IT Pro Verdict
The 11in MacBook Air is undeniably lovely thanks to its sleek and sturdy build, comfortable keyboard and multitouch touchpad. It's not worth buying the cheapest version which is too underpowered, but we're not wholly convinced by the priciest version on review here. Battery life, while good enough for most trips, is still a bit underwhelming and the small screen size won't suit everyone. The 128GB version of the 13in Air, with its larger screen, SD card reader and longer battery life, is a much better deal at just £100 more. Unless the extra weight and size are too much of a drag, we'd much rather have the 13in version of the Air instead of the 11in model.
Ultraportable laptops have traditionally been fairly specialised, aimed at users who travel a lot. Apple, however, is aiming its latest 11in MacBook Air at a much wider audience since the company has now discontinued its entry-level white plastic 13in MacBook.
It seems like a strange move since the 11in Air has a smaller screen and considerably less storage than the plastic 13in MacBook. The model on review here is equipped with a 128GB SSD, while the cheaper 679 ex VAT version has a puny 64GB SSD. In comparison the MacBook had a 250GB hard disk or larger.
If you can live with the smaller amount of storage you get a noticeably snappier user experience.
If you can live with the smaller amount of storage you get a noticeably snappier user experience since SSDs are much faster than hard disks. The RAM chip-style SSD is also partially responsible for the 11in Air's incredibly thin profile and small overall size. At just under 1.1kg and only 17mm at its thickest point, its dimensions are more comparable to those of a netbook or tablet than other ultraportable laptops. The metal construction feels very sturdy though, although it doesn't feel quite as rigid as its larger 13in cousin.
The 11.6in screen helps give the Air its small, unobtrusive profile. Its resolution of 1,366x768 pixels is the same as you'd find on 13in and larger laptop screens which means you don't lose out on screen space. That many pixels in such a compact space can be a strain on some eyes though. The screen itself is very bright though with wide viewing angles and plenty of contrast.