MacBook Air 2012 review

Love

  • Ivy Bridge Power
  • USB 3.0 connectivity
  • Incredibly thin

Hate

  • Ageing design
  • No SD card reader
  • No wired internet
title: MacBook Air 2012: Features / url: features-screen

MacBook Air: Features

In the face of the new Ultrabook competition Apple has responded with a major refresh of the MacBook Air’s hardware setup, offering the latest tech at a much more competitive price.

The biggest change is the addition of a third-generation Intel Core platform. The 11.6-inch model that we used for this review was running via a 1.7GHz dual-core i5 chip, which can run as fast as 2.6GHz using Intel’s Turbo Boost tech.

On the 13-inch model it’s a 1.8GHz i5 CPU as standard; you can opt for an i7 processor on both versions for £130 more.

Intel's third-generation core setup, codenamed Ivy Bridge, also gives you access to Intel HD Graphics 4000, meaning graphics that are twice as fast as the previous MacBook Air generation.

There's also 4GB of 1600MHz DDR3L RAM on board and the overall result is a performance that is much more impressive than last time around.

However, if you're biggest desire with a MacBook is performance, you should consider one of the Pro models, which substitute portability for power.

If you want an Apple notebook which boasts both incredible operation and desirability, you should take a look at the MacBook Pro with Retina display – although, be warned, it doesn't come cheap.

In terms of connectivity the new MacBook Air packs a couple of USB 3.0 ports – a nice update from the 2011 model – as well as a Thunderbolt port.

There's no SD card reader on the 11-incher, although there is on the 13-inch machine. There's also a 3.5mm headphone jack and an updated power adaptor.

MacBook Air: Screen

Unfortunately, the eye-boggling Retina display that amazes on the iPhone 4S, the new iPad 3 and now the MacBook Pro, hasn't found its way to the MacBook Air range yet.

Instead, we're looking at the same glossy LED-backlit display as before, with a 1,366 x 768 resolution (1,440 x 900 for the 13-inch model).

Colours appear vibrant, especially with brightness turned up full-whack, and there are no signs of ghosting or blurriness when playing back HD content. The viewing angles are good, if not great.

MacBook Air: Performance

The latest-generation Intel Core power results in a vastly improved experience when using the 2012 MacBook Air.

The lack of a discrete graphics processor means that you won’t be able to seamlessly play the latest games, quickly edit HD movies or anything else too demanding, but that’s not really what the Air is all about.

It’s a slimline machine that won't take up too much space in your bag that will be more than up to the task for anything you demand of it when you’re out and about.

If you need to do a bit of work on the go, or quickly check something on the web, the instant-on feature will come in incredibly handy, and the 30-day standby life-span makes it a brilliant living-room machine.