Apple has once again laid down the gauntlet to its rivals with the 2013 update of the 13-inch Apple MacBook Air. Superficially it's the exact same design, which is good news as the 1.35kg aluminium body is slim, stylish and robust. It's still, to our eyes, the most attractive and refined laptop in its class. The major differences this year are the processor, graphics and battery life. Intel's new Haswell processors are more efficient which, combined with a higher capacity battery, lets the the MacBook Air last over 10 hours of web browsing on a full charge in our tests. And we're certain it could last longer, too, up to and beyond Apple's claimed 12 hours of mixed use. Intel's HD 5000 graphics, meanwhile, are a serious step-up from the previous generation of integrated graphics. That doesn't mean the MacBook Air is transformed into a gaming laptop, but it does mean you can play more recent titles at reasonable settings, while older titles like Half-Life 2: Episode 2 run smoothly at high settings. Like previous MacBook Airs, the keyboard is backlit. It's great to type on thanks to crisp and responsive keys, and its matched by the wonderful glass-topped touchpad that's so smooth you'll barely notice it. Physical connections are limited to a couple of USB 3 ports, a Thunderbolt and mini Display Port combo connection, and a memory card slot. It's enough to get by one, however, and in a forward looking step Apple includes the new, faster 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard and Bluetooth 4.0. The only real disappointment is the screen. It's a good quality one with good colours, clean blacks and a wide viewing angle, but its 1,440 x 900 resolution is a shade disappointing. It's not quite a deal breaker as we still recommend the MacBook Air, but Apple definitely missed a trick here.
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