Dear Walt Mossberg,
Like you, I just love my MacBook Air. (I know, I know…officially you don’t have a bias towards Apple products. The fact that you’ve never seen an Apple product you didn’t give a glowing review to doesn’t change this “fact.” But, all is redeemed by your life-long commitment to Red Sox Nation.)
I used my Core i5, 256GB SSD-equipped 2011 MacBook Air to the max. And when I say max, I mean things like running both Parallels and VMware Fusion on it to support Office 2013 and Windows 8 as well as several flavors of Linux distributions to demo Zixi. All I ever wished for was a faster processor and a bigger SSD. Oh, and the keyboard from a 2009-era Lenovo ThinkPad. (Why, oh why?, can’t Apple come up with a keyboard as luscious as ThinkPads’?)
So, when Apple announced the 2013 MacBook Airs, I pounced. I am now happily burning electrons on a Core i7 with a 512GB SSD and 8GB of RAM. I ordered the machine on the Apple website on a Thursday; it arrived from China the following Wednesday. Once I figured out what Migration Assistant wanted from to me restore a Time Machine backup I keep on my NAS, all was well. (Sometimes, Apple products are so easy to use they are inflexible. Migration Assistant — a low-usage, one-time kind of utility — suffers from the inflexibility of simplicity.)
My 2013 MacBook Air is fast, fast, fast. 8GB means more memory for VMs; Windows 7 can boot and display a Outlook 2013 inbox in 26 seconds. (And I have three separate Office 365 Exchange Online accounts plus two IMAP accounts in one Outlook profile.) Mountain Lion boots from power off in about 23 seconds. Most impressive of all is that I constantly lose at my new MacBook Air game, “Lift the Cover Open So Fast That You Beat the Processor Resume Time.”
But battery life? Not an iota of improvement. The 2011 MacBook Air lasted about 2.5 hours under my (harsh) usage. My spankin’ new 2013 MacBook Air? About…2.5 hours.
Walt, you always mention your “tough” battery test, that you’ve “used for years.” Might I suggest if you really want to test gains in battery strength that you devise a test that is more stressful on the processor than decoding a simple MP3? I suspect Intel is gaming these tests — designing a processor that will do well on these “consumer oriented” tests. But they don’t test the machine in usage more like a real power user. If they did, they wouldn’t see any gain at all. In my personal experience, I haven’t seen much gain in battery life from the Pentium days to today, despite Intel’s claims.
I might be very hard on a battery — but I’m also harder to game on endurance tests. And processor tech that would improve my power usage would be orders of magnitude of additional improvement for consumers. You really ought to make your test much tougher.