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New Macbook Air (2010) vs Old Macbook Air (2008)

Updated on January 30, 2011

Big Surprise

Apple Corporation has been full of surprises this week (October 17, 2010). Not only has Steve Jobs announced that there is no possibility of Apple creating a 7" diagonal touch-pad computer, Mac OSX Lion has been announced as well as a revamped and revisited MacBook Air.

This hub will concentrate on the MacBook Air (2010) and the difference between it and the MacBook Air of 2008. Also, I want to apologize in advance for tacking the dates on these two versions of the Air; the reason is that Apple is not making a distinction (name wise) between the two. I know of no better way of making that distinction myself than by using the year as an indicator.

Also, because the new Air comes in two form factors, an eleven (11") inch and a thirteen (13") inch diagonal screen I will touch on the eleven inch only briefly concentrating on the thirteen inch model almost exclusively.

They are different beyond the screen size. Please see the second table near the end of this hub for the differences.

Macbook Air (2010)
Macbook Air (2010) | Source

Differences in all the Right Places

First and foremost the new Macbook Air (2010) is even thinner and lighter than it's parent. It also has a slightly faster processor and the SATA hard-disk drive has been completely thrown over for a Solid State Drive (SSD) drive.

These aren't huge changes frankly because it was possible to get the Macbook Air (2008) with SSD drive, but it was a somewhat expensive option. The 2010 model does not even offer a SATA hard-drive. Instead you can order your Air with 128 GigaByte or 256 GigaByte SSD. Naturally this single improvement lightens the computer considerably. Also, because SSD  is so much faster than any physical hard-drive made, loading programs and even starting the computer, is considerably faster than a machine with a hard-drive.

In fact, with SSD programs loads are almost instantaneous.

Weight / The Holy Grail of Notebook Computing
The "old" Macbook Air (2008) weighed just three (3) pounds. The new Macbook Air (2010) weighs two point nine (2.9) pounds; that's two (2) ounces difference.

This may not sound like much, but when you are schlepping your work around with you from town-to-town or airport to hotel to airport, every ounce makes a difference.

For a full list of Macbook Air (2010) Specifications this link. Please note that the original specifications for the Macbook Air (2008 & 2009) are no longer available at the Apple site.

 
Old Macbook Air (2008)
New Macbook Air (2010)
Processor
Intel Core 2 Duo
Intel Core 2 Duo
Speed
1.6 & 1.8 GHz
1.85 & 2.13 GHz
Storage
80 GigaByte SATA or optional 64 GigaByte SSD*
128 GigaByte or 256 GigaByte SSD (no SATA)
Memory
2 GigaByte (no expansion)
2 or 4 GigaByte
Optical Drive
8 X Superdrive (optional)
8 X Superdrive (optional)
Battery Charger
37 WattHour (5 hours per charge)*
50 WattHour (7 hours per charge)*
Display/Resolution
13.3" diagonal 1280 X 800 native (1920 X 1200 MicroDVI^)
13.3" diagonal 1440 X 900 native (2560 X 1600 MicroDVI^)
---Display Adapter
NVIDIA GeForce 320M graphics
NVIDIA GeForce 320M graphics
Wireless
802.11n WiFi (a/b/g compatible)
802.11n WiFi (a/b/g compatible) / BlueTooth 2.1 EDR
Audio
Built in Mono Speaker / Headphone Jack
Stereo speakers, omnidirectional microphone / Headphone Jack
Camera
Built-in iSight
Built-in FaceTime camera
USB
1 X 2.0 USB Port
2 X 2.0 USB Port
Size
0.16-0.76" X 14.1" X 9.6"
0.11-0.68" X 12.8" X 8.94"
Weight
3.0 lbs or 1.36 kgs
2.9 lbs or 1.32 kgs
* depending on use
 
 
^ MicroDVI is an option
 
 

Differences between Eleven and Thirteen Inch Models

Differences
11"
13"
Weight
2.3 pounds
2.9 pounds
Processor Speed
1.4 & 1.6 GigaHertz
1.8 & 2.13 GigaHertz
Display
11.6 Inches
13.3 Inches
Storage (SSD)
64 GigaByte or 128 GigaByte
128 GigaByte or 256 GigaByte
Battery Life
35 WattHour (5 hour)
45 WattHour (7 hour)

Since the initial introduction of the Macbook Air in 2008 there have been minor, if unannounced, upgrades to the laptop. As with the table above all figures below are for the 13" model. These specifications are for the mid 2008 through late 2009 models.

 
Old Macbook Air (Mid 2008 ~ Late 2009)
New Macbook Air (2010)
Processor
Intel Core 2 Duo
Intel Core 2 Duo
Speed
1.6 & 1.86 GHz
1.85 & 2.13 GHz
Storage
120 GigaByte SATA or optional 128 GigaByte SSD*
128 GigaByte or 256 GigaByte SSD (no SATA)
Memory
2 GigaByte (no expansion)
2 or 4 GigaByte
Optical Drive
8 X Superdrive (optional)
8 X Superdrive (optional)
Battery Charger
37 WattHour (5 hours per charge)*
50 WattHour (7 hours per charge)*
Display/Resolution
13.3" diagonal 1280 X 800 native (1920 X 1200 MicroDVI^)
13.3" diagonal 1440 X 900 native (2560 X 1600 MicroDVI^)
---Display Adapter
NVIDIA GeForce 9400M graphics
NVIDIA GeForce 320M graphics
Wireless
802.11n WiFi (a/b/g compatible)
802.11n WiFi (a/b/g compatible) / BlueTooth 2.1 EDR
Audio
Built in Mono Speaker / Headphone Jack
Stereo speakers, omnidirectional microphone / Headphone Jack
Camera
Built-in iSight
Built-in FaceTime camera
USB
1 X 2.0 USB Port
2 X 2.0 USB Port
Size
0.16-0.76" X 12.8" X 8.94
0.11-0.68" X 12.8" X 8.94
Weight
3.0 lbs or 1.36 kgs
2.9 lbs or 1.32 kgs
* depending on use
 
 
^ MicroDVI is an option
 
 

Operating Environment

The original Macbook Air (2008) operated on MacOS X Snow Leopard; the new Macbook Air (2010) is listed as operating with the MacOS X Snow Leopard as well, but since OS X Lion has been announced I'm relatively certain this will ultimately be the OS for the new Macbook Air 2010.

see below

Preloaded Software

The Macbook Air 2010 will come with OS X (Snow Leopard) plus:

  • iLife
  • iPhoto
  • iMovie
  • GarageBand
  • iWeb
  • iDVD

When MacOS X Lion is finally available it will be offered via the App Store.

Upgrads or Pre-Loaded Software

Apple will also pre-load the following packages for an additional fee:

  • iWork
  • Aperture 3
  • Logic Express 9
  • Final Cut Express 4
  • Bento 3
  • Microsoft Office for Mac

Optional Hardware

As with any consumer products optional means "additional cost." The following hardware items can be ordered as options for the Macbook Air 2010:

  • 4 GigaByte Memory (2 GB over the standard 2 GB)
  • Superdrive (optical disc reader and burner)
  • Ethernet Adapter
  • DVI Adapter
  • VGA Adapter
  • MagSafe airline adapter

Where to Buy

At this time the 2010 Macbook Air can only be purchased direct from Apple Corporation at their web-site or at a "brick and mortar" store.

The original Macbook Air (2008) is now available at eBay, Amazon, and many other places as a used computer.

Startup

The short video below demonstrates the advantage of SDD (solid state drive) when starting the and running Mac OS X and applications on the new Macbook Air.

Coda

Though the author stands to make a small profit from clicks on this article and for writing the article to begin with, that is not really what drove him to write it.

When the original MacBook Air was released in 2008 I thought it was an important and timely contribution to those of us who travel with our computers at our sides or on our backs. That opinion has not changed.

In short, I wrote this article because I think this computer is important to business professionals in particular and, indirectly, to the computing public in general.

Why?

The technology that make this latest iteration of the Macbook Air possible finds it's way into eReaders, smartPhones and a plethora of other computing devices.

Disclaimer

The author was not compensated in any way, monetarily, with discounts, or freebies by any of the companies mentioned.

Though the author does make a small profit for the word count of this article none of that comes directly from the manufacturers mentioned. The author also stands to make a small profit from advertising attached to this article.

The author has no control over either the advertising or the contents of those ads.

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