Tech Smart: Air apparent

November 2010 | Dental Lab Products It’s not quite as light as the element from which it draws its name, but the latest iterations of Apple’s ultra-trim MacBook Air are getting mighty close.

November 2010 | Dental Lab Products

It’s not quite as light as the element from which it draws its name, but the latest iterations of Apple’s ultra-trim MacBook Air are getting mighty close.

The duo of recently released laptops-available in 11- or 13-inch screen sizes-weigh in at less than 3 pounds each, and their distinctive tapered forms are less than 3/4 inch at its thickest and barely more than 1/10 inch at the thin edge. But just because these machines are slim doesn’t mean they’re not ready to handle a heavy computing workload.

Functional style

While being almost unbelievably thin, the new Airs are no pushovers. They sport the same aluminum unibody construction as larger MacBooks. This means the top and bottom enclosures are each milled from single pieces of aluminum for crisp looks and monolithic durability.

The minimalist approach is carried throughout this laptop’s design with almost no moving parts besides the hinge. This means there is less that could be damaged when the Airs get moved around or jostled. This is accomplished because, like the first-generation MacBook Air, these machines have no optical CD drive. This time, things have been taken a step further, as the laptops have dropped traditional hard drives in favor of arrays of flash media storage.

Memory flashes

Using flash memory for data storage offers benefits in durability, but users will really notice its presence because flash memory is very appropriately named. Data can be accessed almost instantly, making working with files a snap, and the laptops can be brought out of sleep mode as fast as the lid can be flipped open.

The lowest-end 11-inch Air sports 64 GBs of storage, which is relatively small by today’s standards, but the top of the Air line offers quadruple the storage space. Both models run speedy Intel Core Duo processors with 2 GB of RAM standard, which means the flash memory isn’t the only swift things about the new Airs.

Cutting the cords

Of course, internal storage isn’t the only thing the Air is about, as these are machines optimized for working in a cloud computing environment. They feature all the standard WiFi connections and are equipped with a pair of USB ports, a webcam, mic and a Mini Display Port for connecting an external monitor or HD TV; the 13-inch model also includes an SD card reader.

Getting data on the machines is quite easy, and working with it once it’s there is just as easy. Massive multi-touch capable trackpads handle the duties once done with a mouse, and the multi-touch gestures are both intuitive and incredibly time-saving if they’re really put to use.

The new Airs are ready to offer plenty of time to play with all these systems. They may be small machines, but their batteries are the biggest internal components. This lets them boast 5 to 7 hours of unplugged work time, and an impressive 30 days of standby time on a single charge.

Work and play wherever

Of course all this hardware is no good without software to back it up. Like all of Apple’s computers, the new Airs run the company’s OS X operating system with a lifestyle suite of image and video management programs included. Of course, many business titles are now easy to find for Apple’s computers, and as the company continues to gain more market share, ever more critical business applications are being made available for use on these machines.

With an enviable look, sturdy construction and powerful components under the hood, the new MacBook Air laptops are enjoyable to use and up to just about any computing task that can be thrown their way. These machines beg to be taken everywhere, are ready to go and up to the task whenever they’re needed.

MacBook Air
$999 - $1599