MacBook Air SSD review

What does the MBA's $1,000 SSD give you? According to the Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg: not much.
Written by Robin Harris, Contributor

What does the MBA's $1,000 SSD give you? According to the Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg: not much. Exactly as I predicted 3 weeks ago.

Battery life Walt says:

The SSD MacBook gave me just five more minutes of battery life. Apple says this is because its hard-drive model already uses a very low-power drive.

I said:

Flash drives make exciting copy, but in today’s power-hungry notebooks they don’t make much of difference in battery life

You'd expect a 1.8", 4200 RPM drive to sip power and it does. But the performance should be terrible, right?

Performance Walt says:

The SSD version of the Apple booted up from a cold start, and rebooted with several programs running, about 40% faster. But the gain isn’t as impressive as it seems because even the hard-drive versions of the MacBook Air booted up in under a minute and rebooted in just a little over a minute.

I said:

The Air should boot faster with the flash drive, but an ultra-portable like this will mostly awake from sleep mode, where the difference will be minimal. Once up and running few users will be able to tell the difference.

What about work? Walt says:

I also tested launching Microsoft Word and Excel, and opening a couple of hefty PDF files . . . . The SSD versions were faster. But in most cases, the gains were just a few seconds or even fractions of a second.

I said:

Nor did [Apple] offer any specific performance claims for the flash [drive] . . . .

The Storage Bits take I've been following the flash follies closely for over a year. I would have been surprised if the SSD results had been different.

Kudos to Apple for not hyping the SSD. It is more durable than a disk - but not by much - and if you drop your MBA you're more likely to break the display than the hard drive anyway.

More kudos to Apple for an excellent job of engineering the MBA for maximum battery life and performance with hard drive technology. As Mossberg noted, the ultra-portable Toshiba Portege R500 had significant battery life gains with their SSD, since they'd used a more power-hungry 2.5" drive.

Comments welcome, of course. I'm thinking about getting an MBA - but not with the SSD.

Editorial standards