Review of the New MacBook Air
December 9, 2018 by Jack Anderson
On October 30, 2018, Apple announced new products, including a completely new MacBook Air with a brand new design. We have finally received our model and are writing this review on this new MacBook Air.
Let's break it down to categories:
The new MacBook Air is drastically smaller from the previous model, even though it retains the same screen size. The bezel of the laptop is much thinner than before, even though we are still far away from a completely bezel-free laptop, which is obviously something that we will see in the future. Apprently, 2018 is not the year of bezel-free laptops for Apple, so be it.
While the computer is much more compact and also lighter, it does not feel lighter at all. I was even surprised to see that it is a quarter pound lighter. The reason for that is that it is much more compact.
Still, the laptop is definitely super-light, even more compared to so many bulky laptops from other brands. This is really a perfect size, although we wouldn't say no to a 15-inch MacBook Air. Maybe one day.
TOUCH ID 8/10
This laptop embarks a dedicated Touch ID button, located where the on/off button used to be. Since we own an Apple Watch, we though we would not really see the benefit of this feature. Well, it just took us a few minutes before realizing that in some instances, simply taping this button instead of having to click and select your saved password is really practical. This is a seamless experience, even though we all know that it will ultimately be made redundant when Face ID will come to the Mac product line.
We used to work on an older MacBook Air and the resolution was horrendous. The screen quality was really, really bad for 2018. All is now resolved, with a super screen with a sharp retina resolution. This was by far the most needed update to the Air.
This is to us the first time that we use the new butterfly mechanism keyboard. We fell in love with it instantly. The writing experience is simply a delight. You feel like surfing on the keys. This has a couple of downsides, i.e. not always easily finding the special keys such as right, left, up, down, but overall, it is a super keyboard and clearly the best keyboard that Apple has released on a laptop computer.
While we knew that the speakers would have more volume than in the previous MacBook Air, we did not expect such a brilliant quality! Suddenly, we can truly experience stereo sound and in some areas, it really seems that some sound is coming up from elsewhere. The quality of those speakers is really, really good.
Apple got rid of the USB-A ports and we couldn't be happier. Once again, they lead the technology revolution by getting rid of the unnecessary. What we did was to buy a couple of USB-A to USB-C adapters, which let us easily connect our external hard disk drives. We have a USB-A gamepad that we have yet to test with the adapter, but up until now, everything is working fine. We also purchased a versatile USB-A/USB-C storage key, in case one day we have to transfer files from a USB-A laptop.
Being able to charge the laptop from any port is really fun, although totally useless. Meanwhile, we had to let go of the terrific magnet charger port. You will be missed and we know that some laptops will die because of it. But that's a tradeoff that had to be done.
Finally, the fact that there are only two USB-C ports seems like the perfect choice. We could even live with one, but two is great to be able to transfer data from one external drive to another, as an example.
Oh, and the audio jack port is still there, probably not for long...
Now, onto the good stuff! When reading the reviews of the new MacBook Air, virtually all reviewers complained about the performance of this laptop. Too expensive and too slow. This is the main reason why it took us a few weeks before purchasing it. Should we buy a MacBook Pro instead?
We ended up buying the MacBook Air with 8 GB of RAM, even though we toyed with getting the 16 GB of RAM model.
Well, let us be very blunt. We love this laptop! What we do on a daily basis is Web-development and design. Dreamweaver and Photoshop are the applications we use the most. And for those? It works per-fec-tly. Opening application is extremely fast and the performance while surfing the Web is much faster than on our older MacBook Air from early 2015 and 4 GB of RAM.
We do not play games or do video editing - at least not a lot. Therefore, this machine is simply perfect for us and going to a MacBook Pro would serve no purpose to us.
Still, apparently, this laptop is not blazing fast as the new iPad Pro. Well, if that's the case, we cannot see it. Because all of our operations are fast.
Overall, it all comes down to what you are doing with your computer. Video-editing and heavy calculations should obviously be done on MacBook Pro laptops.
Also, transferring files was blazing fast compared to before!
Our previous MacBook Air had 128 GB of storage and that was clearly not enough. We couldn't backup our iOS devices and could barely have a few files. Here, the base configuration of the MacBook Air is also at 128 GB. Hence why we decided to go for the 256 GB model and we would strongly encourage each of you to do the same. We strongly think that going forward, Apple should increase the base configuration to 256 GB. Overall, this is the only big downside that we see with this laptop.
For the first time, we are able to experience a trackpad with Force Touch. The result is simply beautiful. We completely forgot that we could have two levels of clicks, which makes for a wonderful experience, even though this feature is not often used.
But the trackpad on its own is a very good metaphor on Apple's way of crafting their products. We use PC's at work and boy, do those computer suck big time! The trackpads are usually so bad, cranky and small that we simply cannot work without a mouse.
Which leads us to the price. Most people - or reviewers - are completely short-sided and do not understand that comparing laptops based on RAM and CPU is totally irrelevant. It's about the overall experience. And in this case, this is a seamless experience between software and hardware. We don't give a damn and are not interested about the number of Watts in our CPU. We don't even care about the version of the CPU. Kaby Lake or whatever flavour. What we care is clicking on Safari and seeing it opening instantly. The rest is irrelevant.
So, sure, the new MacBook Air is not cheap when compared to other laptops. But there's a big difference in buying a MacBook or a laptop made out of plastic. Why does no one talks about the fact that most laptops are ugly as hell and made out of plastic or average material? Apple's unibody aluminum design is wonderful and at the end, our laptop will feel as great as today three years from now, where most other laptops will already have a noisy and dusty fan. We remember the last time we purchased a PC laptop. It was an HP one and just after a few months, the fan was spinning all the time and the overall laptop ended up in the trash, where it belonged.
So, the MacBook Air can be pricy, but you need to look for discounts as well. We purchased ours with a $300 discount, just by waiting a few days and getting a great deal.
Still, we hope that one day, we'll be able to buy a new MacBook Air with 256 GB of storage for $999. That would seem like a perfect pricepoint.
Overall, we give this laptop 9 out of 10. An outstanding and iconic laptop that performs magically well.