13-inch Apple MacBook Air (Mid 2011) review

A new processor and Thunderbolt connectivity brings the MacBook Air bang up to date; now that performance is in line with the rest of the industry, there’s no question that it is ultimate ultra-portable.

21 Jul 2011
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13.3 in 1,440x900 display, 1.4kg, 1.7 GHz Intel Core i5-2557M, 4.00GB RAM, 256GB disk, MacOS X 10.7

When it first launched in 2008, the MacBook Air was something of a revelation; the incredibly light laptop had a pencil-thin chassis that was smaller than anything before it, without sacrificing performance for portability. Last year’s refreshed model was even more impressive, with its lightning-fast flash storage and increased battery life, spawning many competitors, such as the excellent Samsung Series 9.

With the recent launch of OS X 10.7 Lion, Apple is back retake its crown as the manufacturer of the world's best ultra-portable with a brand new MacBook Air. We've got the 13-inch version here and we've reviewed the 11-inch MacBook Air separately.

On a first look it’s difficult to see what’s changed from the last MacBook Air; it uses the same unibody aluminium chassis that’s just as stunning to look at but still incredibly sturdy for such a thin laptop that weights just 1.4kg.

13-inch MacBook Air power

Most of the ports are identical too; the MagSafe power adaptor, two USB ports, SDXC memory card reader and single headphone audio jack are unchanged, but the mini DisplayPort has been replaced with Apple’s proprietary Thunderbolt interface.

13-inch MacBook Air Thunderbolt

The ultra-fast I/O port, designed in cooperation with Intel, can send video signals to an external display while simultaneously sending data to a storage device; currently there are very few Thunderbolt enabled storage products and the ones that exist are very expensive. However, the file transfer demonstrations we’ve seen are incredibly impressive.

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