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Customer Review

on June 13, 2012
I purchased the Apple MacBook Air MD224LL/A 11.6-Inch Laptop (NEWEST VERSION) to replace my 2011 Macbook Pro 13". I am a lecturer / graduate student, and this is now my main computer.

It is surprisingly sturdy. Although I plan to purchase a clear case for it (probably from iPearl), I think you could probably get away with using nothing at all. This ruggedness is an amazing feat, considering its light weight. Owners of previous Macbook Airs will enjoy more of the same.

The Macbook Air has a beautiful display that is quite bright, crisp, and clear. The automatic dimmer function adjusts the brightness level according to the ambient light, and I have found that this works really well. Personally, I think the colors on the Macbook Pro 13" display "popped" a little bit more, and I liked the bezel-less solid piece of glass on it better. However, there is no denying that the resolution on this machine is far superior. I have seen the resolutions on some of the other ultrabooks (Windows), and I think this looks better (the ppi is actually about the same). [EDIT:] The soon-to-be-released Zenbook and others are supposed to have better displays this year, though, so this may change in the future.

It is full-sized and typing on it feels good. The backlit keys are great. The keys don't travel enough for my taste, and it feels a little less solid than the Macbook Pro, but this is a minor complaint. I write for a living, and I am looking forward to writing on this!

The glass trackpad probably does not get much mention in most reviews, but it is one of the best features of a Macbook, and it sets Apple computers apart from competitors. I retired my mouse a long time ago because of it. If you take the time to master the gestures (see your preferences), and you give full-screen views on applications a try, you can enjoy an incredible experience on this machine. The slightest touch whisks you from screen to screen.

Far too short. Really, 5 hours is not very much, and it looks like I am only getting about that much with regular use on half brightness [EDITED: after testing a couple of times -- just short of five hours]. I wish they could have bumped this up an hour or two more, and I will miss the long life on my Macbook Pro. I guess battery life is one of the trade-offs for this form factor.

It is lightning fast. To be honest, I cannot tell a difference yet between it and last year's model. They tell me it is faster, though, so I guess I will have to believe them. Perhaps a few months of usage will give me more perspective. At any rate, it is noticeably faster than the Macbook Pro.

The cord is a good length, and the power brick is quite small. It is somewhere between the size of my iPad power brick and the Macbook Pro power brick. From what I can tell, it looks considerably smaller than the 13" Macbook Air one. I am thinking that I might not mind carrying it around in my man bag with the Macbook Air. The ports on the machine are very conveniently placed, with one USB port on each side. This is so much better than the Macbook Pro, which had all of the ports on the left, where they would inevitably cause problems. Fat thumb-drives sometimes took up so much space I couldn't get another USB cable into the slot next to it. There is no Ethernet port. No Firewire port either. Be forewarned. It doesn't matter to me, but it might to you.

- 64GB
I purchased the 128GB model. With judicious use of cloud services like Google Drive and Dropbox, and perhaps the purchase of a 32GB thumb drive to carry around files in case you are not connected, I think 64GB is also doable. One of the great things about this year's 64GB model is that you get the same 4GB of RAM. I consider that model to be the best value, and I would have gotten it if I didn't have a large number of files in one application that, because of the application's design, I cannot put on the cloud.

- 13" Macbook Air
The base model 13" Macbook air is a better buy if you want the extra battery life and screen size. I value portability over those things (I can carry this in a small man bag, but if I got the 13" I would have to move up to a mail bag or backback).

- 13" Macbook Pro
The Macbook Pro 13" was an OK computer last year, and before the Macbook Air's Sandy Bridge refresh, was definitely the best entry-level product. However, they did not update the resolution this year, it is rather pokey compared to the Macbook Air, and it is much heavier. Unless you just simply refuse to use the cloud and have an obscene amount of files to carry around every day, I see no point in getting it.

- Ultrabooks
As for Windows ultrabooks, I might actually consider them if there was a significant price difference, but most that I have seen are just about the same price as the Macbook Air. They also have inferior build quality (in my opinion) and no support (all of the good stuff you have heard about Apple's phenomenal support is true). I am excited about Windows 8 (sorry Apple fanboys!) and I like where ultrabooks are headed. [EDIT:] It looks like the soon-to-be-released Zenbook will likely be better in terms of specs and price, so if you are wavering between Apple and Windows, you may want to wait a bit longer.

- Upgrade from 2011 model
I don't think I would do it if I had the 128GB / 4GB RAM version. The form factor is pretty much the same, and so is the speed. There are some minor improvements like USB 3.0, but otherwise, it probably isn't worth it. If you have the 64GB /2GB RAM version from last year, you could probably benefit from the extra RAM.

Because of the high resolution display, and the ability to view applications in full-screen mode, I think this computer is portability perfected. It could definitely serve as your main machine, and I think many people will find that it is a better experience than the Pro models from just a year before. If you are a student, this is probably one of the best computers available on the market, and I highly recommend it.
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