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Mossberg: Apple's new MacBook Air offers iPad-like experience

Technology journalist Walt Mossberg has reviewed Apple's new MacBook Air notebooks, and has given both the 11-inch and 13-inch models high praise for offering the long battery life and instant-on capabilities found in the iPad.

Mossberg's review, published Thursday, praised the new line of MacBook Air notebooks as "gorgeous, very thin and light, but very sturdy aluminum computers." He also noted that battery life is "strong," the system wakes up from sleep almost instantly, and the systems —particularly the 11.6-inch configuration —are very iPad-like.

The columnist with The Wall Street Journal said that the new thin-and-light machines likely won't be able to serve as a primary computer for power users, but should be enough for light-duty users. However, he noted that even the base $999 model was powerful enough to run seven or eight programs at once, including Microsoft Office, iTunes and a Safari Web browser with 20 tabs open.

"The new Airs aren't meant to be the most robust machines," Mossberg wrote. "They use last-generation Intel processors and have only two gigabytes of memory in their base configuration, and their storage is well below typical hard-disk capacities."

He recommended that buyers of the 11-inch model spend $200 to double the internal storage to 128GB. People who do video editing would also be wise to double the RAM to 4GB for $100.

Mossberg also conducted "harsh battery tests," in which he found that the 11-inch model —with all power-saving features off, Wi-Fi on and screen brightness maximized —garnered 4 hours and 43 minutes of uptime. The 13-inch model in similar conditions lasted 6 hours and 13 minutes.

"This means that, in normal use, with power-saving features turned on, you'd be almost certain to meet, or possibly exceed, Apple's claimed battery life," he wrote.

The columnist did knock the machines for their limited internal storage, as well as the high price when compared to Windows PCs. But he praised Apple's ability to make the new MacBook Airs function like iPhones and iPads, "without sacrificing their ability to work like regular computers."

Indications are that the new MacBook Airs, particularly the $999 entry-level model, are off to a strong start. On Wednesday, Apple updated the shipping time for the low-end model to 1 to 3 business days, suggesting it has seen the greatest sales in the new lineup's first week.

For more, see AppleInsider's first look at the new 13-inch and 11-inch MacBook Air notebooks. Readers can also obtain a new MacBook Air at reduce pricing using the links in the chart below, or in AppleInsider's Mac Price Guide.