We like to use real world scenarios for battery tests with laptops, and the majority of people browse the web - so we do, too. In this case, we set the backlight to a notch above fifty percent, then reloaded a website every 30 seconds until the battery ran out. For light usage, this is an acceptable metric; heavier usage, like video (especially Flash video) playing, or A/V editing, will cut battery life but a large margin.
For the 2011 13-inch Apple MacBook Air, we saw a battery life of just under 7 hours, coming in at 6 hours and 43 minutes. It’s a bit under the 7 hour claim of Apple, but not so much that indicates deceit; battery life testing can be pretty subjective.
If you need a super portable laptop that is still pretty capable, get the 11-inch MacBook Air. If you need something that offers a bit more power and a smidge better resolution, go for the 13-inch form factor. You’ll be getting a great operating system in the form of OS X Lion, and a lot of amazing built-in software, such as iMovie. OS X is no longer remarkably better than Windows since Windows 7 came out, but the free apps like iMovie, iPhoto and GarageBand have no match on Microsoft’s side.
If Windows is *absolutely required* for your work, and you can’t virtualize the OS, then you may want to look elsewhere. While the MacBook Air offers a package experience that’s hard to beat, it doesn’t run Windows quite as well as some of the competition - for occasional booting it’s just fine, but I wouldn’t want to use it on the Air as an everyday OS.
To be honest, it’s difficult finding many negative things to say about the Air - it’s thin, light, gorgeous, capable. Battery life could be better, though, and if you need all-day availability, then you’d better off getting a ThinkPad, since the batteries on Apple’s laptops aren’t removable by the end user. Similarly, if your needs entail using more than 4GB of RAM on a regular basis (most of you don’t, even if you think you do), then again, go buy a ThinkPad - these guys are limited to just 4GB of DDR3, and since it’s soldered to the mainboard, it’s not going to be something you can replace yourself.
If you need a gaming laptop, you’re probably not really looking at the MacBook Air review, but just in case - go look at our ASUS gaming laptops!
For everyone else, however, the MacBook Air is simply the best notebook you can purchase. Great for travel, great for home use, and a network of retail shops that offer near-legendary service and support. As a result, the 2011 11-inch and 13-inch MacBook Air earns our Editor’s Choice.
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