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Apple MacBook Air 13-inch 2013 Review

Sections

Verdict

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Pros

  • Outstanding battery life
  • Sublime design and build quality
  • Cool and quiet
  • Future proof 802.11ac Wi-Fi

Cons

  • Screen res a little disappointing
  • Limited physical connectivity

Key Specifications

  • Review Price: £949.00
  • 13.3-inch, 1,440 x 900
  • 1.3GHz dual-core Intel Core i5
  • 4GB RAM
  • 128GB SSD
  • Intel HD 5000 graphics
  • 1.35kg

What is the Apple MacBook Air 13-inch 2013?

The MacBook Air is what passes for Apple’s ‘entry-level’ laptop these days. The 13-inch version, which weighs just 1.35kg and costs £950, is hardly ‘entry-level’ by normal standards, but the 13-inch Apple MacBook Air is one of the few Apple products you can call good value with a straight face.

Indeed, this year’s update is £50 cheaper than the 2012 Apple MacBook Air 13-inch, and a combination of a larger battery and Intel’s new, more efficient, Haswell processors sees Apple increase the claimed battery life from seven hours to a scarcely believable 12 hours.

Has Apple set the standard for Windows-based Ultrabooks to follow again, and should existing owners upgrade? Let’s find out.

See our best laptop round-up for more options

Apple MacBook Air 13-inch (2013) – Design & Build Quality

We can’t think of any way to improve the MacBook Air’s design, and clearly Apple can’t either. This design is several years old now, but it’s still to our eyes the most attractive, refined laptop in its class.

Its aluminium unibody frame weighs just 1.35kg, and is just 17mm at its thickest point. The build quality is supreme, too. The hinge is smooth, the fit and finish faultless. It’s ridiculous that you can buy a laptop this nice for ‘just’ £950.

Weaknesses? Physical connectivity is limited to a couple of USB 3 ports, a Thunderbolt 2/mini-DisplayPort and an SD card slot, but it’s enough to get by on. Complaints about the lack of Ethernet seem petty now. Anyone determined to work in the park in summer will find the aluminium body ill-suited to the task, but it says a lot that you have think that hard to find fault.

Apple MacBook Air 13-inch (2013) – Screen Quality

It’s harder to make the same case for the screen. Don’t mistake us, the 1,440 x 900 resolution screen is very good. Colours are rich, blacks are remarkably clean and deep, and the viewing angle is good.

It’s decent in bright light despite its ‘glossy’ finish. Decent by the standard of glossy screens at least; it’s not a patch on the Samsung Series 9 NP900X3D and its exceedingly bright anti-glare screen in this regard.

It’s the resolution that’s the real let down, however. We never expected a retina resolution, least of all at this price, but a small bump to 1,680 x 1,050 or a 1080p screen feels in order. We suspect Apple’s hands are tied here as any meaningful upgrade would require a switch to more widely manufactured 16:9 ratio screens, as opposed to Apple’s preferred 16:10 aspect.

That doesn’t dampen our yearning for something better, though. With the likes of the Dell XPS Duo 12 and the Acer Aspire S7 13-inch available at the same price with 1080p screens, the MacBook has fallen behind in this area. Not dramatically so, but enough for us to take note.

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Used as our main laptop for the review period

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