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Buying Guide: 2012 Macs

By Roman Loyola, Macworld
December 11, 2012 12:05 PM ET

Macworld - Its the holiday shopping season, and if youre reading this article, youre thinking about buying a new Mac and in need of a little guidance. Fortunately, weve tested (almost) every standard-configuration Mac model currently in Apples lineup. Were quite familiar with Apples Macs, and were happy to help you choose the right Mac for you.

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This buying guide provides an overview of all the Mac models available, and what each model is best suited for. To get more details, you can read the full review for each Mac by clicking the Read our complete review links.

Keep in mind the purchase deadlines if you want your Mac to arrive in time for Christmas.

MacBook Air

What is it? The MacBook Air is Apples ultrathin, ultralight laptop. It comes in two sizes: 11 inches (2.4 pounds) and 13 inches (3.0 pounds).

Whos it for? The MacBook Air is ideal for anyone who is always on the go, doesnt want to be bogged down by a regular-size laptop, and also needs a computer thats more versatile than an iPad.

What are the specifications? The two 11-inch MacBook Airs have the same 1.7GHz dual-core Core i5 processor. The main difference is storage: The $999 model has 64GB, while the $1099 model has 128GB.

The two 13-inch MacBook Airs both use a 1.8GHz dual-core Core i5 processor. Again, the main difference between the two is storage, as the $1199 model has 128GB, while the $1499 model has 256GB.

All MacBook Air models come standard with 4GB of RAM and integrated Intel HD Graphics 4000 technology. Apple claims 5 hours of battery life for the 11-inch models, and 7 hours for the 13-inch models.

How do I connect stuff? The MacBook Air has built-in Wi-Fi for connecting to a network. It also provides built-in Bluetooth for connecting a mouse or other peripheral. If you want to connect to an ethernet network, you need a USB Ethernet Adapter.

Thunderbolt is the MacBook Airs high-speed connector. The laptop also has a pair of USB 3.0 ports, which will work with devices that use USB 2.0. If you have a FireWire 800 drive, you need to buy a Thunderbolt-to-FireWire Adapter.

How fast is it? The MacBook Air is quite capable of handling everyday tasks, such as emailing, Web browsing, using office applications, and more. You can even use it for editing short videos, and for working with JPEGs from your iPhone or point-and-shoot camera.

The flash storage in the MacBook Air really helps the performance. For example, the MacBook Air actually outperforms several of the standard configurations of the non-Retina MacBook Pro, which uses a hard drive (solid-state drives for the MacBook Pro are available for an additional cost).

Macworlds buying advice: The MacBook Air is a great laptop for someone who does general-purpose work and moves around a lot, such as students or the self-employed. If youre planning to buy an 11-inch model, go for the one with 128GB of storagesince you cant upgrade the storage after purchase, you should buy the model with the most storage that you can afford.

Originally published on www.macworld.com. Click here to read the original story.

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