MacBook Air 2012 Keyboard and Touchpad
Unsurprisingly, usability is eminently familiar. The MacBook Air 2012’s chiclet keyboard is well laid out even if keys are spaced just a tad too far apart for ideal comfort. Travel is good and there’s not a hint of flex, making it mostly a pleasure to type on; only the Lenovo IdeaPad U300 tops it by offering firmer action and ergonomic keys. Adjustable white LED backlighting is the cherry on the Apple-cake.
The massive frosted glass touchpad is still top notch, and though it’s been matched on some non-Apple laptops it has yet to be bettered. This is especially true since, unlike Windows 7, MacOS makes extensive use of its multi-touch capabilities in a way that’s intuitive and genuinely useful. Mind you, for just moving your pointer about this touchpad is easily matched by the likes of the Samsung 900X3B.
MacBook Air 2012 Screen
When it first came out, Apple was ahead of most 13in competitors with the Air’s screen resolution of 1,440 x 900. However, with the 13-inch MacBook Air 2012 we’re seeing more and more rivals offering 1,600 x 900 or even Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) at the same screen size. On top of that, while the panel Apple has used is certainly one of the better examples of TN, it’s still inferior to the IPS and PLS we’re beginning to see in premium laptops from other brands, such as the Samsung Series 9 900X3B and Asus Zenbook Prime.
However, judged on its own merits the screen has good horizontal viewing angles and even looking from above can still get you an acceptable picture. Furthermore you get deep blacks, good dark detailing and rich colours. Our only major negative is reflections from the glossy finish, but these are not as bad as on a glass-fronted laptop.
What all this adds up to is that, while perfectly usable and in fact superior to the majority of slim and light laptops on the market, the 13-inch MacBook Air 2012’s screen simply doesn’t match up to some of the similarly priced premium competition, and the absence of the high resolution and IPS panel quality synonymous with the Retina branding seriously disappoints.
MacBook Air 2012 Speakers
The hidden stereo speakers are good by 13in ultraportable standards. They offer decent volume levels albeit with slight distortion at maximum. They also manage to project more depth and clarity than we’re used to from laptops this slim, though bass is inevitably absent. Certainly, the 13 inch MacBook Air 2012’s audio is on a level with the best of the rest.