As of the writing of this review, Power Nap — Mountain Lion’s new connected standby feature — isn’t yet available to reviewers, as Apple has not yet released a system update for compatible Macs that enables the feature. We will update this section once Power Nap is available, but in the meantime, a few words of background.
The idea behind Power Nap is very elegant. There are a lot of tasks that your Mac has to do to stay healthy, but unfortunately, they all require you to keep your Mac awake. For example, if you want to back your MacBook up using Time Machine, you need to remember not to close it at night; if you want to keep your apps updated, you need to make sure you’ve closed them all down first.
What Power Nap does is allow your Mac to do some of these system tasks even when your Mac is otherwise asleep. As long as you are on a trusted, previously-accessed WiFi network, your Mac will sync its data with iCloud, check email, download your latest photos from PhotoStream and more, guaranteeing that when you open your computer, you’re ready to go. And that’s just on battery power: if you have your computer plugged in, Power Nap will also update your apps and backup using Time Machine, all with your computer asleep.
There’s a rub, though. Power Nap requires a Mac that ships by default with solid state drive. Right now, that means a second-generation MacBook Air or a Retina MacBook Pro. The reasons for this are obvious and have everything to do with the reduced power requirements and noise/heat tolerances of an SSD drive compared to a spinning hard drive, but it still means most current Mac users won’t be able to take advantage of the feature.
We’ll have more on Power Nap when Apple releases the SMC updates enabling the feature.
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