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Thin as a razor’s edge

The 11-inch Air is the ultimate travel buddy, and makes a strong style statement.

india Updated: Dec 03, 2010 18:14 IST
Nikhil Hemrajani

Apple CEO Steve Jobs is noted for saying that netbooks aren’t good for anything. “They’re just cheap laptops,” were his exact words. Yet, the new 11-inch MacBook Air is lying right in front of us. Alive and in the flesh.

For the uninitiated, Apple launched the original MacBook Air two years ago. Whatever Jobs may argue in its defence, its usability was questionable. A single USB port, no Ethernet and inflated pricing were going against it for the average consumer.

The two new MacBook Airs seem to have addressed these issues. They are now available in two sizes — 11 and 13 inches.

iPad-like proportions
On first looks, the Air looks like a redesigned iPad. It’s about the same proportions as Apple’s tablet but a tad longer. Like most Apple gadgets, the design will immediately catch your eye. The laptop is only 1.7 cm thin at its thickest point and tapers down to an unbelievable 3 mm towards the front. You can easily hold it in one hand — it’s feels as like a file folder.

The 11-inch Air now has two USB ports — one on either side. There’s a headphones mini-jack on the left that supports the iPhone headset — pretty convenient if you’re a Skype addict. There’s also a mini DisplayPort connector on the right that allows you to connect the Air to an external monitor. Apple hasn’t provided the necessary connectors in the box, so you’ll need to shell out an additional Rs 1,500-2,000 for it. Like its predecessor, there’s still no Ethernet port. Shell out more to get hold of Apple’s USB to Ethernet adaptor.

Sans hard drive
Like the previous MacBook Air, the new one doesn’t have a built-in optical drive. It’s what Apple traded to reach size zero. If you need an optical drive, buy the MacBook or invest in the external SuperDrive, which will set you back by Rs 4,400.

However, the best bit about the new Air is that it uses a Solid-State Drive (SSD) in place of a conventional hard drive. SSDs are based on the same technology as USB flash drives, and are much more reliable and faster than hard drives. This tiny wonder boots up in an incredible 15 seconds!

Though pint-sized, typing on the keyboard is very comfortable. The keys are full-sized like those in the MacBook Pro, making the Air far more usable than netbooks like the Asus EeePC.

The Air sports a 1.4 GHz Core 2 Duo processor, 2 GB RAM and GeForce 320M graphics. The processor is enough to get you through everyday tasks such as email, word processing and photo-editing. However, it will be brought down to its knees if you go about editing high definition video. There’s an iSight webcam for video chatting, Wi-Fi 802.11n and Bluetooth 2.1. The newly launched iLife 11 multimedia productivity suite also comes preinstalled.