CNET First Look
Apple MacBook Air Fall 2010The second generation of Apple's MacBook Air fixes many of our issues with the ambitious original, adding more USB ports, an SD card slot, and a more powerful processor.
I'm Dan Ackerman and we are here taking a look at the 13-inch version of Apple's new MacBook Air. Now, the original MacBook Air was pretty much the definition of a specialty system. It had a really cool design but that was offset by limited connections, slower CPUs that really made it not that useful for all but a small sliver of consumers. Here in the second generation of MacBook Airs, Apple has really addressed a lot of those problems. They've added a second USB port, an SD card slot, more powerful processors, and they even upped the screen resolution and that makes this new 13-inch MacBook Air a much more universally useful system, perhaps not as much as so as the 13-inch MacBook Pro that just got refreshed, or even the classic white 13-inch MacBook but there are no longer the big disadvantages of sticking with the Air design. You can actually use this as your regular laptop and get away with it. I think the thing that we liked the most about this second generation of MacBook Airs is that instead of just one USB port, it now has 2 and one was really limiting if you wanted to plug in, let's say a mouse or any other accessories like, let's say, your iPhone or even your iPad at the same time. You've got an SD card slot which is handy for using a digital camera or any other kind of, you know, portable media that you put on an SD card, but even more than that, I like the fact that the 13-inch screen on this is a 1440 X 900 screen. That is actually a higher resolution than you can get on the newly refreshed 13-inch MacBook Pros. Those are the new super-fancy Sandy Bridge ones so even though those laptops are faster, on the 13-inch version at least, the screen resolution is lower. And, of course, you still have all the stuff that makes this a MacBook. You've got that, you know, island key, keyboard design although it's not backlit in this model which is kind of disappointing, and, of course, the big glass touchpad and nobody really does the touchpad as well. Once you get into those four-finger gestures like going like this to get all your windows in that expose format and see everything at the same time or just send them all away with the flick of four fingers, it's really hard to go back to a regular PC touchpad. Now, the MacBook Air still use Intel's older Core 2 Duo CPUs while the new MacBook Pros, 13, 15, and 17-inch, all use the second generation of Intel's Core i series, they call those the Sandy Bridge chips and, I'm not gonna lie, they're obscenely fast, so you're gonna take a step down in terms of speed with the Airs, whether it's the 11-inch Air or the 13-inch Air, but it's still more than enough for everyday work, even light video editing and some basic gaming 'cause it's got that integrated Nvidia graphics built in there. Now, all this does not come cheap. The 13-inch Air starts at $1299 and if you've gotta compare that versus $999 for the 11-inch Air or the white regular MacBook or even $499 for an iPad which really does a lot of the same things that a regular laptop does. I'm Dan Ackerman and that is the 13-inch MacBook Air.