On a day that I tried working without the Dell monitor plugged in and without leaving Parallels open in the background when it wasn't in use, the Air managed to last for a full eight-hour day and then some. There was more than enough juice left over to sleep the machine for a couple of hours, and resume browsing when I returned home.
On lazy weekend days that included some writing, Web browsing and email, battery life encroached on the double-digit mark, which is exactly what you want in a machine balancing performance and portability.
That's impressive. Without any special energy-saving techniques — literally, take it out of the bag, open the lid and use it full blast — this computer can last a full workday for most users. It can last even longer if care is taken and energy-saving measures are applied, such as dimming the display or putting the machine to sleep by shutting the lid while not in use.
I'm a huge fan of the 13-in. Retina MacBook Pro; I even highlighted it as a standout notebook for generous gift giver. But if you don't need the ports or the Retina display, this Air is fantastic. It offers the best balance of mobility and power, with battery life that can exceed 10 hours with a little active power management. It feels far faster than the specs would indicate. And the battery life has outlasted any other Apple notebook I've ever used and reviewed; it's second only to the iPad.
If you're in the market for a great slim laptop, there's no real reason to purchase anything but a MacBook Air.
The MacBook Air at work only last five or six hours on battery when in heavy use. For lighter weekend surfing and email, it lasted longer than 10 hours. (Image: Michael deAgonia)
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