It might not grab as much attention as the iPhone or its own Pro cousin, but the MacBook Air has perhaps been Apple’s most popular notebook of recent times. There had been fears that Apple would discontinue it, given the increased emphasis on the iPad Pro line.
But the company has come out with a whole new MacBook Air, with features and functions that go beyond the routine refresh and update cycle of the past. So how does the new MacBook Air with Retina display fare?
Here’s our seven point summary:
A retina display… and it is gorgeous
Yes, it is finally here. A MacBook Air with a retina display. The 13.3 inch display on the MacBook Air (Retina display) edition, as its name indicates, comes with the highest resolution ever seen on a MacBook Air.
It has a resolution of 2560 x 1600, as compared to 1440 x 900 on the non-retina edition. It is a staggering difference and believe us, it is evident when you see it. The display on the new MacBook Air is among the best you will see on a notebook, and also gets rid of those large bezels we saw on earlier editions. This is perhaps the first MacBook Air that is awesome for watching video! There, we said it!
A new keyboard too… and a fingerprint sensor
The butterfly style keyboard which we have seen on other Macs now makes its way to the MacBook Air. And well, do we like it? Well, some of us do because it seems quieter and responds much more smoothly. But then some of us hate the fact that keys seem to have less “travel” (they do not seem to go as deep as they used to as in previous editions) and are not as clicky.
Whatever the case, chances are you will get used to them. We did. And they are backlit keys too — hooray for that from all those travel warriors who have to end up typing in darkness. The Air also gets a fingerprint sensor for greater security. Finally, there is a larger Force Touch trackpad, for better navigation and gestures. We never felt the need to use a mouse!
Better sound… finally
The new MacBook Air is a much more complete notebook than its predecessors, which seemed to sacrifice a fair deal of function for portability. One of the weaknesses of the range was its relatively mediocre performance in the sound department. That has been fixed to an extent.
There are stereo speakers that deliver 25 per cent more volume, and bass has been given a boost. No, this is not as good as many notebooks at its price point, but it can no longer be called a weak point. The sound on the MacBook Air is good enough for watching films or gaming. You want better sound? Get your headphones on!
Largely similar design… and OS
For all the new touches, the MacBook Air still retains its old design and once shut, is very difficult to tell, apart from its predecessors from a distance. That is not necessarily a bad thing, though, because it remains incredibly compact — slightly more than half an inch at its thickest point and less than a foot in width. The material used is Aluminium as always but Apple claims this is the first Mac to be made with totally recycled aluminium, which is great news for the planet.
We did expect it to be a little lighter, though — at 1.25 kilograms, it is only slightly lighter than the MacBook Pro. It can still fit into an envelope, though. Of course, this being an Apple notebook, it runs on Mac OS. Which means, if you are reasonably careful, you can use it without worrying about viruses and security issues. It also means that you get a complete Office suite, which is perfectly compatible with MS Office, as well as access to the Mac App Store.
Still a Core i5 processor… and a port shortage
For all the dazzling new tech from Apple, the MacBook Air processor is still high mid-segment rather than top of the class. So, no Core i7 or Core i9 processors here (unlike in the MacBook Pro).
What you do get is an eighth generation Core i5 chip combined with 8 GB RAM, which is excellent for almost everything that you are likely to need, from word processing and web browsing to even mid-level gaming. But will not have the same turn of speed that you would see from a Core i7 or Core i9 device, especially when it comes to tasks like photo and video editing or high-end gaming. There are also limited numbers — the Air comes with two USB Type C Thunderbolt ports and a 3.5 mm audio jack. Storage options start with 128 GB and 256 GB.
Terrific battery life
Apple claims that the new MacBook Air can deliver upto 12 hours of battery life, Well, we think that is a slight exaggeration as we came closer to around ten hours with it. But that is by no means a bad figure when you consider that you are more likely to keep that gorgeous display’s brightness on the higher side, and are also likely to be using backlighting on that keyboard.
Not to mention, play sound at higher volumes. Keep all those under strict control and we think that you can grind out a dozen hours of battery life on this notebook. Incidentally, that battery can be charged through either of the USB Type C ports!
It is expensive
This has been perhaps the biggest disappointment for many MacBook Air users. In recent times, the Air had become the most affordable Mac computer of them all, with a price tag in the vicinity of Rs 55,000 – 65,000.
Well, those days are seemingly over (although older models are still available at those prices) with the new MacBook Air starting at Rs 84,900 for the normal 13 inch one, and the Retina Display variant starting at Rs 1,14,900. That’s very expensive, when you consider that the MacBook Pro, which is supposed to be THE productivity Mac notebook starts at Rs 1,19,900 for the 13 inch model and is not much heavier, in spite of having better specs.