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Apple MacBook Air 13in late 2010
Boots in a flash, but you'll need a lot of cash
With the screen at full brightness for a fair amount of time whilst writing this article, with occasional web browsing thrown in, after about five hours the battery indicator shrunk into the red. Yet, like the 17in MacBook Pro with its Herculean battery life, clicking on this warning icon for more information, doesn’t reveal something like 20 minutes left until the battery dies, but around two hours.
Light, yet extremely robust
Mileage will vary according to the demands of the tasks, but it should get you through a day of Starbucks surfing with time to spare. Certainly, watching compressed movies at full brightness took its toll on the battery life but it should easily manage a couple of features when travelling, or more with some screen dimming. Sonically, it’s not too bad either. Sure it’s no hi-fi, but despite being somewhat gutless, its stereo speakers under the keyboard do manage to deliver a respectably loud output without being too harsh.
As with previous MacBook Air’s, loading software from disc is overcome by sharing the drive from another Mac or PC on the same network. Using the Remote Disc option, Microsoft Office 2011 was loaded wirelessly onto the Air in just four minutes. USB flash drives will probably suffice in most cases and there is, of course, the SD card option. This slot isn’t spring-loaded and it didn’t seem to work initially. However, removing the card and pushing it in harder had it mounting on the desktop in seconds.
The start-up time was consistently in the early teens averaging about 14 seconds from cold to the desktop and a Wi-Fi connection. It’s just so quick that I found it rather changed my attitude to using a computer. Many times the perceived hassle of waiting for a boot up sequence to complete has put me off peering at a document or going on-line to check something when I’m just about to go off somewhere. Yet with the Air, that really changes.
iLife '11 is featured as standard to help make work for idle hands
So there I was at the dentist’s, with no idea how long I’d have to wait to be seen. Seconds later I had started work editing the Nokia N8 review video clips in iMovie – part of the iLife '11 suite included with the all new Macs. Certainly, time went by a good deal more constructively than thumbing through a dog-eared copy of Hello! magazine. And that’s what the Air’s so good at; filling in the gaps, whether it’s time – by being productive – or knowledge, by being able to check on something quickly.