Apple MacBook Air (2010)
- No optical drive
- No Ethernet connection
Conclusion On the surface the MacBook Air looks like an expensive option compared to Apple's MacBook Pro that you get off the shelf. In fact, at a quick glance the difference is over £500, but to be fair, the off the shelf MacBook Pro doesn't come with the flash storage; an optional upgrade that adds £640 to the price tag.Factor that in and the MacBook Pro's pricing starts to become more realistic considering the lack of optical drive and ports like the Ethernet and FireWire. So what you are actually getting is a fair deal, an expensive one agreed, but it's that move to SSD that is the expensive element here, not necessarily Apple just ripping you off.When we reviewed the first MacBook Air in February 2008 we slammed it. Why? Because it was overly expensive and it was too ahead of its time when it came to losing the Ethernet socket; all of that, combined with an average battery life, meant we felt it was a model that was never destined to leave the house.Almost 3 years on and a lot has changed. Wi-Fi is certainly more prevalent (although we still take some issue with the lack of Ethernet socket), the battery life has been drastically improved thanks to software and hardware improvements. Factor that in with a seismic shift to offering music, movies, software and everything else for download online and you can see why the Apple MacBook Air starts to make sense for most people.So the big question, should you buy or upgrade?If you want the top of the range, and don't mind losing the optical drive (the OS now comes on a USB drive if you need to reinstall the OS) then you might as well enjoy that extra thinness. Go on, treat yourself. You can always buy an external DVD drive for a couple of quid on eBay when you need it, and it will be worth your time buying the Ethernet adapter if you travel a lot - most hotels still aren't 100 per cent Wi-Fi friendly in our experience.If you've already got a MacBook Pro and are merely tempted by the lure of the new options and speed, it might be worth just upgrading your hard drive to an SSD drive instead. It's not the exciting option that you probably want to hear, but a 256GB SSD from Crucial that fits the MacBook Pro costs just under £450, and while that's expensive, it's not £1500.The final choice is down to you and what you need, but the overriding good news is that unlike the first MacBook Air outing, this is one to consider rather than just being written off from the start.
No gradeApple MacBook Air (13-inch, Late 2010) review
The latest 13in MacBook Air isn't perfect. It's pricy, although cheaper variants with smaller SSDs are available, and it should really come with 4GB of RAM as standard at such a high price. Despite these flaws it's the best ultra-portable laptop we've seen thanks to its sturdy yet slender and lightweight design, excellent battery life, bright, high-resolution screen and large, comfortable keyboard and touchpad. If you can afford it and can live with its limitations, it's a great buy.