Apple’s MacBook Air was initially an expensive luxury, but with an update in 2010 became an affordable, excellent machine. New year, old story: last week at WWDC Apple announced the latest revision of the Air, changing the internals without altering the body at all save for the new MagSafe 2 port. We spent a lot of time using and testing the base-spec 13-inch Air, with a 1.8GHz Core i5 processor and a $1,199 price tag.
Apple's evidently very happy with the look and feel of the MacBook Air, because not only has it stayed the same for the last two iterations, but the rest of the company's laptops are starting to look ever more like the Air. The Air's no longer the only MacBook model to forgo an optical drive and a dedicated Ethernet port, but there are certainly people who need both.
The black, backlit, chiclet-style keyboard on the Air doesn't seem as impressive as it once did, but that's only because nearly every other laptop manufacturer has copied the style. Can't beat this comboIf Apple does one thing universally better than any of its competition, it's building trackpads: the MacBook trackpad is better than any PC trackpad we've seen. After a few days of using the MacBook Pro with Retina display, I could barely stand to look at the display on the MacBook Air. The FaceTime camera on the new MacBook Air is now technically "HD," but I wouldn't call it a big upgrade.
I've long been impressed with the MacBook Air's internal speakers: they're not the highest-fidelity drivers you'll ever hear, but they're pleasantly loud and sound is clear and crisp. Normally I'd say hold off and wait for the new version before upgrading your laptop, but Apple's made that a total non-issue. If I held up last year's MacBook Air and this year's, you'd never know the difference — until you turn them on, that is.
Both in benchmarks and in regular use, there's a genuinely noticeable improvement in overall performance. I'd guess that for many people, the most obvious upgrade is going to be the jump to USB 3.0, but across the board the 20 percent improvement feels about right. The computer boots in 14 seconds, and I went from totally off to watching a YouTube video in 21 — the flash storage really sings here.
Graphics are clearly improved, too: we played Portal 2 on the new Air, and never dropped below 29 frames per second at native resolution — that's a very playable number. There's a lot more competition now, however, especially as manufacturers start to get more aggressive and creative in anticipation of Windows 8’s impending launch.
Apple has released a software update for the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air models introduced in June 2012. The display shows text beautifully and I was able to play several full HD videos on the same screen.
The App Store Chronicle is brought to you by the Morning Short: One great story, in your inbox, every morning (free). For gadgets that wow you, startups that surprise you, videos that entertain you, and deals that save you money, Join our exclusive circle of friends. Shortly after Apple launched its MacBook Air for 2013, many users began reporting problems connecting to Wi-Fi networks, and others encountered a strange screen flicker when using Adobe Photoshop. The MacBook Air (Mid 2013) Software Update 1.0, available for download on Apple's website, "fixes an issue that in rare instances may cause an intermittent loss in wireless connectivity," according to the accompanying note. The new MacBook Airs are the first Apple computers to support 802.11ac, the faster, next-generation standard for Wi-Fi.
The screen on the 2013 MacBook Air is the same as previous generations: Its a 1440x900 resolution display. The right side of the device contains a Thunderbolt port, a USB 3 port and and XDcard slot.
The left side of the MacBook Air contains the MagSafe plug, another USB 3 port and the headphone jack.
Look next to the headphone jack, that's the one cosmetic difference to the 2012 model: An additional microphone is now on the side fore better noise cancellation for FaceTime calls. The MacBook Air is not user upgradeable, in part because the battery takes up most of the bottom of the chassis.
It’s light, well-made, and relatively powerful, and it’s become the choice of many people willing to trade the raw computing prowess of a more high-end machine for a device that’s a little easier on the spine. The Air’s always been a looker, but with Intel’s Ivy Bridge processor inside along with faster flash storage, it looks like its brains might finally match its beauty.
Does it still stand apart in a much more crowded market, with a two-year-old body and brand-new internals?
The one noticeable difference is the charging port, of all things: Apple's switched the MacBook Air to the new MagSafe 2 connector, which means if you're upgrading, your current power cables will go the way of the Dodo unless you spend $10 on a tiny adapter.

I can say that at least in my experience owning an Air I've never once needed an optical drive, and the $29 USB-to-Ethernet adapter worked flawlessly the few times I've been in need (hotel rooms, mostly).
It's still a great keyboard, with well-spaced buttons and lots of handy function keys above the number row. It's fast and responsive, smooth and accurate, and full of handy gestures like two-finger scrolling and three-finger swipes across desktops.
The new 720p camera is definitely an improvement, allowing other people to see me considerably better — when I chatted with our intern Tyler Gold, he pointed out that with the new MacBook Air he could count how many teeth I had, whereas on the old model my grin was just a single white blob. One, anyone who buys the new Air will get a free upgrade to Mountain Lion (it'll be $20 for everyone else); two, upgrading through the Mac App Store is now a ludicrously simple process. Apps launch faster, especially intensive ones like iMovie; it's also hard to get the machine to slow down and present the dreaded Spinning Rainbow Wheel of Death. Geekbench shows about a 20 percent bump in the Macbook Air's overall performance, and every individual test we ran was much improved as well. It's enough to be noticeably better, without feeling like you've upgraded to a new class of laptop.
Last year's device was about seven seconds slower in both tests, and it's still among the faster machines we've tested. The Air is easily capable of streaming 1080p video at full screen, though it stuttered pretty heavily trying to play back 4K footage. In our battery test, which cycles through a series of websites and high-res images with the screen at 65 percent brightness, the new Air lasted five hours, 34 minutes.
The Pro with Retina display has a new design, a drop-dead-gorgeous screen, and a new and improved chipset — the Air settles for only the third.
However, since this is a non-weighted average, we reserve the right to tweak the overall score if we feel it doesn't reflect our overall assessment and price of the product. The update is mostly a bug fix release that improves USB device compatibility and issues that unnecessarily use more CPU power. Today I ran some more advanced functionality tests on the new macbook pro and it performed fantastically. The SSD and RAM meant every program opened in under 4 seconds, and even with the 17 programs running I was sort of still able to operate the machine. It also nixes the Photoshop screen problem as well as one other bug that caused audio volume to sometimes fluctuate while playing videos.
Their launch was accompanied by the arrival of a new 802.11ac AirPort Extreme Wi-Fi access point, although the connection problems weren't related to the new AirPort exclusively. Its continues to have one of the sleekest designs in the notebook space, but plenty of competitors have taken their own swing at trying to achieve the wedge-shaped design. Powered by its own proprietary technology, Mashable is the go-to source for tech, digital culture and entertainment content for its dedicated and influential audience around the globe. Last year’s model brought a new level of computing power to the Air, without changing much about the design.
The wedge-shaped unibody aluminum body weighs 2.96 pounds, and fits as easily as ever into your backpack.
MagSafe 2 is shorter and wider than the last version, and seems like it'd help Apple make the Air thinner, but last-gen MagSafe worked just fine on the 2011 model of the same size.
The Thunderbolt standard hasn't changed, and generally speaking neither has its glacial pace of adoption, but it did get some new functionality thanks to new Thunderbolt-to-Gigabit-Ethernet and Thunderbolt-to-Firewire 800 adapters, which Apple announced at WWDC.
I do wish there were a bit more travel as you type — keys just don't quite depress as much as I'd like. The trackpad remains the single biggest reason I prefer MacBooks to any other laptop (even for running Windows), and the new Air continues the tradition. It has phenomenal viewing angles, incredibly accurate colors, and a frustrating level of glare and oleophilia. Details are a bit clearer, and the picture's a little sharper, but the Air’s camera is still about on par with the front-facing shooter on the iPhone.
Highs and lows are still clipped a bit (that's why I still recommend a good set of external speakers) but mids are richer and fuller than ever. Lots of tabs, Flash videos, managing lots of photos — all these things used to slow down the Air, and now it breezes through them with ease. Whether booting, shutting down, sleeping, or waking, the computer pops to life remarkably quickly. This is still no gamer’s machine, but it’s plenty capable for simple gaming or watching movies. Still, the MacBook Air comes with some of the best hardware, software, and performance on the market, and at a base price of $1,199 it can be had for $100 less than last year's model.

Just three days later, this epic thread began on Apple's user forums describing and dissecting Wi-Fi problems.
Plenty of other manufacturers have built excellent ultrabooks — many that shamelessly ape the best features of the Air, many that successfully go a different way. That's a space constraint to be sure, but I definitely prefer the keyboard on the MacBook Pro to the Air. It's not as good as the 1080p display on the Sony Vaio Z (a far more expensive computer), but it's still really solid. As Joanna mentioned in her review of last year's Air, recent iOS-ified versions of the operating system feel perfectly geared toward this device.
Anyone who's tried importing video or RAW photos on an Air will definitely appreciate the extra punch.
In practical use, the numbers are a little more even: heavy usage seems to strain the battery a bit less than on the previous model, so if you're gaming or using Photoshop the newest Air might even last slightly longer — the Air I own drains really quickly with iPhoto or Aperture running, and that's not the case on the new model. If you bought last year's Air, I'm not sure there's enough here to make you want to upgrade, but if you're in the market for a new laptop and don't need the power (or the price tag) of the new Pro, you'd be hard-pressed to do better than the Air. Now, it's 52 pages long and still going strong, although the new fix will likely put an end to most of the issues. Though the competition has certainly heated up since the last generation of MacBook Air — the Asus Zenbook and Lenovo U300 stand near the top of the ultrabook pack, but there are a number of good options — Apple's hardware is still hard to beat. The Pro and its mesmerizing 2880 x 1800 screen are a quantum leap beyond "solid," though, and it's hard not to wish for the same thing to come to the Air. Gestures are plentiful and useful, the OS starts up and resumes incredibly quickly, and though I can't force myself to get used to "natural" scrolling — moving your fingers up to scroll down, like you do on a touchscreen — it's just another step toward this feeling like a touch-enabled device. It's still basically the same laptop as last year (and that's a good thing), just with a little more oomph. It may not be as ground-breaking a laptop as it was a year ago, but it’s still every bit as appealing. The best part about it though was that due to the SSD and lack of a fan, the machine was silent other than a video playing.
Apple along with the open source community and third-party vendors make a range of mass deployment tools that make it possible to create standard configurations and apply them to large numbers of Macs simultaneously over a corporate network.
Of course, we've been hearing rumors that just such an upgrade is coming later this year, and that's tantalizing enough that I might recommend waiting a few months to see if the rumors are true. I typically do a bit of both throughout a day, and I got about seven hours of regular use out of both machines. It still can't measure up to the Pro lineup, which nearly doubles the Air's Geekbench scores, but it's a markedly more impressive piece of machinery now. The only thing that disappointed me, although it isn’t entirely their fault is the doubled pixels in non-Apple programs. As you hopefully can see in the word example below, the new Macbook Pro doubles pixels on old programs to bring text and photos to the proper size.
That said, some apps by smaller developers may simply end up as Mac App Store exclusives.The issue is likely to hit schools and colleges a bit more than business.
The company has developed multiple solutions for mass deployments over the years and has made volume purchases an option for its own applications.
In addition to writing for Cult of Mac, he is a contributor to Computerworld, InformIT, and Peachpit Press. In a previous existence he was a healthcare IT director as well as a systems and network administrator. Since our launch last February, we’ve been turning away educational customers seeking volume licensing for classrooms. It is painful.ralphtweetyI was wondering how long it was going to take for somebody to notice this issue. In addition to membership in the Cult of Mac, Adam has written for Low End Mac and is curator of the Vintage Mac Museum. Thank you.LawleypopSeems like it would just be easier to use app zapperbbrewerNice article, but nothing particularly new. If I want to sift through system folders peering at obscure filenames, I might as well install windows.Snake PourstenNice one!!! Being a new Mac user, I wasn’t aware on how to uninstall software and this was a clear and concise guide.

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