New MacBook Air Lighter On the Wallet


Despite an incremental speed increase, the biggest update to the MacBook Air at WWDC was the price. The low-end model is now $1,499, down $300, while the high-end model with a solid-state drive now sells for $1,799, a jaw-dropping $700 price drop.

Available in two models, the low-end version now features a 1.86 GHz Intel Core Duo, formerly 1.6 GHz, along with a 120 GB hard drive. The high-end now runs at 2.13 GHz, but more importantly has a 128GB solid-state drive. This is a huge improvement over the low-end model, not in capacity but speed. The problem with the 120GB mechanical hard drive is that it spins at 4200 RPM, resulting in a noticeable performance bottleneck. While the MacBook Air 128GB SSD is no Intel X-25M SSD, it’s still a big leap up from the mechanical hard drive. Apple is clearly addressing a major flaw with the MacBook Air by lowering the price on the SSD model. Unfortunately, that’s the only flaw being addressed.

Both models still have only 2GB of RAM, RAM that is soldered to the motherboard and cannot be upgraded. This seems especially curious when one considers that even the 13″ MacBook “Pro” has a high-end model with 4GB of RAM. Another deficiency, at least when compared with the MacBook Pros, is that the battery life on the MacBook Air remains at around 5 hours, the same as it was when the MacBook Air was introduced in January 2008. Another flaw, or absence of update, concerns the mouse button. The MacBook Air still has one, unlike the MacBook Pros. Why?

While the price drop is welcome, this MacBook Air is looking a lot like an interim update. Those who need the lightest, thinnest MacBook right now might want to consider it, but a true upgrade will probably come early next year. Look for more RAM, better battery life, and possibly a fast SSD drive then.