previous MacBook trackpads. Among the gestures are pinching, swiping, and rotating.
An Apple press release calls the MacBook Air “the world’s thinnest notebook” and says it “measures an unprecedented 0.16 inches at its thinnest point, while its maximum height of 0.76 inches is less than the thinnest point on competing notebooks” — such as Sony’s TZ series, Jobs said in his presentation. Laptops thinner than the MacBook Air’s maximum height have been manufactured in the past, including the Mitsubishi/Hewlett-Packard Pedion (a maximum of 0.72 inches thick) in 1997 and the Toshiba Portégé 2000 (a maximum of 0.75 inches thick) in 2002.
The MacBook Air can wirelessly access the optical drive of another Mac or Windows PC that has the Remote Disc program installed, allowing the installation of applications from a CD or DVD. It can also reinstall the system software from the included installation DVD. Remote Disc supports netbooting, so the MacBook Air can boot from its installation DVD in another computer’s drive. But Walt Mossberg notes that users cannot use the Remote Disc feature, invented as a replacement for an optical drive, to install Windows, watch DVDs, or play or import music.
Unlike Apple’s other notebooks, but like its iPod range, the MacBook Air has no directly user-replaceable parts. Its hard drive, memory, and battery are enclosed within the casing, with memory soldered directly to the motherboard. As part of out-of-warranty service, Apple offers to replace the battery for a fee. It may be possible for the end user to replace the battery, though it’s unclear whether this process would void the notebook’s warranty.
The MacBook Air has an all-aluminum case, a mercury- and arsenic-free display, PVC-free internal cables, and circuit boards free of brominated flame retardants.