Apple tempts me with its new MacBook Air
On Monday, during WWDC, Apple introduced a new MacBook Air lineup which now features Intel "Haswell" Core processors. The latest fruit-branded ultrabook generation comes with beefier specs, more internal storage in the 11-inch models and, bar the entry-level version, steeper or lower price-tags.
Let's kick off with the 11-inch MacBook Airs. The base model is available for the same $999 as before but now packs a larger SSD -- 128 GB instead of 64 GB as offered by its predecessor. The high-end version is $100 more expensive at $1,199 (previously ran for $1,099), however, also features an SSD with twice the storage capacity -- 256 GB in the latest model compared to 128 GB in the previous one.
By comparison, the 13-inch MacBook Airs offer the same-sized SSDs as before but ship with $100 lower price-tags. The base version retails for $1,099 (before: $1,199) while the high-end variant goes for $1,299 (previously available for $1,399).
Let's tackle the specs now. The 11-inch MacBook Airs pack 11.6-inch LED-backlit displays with a resolution of 1366 by 768. The 13-inch models feature 13.3-inch LED-backlit screens with a resolution of 1440 by 900.
The following specs are shared across the entire lineup: 1.3 GHz dual-core Intel "Haswell" Core i5 processor; 4 GB of RAM; Intel Graphics 5000 video card; 720p FaceTime HD front-facing camera; Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac; Bluetooth 4.0; mini DisplayPort; two USB 3.0 ports; one Thunderbolt port; MagSafe 2 power connector; stereo speakers and dual microphones. The 13-inch models also get an SDXC card slot.
The most noteworthy improvements over the previous generation are: new processor and video card; Wi-Fi 802.11 ac connectivity and dual microphones.
The 11-inch MacBook Airs come in at 30 x 19.2 x 0.3 - 1.7 cm and 1.08 kg, while the 13-inch models measure 32.5 x 22.7 x 0.3 - 1.7 cm and weigh 1.35 kg (exactly as before).
The biggest improvements, however, are in the battery life department where both the 11-inch and the 13-inch models best their predecessors.
The 11-inch MacBook Airs offer up to nine hours of web browsing (previously five hours), eight hours of iTunes video playback and 30 days of standby when relying on the 35 Wh internal battery.
The 13-inch MacBook Airs come with even better battery life -- up to 12 hours of web browsing (previously seven hours), 10 hours of iTunes video playback and 30 days of standby using the 50 Wh internal battery.
Prices for available upgrades: $150 for a 1.7 GHz dual-core Intel Core i7 processor (before: $100); $100 for 8 GB of RAM and a whopping $300 to get the 512 GB SSD. The third one is only available for the high-end 11-inch and 13-inch models.
As a prospective ultrabook buyer, I find the 13-inch MacBook Air with the upgraded processor and RAM to be one of the most temping offerings (so much so that I might buy one), available on the market today. Yes, today.
Folks can order a new MacBook Air now through Apple's online store or buy one, starting tomorrow, from the company's brick and mortar shops. This is a lesson that other companies should learn -- announce a product then launch it shortly after.