Apple MacBook Air Mid-2011 Review Roundup (13-inch)

Earlier this week Apple finally unveiled the much-awaited MacBook Air refresh 2011 and initial impressions were pretty positive. We’ve already given you a comparison against the 2010 MacBook Air but now the reviews are in from the experts we thought we’d give you a MacBook Air Mid-2011 review roundup, and we have to say this is one of the most glowing review roundups we’ve ever posted.

The new Airs come in both 11-inch and 13-models and there are base and high-end versions of each with further configurations available. For the purposes of our roundup we’re looking at the13-inch version. We also gave you specs and pricing details for the 2011 MacBook Airs so if you want to see more on that check it out at the link. This time around the main improvement for the MacBook Air was the upgrade to Intel’s Sandy Bridge Core i5 and Core i7 processors and also the new Thunderbolt port, which was much anticipated. They also run on the new Mac OS X Lion and we also took a look at a detailed teardown of the newest MacBook Air, which showed upgradable SSD, another feature that many will be pleased with.

The first review we’re looking at is by Mark Spoonauer over on Laptop, known for its extremely comprehensive and thorough reviews. It takes in just about everything you could think of including keyboard, display, ports, graphics, performance, battery life, software, test results and more and the review looked at the high-end 13-inch version which has a price of $1,599. This is a pretty ringing endorsement for the new MacBook Air as it has been rated with 5 out of 5 stars and Spoonauer actually asks if there’s anything not to like. It’s worth noting that the 2010 MacBook Air gained 4.5 out of 5 stars so this time it’s perceived even better.

Laptop listed pros as the display, backlit keyboard, high-performance level, the new Thunderbolt support and excellent trackpad. Noticeably the cons were almost non-existent with the only thing mentioned the fact that SD cards stick out from the side. All in all it’s described as “the perfect notebook,” gaining a seldom-given 5 stars and an Editors’ Choice award.

Moving on to the next review we looked at Joanna Stern’s over on This is My Next, another highly-detailed review of the high-end 13-inch model. Stern too was extremely impressed and gave a score of 9 out of 10 to the new mid-2011 13-inch MacBook Air. Pros were seen as the performance again, said to be around double that of the last Air, the good battery life, touchpad, and once more that backlit keyboard. However this time Stern noted a few more cons, namely the shallow keys, no matt or high-resolution screen option and also the fact that there’s no HD webcam. In conclusion Stern notes that this latest MacBook Air is much more than a minor spec-bump and no longer just a status symbol but a “grown-up laptop.”

Moving on we come to a review by Andrew Hoyle of Cnet UK who gave the latest MacBook Air 13-inch model a rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars, once again very impressive. Good points were noted as the slim design, robust chassis, and much-improved performance. Bad points pointed out were the price and too-few ports. Hoyle calls it a “fantastic choice for the wealthy traveller” which we think is a little unfair as there has been no price hike since the MacBook Air refresh for 2010 and some really notable upgrades, but nevertheless once again this reviewer seems to feel there’s a lot to admire about the new Air 13-inch.

The last review in our roundup is by Dan Ackerman of Cnet, this time the US site, and the rating, again for the 13-inch model is 4 out of 5 stars. This reviewer felt that the latest Air is a “major step forward” by Apple and that it is now “suitable for mainstream use, instead of relegated as a niche product.” Good points were noted as the performance from the latest CPU’s, backlit keyboard and battery life, while the only bad point noted was the 128GB SSD. Depending on what you use your laptop for though, many would find this perfectly adequate and at least, as we pointed out earlier, the SSD can be upgraded.

Overall then we’d say the reviews for the mid-2011 13-inch MacBook Airs are highly positive and most have found it difficult to find much to criticize. I have to confess an interest here as I’ve been using the 2010 MacBook Air since launch and it’s the best laptop I’ve ever used and so now of course I shall want the 2011 model. If you want an all-round high-performance laptop with a sleek design you would have to look a long way to beat the latest MacBook Air line.

We’d like to hear your thoughts on this. Are you new to the MacBook Air and thinking of purchasing one? Maybe you already use one and are tempted to upgrade? We’d be interested to hear from you so send us your comments.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Joseph-Torraca/100000083906146 Joseph Torraca

    Getting one tonight! Can’t wait as this solves many of my fears about the computer mainly the processor and having to pay $100 to upgrade the RAM to 4GB. Super Excited about it!