The MacBook Air is the slowest laptop - indeed, the slowest computer - in the Mac line. It omits many features that are standard on other Mac laptops, including multiple USB ports, FireWire ports, an ethernet port and an optical drive. And the latest top-of-the-line MacBook Air is actually slower than its predecessor in many of our tests.
The MacBook Air is also Apple's thinnest, lightest laptop. And we still love it.
We love the MacBook Air because it's 680g lighter than the next-lightest Apple laptop (the 13in MacBook Pro). In a world of netbooks that compromise on screen and keyboard size in order to get small, the MacBook Air has an excellent 13.3in widescreen display and a full-sized, backlit keyboard.
The MacBook Air is designed for people who appreciate the fact that this Mac laptop weighs 1.36kg and measures 194mm at its thickest point, and are willing to sacrifice all sorts of other features for that lightness. Which leads to the real question: do the new MacBook Air models sacrifice too many features to make them worth the trade-off in both price and size?
The new MacBook Airs introduced at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference are a £1,149 model with a 1.86GHz processor and 120GB 4,200rpm hard drive, and a £1,349 model with a 2.13GHz Core 2 Duo processor and a 128GB solid-state drive.
Let's ponder, for a moment, how far the MacBook Air line has come in terms of price. When the MacBook Air premiered, the top-of-the-line model-featuring a 1.86GHz processor and a 64GB solid-state drive cost £2,028. The low end of the line was a £1,199 model with a 1.6GHz processor and an 80GB hard drive.
So in 18 months, the top-of-the-line Air has dropped £679 while adding 330MHz of processor power and doubling the storage space. The base configuration, meanwhile, has dropped in price by £50 while also gaining a modest processor boost and double the hard-drive space. In other words, the MacBook Air is far more affordable than it was when it was introduced.
This is not to say that it's a great deal in terms of price/performance. You're still paying for that super-light chassis. For the same money as today's entry-level 1.86GHz MacBook Air you can buy a 13in MacBook Pro with a 2.53GHz processor, double the RAM of the MacBook Air, more than twice the hard-drive space, more USB and FireWire ports, an optical drive and an SD card reader. But it's also thicker and weighs 680g more.