Apple's latest MacBook Air is clearly a hit. The Air went from a gorgeous but underpowered ultraportable to a surprisingly fast Intel Core i5 Sandy Bridge system vs. the outgoing model's Core 2 Duo. Good times. The 11.6" MacBook Air runs on a 1.6GHz Intel Core i5 ULV and the 13.3" mid-2011 MacBook Air models run on a 1.7GHz ULV Core i5, with a Core i7 available as a build-to-order option. All have Intel HD3000 graphics. We take a look at the 13" with a 128 gig SSD and 4 gigs of RAM. That's the more affordable of two 13" MacBook Air options, with the $1,599 model having the same specs except a 256 gig SSD.
The MacBook Air 13" has an excellent 1440 x 900 display that's not as glare-prone as the MacBook Pro line with standard glossy displays. It has WiFi 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, a webcam and runs Apple's new Mac OS X Lion OS (a superb OS). As you'd expect from a Mac, there's no bloatware, but you do get useful software like iLife '11 that includes Garage Band, iPhoto, iMovie, iWeb and DVD. Macs also come with Safari (the new version in Lion is super-fast), Mail, FaceTime video chat, iCal, Time Machine and Address Book.
We've had some more time to spend with the Air since yesterday's first look review, and we continue to be impressed. Despite rumors, Adobe Flash playback works wonderfully with relatively low CPU utilization and heat (watch it in action in our video review), Photoshop CS 5 runs very all and battery life approaches 7 hours. The machine rips MPEG4 video from DVDs as quickly as the 15" MacBook Pro Core i5 (pre-Sandy Bridge) and nothing except iMovie are too much for it.
In our mid-2011 13" MacBook Air video review, we test out Flash playback, use Photoshop CS5 to process a RAW file, check out the design and OS X Lion and compare it to the original MacBook Air and Lenovo ThinkPad X1.