One week with the new MacBook Air: Great looks, portability, and functionality
The last computer I bought was a 2018 MacBook Pro when I started writing for iMore. Although it wasn’t my first tech writing job, I wasn’t sure how much power I’d need, so I opted for the Pro. I was coming from a job at the Apple Store and used my employee discount to bring down the price. I haven’t bought a laptop since, but when the MacBook Air with M2 came out, admittedly, I was intrigued. A couple of things helped sway me in the direction of the “buy” button, and now after a week with the device, I can safely say I have no regrets.
Why I bought the MacBook Air with M2 chip
Although I’m a writer in the tech space, I don’t really need a top-of-the-line computer. My workflow probably isn’t much different from most folks who do office-type work. I use my laptop primarily for writing articles and putting them into our content management system. As I write, I also search the web and often have multiple tabs open, as I need to reference a number of resources for each article. I frequently check emails, my calendar, texts, and our work chat in Slack throughout the day, so I usually have numerous windows open while I work. I do some basic photo editing, I attend online meetings — you get it.
As a co-host of the iMore Show podcast, I use my computer and a RØDE microphone to record my portion of the show. I’m also a part-time teacher, and I use my computer to research, write, and organize my lessons. That’s pretty much the extent of my computer usage. I don’t render video or use Photoshop (or other processor-heavy creative tools).
The 2018 MacBook Pro has served me well, although I was starting to see the spinning beach ball more than I’d like. When I had many tabs open, which is common for my workflow, I’d often hear the fans gear up and the computer would freeze up immediately.
I’m probably the perfect target audience for a MacBook Air. I’m a “medium” user and I travel quite a bit, so portability is important to me. I’ve never bought one before because I was worried it wouldn’t be powerful enough to be my only computer. I don’t have a computer supplied to me, I must buy my own. So, I try to make careful purchasing decisions.
When Apple introduced the MacBook Air with M2 chip, I decided to buy one. Our editor-in-chief’s review of the powerful device cemented my decision. It certainly isn’t cheap, at $200 more than its predecessor but my educator’s discount helps a little bit. I chose the tasteful and soft champagne gold color, Starlight. While the ultra-deep blue, Midnight, certainly has an interesting mystique, it’s a bit too dark for my taste and it tends to show fingerprints.
My first impressions of the M2 MacBook Air
I noticed some things as soon as I fired up my M2 MacBook Air. The 13.6-inch Liquid Retina Display screen is noticeably brighter and larger than my 2018 MacBook Pro, quite pleasing to the eye. The larger dedicated Touch ID button is an easy target, especially coming from the Touch Bar on my MacBook Pro. The trackpad is slightly clickier, something I’d never have noticed if I weren’t going directly from an older computer to a newer one. Similarly, the keyboard has nice clickiness and travel to it; typing feels seamless. The backend of iMore, or the content management system, seems to work better on the MacBook Air. It doesn’t get hung up as often.
Unlike most users, I never had strong feelings about the Touch Bar. It was there, I used it, but not very often and certainly not up to its potential. I don’t miss it on the MacBook Air at all; having the function keys back is just fine with me.
I did have strong feelings about the MagSafe charger and cable and was quite disappointed when Apple stopped putting them in laptops back in 2016. Not that I go around tripping on MacBook charging cables, but on the off chance it happens, I certainly don’t want my computer dragged onto the floor. I’m glad to see it back on the 2022 model; the braided cable that matches the MacBook Air is a nice touch.
The Air is lighter than the MacBook Pro, but it still has a respectable heft to it and doesn’t feel cheap at all. Yet at 0.44-by-11.97-by-8.46 inches and 2.7 pounds, it’s easy to pop into my favorite laptop bag and go. While I didn’t mind the old wedge shape, this one is actually 20% less by volume without it.
Battery life is noticeably better than my older MacBook Pro, which couldn’t even get me through a workday. The 1080p FaceTime HD camera with the better signal processor and computational video is a visible improvement over the “potato camera” (720p) in my MacBook Pro. It definitely looks a bit filtered, but it looks a lot better. The four-speaker sound system sounds great to my ear as well.
Some things that aren’t so great about the M2 MacBook Air
There hasn’t been much so far that I haven’t liked, but there are a couple of things you lose going from a MacBook Pro to a MacBook Air. The big one is fans. If I overwork my MacBook Air, with no fans to cool it down, it will go right to throttling. But the same workload that caused my MacBook Pro to power on the fans (and then immediately throttle anyway) gives my MacBook Air no problems. So for me and my workflow, that hasn’t been an issue so far.
The one loss I do feel is USB-C ports. I’m used to four ports plus a headphone jack; now there are just two Thunderbolt / USB 4 ports and they’re both on the left side. I don’t use an external display or many accessories at a time anyway, so it’s not a huge problem. However, I do have to rearrange my desk a little bit to get everything over to the left side. Since the MagSafe charger is back, that does at least free up one of the USB-C ports since it’s not needed for charging. And I have a pretty amazing USB-C hub in case I need to plug in more items, anyway.
Overall, the M2 MacBook Air is a great fit for me and likely for you too
After a week with the M2 MacBook Air, I’m quite happy with my purchase. It feels like the “just-right” computer for me and my workflow. It sits right on the intersection of power and portability. I think it will end up being the best choice for a wide variety of people, especially if you need a lightweight laptop and you don’t run a lot of intensive programs or software. The improved FaceTime camera is a huge bonus, as is the return of the MagSafe charging port. I think lots of people will be pleased with Apple’s latest MacBook Air — it was made to impress.
MacBook Air with M2 chip
It’s just right
Apple’s “goldilocks” laptop strikes just the right balance between computing power and portability for many of us. It’s lightweight, powerful, and brings back the much-loved MagSafe charging port. What’s not to love?
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