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MacBook Air with nVidia 9400M and 128GB SSD - MacBook Air
Despite all my complaints, the MacBook Air isn't without its plus points.
The 13.3in display's 1,280 x 800 pixel resolution isn't quite as high as I'd like, but from asking around I'm in the minority in preferring a higher pixel pitch (no you're not - ed.). As we've come to expect from LED-backlit screens, colours are bright and vivid, there's nary a hint of backlight bleed at the edges or corners and viewing angles are fantastic horizontally, if limited vertically. The ambient sensor does a great job of changing the backlight to match the brightness of the environment and despite a glossy coating, reflections were weren't a problem.
The 2.13GHz CPU powering the Air I'm using makes day to day operation a breeze and that's only helped by the 128GB SSD - start-up takes a mere 30 seconds and shutdown is as near as damn it instant! I don't think the 1,86GHz chip, hard drive version would be much slower, though. Programs open as quickly as you could hope and, with Snow Leopard (full review coming soon) installed, applications optimised for multi-core are ludicrously rapid, further testament to the brilliant of OS X, and HD YouTube videos are now playable without bringing the system to a halt - which couldn't be said of the original Air.
The nVidia 9400M graphics chip makes short work of offloading HD video decoding from the Air's CPU when appropriate and with Snow Leopard on the scene the number of GPU-accelerated applications should increase dramatically, making its presence all the more useful.
The size of its chassis does mean Apple has been able to fit a full sized keyboard into the MacBook Air. As usual this is an absolute joy to type on, with a crisp response and excellent feedback; even if the layout will annoy Windows-converts. The keys are backlit, although this only turns on if the ambient light is reduced enough.
Putting this in perspective, a 13.3in MacBook Pro, with a faster 2.53GHz CPU and an SSD will cost less, is negligibly less portable (okay, 2kg is a fair bit more than 1.36kg but play along) and has an Ethernet port, an extra USB port and an SD card reader, as well as a disc drive and two hours more battery life (by Apple's figures). For the majority of buyers, it's clear which is the better buy, especially bearing in mind that OS X is fast enough anyway that the extra cost of an SSD isn't necessarily worth swallowing.
But if you can afford a MacBook Air, and don't care that it might end up annoying you with its incredible lack of substance to complement its abundance of style, it's an indulgence I wouldn't discourage.
To continue the TrustedReviews tradition of dubious car analogies,the MacBook Air is rather like the Noble M600. Nobody in their right mind would buy one as their sole mode of transport. But you just know that if you could afford one you couldn't help but be very tempted, no matter how ludicrous a purchase it is.
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