2010 MacBook Air 11.6 inch Review

At the end of February, I purchased a refurbished 11.6 inch MacBook Air. I chose to purchase the 1.4GHz model with the 4GB memory upgrade which comes with the 64GB SSD. I chose this model because I am planning to upgrade the SSD in the near future and did not want to put additional money toward the 128GB SSD. The 1.6GHz processor will not make much of a difference for most of my tasks. I have other systems that are much more powerful and those I use when performance is key. For day to day email, web, programming, and other basic tasks the MacBook Air is ideal.

Due to the on-the-go aspect of my life, it is often necessary to work from unusual locations. In these situations, carrying an extremely light laptop makes all the difference. I can easily pull the MacBook Air out and work on it while I am stopped and sitting in the driver’s seat without any issue.

Having used the 2nd generation MacBook Air as well as many models of the MacBook Pro, I can say that this 11.6 inch MacBook Air is a pleasure to use. Essentially all of the issues with the original design have been solved and put into an even smaller size. While Apple has come out strongly against netbooks, the 11.6 inch size is similar to a larger netbook but with much more power and performance. Between the 11.6 inch MacBook Air and the iPad, Apple has really put a major dent in the market for the netbook in general.

Size and Weight

The 11.6 inch MacBook Air is the best computer I have ever had from the standpoint of size and weight. I can easily carry the computer in a light shoulder bag with a couple of accessories all day without issue. I can stop at any moment and pull out the computer and use it easily. Apple has hit a home run with this design and price point as can be seen from the incredible sales of the MacBook Air.

Screen Resolution

Another strong point of the 11.6 inch MacBook Air is its screen resolution. Its resolution is 1366×768 which is impressive considering the 13 inch MacBook and MacBook Pro models have a resolution of 1280×800. The 13.3 inch MacBook Air has increased resolution compared to prior models at 1440×900. I went and compared the 13.3 inch screen at 1440×900 and the 11.6 inch screen at 1366×768 and found that the 11.6 inch screen size was a better fit. I tend to prefer displays with a higher pixels per inch (PPI) density. In this case, the 13.3 inch screen at 1440×900 is 128 PPI while the 11.6 inch screen at 1366×768 is 135 PPI. In comparison, the 13.3 inch screen in the MacBook Pro is 113 PPI.

Memory

For my uses, the MacBook Air was not a usable system for me with only 2GB of memory. The 2010 refresh finally added the factory option of 4GB of memory. I consider this absolutely essential for a MacBook Air model. In keeping with this, the 11.6 inch MacBook Air model I purchased has 4GB of memory. I would love to see an 8GB option but I do not expect that option any time in the near future.

Storage

Having already used the previous 128GB SSD from the 2nd generation MacBook Air as well as having used some SandForce-based SSDs, I am very used to the benefits of an SSD. I am very impressed with the performance of the 64GB SSD. Although it does not match the performance of a SandForce-based SSD, the performance is excellent compared to other SSDs I have used in the past including Apple’s own 128GB and 256GB SSDs.

Conclusion

I can say that this is the best laptop I have ever had. I highly recommend this configuration for any normal tasks. The configuration I chose was the 11.6 inch MacBook Air with 1.4GHz processor, 4GB of memory, and 64GB SSD and it will continue to serve me well. However, this is not a powerhouse computer. If you need extreme performance, look at the recent quad-core MacBook Pro models. If you are looking for light and portable, the 11.6 inch MacBook Air is your ticket.