The 13″ MacBook Air is the Perfect Notebook

Ben Bajarin / August 12th, 2011

I have used a lot of notebooks in my 11 years as an industry analyst of consumer technology products. In fact I have used nearly every type of design, form factor, performance, and screen size imagenable across notebooks and desktops. Because of that I am convinced that the 13″ MacBook Air is the perfect blend of everything required to be a great computer.

Prior to using the 13″ MacBook Air I used a 15″ MacBook Pro. In conjuction with that Notebook I also used last year’s 11″ MacBook Air. The primary reason for this was I wanted a notebook that was more travel friendly but I also wanted one with enough performance to handle the media processing I do.

After using the latest 13″ Air I have found it to be the perfect blend of portability and performance.

Hardware/Design/Portability/Performance

In my office I have a 27″ monitor that I hook my notebook up to when I am at my desk, making screen size when “docked” somewhat irrelevant. However, I move around a good deal as a part of my job. Whether it’s commuting to clients’ offices all around the Bay Area or traveling the country or the world my notebook is in my bag a lot. Because of that I used to travel with the 11″ Air.

Although extremely portable, arguably the most portable and powerful sub 12″ notebook, I still found the screen size a hinderence to long term use. It certainly sufficed in a lot of ways but I found myself desiring a slightly larger screen often.

The 13″ is the ideal size allowing for a larger screen experience without sacrificing portability.

I also found last years 11″ slightly underpowered when it came to the media processing that I do. I make a lot of HD videos of family and events and such so I need a certain level of performance or I will go insane. Apple says the new models are 2.5 times faster, but the 13″ model is faster still, and surpassed my expectations in handling video and audio processing.

The backlit keyboards are certainly nice but not all that necessary for me. The internal SD card reader is another feature the 13″ has over the 11″ that has been a very nice to have.

At the end of the day, the 11″ is “under-screened” for my needs and the 15″ Pro is just slightly to large for me to travel with comfortably. Fitting right in the middle, the 13″ Air is perfect.

Battery Life
Lastly i’ve been extremely impressed with the battery life of the MacBook Air line. Throughout the last year using the 11″ Air I was constantly shocked how long the battery would go. Especially with what I will consider general use.

It seemed as though I could shut the computer and leave it for a week then pick it up and nearly no battery had drained. I attribute most of this to a true state of “sleep” due to the solid state hard drive. It’s very similar to the iPad experience.

I don’t like to do battery benchmarks because there are so many usage variables. All I can say on the matter is that I can use it for a full day on a single charge. Granted this includes opening and closing my computer as I bounce around for meetings. I’m not sitting stationary working all day on a single charge.

In my opinion all that matters when it comes to battery life is that when you are mobile and not able to plug in you have enough battery to work. In that regard the 13″ Air delivers.

I’ll say it again. The 13″ MacBook Air is the Perfect Notebook.

Ben Bajarin

Ben Bajarin is a Principal Analyst and the head of primary research at Creative Strategies, Inc - An industry analysis, market intelligence and research firm located in Silicon Valley. His primary focus is consumer technology and market trend research and he is responsible for studying over 30 countries. Full Bio
  • No spell/grammar check on the Air?

  • Robyn

    No mention of fan, heat, or noise! This is a sweet machine, but there are too many problems being reported in those three areas.

    A 21st century laptop should be neither seen nor felt!

    Please update your review to include analysis of those 3 factors!

  • Anonymous

    Of course, that should have been– “should neither be heard nor felt!”

    It needs to pass the shorts test and not redden one’s legs!

  • Andrew

    Well, I had the 2010 13″ and sold it to get the 2011 11″. Neither machine ran particularly hot, and except in processor-intensive operations like encoding video (converting DVD to MPEG-4 files) I don’t think I’ve heard the fans on the 2011 model yet, and only heard them on the 2010 model when playing DragonAge 2.

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