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Hands-on review: The 2018 MacBook Air

27 May 2019
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The MacBook Air is Apple's midrange laptop option that has been a consumer favourite for many years now. Whether it’s a personal laptop, a laptop for school, or a business laptop, the MacBook Air always had the features to support what users’ needs at a reasonable price. 

In October 2018, the MacBook Air received an update. As an avid MacBook Air user, I was excited to see what they would change. 

Design: 

The 2018 MacBook Air looks completely different from its predecessor. They managed to capture the essence of what made the Air special, and then they took all of that and made it more compact. The new MacBook Air is thin and portable.  

Apple kept the Iconic wedge-shaped design and made it lighter. The laptop measures 15.6mm at its thickest points and weighs only 2.75 pounds. 

The other significant change in the design would be the fact that the old ports are gone! As with the MacBook Pro, Apple went with the USB-C only ports on the side. 

There are two USB-C type ports on the left side of the MacBook Air. This change comes with positives and negatives. It was good to see that Apple went with the USB-C port for charging rather than the old MegaSafe port. This just makes for a better overall experience. 

I also like the fact that these two ports can be used for anything. On the other hand, the two ports are close together so if one of them is being used for charging, the other one is a little too close for comfort. This problem can be avoided by attaching a dock.

As much as I miss the USB ports and the Thunderbolt ports on the old laptop, I understand that docks are the future and that those sacrifices needed to be made in order for the sleek design to be possible.

The MacBook Air is also now available in Gold, Silver, and Space Gray. 

The keyboard: 

The MacBook Air got a keyboard update. It now uses the same butterfly mechanism that is in the MacBook Pro. The new mechanism provides more key stability than the traditional scissor mechanism. This basically means that the typing is smoother and considerably quieter. 

The keyboard is also illuminated with low-power LEDs. They make the keys easy to read even in low-light conditions, whether you’re travelling on an aeroplane or working late in bed where the light switch is far away. 

I have had no issues with this keyboard on the MacBook Pro, however, on my MacBook Air I have had some keys lag a little. I first thought it was a problem limited to that unit, but I noticed that some of my friends also faced the same issue. It is fair to mention that Apple was happy to replace the models when we contacted them. 

The trackpad:

The trackpad is another area where the MacBook Air got a significant update. It now has the Force Touch Trackpad. The Trackpad doesn’t really “click”! It just has a very smart system that vibrated in a way that makes you feel it does. It is very precise and it makes you feel in control. I also like that you can click anywhere and it will respond. 

With the two old buttons gone, the trackpad now has enough room for Multi-Touch gestures. 

Retina Display: 

This addition is my personal favourite. I spend hours staring at the screen of my MacBook and having Retina display was a life changer.  The screen resolution is 2560-by-1600. This allowed for a whole new level of detail. Everything from text to images is very sharp and clear. The screen also has 48% more colour than the previous generation of MacBook Air. 

The screen is pushed right to the edge. This is perfect as you still get a 13-inch Retina display without the extra weight or bulkiness. 

Touch ID:

At first glance, I was not excited about this feature. I had a short 4 digit pin set up as my password and I had no problem typing them in. 

Once I had Touch ID set up and I realised how easy and convenient it is, I realised that this gives me the opportunity to protect my device better with a stronger password without having to worry about typing it all 70 times a day. The Touch ID can also be used to verify purchases at the App store as well as unlocking a password protected note.

Performance:

With the new compact design, I was worried it would take away from the performance or battery life, but it doesn’t. The MacBook Air features the eighth-generation of the i5 Intel Core processor. The i5 is known to be the standard for work or personal laptops. The Laptop also features an Intel UHD Graphics 617, and faster 2133MHz system memory up to 16GB. 

The laptop performs well for daily activities like checking email, writing documents, making presentations, streaming, light editing and gaming. However, when I tried to do some heavy video rendering the MacBook Air was a bit slow and some lagging occurred. 

Conclusion: 

The MacBook Air is a solid mid-range laptop that does exactly what you expect from it. It is a great device for the average consumer that just wants to stream, check emails, browse the internet and do some light gaming and design. The addition of the Retina Display, as well as the new compact design, make for a great device for everyday use.