Mossberg: Apple's new MacBook Air offers iPad-like experience

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited January 2014
Technology journalist Walt Mossberg has reviewed Apple's new MacBook Air notebooks, and has given both the 11-inch and 13-inch models high praise for offering the long battery life and instant-on capabilities found in the iPad.



Mossberg's review, published Thursday, praised the new line of MacBook Air notebooks as "gorgeous, very thin and light, but very sturdy aluminum computers." He also noted that battery life is "strong," the system wakes up from sleep almost instantly, and the systems -- particularly the 11.6-inch configuration -- are very iPad-like.



The columnist with The Wall Street Journal said that the new thin-and-light machines likely won't be able to serve as a primary computer for power users, but should be enough for light-duty users. However, he noted that even the base $999 model was powerful enough to run seven or eight programs at once, including Microsoft Office, iTunes and a Safari Web browser with 20 tabs open.



"The new Airs aren't meant to be the most robust machines," Mossberg wrote. "They use last-generation Intel processors and have only two gigabytes of memory in their base configuration, and their storage is well below typical hard-disk capacities."



He recommended that buyers of the 11-inch model spend $200 to double the internal storage to 128GB. People who do video editing would also be wise to double the RAM to 4GB for $100.



Mossberg also conducted "harsh battery tests," in which he found that the 11-inch model -- with all power-saving features off, Wi-Fi on and screen brightness maximized -- garnered 4 hours and 43 minutes of uptime. The 13-inch model in similar conditions lasted 6 hours and 13 minutes.



"This means that, in normal use, with power-saving features turned on, you'd be almost certain to meet, or possibly exceed, Apple's claimed battery life," he wrote.







The columnist did knock the machines for their limited internal storage, as well as the high price when compared to Windows PCs. But he praised Apple's ability to make the new MacBook Airs function like iPhones and iPads, "without sacrificing their ability to work like regular computers."



Indications are that the new MacBook Airs, particularly the $999 entry-level model, are off to a strong start. On Wednesday, Apple updated the shipping time for the low-end model to 1 to 3 business days, suggesting it has seen the greatest sales in the new lineup's first week.



For more, see AppleInsider's first look at the new 13-inch and 11-inch MacBook Air notebooks. Readers can also obtain a new MacBook Air at reduce pricing using the links in the chart below, or in AppleInsider's Mac Price Guide.



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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 147
    cimcim Posts: 197member
    When Mac OS X 10.7 ships, it’ll be even more iPad-like.



    Quote:

    The columnist did knock the machines for their limited internal storage, as well as the high price when compared to Windows PCs....



    I’d like to see Mossdork find a comparable netbook for less.
  • Reply 2 of 147
    Well, they seem nice, but a normal macbook (pro), has the same capabilities to start up instantly (when you close and open the screen).



    I like them using the flash memory though (SSD it's called actually), but it's not like they invented the thing :P It's expensive and has a quite small storage-size. It is, however, the only thing better than a normal macbook. The processor is weak. Oh, and they may be lighter and smaller, but not that much in comparison to a normal macbook.



    I'd choose a normal macbook over a macbook air. (compared 999 dollar macbook vs 999 dollar macbook air). The 11" may be interesting because of being smaller, but buying the 13" would be just dumb (in my humble opinion).
  • Reply 3 of 147
    I toyed around with both sizes last night at the Apple store and came away impressed. I've never been all that enamored with sub-notebooks, so I'll just say that the 11.6" model isn't for me, and I would probably by a top-end iPad before buying one of these. But I loved the 13" model. It has a really nice form factor and a gorgeous screen.



    I definitely see how these are going to be the future of notebooks, because at least from initial impressions, I didn't feel like I was missing anything from my MacBook. I'm strongly considering a MacBook pro next time with a Solid State drive.
  • Reply 4 of 147
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Huby View Post


    Well, they seem nice, but a normal macbook (pro), has the same capabilities to start up instantly (when you close and open the screen).



    I like them using the flash memory though (SSD it's called actually), but it's not like they invented the thing :P It's expensive and has a quite small storage-size. It is, however, the only thing better than a normal macbook. The processor is weak. Oh, and they may be lighter and smaller, but not that much in comparison to a normal macbook.



    I'd choose a normal macbook over a macbook air. (compared 999 dollar macbook vs 999 dollar macbook air). The 11" may be interesting because of being smaller, but buying the 13" would be just dumb (in my humble opinion).



    Not really. For the average person, the 13" would probably suffice as a full-time laptop if you purchased the accessory CD drive. SSD's storage capacities are quickly approaching that of the standard MacBooks. I personally don't want that much stored on my laptop's hard drive, as those tend to die anyway.
  • Reply 5 of 147
    daveswdavesw Posts: 406member
    I have a 1TB external drive so disk space is not an issue for me. I don't need THAT much disk space when i'm mobile so the Macbook Air's great.
  • Reply 6 of 147
    kibitzerkibitzer Posts: 1,114member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by CIM View Post


    When Mac OS X 10.7 ships, it?ll be even more iPad-like. I?d like to see Mossdork find a comparable netbook for less.



    The guys offers one quibble about memory size in an overwhelmingly positive review and you call him a dork? What's the matter with you?
  • Reply 7 of 147
    Whether you get the MBA or not, it's like a lot of decisions in life. You can spend $10K on a car or $100K or more. They'll both get you from point A to B. Is the MBA more than a MB? Of course. But there are many that feel it's advantages make it worth it to them. I have a 1st gen. MBA and I can tell you that it's much nicer to travel with. You can nitpick anything to death, but the bottom line is that if you want one, buy one. If you don't feel it's worth it to you, don't. Pretty simple.
  • Reply 8 of 147
    cimcim Posts: 197member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Huby View Post


    Well, they seem nice, but a normal macbook (pro), has the same capabilities to start up instantly (when you close and open the screen).



    I like them using the flash memory though (SSD it's called actually), but it's not like they invented the thing :P It's expensive and has a quite small storage-size. It is, however, the only thing better than a normal macbook. The processor is weak. Oh, and they may be lighter and smaller, but not that much in comparison to a normal macbook.



    I'd choose a normal macbook over a macbook air. (compared 999 dollar macbook vs 999 dollar macbook air). The 11" may be interesting because of being smaller, but buying the 13" would be just dumb (in my humble opinion).



    I’d rather have the MacBook Air: smaller form factor, unibody enclosure, slightly higher resolution screen, and a much faster HD.
  • Reply 9 of 147
    Quote:

    The columnist did knock the machines for their ... high price when compared to Windows PCs



    In related news, Mossberg knocks the Ferrari 599 GTO for being expensive compared to a Kia Sephia, although he prefers the performance of the Ferrari.
  • Reply 10 of 147
    kolchakkolchak Posts: 1,398member
    Almost worth it. Now if Apple would only add a multitouch display that can flip and fold back over the keyboard like the convertible PC tablets and give it the capability to run iOS as well as Mac OS apps, I'd be willing to part with $1500 for the 11" model. Better yet, make it automatically switch to iOS when the keyboard is covered, although let the user choose the OS when the keyboard is exposed since both OSs can make use of keyboard input.
  • Reply 11 of 147
    cimcim Posts: 197member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Kolchak View Post


    Almost worth it. Now if Apple would only add a multitouch display that can flip and fold back over the keyboard like the convertible PC tablets and give it the capability to run iOS as well as Mac OS apps, I'd be willing to part with $1500 for the 11" model. Better yet, make it automatically switch to iOS when the keyboard is covered, although let the user choose the OS when the keyboard is exposed since both OSs can make use of keyboard input.



    No.



    Just buy an iPad.
  • Reply 12 of 147
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 5,990member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Huby View Post


    Well, they seem nice, but a normal macbook (pro), has the same capabilities to start up instantly (when you close and open the screen).



    I like them using the flash memory though (SSD it's called actually), but it's not like they invented the thing :P It's expensive and has a quite small storage-size. It is, however, the only thing better than a normal macbook. The processor is weak. Oh, and they may be lighter and smaller, but not that much in comparison to a normal macbook.



    I'd choose a normal macbook over a macbook air. (compared 999 dollar macbook vs 999 dollar macbook air). The 11" may be interesting because of being smaller, but buying the 13" would be just dumb (in my humble opinion).



    Of course, your well-informed critique of the MBA comes from actual real-world use and not from the couple minutes of playing with it at an Apple store right?



    I'm trading up my 1st-gen MBA in the next couple weeks to the new 13" model. I can tell you from years of using one, that is it by far the best ultra-mobile laptop I've ever used. This was my first Apple notebook. Before that, I was a fan of Sony Vaio laptops.



    The trap that you and everyone else criticizing this notebook continuously fall into is that you're looking at it from the point of view of it becoming more-or-less a mobile-version of a desktop machine with the storage and processor capacities to match. That's what the MBP's are for.



    Even the 64GB version is more than enough ample room to play with providing it's used by the target audience it was designed for. Those that place ultra-portability, light weight, and decent processor performance above all else.



    My 1st-gen MBA was always crippled by the slow disk drive. Hell, even Mossberg had multiple programs running on the new 11" with no problem, so I consider it moot. Looks like the rest of the system is finally able to keep up with the processor for once. With that variable out of the way, most people will realize that the CPU is actually a very capable piece of silicon.
  • Reply 13 of 147
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Huby View Post


    Well, they seem nice, but a normal macbook (pro), has the same capabilities to start up instantly (when you close and open the screen).



    Instant On refers to something different. It refers to the standby mode. You can leave your MBA sitting closed for as long as 30 days and it will start up pretty much instantly.



    Quote:

    I'd choose a normal macbook over a macbook air. (compared 999 dollar macbook vs 999 dollar macbook air). The 11" may be interesting because of being smaller, but buying the 13" would be just dumb (in my humble opinion).



    I can think of plenty of general examples that would find these MBAs to be more ideal for usage needs.





    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Kibitzer View Post


    The guys offers one quibble about memory size in an overwhelmingly positive review and you call him a dork? What's the matter with you?



    It’s a small niggle, but it is an odd one for Mossberg to make seeing at how competitively priced these machines are. There is nothing I can find that even comes to these ultra-portables for the money.



    The Sony Vaio X may look like it’s competing with the 11” MBA, the Vaio X uses an anemic Atom CPU and Intel IGP, has a cramped keyboard, all while starting at $1,300 with a 3 hour (Sony’s rating) battery. It look like the HP Voodoo Envy and Dell Adamo XPS have been canceled. These were the only real competitors in that category that I can recall. Are there any others?
  • Reply 14 of 147
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 5,990member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by macinthe408 View Post


    In related news, Mossberg knocks the Ferrari 599 GTO for being expensive compared to a Kia Sephia, although he prefers the performance of the Ferrari.







    LOL! That is so true. There is much to be said in the above statement that the ranters here just don't seem to get.



    "But the Ferrari is also made of aluminum, glass, plastic and rubber too! It uses pistons and gasoline also!! I can get all that from a Kia, so using my amazing, superior intelligence I have determined that Ferrari is only ripping off the consumer and the Ferrari-fanbois will follow anything with a Stallion logo."
  • Reply 15 of 147
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Kolchak View Post


    Almost worth it. Now if Apple would only add a multitouch display that can flip and fold back over the keyboard like the convertible PC tablets and give it the capability to run iOS as well as Mac OS apps, I'd be willing to part with $1500 for the 11" model. Better yet, make it automatically switch to iOS when the keyboard is covered, although let the user choose the OS when the keyboard is exposed since both OSs can make use of keyboard input.



    Yep, and then call it "Apple Mac Monster" and sell for few hundred dollars It seems that you want everything for nothing. Do you really think that such a device have some advantages over iPad or MBA?
  • Reply 16 of 147
    Who ever thought we'd see this in a laptop evaluation... "...have only two gigabytes of memory in their base configuration" ONLY? 2 GBs in BASE?? Aren't we just 1 iteration from 2GB being the base for the bottom line MBP? Crazy...
  • Reply 17 of 147
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by sflocal View Post


    My 1st-gen MBA was always crippled by the slow disk drive. Hell, even Mossberg had multiple programs running on the new 11" with no problem, so I consider it moot. Looks like the rest of the system is finally able to keep up with the processor for once. With that variable out of the way, most people will realize that the CPU is actually a very capable piece of silicon.



    I wonder what percentage of users are actively using more than 64GB on their systems and what percentage of users are actively processing data that requires a faster processor. It seems to me, anecdotally speaking from the majority of people I know, that most use a handful of apps for IM, web browsing, email, and playing video, which can easily be done by the cheapest MBA. Most aren?t converting large amounts of data, or copying large DV video to edit in iMovie, etc. I think these will be very popular.
  • Reply 18 of 147
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    Technology journalist Walt Mossberg has reviewed Apple's new MacBook Air notebooks, and has given both the 11-inch and 13-inch models high praise for offering the long battery life and instant-on capabilities found in the iPad. ...



    Walt's video reviews are almost a textbook example of how "not* to do a video review (or a video of any kind). He'd get a lot more respect if he'd just stick to the written reviews IMO.
  • Reply 19 of 147
    paxmanpaxman Posts: 4,709member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Kolchak View Post


    Almost worth it. Now if Apple would only add a multitouch display that can flip and fold back over the keyboard like the convertible PC tablets and give it the capability to run iOS as well as Mac OS apps, I'd be willing to part with $1500 for the 11" model. Better yet, make it automatically switch to iOS when the keyboard is covered, although let the user choose the OS when the keyboard is exposed since both OSs can make use of keyboard input.



    That sounds like your classic PC laptop with lashings of glossy features - and ultimately useless. A bit like the Homermobil

  • Reply 20 of 147
    dualiedualie Posts: 334member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post


    Walt's video reviews are almost a textbook example of how "not* to do a video review (or a video of any kind). He'd get a lot more respect if he'd just stick to the written reviews IMO.



    So where is yours so we can all see how it should be done?
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