Earlier this week Apple launched a refreshed version of its Macbook Air lineup. And they did so quietly. I was only alerted to the news thanks to The Verge's twitter account. The new base model Air is now equipped with Intel's latest generation Core i5 Haswell processor running at 1.4 GHz, up from the previous Air's 1.3 GHz. What's more is that the price of every Air model has been dropped by $100.
This is a minor refresh of the processor (though a welcome one), so why is this a big deal? Well, the $100 price decrease now makes the 11" Air start at $899 while the $13" model starts at $999. What's quite possibly the best all around consumer laptop is now priced so competitively that it's hard to recommend anything else to the average person.
Weighing in at just 2.38 lbs and 2.96 lbs for the 11" and 13" models respectively, and just 0.68" at their thickest point, the Air is clearly in the ultrabook category. You'll be hard pressed to find another good ultrabook for under $1,000 that doesn't make significant compromises in one area or another. The base Air comes with an astonishing amount of class leading features. One such feature is a 128 GB SSD where competitors may leave an ancient 5400 RPM Hard drive. Another is an incredible 12hr battery life on the 13" model (9hr for the 11") which for once lives up to its promise in real world use. The Air has a beautiful, bright display with excellent viewing angles. The hardware itself is the most refined and gorgeously crafted machine by any laptop manufacturer. While Apple had to make a few compromises of its own with the Air, it does so in the right places, namely foregoing a retina display or even an HD display, and skipping the DVD drive.
Now, with the price starting at just $899, comparison shopping is going to put the Air as the front runner for just about everyone, unless you really hate Apple. I've got one of the previous models that I bought for my wife and it is fantastic. It was my opinion then, and even more so now, that the Macbook Air is the best laptop the average person can buy - and it just got more affordable.