Apple's rated 6-hour battery life on the 2010 MacBook Airs can only be achieved without Flash, according to a couple of new tests. Ars Technica
found that installing Flash cut battery life to 4 hours on an 11-inch Air, while Anandtech's
tests showed battery life cut in half on the 13-inch model. Apple claims that they do not install Flash on new MacBook Airs because they think "the best way for users to always have the most up to date and secure version" is to download it from Adobe.
In his review
of the 11-inch MacBook Air, Chris Foresman of Ars Technica was able to get only four hours of battery life doing normal web surfing. After he removed Flash, Foresman got six hours and two minutes out of the Air, browsing to the same sites. He concluded that the Flash ads on most of those sites was draining the 4500mAh six-battery array, observing that the CPU was "running far more than seemed necessary" when sites had Flash content.
Anand Shimpi and Vivek Gowri at Anandtech did some different tests
, but found similar results using Flash. Doing light web browsing, document creation and music playback on the 13-inch MacBook Air, they were able to get over eleven hours out of its larger 6500mAh battery pack. The 11-inch model got 7 hour battery life in this "glorified typewriter" test. However, when browsing pages with one to four Flash ads, the 13-inch Air's battery life was cut by more than 50% in comparison to browsing sites with no Flash and iTunes playing music.
Apple has made no secret of its disdain for Flash. Steve Jobs, in a closed session, reportedly referred to Flash as "buggy,"
and called Adobe "lazy." In an open letter
, Jobs claimed that the problems with battery life were due to the fact that Flash must be decoded in software, rather than in hardware like Apple's preferred H.264 standard. So an Apple spokesman may have been disingenuous when he told Engadget
the company is "happy to continue to support Flash on the Mac." You can have it, he seems to be saying, but don't expect your Mac to run well or have much battery life.