Apple Macbook Air13": All-day battery lifeThe 13.3-inch display also remains unchanged. It still has a maximum resolution of 1440 x 900. A Retina-class display would have been welcomed, but that would certainly have an impact on battery life due to higher power consumption.
Apple recently updated its MacBook Air lineup in lieu of the release of Intel’s fourth generation Core processors which promise better performance and longer battery life. The company claims that its refreshed 13-inch MacBook Air can now last up to 12 hours on typical workloads. Nothing much has changed on the outside as the new MacBook Air retains its predecessor’s chassis, which means it is still only 17mm at its thickest point and weighs slightly over 1.3kg. The only notable exterior change is that it now has dual microphones to improve the notebook’s noise canceling abilities.
Significant changes are more apparent under the hood. The most notable is the new Intel Core i5-4250U 1.3GHz dual-core processor with a maximum TDP of 15W. The low TDP is crucial to the 13-inch MacBook Air’s claimed 12-hour battery life. The processor also features the latest Intel HD Graphics 5000 integrated GPU for better graphics performance. It also supports the latest 802.11ac wireless standard for faster wireless performance.
Another significant change is that the updated MacBook Air now uses a PCIe-based SSD. Using the Blackmagic benchmarking utility, we found that read and write speeds averaged 720MB/s and 320MB/s respectively. For comparison, a 2011 MacBook Air with a SATA-based SSD would only average around 265MB/s read and 245MB/s write. In terms of overall system performance, the new MacBook Air achieved a score of 6752 on Geekbench. This is an improvement of about 12% when compared to a 2011 MacBook Air.
As for battery life, we ran our usual 720p video loop test with Wi-Fi turned on and the screen’s brightness, volume, and keyboard backlit levels at 50%. The MacBook Air lasted 8 hours, which is quite impressive. When we were doing lightweight tasks such as web browsing, it easily lasted over 13 hours. The stellar battery performance is attributed to a slightly larger battery and a more efficient CPU.
All in all, while the new MacBook Air might not be a significant update to Apple’s mainstream laptop range, it brings about welcome improvements such as greater battery life, faster storage, and support for the latest wireless standard.
Intel Core i5-4250U (1.3GHz)
13.3” IPS LCD (1440 x 900)
Toshiba Satellite S4OT: Dependable Multimedia Notebook
Display-wise, Toshiba’s use of a 1366 x 768-pixel resolution display is somewhat lacking. This could be a decision to keep the price of the machine low while offering new features such as touch functionality. Thankfully, the sound department is handled by a pair of capable Onkyo speakers, which were loud and clear for music, as well as video playback. The S40t comes with two different ways to outsource its display with an HDMI and VGA port. Along with the video connectivity, the S40t also comes with two USB 3.0 ports and one USB 2.0 port.
This notebook managed to put out 1790 marks on 3DMark 11 (Performance). These numbers give the S40t enough power to comfortably run casual games at modest settings. However, in PCMark 7, the S40t was about 20% worse off than typical Ultrabooks, mostly due to the lack of an SSD. As for battery performance, the S40t managed to stay alive for 178 minutes in our Powermark benchmark, which is good enough to get you quite a bit of work done.
So if you’re looking for a capable multimedia machine that is reasonably priced, the S40t is definitely recommended and will serve you well as long as you’re mindful of what you’re getting: a thin and light mainstream notebook with touchscreen functionality and a discrete GPU, plus an optical drive for multimedia ease of mind.
Intel Core i5-3337U (1.8GHz)
14” HD LED (1366 x 768)