Apple MacBook Air (13-Inch, Early 2015) Review

Rating: 5 / 5 (1)

Elegant design. Updated Intel Core i5 CPU. More than 17 hours of battery life in testing. No bloatware.

Apple MacBook Air 13-Inch (2015)

  • Cons Lacks HDMI and Ethernet ports. Relatively low-resolution display. Limited storage capacity. Only upgradable at time of order.
  • Bottom Line

    The latest upgrade of the 13-inch Apple MacBook Air brings a more powerful Core i5 processor and an astounding 17.5 hours of battery life. It remains our top choice for ultraportable laptops.

    Apple tends to change things only when it needs to, which explains its incremental, yet impactful upgrades to the 13-inch Apple MacBook Air ($999 as tested). While it uses the same aluminum unibody design and many of the same components as its predecessor . the latest MacBook Air 13-inch is updated with one of the newest Intel Core i5 CPUs. Even with this modest improvement (and the same list price as last year's base model), the MacBook Air stays ahead of the pack in terms of performance, and astounds with its 17.5-hour battery life. It remains a top choice for general computing tasks, and is our Editors' Choice for midrange ultraportables .

Cheap Apple Macbook Air deals: 13 of the best prices on the high street

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We round up the best deals going on the Macbook Air

The MacBook Air is the lightweight version of Apple's premium Macbook Pro, but without a CD drive. It's thin, slick and, as fans will already know, very expensive.

The Air launched in the UK in 2008, and was part of Apple's mission to offer both performance and portability in the form of a netbook.

It comes in two sizes - 13.3-inch and 11.6-inch, and two main colours - slate gray and silver.

Apple's latest version of the MacBook Air was released in March 2015, they claim it's “thinnest, lightest and most beautiful” notebook they've ever made.

Where can I buy the MacBook Air? Most high street retailers stock the Macbook Air, the most popular being Currys. Argos. Amazon. John Lewis and of course the Apple store. You can also find some amazing deals on eBay auctions.

How much does it cost? Prices vary from £599 - £1,300.

How can I spot the sales before everyone else? Websites like Voucherbox will notify you as soon as the sales hit. The Apple store occassionally hosts sales, buy you'll have to be extremely quick, as they sell out in minutes.

Top 13 Macbook Air deals right now:

MacBook Air 11.6'' Core i5 4GB 128GB Flash. £567.99 at (36 month local warranty)

New Retina MacBook release date, specs and UK pricing: New MacBook shipping estimates slip to 4-6 weeks

Apple has launched a brand-new MacBook, its thinnest MacBook ever and named just MacBook rather than MacBook Air or MacBook Pro. Here's everything you need to know.

Apple CEO Tim Cook took to the stage on 9 March at the company's Spring Forward Apple Watch event to unveil the latest development in its MacBook line-up, simply named the New MacBook, which was released on 10 April. (The MacBook Pro and MacBook Air got their own, smaller updates that were available the very same day). Here, we bring you everything you need to know about the New MacBook 2015, including its release date, UK price, specs and features.

"Apple has reinvented the notebook with the new MacBook, and at just two pounds and 13.1mm, it's the thinnest and lightest Mac ever," said Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing.

"Every component of the MacBook reveals a new innovation. From its fanless design, ultra-thin Retina display and full-size keyboard that's 34 percent thinner, to its all-new Force Touch trackpad, versatile USB-C port and breakthrough terraced battery design, the new MacBook is the future of the notebook."

New MacBook 2015 release date: When is the new MacBook coming out?

Apple began selling the new MacBook on 10 April, the same day that Apple Watch pre-orders opened.

When Apple first unveiled the new MacBook, it said that it would be selling the new MacBook from 10 April through the Apple Online Store, Apple Retail Stores and Apple Authorised Resellers, so we were under the impression that we would be able to get our hands on a new MacBook on 10 April if we headed down to an Apple Store, or pre-order the new MacBook online for delivery a few days later.

However, that was not the case, as shipping estimates for the new MacBook are long and there's no sign of the laptop in stores yet - in many cases it's not even available to get hands-on with on the shop floor.

At time of writing, all of the models of new MacBook have dispatch estimates of 4-6 weeks, suggesting there's something not quite right on Apple's production line.

It's not just the UK that's suffering, either. Our colleagues over in the US were left disappointed by the new MacBook launch on 10 April. Macworld's Susie Ochs wrote on launch day: "I have spent the morning calling around to every Apple Store in the Bay Area, and they have all explained, very politely, that I can place an order online or over the phone, but I can't actually go to the store today and pick one up."

Placing an order online on 10 April resulted in some success (at least more than you'll get if you place your order today), with delivery estimates floating around the 22 April mark.

Even the adapters for the new USB-C port (which you can read more about below) have 4-6 week waits.

New MacBook 2015 price: How much does the new MacBook cost in the UK?

The new MacBook starts at £1,049.

Taking a closer look, you'll find that the 1.1GHz dual-core Intel Core M model with Turbo Boost speeds of up to 2.4GHz, 8GB memory, 256GB of flash storage and Intel HD Graphics 5300 starts at £1,049, while the 1.2GHz dual-core Intel Core M model with Turbo Boost speeds of up to 2.6GHz, 8GB memory, 512GB of flash and Intel HD Graphics 5300 starts at £1,299.

New MacBook 2015: Build to order options

There are also some build to order options available. Both models can be upgraded to a 1.3GHz processor at a price of £200 for the 256GB model or £120 for the 512GB model.

New MacBook 2015: Design

Prior to Apple's unveiling, it had been predicted that the MacBook Air would come in iPhone-like Gold finish, as well as the usual silver aluminium and Space Grey, and sure enough the all-new MacBook is available in Gold.

It's the thinnest MacBook ever, measuring just 13.1mm thick, which makes it 24% thinner than the previous thinnest MacBook, the 11in MacBook Air. It also weighs just 907g. "Can you see it," Apple CEO Tim Cook joked on stage when he unveiled it. "I can't even feel it!"

That doesn't mean it's the thinnest laptop in the world, though. Lenovo's Yoga 3 Pro is 12.7mm thick, for example, and the Lenovo LaVie Z HZ550 weighs just 780g.

We're pleased to see that Apple has managed to reduce the size of the bezels around the edge of the display, too.

The logo on the back of the new MacBook doesn't glow, which may disappoint some users. Instead it's more like the logo on the back of the iPad, which has a reflective, mirrored design.

According to iFixit, Apple's new MacBook design makes it one of the most difficult to repair laptops there is. That shouldn't matter to most MacBook users for now, but when your warranty runs out it'll be tricky to fix things. Find out more .

New MacBook 2015 specs: Display

The new MacBook 2015 has a stunning 12in Retina display, at a resolution of 2304x1440 pixels. That equates to 226ppi, so is in line with the 13in Retina MacBook Pro's pixel density of 227ppi.

It's also the thinnest display ever found on a Mac, at just 0.88mm thin.

New MacBook 2015 features: How does the Force Touch Trackpad work?

The New MacBook 2015 has an all-new trackpad, which Apple calls the Force Touch Trackpad. This means the new trackpad can tell the difference between a tap and a click, and is pressure sensitive so can tell how hard you're pressing.

The new Force Trackpad has four Force Sensors beneath it that mean you can click anywhere on the trackpad rather than having to click near the bottom like you would on the traditional trackpad.

But you're not actually clicking, you're really pushing with the Taptic Engine tricking you into thinking that you're clicking by using haptic feedback (vibrations). It sounds like a click, it feels like a click, but it isn't a click. Numerous people who've spent time with the new Trackpad have said that it messes with your head to begin with, but that's not a bad thing - it's just different.

If you're worried about the Force Trackpad you'll be pleased to hear that you can change the sensitivity options to suit your preference. It'll take a bit of getting used to, but once you do it will change the way you use your laptop - right-clicking will be a thing of the past.

What's really cool about the new Trackpad, though, is the new gestures that are made possible by the Force Touch technology. Apple will roll out the functionality to third-party developers to allow all apps to take advantage of the new gestures, but for now it's limited to Apple's apps.

During its hands-on demo, Apple showed off how you'll be able to press harder on the fast-forward button in QuickTime to speed it up. There's also the new Force Click, which means you can click hard on a word in a web page in Safari to open the dictionary meaning of that word, or the relevant Wikipedia page. Force Clicking on an address will launch the Maps app, too.

We're excited about the possibilities that the new Force Touch Trackpad opens up, that's for sure.

New MacBook 2015 features: how is the keyboard different?

In addition to the redesigned, high-tech Trackpad, Apple has rebuilt its keyboard from the ground up. It's still full-size, but uses a butterfly mechanism rather than the previous scissor mechanism to improve precision and accuracy and allows Apple to make it 40% thinner.

The size of each key is slightly bigger, and the space between each is smaller, which should help improve accuracy one you get used to the strange sensation of typing on a keyboard that almost feels like a touchscreen because the keys move so little when you press them.

Beyond that, the Escape key has been elongated and the function keys are narrower. The arrow keys are different, too.

The new keyboard also has individually lit keys, with an LED underneath each key.

Will my cables and adapters work with the new MacBook? USB Type-C explained

Apple's new MacBook is the first Mac to sport the new USB Type-C port, and while it's going to take some serious getting used to, we imagine it's going to be around for quite a while.

In case you're wondering, USB Type-A is the USB port you're used to seeing on laptops, USB Type-B is the microUSB port, and now there's USB Type-C.

USB Type-C is much more advanced than its predecessors, and it was only a matter of time before Apple began using it on its Macs. It has a power output of 20 volts compared with USB Type-A's 5 volts, its thinner than USB Type-A (0.83cm by 0.26cm compared with 1.4cm by 0.65cm) so allows Apple to make a thinner MacBook.

It's also reversible like the Lightning cable so you'll never try forcing it in upside down.

But what's really important about USB Type-C is that it's much more versatile than USB Type-A, so can transfer data, charge devices and be used to charge the MacBook, and hook up to external displays thanks to video-out.

The catch, and the thing that's concerning potential buyers at the moment, is that you're going to need adapters, unless you can switch to a wireless way of working using the likes of iCloud, Continuity, AirPlay, AirDrop, AirPrint etc. That's what Apple is actually aiming for. The company's senior vice president of worldwide marketing said: "The only intelligent vision for the future of the notebook is one without wires, where you don't have to plug up cables to connect things."

Apple has revealed that it will also be refraining from blocking certain types of accessories, which means you will be able to carry a USB Type-C external battery that could be used to charge up your MacBook when you're running low on juice.

This sure isn't the first time Apple has ditched old technology. In 1998 the floppy disk drive was dropped from the iMac, and everyone freaked out. In 2008, Apple ditched the CD drive and the Ethernet port when it introduced the original MacBook Air, and while there are still times when we wish we had one or the other, it's rare, and we've adapted.

That's what will happen with USB Type-C eventually, even if it seems like a drastic move right now. You won't be able to connect lots of devices at once (even the adapters only have three ports at a time) and Thunderbolt is gone.

USB-C also means no more MagSafe, the magnetic power connector that, over the years, has saved many MacBooks from being pulled off of desks when people tripped over the power cable. See: Will your new MacBook crash to the ground without MagSafe? (Yes.)

The new MacBook does have one other port, and that's a 3.5mm headphone jack.

New MacBook 2015 specs: Will Apple discontinue Thunderbolt?

One question that has arisen is whether the introduction of USB-C spells the end of Thunderbolt. We don't think that Apple's will drop Thunderbolt from it's Pro Mac line up any time soon, but the standard may well disappear from the consumer level Macs eventually. The reason we think it will remain on the MacBook Pro, Mac Pro and the iMac is Apple's efforts to convince the industry to adopt it since its introduction in 2011. However, Apple also promoted FireWire to the industry and eventually removed that from it's Macs.

New MacBook 2015 specs: How to use adaptors with the MacBook

Plugging in a standard USB drive will require an adaptor, as will plugging in your iPhone or iPad using Apple's USB to Lightning cable that came in the box.

Luckily, Apple is selling several USB-C adapters, and those adapters will mean that you can use most of your current cables and accessories with the new MacBook. You'll also be able to use third-party adaptors. For Apple's Multiport Adapters you're looking at a price of £65, though, so they don't come cheap.

The standard USB to USB-C adapter costs £15.

Find out more about Apple's USB-C adapters and adapters from third parties in our USB-C Adapters article.

Eventually, though, we won't need adapters to use USB-C. LaCie has already announced that it's making USB-C versions of its Porsche Design Mobile Drive line, and we're sure they'll be the first of many new accessories in the pipeline.

New MacBook 2015 specs: How fast is the new MacBook?

Don't expect the speed you'll get with the MacBook Pro, but the new MacBook shouldn't be a complete slouch. Inside, there's a Intel Core M processor, and while we can't actually test it until we get the new MacBook back to our labs, variations of that same chip have already been tested and prove to be plenty powerful enough.

The Intel Core M chip is a Broadwell chip that has been designed for use in exactly the kind of machine Apple has made. It can be used in a thin and completely fanless computer, namely the new MacBook but also other rival Windows machines. It's the first release of Intel's 14nm technology, and is reportedly so small that it's only about twice the size of the iPhone 6's logic board.

Apple has applied miniaturisation techniques that were used in the iPhone and iPad to make the New MacBook's logic board the most compact logic board ever. In fact, it's a whopping 67% smaller than the logic board found in the 11in MacBook Air.

Intel has demonstrated the kind of power you can expect from a Core M chip by comparing it with the Intel Core i5-520UM processor that was used in many laptops that were considered quite powerful around four years ago – laptops that are still being used by many today.

Intel claims that the new Core M chip can achieve double the performance of the older chip despites its smaller size, and can reduce power consumption by up to four times meaning longer battery life and/or smaller batteries for a lighter, slimmer design.

3D gaming performance is apparently up to seven times better than Intel's older chip, and seven times faster at converting HD videos. Find out more about Intel Core M processors in our What is Intel Core M article.

As mentioned above, the New MacBook 2015 has no moving parts, vents or fans. Not only does it help make the MacBook so thin, it also aims to improve efficiency and should make the New MacBook completely silent.

There's also 8GB of RAM in the new MacBook, and Intel HD Graphics 5300. As for connectivity, the New MacBook has 802.11ac WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0.

There is a FaceTime camera on the front of the new MacBook, but this one is only 480p rather than the usual 720p FaceTime HD camera found on other Macs.

New MacBook 2015 specs: What is the MacBook Battery life like?

Apple claims that the new MacBook has all-day battery life thanks to new battery technologies that allow 35% more battery capacity despite the thinner and lighter design. The display is designed to consume 30% less energy with the same brightness.

Apple's battery life estimates are 9 hours of wireless web browsing and up to 10 hours of iTunes movie playback.

How does the New MacBook Air compare to the MacBook?

We had originally thought that the MacBook Air would get a Retina update, but it looks like Apple has decided that the New MacBook should be an all-new line of MacBook models, while the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro line-ups remain.

The MacBook Air didn't get completely left out of the event, though. It did get an update, albeit one that Apple skipped over after the announcement of the New MacBook.

The new 11in and 13in MacBook Air models now have fifth generation Intel Core processors up to 2.2GHz, and boast Intel Graphics 6000. The 13in model included new, faster flash storage too.

New MacBook Air 2015 release date & UK pricing

The new MacBook Air 2015 is available now from the Apple Online Store. Apple Retail Store and Apple Authorised Resellers.

11in MacBook Air, 1.6GHz processor, 4GB RAM, 128GB flash storage: £749

11in MacBook Air, 1.6GHz processor, 4GB RAM, 256GB flash storage:£899

13in MacBook Air, 1.6GHz processor, 4GB RAM, 128GB flash storage: £849

13in MacBook Air, 1.6GHz processor, 4GB RAM, 256GB flash storage:£999

On page 2, you'll find all of the speculation and rumours that we reported on ahead of Apple's unveiling. Find out how accurate they were.

Excellent battery life; Strong overall performance; Blazing flash storage; Comfortable keyboard

Design could use update; Lower-res display than competitors

The 13-inch MacBook Air essentially forced competitors to create an entirely new class of laptop, but this venerable ultraportable hasn't received much love from Apple in the past few years. While the latest Air sports a faster new 5th-generation Core processor and faster flash storage, it doesn't get the Retina display found on just about every other Apple laptop, a redesigned chassis or cool new features like the ForcePad. Nevertheless, for $999, the Air's combination of class-leading battery life (14 hours) and faster performance make it one of the best values around.

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What's New

Mostly, just the guts. The 13-inch Air now includes a 5th-generation Intel Core i5-5250U processor, Intel HD Graphics 6000 (Iris graphics are reserved for the 13-inch MacBook Pro) and a Thunderbolt 2 port.The upgraded flash storage promises twice the performance of the previous-generation Air.

What's the Same

The look. Apple apparently perfected the design of its 13-inch ultraportable in 2010. With the exception of the ports, this all-aluminum notebook looks the same as it did five years ago. Here's hoping that, for the next generation of the notebook, Apple lets you choose at least the color, as you can with the 12-inch MacBook (space gray, silver or gold).

At 2.98 pounds, the Air is light enough to carry around all day, but it's heavier than the Dell XPS 13. the Asus ZenBook UX305 and the Lenovo Yoga Pro. each of which weighs about 2.6 pounds. The HP Spectre x360 is heavier, at 3.26 pounds, but it also has a flip-around screen.

Also, 13-inch Air's display hasn't changed in five years; Apple has stuck resolutely to a 1440 x 900-pixel panel. Count me among those disappointed that the 13-inch Air didn't get a Retina display, or at least one with a resolution of 1080p.

The keyboard and touchpad on the Air are the same as before. As of this review, only the 12-inch MacBook and the 15-inch MacBook Pro have Apple's innovative ForcePad, which uses haptic feedback instead of a physical click and lets you perform different functions depending on how hard you press.

Great Keyboard

The Air's keyboard hasn't changed, either, but this is one area where I don't mind continuity for continuity's sake. While it has just 1 mm of travel (we prefer at least 1.5 mm), typing on the Air remains as comfortable as ever.

In fact, I prefer the Air's keys to those on the 12-inch MacBook, which are just too shallow for extended typing sessions.

Plenty of Ports

Unlike the 12-inch MacBook, which has just one USB-C port, the 13-inch Air has a Thunderbolt 2, two USB 3.0 ports and an SD card slot.

Most significant, I think, is the MagSafe power connector. Why abandon such a great idea?

Epic Battery Life

The battery life of the past few generations of the MacBook Air has been impressive, and the 2015 model is no different in that regard. On the Laptop Mag Battery Test (Web surfing at 100 nits of brightness), the notebook lasted an epic 14 hours. That's 2 hours longer than Apple's claim as well as last year's Air (12:20), and 6 hours better than the ultraportable average of 8:05.

Among competing systems, only the nontouch version of the XPS 13 came close, at 11:42. While better than average, the Asus UX305 (9:38) and HP x360 (9:28) simply can't match the Air's endurance.

Blazing Flash Storage

The 128GB PCIe-based flash storage in the Air is leagues better than that offered by the competition. It duplicated 4.97GB of multimedia files at a rate of 358.4 MBps. That's twice as fast as its predecessor (190.3 MBps), the Yoga 3 Pro (175 MBps), the Asus UX305 (154.2 MBps) and the HP x360 (141.4 MBps).

Class-Leading Performance

On Geekbench 3, which measures overall performance, the Air's Core i5-5250U processor scored 5,783, which just edges out the XPS 13 (5,530) and the HP x360 (5,614), which have slightly less powerful Core i5-5200U CPUs. The average ultraportable scored 4,523.

The Air also dominated the competition on our Spreadsheet test, matching 20,000 names and addresses in 4 minutes and 3 seconds. That's a minute faster than the XPS 13 (5:02) and the HP x360 (5:04), and more than twice as fast as the average (8:33). However, the 2014 Air was even faster, completing the task in 3 minutes and 46 seconds.

Ho-hum Display

I can think of two reasons why Apple has yet to boost the resolution of the 13-inch Air: Higher-resolution panels use more power, and Apple wants to ensure that the Retina display on the 12-inch MacBook remains special. Yet, all of the Air's competitors -- including ones that cost $300 less -- have at least a 1080p display. What's more, if Apple is boasting that the Air is better than ever for playing games, shouldn't it have a screen to match?

At 334 nits, the Air's brightness is on a par with the HP x360 (339 nits) and is brighter than the typical ultraportable (272 nits), the nontouch XPS 13 (298), the Asus UX305 (281) and the Lenovo Yoga Pro (318).

However, the Air's display falls down on some other display metrics. Our tests revealed that it can produce just 65.8 percent of the sRGB gamut, which makes it far less colorful than not only the average ultraportable (78.7 percent), but the XPS 13 (92), the HP x360 (103), the Yoga Pro (99) and even the less expensive Asus ZenBook UX305 (94).

And the colors it can display aren't very accurate. With a Delta-E score of 4.3 (numbers closer to zero are better), the Air didn't fare as well as the average (3.4), the x360 (1.3) or the UX305 (1.5). The Dell XPS 13, however, was even worse, at 8.1.

Graphics Don't Wow

Although Apple touts the Intel 6000 Graphics in the 2015 Air as better than ever, we saw only marginal gains, at the least, over last year's model.

In World of Warcraft, the 2015 Air hit 32 frames per second with the resolution at 1440 x 900 and the effects on Good. That's just barely better than what we consider playable (30 fps). At a higher resolution of 1080p, the Dell XPS 13 notched 33 fps on Good, and 24 fps on Full.

However, the 2015 Air did outperform the 2014 Air on the OpenGL portion of the Cinebench benchmark. This year's model scored 24.81 fps, which is comfortably higher than the 18.47 fps of the previous model.

MacBook Air vs. 12-inch MacBook

Should you spend an extra $300 for the 12-inch MacBook? In terms of portability, the MacBook weighs nearly a full pound lighter than the 13-inch Air. The MacBook also has a smaller but much sharper 2304 x 1440-pixel display that's not only brighter, but shows more colors.

However, the Air trumps the MacBook when it comes to performance and endurance. The Air's Core i5 processor beats the MacBook's Core M processor at every turn, and its flash memory is 100 MBps faster than the MacBook's. The Air's battery life also bested the MacBook's (8 hours and 43 minutes) by more than 5 hours. Most important, the MacBook has just one port (USB-C), so you'll need to buy adapters if you want to charge the notebook and plug in another device at the same time.

Bottom Line

The 2015 MacBook Air is a very good upgrade over last year's model. You get better performance and better battery life, all for $999. I also continue to like the comfortable keyboard and accurate touchpad, even though the Air lacks the new ForcePad. However, the notebook's design is due for an overhaul, and shoppers deserve a sharper and more colorful display.

For $100 less, the Dell XPS 13 has a crisper but dimmer 1080p display and a lighter and more adventurous design. However, it lasts about 2 hours less on a charge and isn't quite as fast. If you're not wedded to Apple's operating system, Dell's notebook is the way to go, but Mac fans who value endurance above all else will find the new 13-inch Air the best there is.

Average User Rating

The good Thanks to a new generation of processors, the MacBook Air gets improved battery life, while maintaining its now classic thin and light metal exterior.

The bad Little else has changed over the past few years, while the competition is catching up on design, battery life and usability. The low-res screen feels more dated than ever.

The bottom line While still a great all-around useful laptop, the 13-inch MacBook Air is stuck with a lower-res display and a design that's no longer cutting-edge.

CNET review

For the past several years, Apple's flagship MacBook Air has dutifully added the latest generation of Intel processors, and sometimes tweaked the included ports or the type of solid state memory inside, but those changes have felt very minor. Especially so when compared to the groundbreaking new-for-2015 12-inch MacBook. which is amazingly thin and stylish, or the MacBook Pro -- redesigned in 2012 -- which has a great higher-res display and plenty of high-end configuration options.

But that doesn't mean we're writing the MacBook Air off. It remains one of the most universally useful laptops you can buy, thanks to a still-slim design, excellent keyboard and touchpad, generally fast performance and great battery life. That the Air is the least-expensive MacBook, starting at $999 (£849 or AU$1,099) for the 13-inch model, means it's within reach for many shoppers who might not want to go up to the $1,299 or more being asked for the latest ultraportables from Apple, Samsung and others. (A model with an 11.6-inch screen and otherwise very similar specs is available for even less.)

Sarah Tew/CNET

While other laptops continue to catch up to the Air, and even move past it in terms of design, the Air stubbornly holds onto its claim as having the longest-lasting mainstream laptop battery. That's because of a minor upgrade for 2015 to Intel's fifth-generation Core i-series processors. previously known by the codename Broadwell. The performance boost, as in most Broadwell systems, is slim to negligible, but the greater power efficiency of those new chips pays a significant dividend.

Along with a new CPU, you get the associated improved integrated graphics that are included with the Broadwell platform, as well as a speed bump from Thunderbolt to Thunderbolt 2 in the data/video port. The built-in flash storage, which switched to the faster PCIe interface last cycle, now also gets faster throughput, although in everyday use, you're unlikely to notice any of these incremental improvements.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The 2015 version of the MacBook Air ran for 18 hours on our video playback battery drain test, blowing past its previous versions, as well as the non-Apple competition. Even if more challenging tasks or heavy online streaming cut that number by 40 percent or so, you're still looking at no-compromise all-day battery life.

If not for the continued battery-life dominance and the relatively low starting price, it would be easy to ease the MacBook Air aside and suggest the Pro or 12-inch MacBook instead. Instead, you have three distinct products, each with strengths and weaknesses, and each best-suited for a different audience. I suspect that, for some time to come, the Air will remain the best choice for students and casual coffee shop websurfers.

The MacBook Air is on a path to extinction

When Apple redesigned the MacBook Air in 2010, it created one of the best machines to ever carry its Mac label. That new laptop was a revelation: extremely thin and light, like the original Air, yet also powerful enough for most tasks and equipped with a long-lasting battery. For years, the MacBook Air has been a standard-bearer, the role model for every Windows ultrabook, but 2015 has not been so kind to its leadership position. Apple introduced the new 12-inch MacBook and updated the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro, both directly competing with the Air, and for those not umbilically attached to OS X, Dell’s XPS 13 offered a compelling Windows alternative. And this week there’s the looming threat of the iPad Pro on the horizon. Has Apple forsaken what was once its best PC?

Until this year, I wondered why anyone would buy the MacBook Pro, a laptop I considered to be a fatter, slightly more powerful version of the Air. Its battery didn’t last as long, it was thicker and heavier, and it was more expensive. After reviewing the 2015 MacBook Pro with Retina display. however, I’m asking myself why I am still stuck with the Air. The difference between the two machines is as simple as it is compelling: the display. Apple’s Pro laptop just embarrasses its Air sibling when the two are set side by side. The Pro has more than three times the resolution, much wider viewing angles, and better contrast and color reproduction. The new MacBook also has an IPS display with Retina-class resolution and it also looks light years better than the Air.

The Air has fallen behind and Apple isn't helping it up

Apple is not a company that can be accused of doing things thoughtlessly, and the decision to leave the Air’s display at the lower quality and resolution must be taken as a deliberate one. In other words, Apple is comfortable with keeping the Air as a technological straggler in its lineup. That leaves us with a choice of two most likely scenarios: either the Air is destined for a future overhaul and its first redesign in five years or it has no future at all. There’s not enough room in Apple’s lineup for a MacBook, a MacBook Air, and a MacBook Pro — the MacBook is Apple’s ultraportable machine of the future and the MacBook Pro is the do-it-all laptop of today. The MacBook Air’s position seems tenuous already, and if the alleged iPad Pro does indeed materialize, then we may as well bid adieu to the Air entirely.

The iPad Pro is expected to be a 12.9-inch device with optional keyboard and stylus accessories and the ability to run two full apps side by side. Sure, it will be based on iOS instead of OS X, but there are plenty of good iPad apps to replace the basic productivity tools of Apple’s desktop software. My usual MacBook Air workload involves writing, photo editing, communicating with colleagues, and keeping track of happenings on Twitter and YouTube. The presumed iPad Pro would handle the vast majority of these tasks with aplomb, and it would do it with a better-looking touchscreen display and potentially even thinner profile.

The heir to the Air is a trifecta of more purposeful devices

Looking at Apple’s lineup with the iPad Pro included is like gazing out on a siege surrounding the MacBook Air. If a super-thin laptop is your top priority, get the new MacBook. If power and versatility are more important, get the MacBook Pro, which is only marginally heavier than the MacBook Air while giving you so much more. And if you want to have a touchscreen on your mobile PC, try out the iPad Pro. There’s just no clear-cut case for why the MacBook Air should exist, at least in its present state, in among all this internal competition from Apple itself. The Air rose to prominence by offering the perfect balance between a bunch of competing priorities, but now its multipurpose nature is acting against it, as it feels compromised from whatever perspective a potential buyer might approach it.

The Intel-fueled ultrabook movement came in the immediate wake of the 2010 MacBook Air, and for years it was simply a case of Windows PC makers trying to catch up with Apple’s paragon of laptop versatility. Uncompetitive battery life and unreliable touchpads were the bane of Windows laptops for a long time, however this year’s Dell XPS 13 is the harbinger of a much-improved class of competition. It has the build and display quality of a truly modern machine, and it’s not hampered by the old issues that held Windows back. With the new Skylake processors from Intel, many others should be joining Dell in providing highly attractive alternatives to Apple’s old reliable MacBook Air.

If Apple wanted to ward off the threat of Windows laptops, it would have meaningfully upgraded the MacBook Air by now. If it had wanted to keep its current product lineup, it would have given the Air a reason to exist alongside its other MacBooks. But what Apple wants is signaled most lucidly by the imminent arrival of the iPad Pro. There will be MacBooks and a MacBook Pro, there will be a set of mainstream iPads and an iPad Pro. It’s a clean, simple lineup with clear delineation between every product. As revolutionary as it once was, the MacBook Air just doesn't fit in Apple's future.

LG Gram takes on the MacBook Air with a lighter Windows 10 laptop

We still haven’t found that one perfect Windows 10 laptop, but LG may be close. The LG Gram offers a high-end metal design that’s lighter than Apple’s MacBook Air while offering a larger screen.

LG’s new laptop weighs just 2.16 pounds and is available in 13-inch and 14-inch flavors. That’s just barely heavier than the new 12-inch MacBook and noticeably lighter than the 13-inch MacBook Air (2.96 pounds). Combined with solid specs and Microsoft’s latest software, LG seems confident it can win over American shoppers.

“We recognize this is an extremely competitive category, and are confident consumers will respond well to this product that combines powerful performance with lightweight design,” said LG USA’s marketing chief David VanderWaal.

The LG Gram features a rugged design with a mix of carbon-lithium and carbon-magnesium. It packs a 1080p display with a 16:9 aspect ratio, 7.5 hours of battery life and USB 3.0, microUSB, microSD and HDMI ports. It runs Windows 10, including Cortana and the new Microsoft Edge browser, though there’s no built-in support for the company’s new Windows Hello biometric software.

The LG Gram starts at $899 for the 13-inch model in white with an Intel Core i5 chip, 8GB of memory and 128GB of storage. For a $100 more, you can buy a 14-inch version in gold. At the high-end there’s also a 14-inch gold option with a faster Core i7 chip and a whopping 256GB of storage for $1,399.

The LG Gram is available from Amazon and will be available from and in Microsoft Stores soon.


Lightweight yet Powerful and Durable LG gram Series Laptops Available Nationwide, Just in Time for Holidays

ENGLEWOOD CLIFFS, N.J. Sept. 28, 2015 – LG Electronics USA announced a U.S. market first: the launch of LG’s line of premium lightweight laptops – LG gram series. LG gram laptops are available now at Microsoft stores across the country as well as online at and

Named the LG gram as a nod to the devices’ extremely light weight, the line is perfect for the everyday user looking for a high-performance laptop that is portability and durable with a sleek, modern design. In fact, the LG gram 14 is among the lightest laptops in the 14-inch category, weighing only 2.16 pounds — less than the MacBook Air. In addition, the body is made of carbon-lithium and carbon-magnesium, the same materials found in spacecraft and race cars, giving the LG gram 14 an exceptionally strong rugged framework that stands up to everyday life while remaining lightweight. Finally, at just a half-inch thin, the LG gram 14 can be packed up and taken anywhere easily.

“LG has a long history of developing innovative consumer electronics products and has applied that expertise, along with its laptop success in other markets, to the LG gram series in the U.S.,” said David VanderWaal, vice president of marketing, LG Electronics USA. “We recognize this is an extremely competitive category, and are confident consumers will respond well to this product that combines powerful performance with lightweight design.”

“We’re thrilled that LG is bringing the LG gram series of premium devices with Windows 10 to the U.S.,” said Peter Han, vice president of worldwide OEM marketing, Microsoft Corp. “LG delivers sound and display innovation in a sleek, lightweight device that brings to life some of the exciting new features in Windows 10, including Cortana and Microsoft Edge.”

LG Gram Partners with Best-in-Class Software Providers 

The launch of LG’s first laptop series in the U.S. is perfectly timed with the debut of Windows 10, setting the stage for a new player in the laptop game that Windows lovers can use with ease. The LG gram series comes fully equipped with Windows 10, including Cortana and Microsoft Edge for a more personal and productive computing experience. All are Microsoft Signature Edition laptops, which means a clean, fast and protected experience – each PC is free of installed junkware, is performance-tuned and has a fully virus-protected system.   It also delivers powerful performance with fifth generation Intel® Core™ processor (either Intel Core i5 or i7).

“Intel is excited to partner with LG in bringing LG laptop products to the U.S. market,” said Navin Shenoy, corporate vice president and general manager, Mobility Client Platforms Group, Intel. “With Intel Core processors delivering a balance of performance, rich graphics and great battery life, we think the LG gram series is a compelling new offering for consumers.”

LG Gram Delivers Lightweight Design with High-Caliber Features

The LG gram series provides users with the portability of a slim, lightweight laptop design without sacrificing performance, speed or access to a plethora of connectivity options. It supports the latest standards for connectivity, including Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless technology, along with extra ports for USB 3.0, a micro-USB and micro-SD slot. It also comes with a built-in HDMI port, which is uncommon among laptops of this size, which generally require HDMI adaptors.

With LG gram’s instant boot feature, the operating system starts up immediately when the user opens the display whether it’s totally powered off or simply in sleep/hibernation mode. It also boasts a battery life of up to 7.5 hours, allowing most users to enjoy a full day’s use in a single charge.

Following in the tradition of LG’s breathtaking TV displays, LG gram series also offers a rich viewing experience with Full HD picture quality, boasting a 1920 x 1080 resolution and 16:9 aspect ratio for a more lifelike, immersive viewing experience. The display also features LG’s In-Plane Switching (IPS) technology, which ensures accurate color saturation and contrast, even at wide viewing angles.

“Reader Mode” provides optimal conditions for reading by reducing blue light, helping to protect your eyes and allow for comfortable reading during extended periods of time. LG gram series also offers advanced sound quality thanks to its built-in Digital-to-Analog converter (DAC), which allows users to experience hi-fi quality sound with less noise and distortion.

Three models comprise the LG gram laptop series:

    LG gram 13 – 13-inch model in white with Intel Core i5, 8GB of memory and 128GB of storage (Model 13Z950-A.AA3WU1). Weight: 2.16 pounds. Suggested price: $899 LG gram 14 – 14-inch model in gold with Intel Core i5, 8GB of memory and 128GB of storage (Model 14Z950-A.AA3GU1). Weight: 2.16 pounds. Suggested price: $999 LG gram 14 – 14-inch model in gold with Intel Core i7, 8GB of memory and 256GB of storage (Model 14Z950-A.AA4GU1). Weight: 2.16 pounds. Suggested price: $1,399

LG's Crazy-Light Gram Series Laptops Are Ready To Take On Apple's Macbook Air

LG is known for lots of great things—chief among them being televisions and wonderful G series smartphones. But laptops? Not so much. But now LG’s trying to entice the US with its new Windows 10-equipped laptops, called the LG Gram Series .

Although LG has a few laptops, like the UltraPC line, outside the states, the Gram is the first line for the U.S. and as a bonus, it’s coming as a Microsoft “Signature Series” meaning no bloat whatsoever—just pure Windows 10. But the name also refers to its amazing light weight at just over two pounds, which is even lighter than the very smallest Macbook Air.

To achieve that impressively minuscule amount of Lbs, LG had to make a few design sacrifices—the biggest being the plastic shell all the hardware is incased in. After the shock of how light this laptop is fades away, you then start to notice the creaking plastic—from the keyboard to the screen bezel—and a few other missing features, like a backlit keys or an SD card reader.


But as already mentioned, LG may not be known for laptops but their displays are some of the best in the world, and that’s true with the Gram series. The 1080p IPS LCD looks stunning on this laptop, even significantly better than Macbook Air’s Retina displays. The Gram also has the other laptop accouterments like an HDMI output, microSD card reader, a microUSB port, and two USB 3.0 ports.

Although Apple’s Macbook and LG’s Gram laptops differ in many ways, on price they’re pretty similar. For the 13-inch model, you’re looking at an Intel Core i5 processor, 128GB of storage, and 8GB of RAM for $900. The supersized 14-inch model comes in anywhere from $1000-$1400, whether you chose 128GB/Core i5 or 256GB Core i7. The only real downside with these impressive specs is that they’re not the newly released Skylake processors but are instead Intel’s 5th generation Broadwell chips.

But overall, the LG Gram laptops feel like a pure travel machine, something ultra light that’s also ultra capable to handle most tasks within its reported seven and half hours of battery life. If you’ve been looking for just an everyday Windows 10 laptop, LG is offering up an interesting choice.

The 11-inch MacBook Air lasts up to 9 hours between charges and the 13-inch model lasts up to an incredible 12 hours. So from your morning coffee till your evening commute, you can work unplugged.

The 11-inch MacBook Air lasts up to 9 hours between charges and the 13-inch model lasts up to an incredible 12 hours. So from your morning coffee till your evening commute, you can work unplugged. When it’s time to kick back and relax, you can get up to 10 hours of iTunes movie playback on the 11-inch model and up to 12 hours on the 13-inch model. And with up to 30 days of standby time, you can go away for weeks and pick up right where you left off. * Learn more

With the latest 802.11ac technology, MacBook Air takes Wi-Fi speeds over the top. Connect to an 802.11ac base station — including AirPort Extreme or AirPort Time Capsule — and experience wireless performance up to 3x faster than the previous Wi-Fi generation. 802.11ac also delivers expanded range, so you can work more freely than ever. Learn more

Flash storage in MacBook Air is up to 17x faster than a 5400-rpm notebook hard drive. So everything you do is snappy and responsive. MacBook Air even wakes up fast, thanks to flash storage and fifth-generation Intel Core processors. Learn more

Every new Mac comes with Photos, iMovie, GarageBand, Pages, Numbers, and Keynote. So you can be creative and productive right from the start. These apps have been updated to match the beautiful design of OS X Yosemite. You also get great apps for email, surfing the web, sending texts, and making FaceTime calls — there’s even an app for finding new apps. Learn more

Easy to use, beautiful to look at, and engineered to take full advantage of your Mac hardware, OS X Yosemite is the world’s most advanced desktop operating system. It comes with an amazing collection of apps for the things you do every day. And it makes your Mac and iOS devices work together in amazing ways. Learn more

Apple MacBook Air (13-Inch, Early 2015) Review

Best Antivirus News: Apple MacBook Air (13-Inch, Early 2015) Review

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