Saturday, June 29, 2013

Nokia launches Asha 501, cute dual-SIM touchscreen phone for P4,490

Nokia just launched their first smartphone built on the new Asha 2013 platform, the Asha 501, which is now available in stores for Php4,490.
First thing you’ll notice about the Asha 501 is how cute, colorful, and well-designed it is, which is something you can always expect from Nokia. The pictures here don’t do the Asha 501’s beauty justice. You got to see and feel them to appreciate.
It has a 3.5-inch capacitive touchscreen limited to just 256k colors on a 240 x 320 resolution. Something you will definitely take note of when you turn on the phone but it’s also one of the reason that this phone can last 26 days on standby (48 days for the single-SIM version which is not available here).
The colorful and exchangeable shells are made of unibody polycarbonate while the front is protected by Gorilla Glass to give that durable feel for an affordable phone.
The Asha 501 runs on the Asha Platform 2013 which is still S40 but with a lot of features and improvements that makes it feel like you’re really using a smartphone. Menus and notifications are handled by swipes that are designed intuitively. There’s even a pull-down bar to access some quick settings. It also has Nokia’s latest and exclusive Xpress Browser that allows you to save on data and at the same time speed up browsing (no 3G here) by compressing web pages by up to 90%. The new browser also supports multiple page browsing as well. There’s also the Fastlane homescreen which shows you your recent activity so it somehow acts as the Recent App page found in other smartphones for semi-multitasking.
Aside from having dual-SIM support, the Asha 501 also has a 3.2 megapixel camera (no flash and front cam), WiFi, FM Radio, and a microSD slot. Battery is rated at 1200 mAh but there are some really power saving features here like viewing the clock and notifications without turning on the screen, unless you need some brightness of course.
It has some useful apps and games pre-installed, as well as the 40 free EA games available through the Nokia Gift app like Sims 3, Need for Speed: Undercover, and Plants vs. Zombies.
The Nokia Asha 501 is already available for Php4,490 in bright red, yellow, and classic black. It comes with a red headset regardless of the color you purchase but you can also buy extra shells for switching colors. White, cyan, and bright green colors will arrive in the comings weeks.
Nokia Asha 501 Specs:
3-inch QVGA TFT capacitive display with Gorilla Glass
Nokia Asha Software Platform 1.0
64MB RAM, 128MB internal storage, microSD up to 32GB (4GB included)
3.15-megapixel rear camera (no flash)
No front camera
Dual-SIM (2G only)
WiFi, Bluetooth
FM Radio
Nokia Xpress Browser
99.2 x 58 x 12.1 mm
98.2 g
Li-Ion 1200 mAh battery (26 days standby)
Colors: Bright red, Yellow, Black, Bright Green, Cyan, White
SRP: Php4,490

New Features & Changes In The Windows 8.1 Lock Screen

Even those who didn’t quite fancy Windows 8 when it came out did like its elegant lock screen. The lock screen presents a static background of your choosing, the date and time and notifications for certain apps. It basically replaces the simple logon screen found in previous iterations of Windows such as Windows 7 or Vista. As you may know that Microsoft released a public Preview build of Windows 8.1. Along with many other areas of the operating system, the lock screen has also been spruced up with new options like slideshow, additional app notifications and quick access to the camera. After the break, we’ll be discussing all these features in detail.
The new lock screen options can be accessed and configured from the much improved PC Settings app. In Windows 8, all lock screen-related options were available in the Personalize section. In Windows 8.1, Microsoft has moved them under PC & Devices. Once you’re there, you will find that there isn’t much of a change in terms of design and basic options. You can select a lock screen background of your choice as you could before.
Lockscreen - PC Settings

Slide Show

What’s not to be missed here, though, is the new Slide Show option that, when activated, allows Windows to shuffle through a folder of background images on the lock screen. Not something to get too excited about, as the slide show effects aren’t all that impressive. You can select the image folders from where to play slide show. Apart from local directories, you can specify your SkyDrive folder(s) as well. Once a folder is added, simply tap it again and hit Remove to delete it from the list.
Lockscreen - PC Settings 2
Additionally, you can toggle the ‘Let Windows choose picture for my slide show’ option, as well some as specify the time after which the screen should automatically turn off while the slide show is playing.
You can also choose to have the lock screen play a slide show only when your Windows 8 or RT laptop or tablet is charging, so as to save power.

Lock Screen Apps

While the lock screen apps options was also available in Windows 8, there are now a few additional apps to choose from. There is now an Alarms app that you can add to display alarm notifications on your lock screen. As with weather apps before, it allows you to choose whether to use native or third-party alarm apps from Windows Store.
Lockscreen - PC Settings 3

Camera Access

If you’ve always found it cumbersome to unlock your Windows 8 or RT tablet just to access the camera for a quick shot, Windows 8.1 now has a solution at your disposal. Akin to the iOS & Android, you can access the camera app directly from the Windows 8.1 lock screen by dragging it down instead of upwards. This feature can be easily turned ON and OFF from within PC Settings.
Windows-8.1-Lock-Screen-camera-shortcut Camera-unlock-button
Once you’re within the camera, you can choose to unlock the device by hitting the button in the bottom-left corner.

WiFi Control From The Logon Screen

Now, you could view the WiFi status from the lock screen, but you couldn’t toggle WiFi or change the AP you were connected to. Windows 8.1 adds the option to do so right beside the Ease of Access button in the bottom-left corner of the Logon screen that appears right after you swipe the lock screen upwards. A small addition, but a handy one.
With Windows 8.1, Microsoft has tried to refine every aspect of the OS and it didn’t leave behind its relatively less-discussed lock screen either. The changes it has made to this area may not be very significant, but they seem to be setting a definite direction for the lock screen. The camera shortcut in particular, along with the announced capability to accept Skype calls directly from the lock screen will bring its practicality on par with the lock screens of popular mobile platforms.

Lock Your Windows PC While Also Restricting Mouse Cursor Movement

The sad truth about our digital life is that our notebooks, smartphones and tablets now carry an awful lot of information about us and are perfectly capable of revealing it to others unless we’re careful. Emails, login details, credit card information, bank accounts – we now heavily rely our our PCs and gadgets to store all this information, but even the slightest carelessness in protecting this data from intruders can have disastrous consequences. If you often leave your computer unintended at public places or at work, others can end up looking at any information about you without even trying. Mouse Lock is a Windows application that aims to protect your PC by locking the mouse cursor at one place and not letting anyone move it in your absence. It locks the mouse with a custom password, dims down the rest of your screen, and more.
You might ask why would anyone want to use a separate locking solution when Windows already ships with one. Well the interesting bit about Mouse Lock is that unlike Windows’ built-in lock feature, it also locks the mouse cursor, making it completely immovable so that nobody can move it around to execute any other task. Though you can manually select which options you want to turn on or off.
The application itself is very tiny and doesn’t even need to be installed on your computer, as it runs directly from its portable EXE file. When launched, you’re presented with its plain interface that doesn’t carry any complicated set of options. It asks you to enter the password that will be required to unlock the mouse. It may sound weird, but Mouse Lock asks you to enter the password thrice. Once you’re ready, simply click Lock.
Mouse Lock
Mouse lock also provides a few additional settings and lets you configure them under the Advanced window. Here’s the list of options that you are allowed to toggle:
  • Disallow execution  of special software to prevent termination of Mouse Lock
  • Enable Mouse Trap
  • Dim background
  • Disallow moving of window
  • Allow monitoring of password attempts
In addition, it also provides an option to specify the opacity of the screen when Mouse Lock is activated.
Mouse Lock_Advanced
Once your mouse is locked, it become trapped within a password window placed at the center of the screen. You can’t move your mouse, nor are you able to move the window itself. Moreover, the dim area also becomes completely inaccessible. And the only way to unlock your PC is to type in the password and hit the Enter key or click Unlock.
Overall, it’s a really nice and innovative application that keeps others from doing any kind of activity on your computer. Mouse Lock is an open-source application that works on Windows XP, Vista, 7 and 8.

10 Mind Blowing Facts about Mushrooms

Facts about mushrooms
Many people love mushrooms and have been loving them since the times of Cave Man. In 1991, Iceman discovered mushrooms in the Italian Alps, and he was holding dried mushrooms and thought about them to be died 5000 years ago.
These mushrooms are full of healthy nutrients, whether they are baby buttons, oyster mushrooms or big portabellas. Given below are some mind blowing facts about mushrooms.
  • Mushrooms are neither plants nor animals but a type of fungus.
  • Mushrooms of 100g have more nutritional fibres than a whole-wheat slice bread or celery.
  • Mushrooms contain more proteins than the majority vegetables.
  • The growing of mushrooms overnight, Ancient Egyptians supposed that they grew magical.
  • Mushrooms have vitamin D that is necessary for healthy teeth and bones.
Facts about mushrooms
  • Mushrooms also supply B-vitamins, which include Thiamin, Ribofloxin, Niacin, Pantothenic Acid, Biotin, Folate. Thiamin is B-vitamin controls the energy which is released from carbohydrates, required for the usual functioning of the nervous system and brain. Another B-vitamin Ribofloxin balances the healthy red blood cells as well as promotes healthy skin and good vision. Niacin is also B-vitamin keeps the nervous system and digestion system of the body in proper shape by controlling the energy release from fat, carbohydrates and proteins. B-vitamin Pathothenic acid provides help in producing hormones. Biotin is vital for the metabolism of carbohydrates and proteins and last one B-vitamin is Folate, which is also called Folic acid that is necessary for the formation of white and red blood cells in bone marrow, also particularly essential for pregnant women.
  • Vitamins in vegetables are lost when these are cooked in boiling water while mushrooms retain their vitamins when these are cooked.
  • Mushrooms almost include no salt.
  • Mushrooms have more sources of potassium than other vegetables and fruits such as one brown mushroom in a medium have more potassium as compare to banana.
  • You should be careful of wild mushrooms because most of them are poisonous as well as life-threatening and buy mushrooms from famous grocer or grower instead of hunting them yourself.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Same wrapper, all-new candy center: The 2013 MacBook Air reviewed Apple's new ultraportable keeps the best stuff—like uber-battery life—under the covers.

Meet 2013's MacBook Air. Look familiar?
SCREEN1440×900 at 13.3" (128 PPI)
OSOS X 10.8.4 "Mountain Lion"
CPU1.3GHz Intel Core i5-4250U (Turbo up to 2.6GHz)
RAM8GB 1600MHz LPDDR3 (non-upgradeable)
GPUIntel HD Graphics 5000 (integrated)
HDD128GB solid-state drive
NETWORKING802.11a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.0
PORTS2x USB 3.0, Thunderbolt, card reader, headphones
SIZE12.8" × 8.94" × 0.68" (325 mm × 227 mm × 17 mm)
WEIGHT2.96 lbs (1.35 kg)
OTHER PERKSWebcam, backlit keyboard, dual integrated mics
While many PC makers introduce new or tweaked laptop designs just about every year, Apple tends to stick with the same design for a few years before changing everything all at once to reflect changes in internal hardware (the move from HDDs to SSDs, for example) and evolving design tastes (the move across the lineup to aluminum unibody chassis). 2013's MacBook Air retains the same basic design that the laptops have used since their late-2010 rebirth, when Apple refined the design of the existing 13-inch Air and introduced the 11-inch model.
Set the brand-new Airs on a table next to last year's models and it's unlikely anyone could tell the difference. Even changes to the speeds of the I/O ports, like what happened in 2011 with the addition of Thunderbolt and in 2012 with the addition of USB 3.0, aren't here to convince would-be upgrades. Everything that's new about the 2013 Air is hidden away inside the laptop. While no one thing will convince 2011 or 2012 Air users to upgrade, the year-to-year improvements are still impressive when taken as a whole.
For the bulk of this review, we'll be comparing the entry-level 13-inch 2013 MacBook Air to the equivalent 2012 MacBook Air. Both laptops' 4GB of RAM have been upgraded to 8GB of RAM—$100 is a bit steep for this sort of upgrade, but since the MacBook Air's RAM is soldered to the motherboard, this is an upgrade most of you will probably want to make. The 11-inch MacBook Air shares all of the same internal specs as the 13-inch model (with the exception of the battery), so most of the observations here will also apply to the smaller model.
This also serves as our first hands-on look at Intel's new Haswell CPUs, the new integrated Intel HD 5000 GPU, and 802.11ac (aka Gigabit Wi-Fi), so it will be a bit more benchmark-heavy than some of our other laptop reviews. We'll leave no stone unturned, because many of the upgraded technologies in this year's Air will be making it out to most other Ultrabooks as the year rolls on.

Body and build quality; ports and screen

The short version: There's nothing to see here. Everything is the same as last year except for the dual-mic pinholes on the laptop's left side. They are of dubious benefit to audio and dictation quality.
The long version: As we said, there's not much to distinguish the shell of the 2013 Air from previous models. This isn't necessarily a bad thing. It still has the same tapered aluminum chassis, the same 0.68-inch thickness (at the back, which is the thickest point), and the same 2.96 pounds (2.38 pounds for the 11-inch model) as last year. The sole physical change to last year's model is the two pinholes on the laptop's left-hand side to accommodate the dual microphones.
These two microphones are supposed to reduce noise compared to the single-mic setup in previous models, and to test this out we did the same thing we did when we reviewed the 2012 iMac: we set the new model and the old model side-by-side and talked to them. First, we recorded some audio in Audacity to check volume and noise levels, and then we used OS X 10.8's dictation feature to read this paragraph aloud and turn it into text (note that we didn't read any punctuation aloud as we dictated to the computers).
 The 2012 MacBook Air.
 The 2013 MacBook Air.
The results aren't quite as drastic as they were in the 2012 iMac. The audio recording on the 2013 model was, in general, a bit quieter than the 2012 model. You could hear less background noise, but my voice also wasn't as loud. Both had fairly significant issues with dictation using the built-in microphone, indenting twice when they shouldn't have and just generally misinterpreting words. The 2013 may have been slightly more accurate, but it still misses a whole bunch. You'll still want a good headset for talking to your Mac.
The port selection and layout are the same as last year: MagSafe 2, one USB 3.0 port, and a headphone jack on the left; one USB 3.0 port and one Thunderbolt port on the right (plus an SD card slot with the 13-inch model).
The screens are also the same as in previous models—the 11.6-inch model has a 1366×768 (136 PPI) display, while the 13.3-inch has a 1440×900 (128 PPI) display. Those hoping for Retina displays in this year's Airs will be disappointed by this refresh. While Haswell's battery life and graphics improvements would likely make a Retina screen possible in this form factor (competitors like Toshibaare already fitting high-res screens into similar products), Apple instead opted to keep the display (and chassis) the same to pump up battery life and graphics performance at the panel's native resolution.
You can still see all of those pixels when you get close enough.
The keyboard and trackpad are still the gold standard for thin-and-light notebooks.
The screen's quality is still pretty good. Colors are bright and horizontal viewing angles are acceptable, but vertical viewing angles aren't fantastic. The colors shift if you view the screen from above. The display isn't bad, and I certainly notice "Retina"-level pixel densities more on small screens like phones and tablets than I do in laptops. Still, it's worth noting that some of the PC makers are shipping Ultrabooks in this price bracket with higher resolution IPS panels with better viewing angles.
Another potential sticking point for some buyers may be the Air's continued lack of a touchscreen. However, Apple's desktop operating system is not exactly finger-friendly, so there wouldn't be much of a point unless you intend to buy the Air just to run Windows 8 on it. For its part, Apple seems content to let the large, accurate multitouch trackpad handle all of the gesture support in OS X. It works just as well as ever.
Even the laptop's heat and fan noise is mostly unchanged from the prior year's model. The MacBook Air's fan is normally near-silent, but it can ramp up to a dull whine when the laptop is under load. The laptop really only gets hot when it's under heavy load, and then it's mostly in the corner near the MagSafe 2 connector (around where the CPU is located on the logic board).

The CPU: Haswell breaks even

The short version: Performance remains mostly unchanged from last year's model despite lower apparent clock speeds. Some tasks will be slightly faster, some will be slightly slower—it's pretty much a wash.
The long version: The base CPU that comes with the new MacBook Air is a 1.3GHz Intel Core i5-4250U paired with an integrated Intel HD 5000 GPU. This is a full 27.8 percent drop in base clock speed from the 1.8GHz Core i5-3427U that came in last year's 13-inch base model, but the story is more complicated than that.
First, a Haswell CPU can get more work done than an Ivy Bridge CPU running at the same clock speed—AnandTech's thorough Haswell review says the gains can be up to 20 percent depending on the task. Second, Intel's Turbo Boost speeds on these CPUs are quite aggressive. Both of the i5-4250U's core can scale up to 2.3GHz simultaneously, while single-threaded tasks can go all the way up to 2.6GHz (a neat doubling of the base clock speed). This is still lower than the 2.8GHz max turbo in last year's model, but the two are close enough that Haswell's improved instructions-per-clock should outrun it slightly.
What all of this means is that most of the time the CPU in these new Airs isn't really an upgrade over last year's model. Our synthetic benchmarks back this up. In Geekbench and Cinebench, the Ivy Bridge CPU in last year's model slightly edges out the Haswell CPU in the new Air. We've also included some numbers from last year's Retina MacBook Pros to show how much CPU power going Pro continues to get you.
In the grand scheme, CPU performance in the Air hasn't moved forward much since 2011. There's a limit to what kind of performance you can get out of something this size, and both Intel and Apple have been prioritizing graphics performance over CPU performance in their ultraportable offerings for the past couple of years. Between the 2012 and 2013 Airs, the newer laptop falls behind just a bit in the Cinebench multi-core test and trades blows with the previous model in Geekbench, but the differences are small enough that they won't be noticeable to most.
To dig into real-world performance a little more, we fired up Final Cut Pro to export some video. First, we exported 15 seconds of 1080p video to see whether Turbo Boost would make up for the Haswell chip's low base clock speed for short bursts of activity. Then, we exported five and 10 minutes of 1080p video to see whether performance fell for sustained periods of activity. All tests were run three times and then averaged. The videos were exported to the same external USB 3.0 hard drive to make sure the 2013 model's faster SSD didn't influence the results. The laptops were both left alone for a few minutes between runs to cool down.
While exporting video, the 2013 Air surprisingly edges out the 2012 model despite its slight clock speed deficiency. The improvements aren't awe-inspiring, nor are they guaranteed to be there for all tasks—but they're a bit better than you might expect comparing a 1.3GHz CPU to last year's 1.8GHz model.
At any rate, the CPU in the new Air isn't a slam-dunk upgrade compared to the previous year's model. It shouldn't really be a significant step down either. If you need something faster, a 1.7GHz Core i7-4650U is available as a $150 upgrade option for all models.

The GPU: Less of a performance leap, more of a performance hop

The short version: The Intel HD 5000 GPU is better in most games than the HD 4000, but it's still nowhere near a modern discrete GPU. While Intel's GPUs tout compatibility with 4K displays as one of their selling points, the Air still doesn't fully support them.
The long version: Haswell's CPUs can ship with any one of several different integrated GPUs. The best of these (the Iris Pro 5200) roughly doubles the 3D performance of Ivy Bridge's Intel HD 4000 in most games, while the least of them (the HD 4200, 4400, and 4600) edge out the older GPU by a relatively inconsequential amount. Two others, the Iris 5100 and Intel HD 5000, fall somewhere in between those two extremes. The HD 5000 is what we're looking at here.
If you we're expecting a performance jump like the one between the 2011 and 2012 Airs, you're going to be disappointed. The HD 5000 GPU is consistently quicker than the outgoing HD 4000, but it's the kind of upgrade that will make playable games run a bit more smoothly. It will not make previously unplayable games into playable ones. The Cinebench benchmark doesn't even measure a huge difference between the two (and both are much slower than the midrange GeForce GT 650M in the 15-inch MacBook Pros).
We also tried out these laptops in Unigine's Heaven and Valley benchmarks to further evaluate OS X graphics performance. Here, the gap between the HD 4000 and the HD 5000 is a bit wider (the HD 3000 in the 2011 Air returned some anomalous scores on these tests, so it doesn't make an appearance on these charts).
Benchmark run in full-screen mode at 1440×900, 8x AA, Ultra quality.
Benchmark run in full-screen mode at 1440×900, 8x AA, Ultra quality.
To dig a little deeper into the differences in GPU performance, we needed more games, and that meant installing a 64-bit copy of Windows 8. In this test, the HD 5000 proves to be a consistently better performer than the HD 4000, and it handles older and lighter games at the panel's resolution of 1440×900 without breaking a sweat. As Bioshock Infinite shows, though, newer and more graphically intensive games won't be playable unless you turn the settings down. In many cases, we're looking at pretty small performance boosts.
For each of the following tests, we used most of the drivers that Apple provides for the 2012 and 2013 MacBook Airs, respectively. We did, however, install the latest graphics driver from Intel (version, which supports both the HD 4000 and HD 5000.
Scores from Bioshock Infinite Benchmarking Utility, run at 1440×900, highest graphics setting.
Run full-screen at 1440×900, 8x AA and 16x AF, vsync off, all other settings maxed.
Run full-screen at 1440×900. Advanced OpenGL on, vsync off, all other settings maxed.

Let's also talk about external display support. While Haswell's GPUs theoretically feature support for DisplayPort 1.2 and, thus, 4K displays, the Air's Thunderbolt controller is holding it back here. The 2013 Air uses the same DSL3510L Thunderbolt controller included in the 2012 model, so while the laptops should be able to connect to 
up to two daisy-chained external displays, they only support DisplayPort 1.1. DisplayPort 1.2 over Thunderbolt requires one of the new Thunderbolt 2 controllers, and those aren't due until later this year.Most of the time, performance is up. In Bioshock Infinite, the average frame rate is higher on the HD 5000. In Minecraft, the minimum and maximum frame rates are both higher, though the average remains even. And in Portal 2, performance is up across the board (if only by a few frames per second). The moral of the story is that the HD 5000 is typically faster than the HD 4000 (and I would expect this performance delta to increase as the drivers are optimized), but it doesn't put the 2013 MacBook Air in a whole new league of graphics performance.
More generally, Windows 8 runs well on the 2013 MacBook Air. Apple already has a specialized Boot Camp driver package for the new laptops ready to go. We didn't spend much time in the operating system except to install it, update it, and run our various tests on it. Aside from a slightly-too-sensitive touchpad, it did all of those things ably and without much of a fuss. The other major system components (the auto-brightness sensor and all of the function keys among them) gave us no particular trouble, and the MacBook Air continues to be a decent Windows laptop if you like Apple's hardware but don't care much for its software.

The SSD: Surpassing SATA Speeds

The short version: Apple's SSDs (and their interfaces) continue to push the performance envelope, resulting in a nice upgrade from last year's already fast storage.
The long version: The 2010 MacBook Airs were the first Macs to push solid-state storage as the default option. This was in part because speedy storage helped to compensate for the laptops' (relatively) weak processors and kept general system performance feeling snappy. In the 2012 model, the laptops moved away from SATA II-based SSDs toward the much faster SATA III standard, taking performance from a theoretical 3Gbps to 6Gbps.
The great thing about modern SATA drives is that they already push the limits of SATA III. So to accommodate the faster drives, Apple has moved to a faster connector: the drive 2013 MacBook Air uses two of the chipset's PCI Express 2.0 lanes to boost theoretical performance to 8Gbps. As in previous MacBooks, Apple uses its own proprietary drive connector here (preventing drive-swapping with other PCs), and it's also different from the one they used last year (preventing swapping with previous MacBook Airs). Those looking to perform after-market upgrades will need to wait on the likes of OWC to manufacture new drives with the new connector.
Between the new drives and the new storage interface, this year's Airs get a respectable storage speed bump over last year's. This plays out in the Quickbench synthetic tests, in our own file copy tests, and in boot time.
The Quickbench extended test shows us what idealized maximum file transfer speeds look like, and the 128GB drive in our 2013 Air beats all comers (including the drive in last year's Retina MacBook Pro, which uses the SATA III interface). The improvements over the SATA II SSD in the 2011 Air are particularly impressive—the write speeds are nearly doubled and the read speeds are nearly tripled.
Those with larger drives could potentially see higher write speeds than are possible with the 128GB disks (I'll once again point you to AnandTech for proof). When more NAND chips are available, SSD controllers can write data to more chips at once, thus boosting speeds (a process known as "interleaving"). Spreading data out over different physical sections of a drive would slow down read speeds in a mechanical hard drive, but solid-state storage doesn't really care where data is stored since there are no moving parts to worry about.
Measured from the time the power button is pressed to when the login screen is ready for input.
Copying 12.93GB of data spread across three large files from one folder on the drive to another.
Now for some real-world tests. The 2013 Air consistently boots just a little faster than the 2012 model, but you'd need to have a stopwatch out to notice the difference. Local file copies, on the other hand, are much improved—what took nearly a minute and a half to copy on the 2012 Air took around 50 seconds on the 2012 Air. Opening applications and switching between them on the Air was also nice and snappy, though it didn't feel drastically different from last year's model.
Note that your scores may differ from ours a bit. Apple sources SSDs for the 2012 MacBook Airs from several different manufacturers, and while performance doesn't differ wildly between drives there is some variance depending on the drive you happen to get. Our 2012 Air has a 128GB SSD from Toshiba, while the 2013 Air has a Samsung drive.
In any case, you'll be getting much faster storage in this year's model than in last year's. Depending on the Air that you buy, you may also be getting more of it: the entry-level, $999 11-inch Air has finally discarded its 64GB SSD in favor of a more sensible 128GB model. 256GB and 512GB drives are also available in the high-end 11-inch and 13-inch SKUs.

The wireless: Gigabit Wi-Fi, with caveats (for now)

We connected the 2013 Air to Apple's 802.11ac Airport Extreme Base Station.
The short version: 802.11ac is a great upgrade over 802.11n (especially the 2.4GHz varieties), with a couple of caveats. First, your router must also be 802.11ac-capable. Second, OS X currently has some issues that limit the speed of some common file transfer protocols.
The long version: Continuing the parade of incremental improvements, the 2013 MacBook Air is Apple’s first computer to ship with the new 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard, called “Gigabit Wi-Fi” by some for the 1.3Gbps theoretical transfer speeds enabled by the most common implementation of the spec. This isn’t the implementation that Apple is using here, though. A little more explanation is required.
Our own Jon Brodkin has written a number of pieces about how 802.11ac works, but to recap: to achieve the 1.3Gbps speeds called for by the specification, 802.11ac-equipped devices must use multiple transmit and receive antennas. Each pair of antennas supports two-way data transfers at theoretical speeds of up to 433Mbps, and many devices will use a total of six antennas to enable the full speed of 1.3Gbps (three antennas each to send and receive data from the router).
This multiple-in, multiple-out (MIMO) antenna system is already common in 802.11n devices like last year's MacBook Air, where in 5Ghz-capable devices each pair of antennas supports transfer speeds of 150Mbps. The 2012 MacBook Air sports four antennas for a maximum theoretical transfer speed of 300Mbps, and since it has the same number of antennas, the 2013 Air bumps this to 866Mbps.
OS X will fudge this number a bit to make the new MacBook Air look faster than it is. Connect to an 802.11ac-based router like the new Airport Extreme Base Station, and it will gladly report a link speed of 1Gbps despite that being a full 144Mbps higher than the actual connection speed. (Hey, 866Mbps rounds up, right?) Holding down the Option key and clicking the Wi-Fi icon in the menu bar reveals the actual link speed of 867Mbps (or 108.36 megabytes per second).
Network Utility will gladly tell you you're connected at 1Gbps...
...but the actual connection speed is 867Mbps (or, two times 433Mbps). Computers that currently ship with six antennas, like the iMac and the Retina MacBook Pros, will likely support the full 1.3Gbps link speed when they're upgraded to support 802.11ac.
there are some odd issues holding 802.11ac back in OS X. It's common for actual network transfer speeds (both wired and wireless) to fall short of their theoretical maximums, but OS X file transfers across 802.11ac weren't improving over 802.11n to the degree that we expected. Perform the same tests on both MacBooks while running Windows, and things become even more puzzling.
Information about my network: To test network speeds, I copy files down from my local file server, a Mac Mini running OS X 10.8.4 and connected to the router via a Gigabit Ethernet cable. In this case, I'm copying down exactly 12GB of data spread over three large files and calculating the average MBps based on how long the transfer takes. The router is about 10 feet away from the computer and there's a clear line of sight between the two, and the 5GHz band near my apartment is very clear—there's only one other 5GHz router that's in range. There's no channel overlap between the two. We're measuring a megabyte as 1024KB as Windows does, not 1000KB as OS X does.
Monday's article describes one possible explanation from AnandTech's Anand Shimpi, who ran into the same issues we did in his review—that it's an issue related to TCP window sizing. That's still possible, though the responses in the discussion thread for that article were enough to assure me that, really, it could be caused by just about anything. It seems to be related specifically to Apple's AFP and SMB implementations, but more than that we can't really say at this point. Copying the same files over the older, simpler, and less secure FTP protocol demonstrates that OS X is clearly capable of faster transfer speeds.
At this point it seems clear that neither the 2013 MacBook Air's hardware nor the Airport Extreme Base Station are at fault here, which means that this problem should be fixable pretty easily via a software update. We've alerted Apple to our findings and we'll update this review when we hear back; we'll also keep an eye out for OS X updates that might alleviate the problem. Apple has been known to fix issues like these silently (so as not to draw attention to the fact that there was a problem in the first place).
One other networking deficiency in the new MacBook Air is the continued lack of any sort of integrated cellular option. It is, of course, possible to tether the laptop to a tablet or smartphone. But given that Apple tends to adopt new Wi-Fi technologies early relative to other hardware makers, it's a bit disappointing to see them lagging behind here.
It's worth noting that while some early buyers have reported having sporadic issues with Wi-Fi connectivity, we've had no such trouble with our laptop in the week that we've been using it. These kinds of issues aren't entirely unheard of in new Macs, and the new 802.11ac adapter adds an extra variable to the equation, but it seems to us to be a software issue rather than a hardware one. The issues should be fixable via software update, but we'll keep an eye on the situation as it develops

Boosting battery

Too good to be true, or simply too good?
The short version: The stories are true! Under light-to-medium usage, the 2013 MacBook Air is in fact capable of 12 hours or more of battery life. For heavy usage, these sky-high numbers will drop a bit, but you'll still get more runtime than in the 2012 Air.
The long version: There are three big things that are going to increase the 2013 Air's battery life. The first two should get you more runtime no matter what you're doing: first, we've got some lower-power components. The Haswell CPU and chipset have a TDP of just 15W, where the Ivy Bridge CPU and its separate chipset had a combined TDP of about 20W. Apple has also switched to using LPDDR3 instead of last year's DDR3L, which uses a 1.2V operating voltage (down from 1.35V) and more low-power standby states than the other types of DDR3 without decreasing speed relative to last year's model. Second, the 7150 mAh battery in the new Air is just a bit larger than last year's 6700 mAh version.
The third big change, also Haswell-related, is the CPU's new "active idle" power state and the related technologies that allow it to switch between wake and sleep states more quickly. These gains are some of the biggest that the new Air promises, but remember that they're predicated on a certain type of workload. If your computer spends a lot of time idle in between short bouts of activity, you'll see big increases. If you're constantly pegging the CPU by editing photos or exporting movies, you'll still see gains, but they'll be less stratospheric.
To improve the consistency and thoroughness of our battery life testing, I've been working on some automated scripts that will perform a set of tasks repeatedly until the battery is entirely drained. This is the first review in which we'll actually be using these scripts, but eventually I hope to develop similar tools for us to use across all of our reviews.
I ran two tests on both the 2013 and 2012 MacBook Airs with the screen brightness set to 50 percent and the keyboard backlight disabled. The first opens five webpages in Safari at the rate of one every 20 seconds, closes the window, and then starts over again while an MP3 is looped. This replicates a light-to-medium workload in which browsing, opening and closing apps, and occasional media consumption are the main activities. This is the kind of workload that Haswell really shines in. The 2012 Air lasted for five hours and 52 minutes under this workload, while the 2013 Air boosted this to nine hours and 48 minutes. Perform the same test without the looped MP3, and the 2012 Air lasts for seven hours 51 minutes while the 2013 Air goes for an amazing 11 hours and 49 minutes.
To take Haswell's new idle states out of the equation, we ran a second test that pegs both CPU cores at 100 percent utilization until the battery dies, preventing them from ever dropping into any kind of standby. Under this brutal, absolute-worst-case-scenario test, the 2012 Air lasted for two hours and 30 minutes while the 2013 Air boosted this to three hours and 36 minutes. Eventually I'd like to develop a more realistic test for "heavy" users, but for now the takeaway is that you get a nice battery life increase from the 2013 Air no matter what you're using it for.

No longer ahead of the curve, but still one of our favorite laptops

The MacBook Air is no longer the trendsetter it once was. Many, many PCs in the last year or two have been remade in the 2010 model's image, adding their own innovations on top of low-voltage CPUs and solid-state storage. Almost three years later, there are still some areas where the Air shines—the build quality, the keyboard, and the trackpad to name three—even as its display and physical dimensions have fallen a bit behind.
After the huge performance upgrades in both the 2011 and 2012 MacBook Airs (the 2011 model jumped forward two CPU architectures at once, and the 2012 model increased GPU speed by as much 100 percent depending on the game), it's hard not to come away a little disappointed by the performance of the Haswell model. CPU performance stays about the same, and GPU performance budges forward by a measurable but unexciting amount. 802.11ac Wi-Fi delivers a more drastic performance increase, but only if the rest of your networking hardware is up to snuff (and even if it is, OS X is going to be a bottleneck until the OS is patched to better handle the faster standard).
That said, for particularly mobile users, all of this is forgivable in light of the battery life improvements that Haswell enables. For especially light users, meeting or beating Apple's ambitious 12 hour figure should be quite possible. Even the very heaviest of users can expect a couple of extra hours out of the new model relative to the old ones. The performance gains may be underwhelming, the lack of a Retina display may be disappointing, but all things considered, Apple has probably chosen to focus its attention on the thing that the largest number of people will actually notice and appreciate.
The Air still represents a good value for the money, given that similar PCs usually don't cost much less (and often cost more, as the Kirabook's $1600 starting price will attest). Owners of 2010 and 2011-model Airs who are looking to upgrade will see big boosts to GPU and storage performance, respectable boosts to CPU performance, and amazing boosts to battery life. If you bought an Air last year, though, don't upgrade unless battery life is the single most important thing to you in a notebook.

The good

  • Amazing battery life
  • Great build quality, keyboard, and trackpad
  • Good CPU and GPU performance for the size, if not too far ahead of last year's Airs
  • Speedy storage
  • More storage in the $999 11-inch model, lower price for the $1,099 13-inch model

The bad

  • No SD card slot in the 11-inch model
  • The screen is still decent, but it has been surpassed in resolution and quality by several other similarly priced Ultrabooks

The ugly

  • OS X issues prevent 802.11ac from living up to its potential. We suspect this issue is fixable in software and will update the review accordingly if it is