What I love and hate about the MacBook Air 2018

I have been using Apple’s Macbook Air 2018 for two months now, the gadget has slimmed-down bezels, Touch ID, and a thinner body. Design-wise, the MacBook Air looks a lot like the previous-generation model, but it now comes in Space Gray and Gold in addition to Silver. It’s not as thin and light as the ultra-thin and ultra-portable MacBook, but Apple has streamlined the design.

Touch ID to unlock.

Using one finger to instantly unlock my laptop is a game changer. I cannot over-stress how useful this is how was this not on the Apple laptop l once used? Yes, I’m aware that there have been PC laptops with fingerprint-based unlocking for some time but l really liked this feature.

The Keyboard

Apple replaced its traditional keyboards with a new type of keyboard. It had shallower keys, and it was a revelation. Suddenly I could type faster than ever before.

AAPL has attempted to evolve its keyboard further. I can’t speak to those iterations, but the evolution in the MacBook Air feels like another massive step forward along the lines of the previous keyboard evolution so many years ago.

The keys are somehow even more shallow than previous generations of Apple’s keyboards, but they’ve got a new clickiness that offers more reassurance than ever before that you’ve actually hit a key. Is it noisy? Yes, it’s a little noisy. Do I notice it? No more than I notice typing on any other keyboard. It’s certainly less noisy than the mechanical keyboard I use on my gaming PC, and maybe a bit louder than typing on Apple’s previous keyboard.

For some reason, in many reviews of  MacBook Air, Apple’s new keyboard is seen as a negative. To each his/her own of course, but I have no idea what they’re talking about. I took to the keyboard immediately, and already wish it were a standard on every other device I type on.

Loud, stereo speakers.

If you’re a music lover like me the massive, loud stereo speakers on each side of the keyboard will likely be revelatory to you as well. Laptops can make loud music?! Get right out!

Temper your expectations accordingly: I’m still talking about laptop speakers. No, the MacBook Air doesn’t sound as good as a dedicated speaker even the simplest set of external computer speakers will do a better job.

But for a laptop? I’m very impressed. Watching Netflix playing my music on my laptop feels like a little theatre.

The “Retina” screen is indeed very sharp.

I’m no pixel peeper, but the 4K videos I’ve watched on the new MacBook Air look sharp. Colors are crisp and there’s a ton of detail. 

But, if I’m being honest, I expect Apple’s laptop screens to be great. This one is also great. It doesn’t stand out as being especially more impressive than the 4K/HDR television I use every day, or even more impressive than the Pixel 2 OLED screen I use every day. It’s exactly as good as I expected it to be.

Where it really stands out is in the shrunken bezels. The screen uses up the vast majority of potential real estate available on the laptop’s body, and it adds to the overall gorgeous design of the device. Everything about the new MacBook Air feels compact, and the screen adds to that overall theme.

It’s fast, and I haven’t heard it strain yet

Admittedly, I’m not putting this computer through rigorous load tests. Keep in mind I bought this computer for me, and I’m not trying to crush it immediately. What I am doing is using it as I normally would for a job that requires a massive amount of data transfer and multimedia production.

I’m using the new MacBook Air just as I would my normal work computer:

  • 10-15 tabs open in Chrome at any given moment, including two Gmail windows
  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Spotify
  • Adobe Illustrator

Maybe I start watching a YouTube video. Maybe I pull up Netflix. Maybe I’ll use Photoshop! Let’s get crazy! At no point during any of that use thus far have I seen or heard the machine struggle, whether through aggressive fan noise or beach-balling.

What I hate about The 2018 MacBook Air

The price, The storage

Charging $1,200 for a laptop that comes with 128 GB of internal storage — 30 of which is taken up by the operating system is ridiculous. “Offering” to up that to 256 GB for $200 is downright offensive. 

Apple could put a micro SD card reader in the Air and offer expandable storage. Apple could simply outfit the Air with more storage to start a far more standard and acceptable 256 GB at minimum, if not 500 GB. 

There aren’t enough ports

The MacBook Air I was using before this laptop had two USB ports, a mini display port, a headphone jack, and an SD card reader. The MacBook Air 2018 has two USB-C ports and a headphone jack. That isn’t enough!

I get that Apple sells dongles and you’re supposed to buy a dongle that will bridge the gap between now when only some stuff uses USB-C, and later, when presumably everything will.

It would also be OK if the Air simply had more ports. I would accept it being a bit thicker, even! This is still a device intended for utility first, but it seems like Apple prioritized aesthetics when it comes to ports an unfortunate choice if you ask me.