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  • Consumer Reports Rates New MacBook Airs Best in Class


    In an update to its ratings of desktop and laptop computers published this week, Consumer Reports has given the new unibody 11-inch and 13-inch MacBook Air models the best ratings in their size classes. Despite taking into consideration the fact that Apple systems are more expensive than their competitors, CR gave the newest MacBooks top ratings for their performance, display and ergonomics, and scored the 13-inch model the same as the 15-inch MacBook Pro for second place overall... behind the top-rated 17-inch MacBook Pro.

    Consumer Reports published its new Computer Ratings this week, reviewing 42 desktop computers, 70 laptops and 21 netbooks. The new ultralight 11-inch Air scored 67 out of a possible 100 points, winning that size class by a large margin over the only competition, a Toshiba Satellite Pro which got 51 points. CR gave the smallest Air a "very good" for Ergonomics and Display, a "fair" in Versatility and Speakers, and a "good" in Performance. The 13-inch model scored a 78 points to beat the Toshiba Portege's 76 points, and earned "very good" in Performance, Ergonomics, and Display, "good" in Speakers, and "fair" in Versatility.

    Following the Portege on the top of the 13-inch class were two MacBook Pro models which scored 73 and 72 points for third and fourth place, respectively. The 2.53GHz Core i5 15-inch MacBook Pro won top honors in the 15- to 16-inch category, and the 17-inch MacBook Pro was the highest rated laptop in the 17- to 18-inch category.

    Source: AppleInsider
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Consumer Reports Rates New MacBook Airs Best in Class started by Paul Daniel Ash View original post
    Comments 42 Comments
    1. gary86's Avatar
      gary86 -
      1st: My 13" MBA has run the same programs as my friends 15" MBP and did everything faster or the same speed.

      2nd: If you don't have anything constructive to say other then " I need more metal" then just shut up. Hate when people feel they have to dog a product because they don't like it. NO ONE ASKED YOU FOR YOUR OPINION.

      3rd: It's not a netbook, check the Apple site for the description.
    1. Poseidon79's Avatar
      Poseidon79 -
      Def not a netbook mainly because of the FULL size keyboard. The 320M graphics card make this think kick everything else's butt in it's class. There are several performance reviews that say the Airs compete with low end laptops just fine. The SSD really closes the deal with the day to day speed increase. No optical drive.. haha... I didn't use the optical drive in my MBP in the 18 months I owned it. Everything is avilable via download and storage is all flash drives these days. The days of the optical drive are almost over for portable computers people.
    1. EskimoRuler's Avatar
      EskimoRuler -
      this makes me want one more
    1. billmilo's Avatar
      billmilo -
      is this engadget.com
    1. MaxRabbit's Avatar
      MaxRabbit -
      Quote Originally Posted by CynicalDriver View Post
      Saying that it's not a netbook "because it doesn't have a card reader" is the most flawed logic I have seen on this site so far...

      So... It's better than a netbook because it does... LESS??
      What? Whoever said "better"? I didn't see anyone say it was better than a netbook (or worse than a netbook), only that it is different than a netbook.

      Quote Originally Posted by CynicalDriver View Post
      As for the idea that this isn't a netbook: it has no optical drive, no card reader (13" does have SD reader), only 2 USB ports, lower end "mobile type" processor, and small screen real-estate.

      A MacBook Air IS a netbook.
      That argument makes very little sense either. Have you actually done any research? Netbooks are designed with at least THREE USB ports and a card reader (RESEARCH and RESEARCH). Unless they have changed what you learn in elementary school since I've been out, 3 USB ports does not equal 2 USB ports, and 1 card reader does not equal no card reader.

      Have you actually completed a single year of high school yet? I find it hard to believe you have, as you can't even think before you make an argument.

      I'm willing to listen to anyone that has a different view than I do, but have the self-respect to actually have support for that view.
    1. CynicalDriver's Avatar
      CynicalDriver -
      Quote Originally Posted by MaxRabbit View Post
      What? Whoever said "better"? I didn't see anyone say it was better than a netbook (or worse than a netbook), only that it is different than a netbook.


      That argument makes very little sense either. Have you actually done any research? Netbooks are designed with at least THREE USB ports and a card reader (RESEARCH and RESEARCH). Unless they have changed what you learn in elementary school since I've been out, 3 USB ports does not equal 2 USB ports, and 1 card reader does not equal no card reader.

      Have you actually completed a single year of high school yet? I find it hard to believe you have, as you can't even think before you make an argument.

      I'm willing to listen to anyone that has a different view than I do, but have the self-respect to actually have support for that view.
      Again, you're saying it's better because it does less. 3 > 2 genius!

      If it's not a netbook, and it's not a notebook, then what exactly is the class that it's best in?

      It competes with netbooks, it looks like a netbook, it acts like a netbook, and it IS a netbook.

      You may not use an optical drive, but some of use use our laptops for more than Facebook and music. I use mine to play/burn DVD's, burn CDs for my car (which does not have an aux port, and FM tuners blow if you get anywhere near a city,) play games (as in, REAL games,) word processing, a wireless laser mouse, my phone for tethering, an external drive (because 320gb isn't enough for me no matter how fast it is,) graphic editing...

      Yes, it PERFORMS better than the competition, BUT it's still competing in the NETBOOK class, no matter how Jobs wants to "describe" it.

      Next you'll be saying the iPad doesn't compete with other tablets. God I hate fanboys. Get over yourself and your over-applefied life.

      You're not willing to listen to a differing opinion! You completely overlook the actual point of an argument, and instead make stupid accusatory remarks based on inconsistencies with your own idea of a utopian world.

      Go ahead, keep thinking that every Apple product is "something different" so you can justify the bloated pricing. You're hero Jobs will just keep laughing all the way to the bank.

      **Netbook: a small, portable laptop computer specifically designed for wireless communication and access to the Internet. Usually equipped with a small monitor, 9-10 inches, and lacking a CD/DVD drive, but considerably lighter than common 14" and 15.4" laptops (or notebooks). To load software onto a netbook, an external CD/DVD drive is used.**

      Sound like the Air meets EVERY one of those requirements.

      My view does have support, and calling into question my age and education is extremely juvenile, especially considering the fact that I have far superior grammar skills than even some of the article writers here.

      /attitudecheckserved

      And before you bag on my car's stereo or say something really stupid like "get a new radio!" it's a premium sound system that sounds awesome. There is more to audio than bass.
    1. skizo's Avatar
      skizo -
      For what it costs, it damn well better be.
    1. C-dub's Avatar
      C-dub -
      Quote Originally Posted by athleticswimmer View Post
      and I need more performance on mine...
      Alert.....
      Random off topic thought.....Robot strippers......
    1. skj8100's Avatar
      skj8100 -
      Quote Originally Posted by XenoSaber View Post
      You meant NOTEBOOK, right, the air is not a NETBOOK!! Don't make me slap you.
      The only thing that makes the airs NOT a netbook is the price that's too much...
    1. MaxRabbit's Avatar
      MaxRabbit -
      Quote Originally Posted by CynicalDriver View Post
      Again, you're saying it's better because it does less. 3 > 2 genius!
      Alright, this was a very bad beginning because you didn't pay attention to the first thing that I said. Once again, I didn't say that the Macbook Air is better than a netbook. I said it was different. You're right, 3 IS greater than 2. But it's also different than 2.

      Quote Originally Posted by CynicalDriver View Post
      If it's not a netbook, and it's not a notebook, then what exactly is the class that it's best in?

      It competes with netbooks, it looks like a netbook, it acts like a netbook, and it IS a netbook.
      Once again, you're failing to support your argument. It competes with a netbook, why? Who says? It looks like a netbook? How so? It acts like a netbook? What does a netbook act like?

      Support your argument with more than just "it is this because I think it is this" and you'll have my attention.

      Quote Originally Posted by CynicalDriver View Post
      You may not use an optical drive, but some of use use our laptops for more than Facebook and music. I use mine to play/burn DVD's, burn CDs for my car (which does not have an aux port, and FM tuners blow if you get anywhere near a city,) play games (as in, REAL games,) word processing, a wireless laser mouse, my phone for tethering, an external drive (because 320gb isn't enough for me no matter how fast it is,) graphic editing...
      Honestly, I'm not even sure why you included this in here. If anything, I feel like you just supported my point that a netbook is intended to support these many peripherals with it's 3 USB ports, which a Macbook Air does not support.

      Quote Originally Posted by CynicalDriver View Post
      Yes, it PERFORMS better than the competition, BUT it's still competing in the NETBOOK class, no matter how Jobs wants to "describe" it.

      Next you'll be saying the iPad doesn't compete with other tablets. God I hate fanboys. Get over yourself and your over-applefied life.

      You're not willing to listen to a differing opinion! You completely overlook the actual point of an argument, and instead make stupid accusatory remarks based on inconsistencies with your own idea of a utopian world.

      Go ahead, keep thinking that every Apple product is "something different" so you can justify the bloated pricing. You're hero Jobs will just keep laughing all the way to the bank.
      How did you jump to the conclusion that I am an Apple fanboy? I actually do not have a single Apple product (I sold my iPhone for a Samsung Captivate Android phone). You still seem unable to recognize that just because I think the Air is different than a netbook does not mean that I think it's better than a netbook. To me, the Air is useless. But a netbook is very useful, I have a couple!

      Quote Originally Posted by CynicalDriver View Post
      **Netbook: a small, portable laptop computer specifically designed for wireless communication and access to the Internet. Usually equipped with a small monitor, 9-10 inches, and lacking a CD/DVD drive, but considerably lighter than common 14" and 15.4" laptops (or notebooks). To load software onto a netbook, an external CD/DVD drive is used.**

      Sound like the Air meets EVERY one of those requirements.

      My view does have support, and calling into question my age and education is extremely juvenile, especially considering the fact that I have far superior grammar skills than even some of the article writers here.
      Your view does have support. Up until now, it did not, but yes, I am actually beginning to see your point now (although I sadly have no idea where you got that definition; sources are good. From here?).

      So you're saying that the Macbook Air to the netbook is like the Tesla Roadster to a traditional sports car? Complete difference in build (electric versus gasoline), but still the same form factor and classification? I can see that now.
    1. skj8100's Avatar
      skj8100 -
      Quote Originally Posted by kickerman65 View Post
      Are there any netbooks that come equipped with a dual core processor and 4Gb of ram? Ive never really looked at netbook specs but id say the air has way more performance than a netbook and does not belong in the netbook category. But like i said i could be mistaken cause ive never actually looked into netbook specs.
      Yes, you are mistaken.

      Quote Originally Posted by gary86 View Post
      1st: My 13" MBA has run the same programs as my friends 15" MBP and did everything faster or the same speed.

      2nd: If you don't have anything constructive to say other then " I need more metal" then just shut up. Hate when people feel they have to dog a product because they don't like it. NO ONE ASKED YOU FOR YOUR OPINION.

      3rd: It's not a netbook, check the Apple site for the description.
      No one ASKED for his comment and I don't necessarily agree with it- but where do you think you are commenting? This is a FORUM. The whole concept is based on peoples OPINIONS...

      And as far as your MacBook air compared to your friends MacBook pro logic- you know, I doubt that MacBook pro exactly blazes as it is...
    1. CaptainChaos's Avatar
      CaptainChaos -
      This is a netbook. And a laptop. And a notebook. And an overpriced version of all three. Drop it to $299-$499 and then you can walk away not feeling ripped off.
    1. Stimpy5050's Avatar
      Stimpy5050 -
      I have total laptop envy for my wife's 11" MBA. It's a pretty nice little machine.
    1. moa's Avatar
      moa -
      Quote Originally Posted by sziklassy View Post
      Apple has one yet another person over... *sigh*
      Macbook air is NOT an netbook, its CULV and that Is another case on its own.

      Just compare wPrime performance of atom processors and ULV processors.

      And better performance IS possible with ULV versions of Core i5 and i7 as was shown by acer 11" NOTEBOOK

      "NETBOOK" refers to computers with Atom chips
    1. MaxRabbit's Avatar
      MaxRabbit -
      Quote Originally Posted by moa View Post
      Macbook air is NOT an netbook, its CULV and that Is another case on its own.

      "NETBOOK" refers to computers with Atom chips
      Wow, you just made the worst argument of them all. You used opinion and not fact. The very first netbook did not contain an Atom chip. What kind of CPU did it have? Oh, that's right - the Celeron M CULV chip. I support that the Macbook Air is not a netbook, but your argument is ridiculous.
    1. athleticswimmer's Avatar
      athleticswimmer -
      Quote Originally Posted by skj8100 View Post
      The only thing that makes the airs NOT a netbook is the price that's too much...
      Quote Originally Posted by CaptainChaos View Post
      This is a netbook. And a laptop. And a notebook. And an overpriced version of all three. Drop it to $299-$499 and then you can walk away not feeling ripped off.

      yes!!! I can get way better specs for about the same money with the macbook pro's for what? Xtreme portability and Xtremely light weighted???? idont think so...anyone want to prove me wrong just go ahead! if you want a "mac" netbook or watever the air is and have $1500 to spare, then get one of the macbook pro's the only difference is the wight cuz they do sell 13" MBP's unless you want to waste idk? $300!!!! people keep saying "then your not in the market for netbooks" thats not true maybe I am! and if I so happen to want a mac then why dont I just get a MBPro if its way faster for the same price!!! maybe it weighs a little more but seriously(common sense)!!!! just my 2 cents in my wallet
    1. Poseidon79's Avatar
      Poseidon79 -
      The 11" MBA is just as fast.. if not faster for 90% of everyday tasks like web browsing, email, MS Office, iTunes, watching HD Video... etc. For the vast MINORITY of people that need lots of horse power for video/audio editing and encoding this is not the set up for you. For me it's a dream come true.. a computer that doesn't get hot and doesn't feel like a brick on my lap and does everything I need it to without fail. The 30 day standby time is amazing too... I had to shut my MBP down every time I'd put it down which was so annoying since it took 2 mins to boot up compared to 20 seconds on the Air.
    1. CynicalDriver's Avatar
      CynicalDriver -
      Quote Originally Posted by MaxRabbit View Post
      Alright, this was a very bad beginning because you didn't pay attention to the first thing that I said. Once again, I didn't say that the Macbook Air is better than a netbook. I said it was different. You're right, 3 IS greater than 2. But it's also different than 2.
      Netbooks are limited in their feature sets in comparison to full size laptops, just like laptops are limited compared to desktops. It may not be the "same" as every other netbook out there, but it still competes with them.

      The reason it competes is because someone would buy one for all the same reasons:

      Size
      Portability
      Reasonable performance (not great)
      Ease of use while on the go
      A corporation with a Mac network would also consider buying these instead of a normal netbook because it provides all those qualities and acts better with a Mac-net.

      Quote Originally Posted by MaxRabbit View Post
      Once again, you're failing to support your argument. It competes with a netbook, why? Who says? It looks like a netbook? How so? It acts like a netbook? What does a netbook act like?

      Support your argument with more than just "it is this because I think it is this" and you'll have my attention.
      See above

      Quote Originally Posted by MaxRabbit View Post
      Honestly, I'm not even sure why you included this in here. If anything, I feel like you just supported my point that a netbook is intended to support these many peripherals with it's 3 USB ports, which a Macbook Air does not support.
      I included that because you stated that you don't use an optical drive, and that everything is available for download anyway. While this may be slightly true, I'd rather not waste precious HD space on iTunes movies, and last I checked; most car audio systems do still have CD players, and while some do have USB and Aux ports, not all do.

      I was pointing out that there IS still a place for optical media.

      Quote Originally Posted by MaxRabbit View Post
      How did you jump to the conclusion that I am an Apple fanboy? I actually do not have a single Apple product (I sold my iPhone for a Samsung Captivate Android phone). You still seem unable to recognize that just because I think the Air is different than a netbook does not mean that I think it's better than a netbook. To me, the Air is useless. But a netbook is very useful, I have a couple!
      [/QUOTE]


      Usually only a fanboy would come at this argument the way in which you have. Saying it's different because it costs more, and has less, is about the single most OPINIONATED thing I can imagine anyone saying.

      By your standards:
      •Macs don't compete with PCs
      •MacBooks don't compete with Laptops
      •iPhones don't compete with smartphones
      •iPods don't compete with MP3 players
      •OSX doesn't compete with Windows

      Apple ALWAYS does things different, and they cost more, though the software is usually cheaper. So, they must be in a class by themselves just because they're "different."

      If you don't own any Apple products... You know what I'm going to ask.

      Quote Originally Posted by MaxRabbit View Post
      Your view does have support. Up until now, it did not, but yes, I am actually beginning to see your point now (although I sadly have no idea where you got that definition; sources are good. From here?).

      So you're saying that the Macbook Air to the netbook is like the Tesla Roadster to a traditional sports car? Complete difference in build (electric versus gasoline), but still the same form factor and classification? I can see that now.
      1) Yes, that is where I got the definition from. It had the least to do with actual hardware nit-picking, and the most to do with actual reasons to buy a small "ultra-portable" computer.

      2) That's not exactly what I'm saying, but close. They may be different, but the base pinnings are all the same, which I got into earlier in this post.

      A Tesla Roadster is still a sports car, it may be electric, and cost more; but it's a car, and it goes really quick. It can't be called a super-car because it'll get trounced by a Lamborgini Murcielago, Mercedes SLR, or Pagani Zonda pretty handily.
    1. athleticswimmer's Avatar
      athleticswimmer -
      Quote Originally Posted by Poseidon79 View Post
      The 11" MBA is just as fast.. if not faster for 90% of everyday tasks like web browsing, email, MS Office, iTunes, watching HD Video... etc. For the vast MINORITY of people that need lots of horse power for video/audio editing and encoding this is not the set up for you. For me it's a dream come true.. a computer that doesn't get hot and doesn't feel like a brick on my lap and does everything I need it to without fail. The 30 day standby time is amazing too... I had to shut my MBP down every time I'd put it down which was so annoying since it took 2 mins to boot up compared to 20 seconds on the Air.
      that just might be it....ive never used a MBA but to me the specs and price just dont match up because, like you said, some people need alot of "horse power" for video/audio editing. and the Air boots up in 20 sec....gotta see it to believe it?
    1. MaxRabbit's Avatar
      MaxRabbit -
      Quote Originally Posted by CynicalDriver View Post
      By your standards:
      •Macs don't compete with PCs
      •MacBooks don't compete with Laptops
      •iPhones don't compete with smartphones
      •iPods don't compete with MP3 players
      •OSX doesn't compete with Windows
      I still fail to see how that's the argument I'm making. I have no experience with Macs, but on the iPhone argument: I agree that they do compete with today's smartphones. They have a purpose of making a call, but include the extra features of web browsing, email, mms, and the like. The hardware is nearly identical: camera, one headphone jack, touch display, etc.

      However, change the hardware of that smartphone to include a tactile keyboard. What does it become? A messaging phone. The iPhone is not a messaging phone. See how changing the hardware can change the category?

      My argument is more like:
      An iPod Nano does not compete with a [ame=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ZEN_Vision:M]Creative ZEN Vision M[/ame], because they are two different classes: one, an MP3 player with small storage and a small screen, the other, a PMP (portable media player) with a slightly larger screen, support for video out, and much larger storage.

      That's the argument that I am making that a Macbook Air is not in the netbook class; it has different intended features and different hardware.