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HolidayBuyer's Guide

Apple MacBook Air Fall 2010 review:

Apple MacBook Air Fall 2010

However, almost immediately after we tested this particular system, the new generation of MacBook Pro laptops was released. The Intel Sandy Bridge CPUs in those systems is a big step up from this (or almost any other previous-gen laptops). If you need raw power, a 13- or 15-inch Pro is the way to go.

Juice box
Apple MacBook Air Average watts per hour
Off (60%) 0.24
Sleep (10%) 0.43
Idle (25%) 3.73
Load (05%) 26.71
Raw kWh number 21.51
Annual power consumption cost 2.44

Annual power consumption cost

Apple's MacBooks have always been near the top of our battery life charts, and this new 13-inch Air is no exception. Not that we'd expect anything different from a device that's probably more battery under the hood than anything else. At 4 hours and 38 minutes, that's better than nearly any (pre-Sandy Bridge) 13-inch laptop we've tested, although maybe a little short for all-day computing. Note, however, that the subsequently released 2011 edition of the 13-inch MacBook Pro ran for more than 90 minutes longer.

Service and support from Apple is always a dual-edged sword. Apple includes a one-year parts and labor warranty, but only 90 days of telephone support. Upgrading to a full three-year plan under AppleCare will cost an extra $249 and is pretty much a must-buy, considering the proprietary nature of Apple products. Support is also accessible through a well-stocked online knowledge base, video tutorials, and e-mail with customer service, or through in-person visits to Apple's retail store Genius Bars, which, in our experience, have always been fairly frustration-free encounters.

Multimedia multitasking test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Adobe Photoshop CS3 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Video playback battery drain test (in minutes)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

Find out more about how we test laptops.

System configurations:

Apple MacBook Air 13.3-inch
OS X 10.6.6 Snow Leopard; 1.86GHz Intel Core 2 Duo; 2,048MB DDR3 SDRAM 1,066MHz; 256MB Nvidia GeForce GT 320M; 128GB Apple SSD

Apple MacBook Pro - Core i5 13.3-inch
2.3GHz OS X 10.6.6 Snow Leopard; 2.3GHz Intel Core i5; 4,096MB DDR3 SDRAM 1,333MHz; 384MB (Shared) Intel HD 3000; 320GB Hitachi 5,400rpm

Apple MacBook Pro - Core i7 13.3-inch
2.7GHz OS X 10.6.6 Snow Leopard; 2.7GHz Intel Core i7; 4,096MB DDR3 SDRAM 1,066MHz; 384MB (Shared) Intel HD 3000; 500GB Hitachi 5,400rpm

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