MacBook Air 2011 – 13 inch

I had the privilege of setting up a new MacBook Air, 13 inch for a client this week.

It was impressive.   There may be some misconceptions about the MacBook Air and I would like to clear those up.

When the MacBook Air was first released a few years ago, it was designed to fulfill the niche ultra-portable, ultra light laptop market.   However, netbooks came along and then came the iPad which has sales of well over 20 million since April 2010.  Priced above $1500, the MacBook Air was honestly a poor value.

The product line changed a year ago, with modern styling, a performance boost, and prices starting at $999.  The product line was further updated in July of this year.  MacBook Airs got the latest Intel processors, a backlit keyboard, and Apple’s latest operating system among other features.  Pricing remained at $999 and above.  Since October 2010, the MacBook Air has been available with an 11.6 inch or 13.3 inch screen.

However, the big news of the summer was that the MacBook Air got a promotion in Apple’s product lineup.  The MacBook Air is Apple’s new consumer level laptop.  The white MacBook laptops are no longer sold to the general public.  FYI, the MacBook Pro models are still Apple’s line of professional level laptops or for any of you who want a laptop with a big 15 or 17 inch screen.

The MacBook Airs are priced as follows:  11-inch, base model $999, 11-inch better model $1199.  13-inch, $1299.  13-inch PREMIUM model $1599.  Unless you are a gadget person, I really think the more expensive 13-inch model is an overkill.

My client opted for the $1299 13-inch model as a replacement for a late-2006 MacBook.   We were stunned at first by its thinness and lightness.   Its fast boot up and shut down times were a welcome surprise.  The Air’s backlit keyboard offered the potential of typing accurately in low light environments.  However, the speed of the machine is its biggest selling point.  We had ZERO problems keeping 3 or even 4 programs open at once.

Be warned, the MacBook Air does not come with a CD/DVD drive.   However, 95% of the software you buy these days can be downloaded.  Perhaps, it’s more like 99%.   One could always buy an external disc drive from Apple for about $79 (or another vendor).  However, if you regularly need to burn discs when you are away from the desk you may want to consider the 13-inch MacBook Pro which is still sold  $1199 or $1499.

Ultimately, if performance plus portability is what you are after and you don’t care about not having a built in CD/DVD drive — this MacBook Air would look great on your desk and you will be very productive with it.  With this or any laptop, an ergonomic stand to keep it at eye level is advisable.