If you're reading this article, chances are you're thinking about buying a new Mac and may be in need of a little guidance. Fortunately, we're quite familiar with Apple's Macs, and we're happy to help you choose the right Mac for you.
This buying guide provides an overview of all the Mac models available, and what each model is best suited for. To get more details, you can read the full review for each Mac model by clicking the "Read our complete review" links.
What is it? The MacBook Air is Apple's affordable line of laptops. It comes in two screen sizes: 11 inches (2.4 pounds) and 13 inches (3.0 pounds).
Who's it for? The MacBook Air is ideal for the budget conscious. It's also for anyone who is always on the go, doesn't want to be bogged down by a regular-size laptop, and needs a computer that's more versatile than an iPad.
What are the specifications? The four MacBook Airs have the same 1.6GHz dual-core Core i5 processor. All MacBook Air models come standard with 4GB of RAM and integrated Intel HD Graphics 6000 technology. Apple claims nine hours wireless web/10 hours iTunes movie playback of battery life for the 11-inch models, and 12 hours for both wireless web and iTunes movie playback for the 13-inch models.
The main difference between the laptops is storage. The $899 11-inch model and the $999 13-inch model have 128GB of flash storage, while the $1099 11-inch model and the $1199 13-inch model have 256GB.
How do I connect stuff? The MacBook Air has built-in Wi-Fi for connecting to a network. It also provides built-in Bluetooth for wirelessly connecting a mouse or other peripheral. If you want to connect to an ethernet network, you'll need a USB ethernet Adapter.
Thunderbolt 2 is the MacBook Air's high-speed connector. The laptop also has a pair of USB 3.0 ports, which can work with devices that use USB 2.0. If you have a FireWire 800 drive, you'll need to buy a Thunderbolt-to-FireWire Adapter.
How fast is it? The MacBook Air is quite capable of handling everyday tasks, such as sending and receiving email, browsing the Web, and using office applications. You can even use it for editing short videos, or for working with JPEGs from your iPhone or point-and-shoot camera.
The MacBook Air's flash storage really helps the performance. For example, the MacBook Air outperforms the 13-inch non-Retina MacBook Pro, which uses a hard drive (solid-state drives for the 13-inch non-Retina MacBook Pro are available for an additional cost).
Macworld's buying advice: The MacBook Air is a great affordable laptop for someone who does general-purpose work and moves around a lot, such as a student or a self-employed person. Since the MacBook Air is at the lower end of Apple's laptop lineup in terms of price, you won't find the Retina display that's in the Retina MacBook Pro or the MacBook. Also, you can't easily upgrade the storage after purchase, so you should buy the model with the largest amount of storage you can afford. (After-market storage upgrades are available, but Apple does not provide support for such upgrades.)
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