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Review

MacBook Air First Impressions: A long due upgrade

Apple's popular MacBook Air gets a long overdue upgrade. Here are our first impressions.

  • Published: October 31, 2018 8:53 AM IST
Apple MacBook Air 2018 (2)

Highlights

  • The new MacBook Air prices in India start from Rs 114,900.

  • It will go on sale starting November 7.

  • The new Air gets a Retina Display, and many more upgrades under the hood.

An upgrade to the MacBook Air was long due. And it’s here. Creative professionals aside, the macOS device of priority has largely been the MacBook Air. There are two key reasons for it. Portability and value for money. When I first heard rumors of an impending announcement of a successor to the MacBook Air lineup, the immediate thoughts that came to mind was the price, and if it would really end up being a MacBook. Nonetheless, the event’s done, and the new MacBook Air 2018 is here.

The green MacBook Air

A surprisingly popular announcement by Apple at the event was the fact that the new MacBook Air is made from 100 percent recycled aluminum. It was surprising because more than the specifications of the device, the audience witnessing the launch event seemed to have been excited about the green quotient. For good reason though. At first thought I found that absurd, especially because in a market like India, sensitivity towards recycling is abysmal. Recycling in India is barebones. It exists in ways that are astonishing, with little to no regulation. However, given the scale of impact a company as large as Apple could have with the products it makes, a responsible strategy of sustainability makes sense and must be upheld. Rightly so, the crowd’s reaction makes sense looking back.

Design and build

The all new MacBook Air retains much of the industrial design language of the earlier MacBook Air. That’s what gave it a cult status. While announcing the device, Apple CEO Tim Cook did rely on anecdotal description of the launch of the first MacBook Air where Steve Jobs pulled one out of a paper envelope. While the Air disrupted the industry, Apple has attempted to stretch those boundaries with this year’s MacBook Air.

The aluminum that formed the large, nearly inch thick bezels around the display have now goneaway. It’s the screen all the way through, with minimal aluminum for mechanical reinforcement. So what you see is a larger display. It manages to offer you more display within the same screen real estate. The second thing Tim Cook acknowledged is user requests for a Retina Display on the MacBook Air. This new Air comes with a Retina Display with 4 million pixels. And the capability to display 48 percent more color. As a result text and images appear more rich, crisp and vivid.

Sheer power

The new MacBook Air sits between the MacBook and the MacBook Pro. It trumps the earlier MacBook Air by a long mile. An eight-generation dual-core i5 CPU with 16GB RAM and support for SSD with up to 1.5TB storage ensures you can continue uninterrupted with what you do. Apple says the performance is up to 60 percent faster than the last MacBook Air.

FaceTime HD camera

The new MacBook Air hasn’t implemented Face ID just yet. However, it still comes with a FaceTime camera up front on the top of the screen. With support for Group FaceTime in macOS Mojave, you can have your long list of friends interact together like you typically would on a WhatsApp group, but in real time video.

Keyboard

What’s unique in this MacBook Air is the implementation of Touch ID within the keyboard itself. According to Apple, its third-generation keyboard with Butterfly mechanism offers four times more stability compared to the earlier MacBook Air. It feels like the keyboard on the MacBook, and if you’re using one currently, it should be an easy switch. However, if you’re like me on a Windows laptop of an earlier MacBook Air, you’ll need some getting used to. It’s like typing on a flat surface, yet receiving feedback. It’s simply different to begin with, but overtime, it grows on you.

The keys are backlit, as ever but quieter. Touch ID is a key on the top right of the keyboard layout itself. So you can now unlock your MacBook Air by simply pressing the key, besides being able to buy apps with the press of a button.

A wider, larger trackpad with 20 percent more surface area implements force touch to detect multiple levels of pressure and allowing you to click anywhere.

Audio

The new MacBook Air comes with speakers that are 20 percent louder with double the bass according to Apple. A 3-mic array ensures improved voice recognition for Siri. However, in most real world cases that means you can record meetings more effectively for an easier transcription later. Also, what matters is finally after a long boring day at work, Netflix (Amazon Prime depending on what you love) feels and sounds better.

Connectivity

Here’s the tricky part. There are two thunderbolt 3 USB type-c ports, which simplifies the problem of connecting accessories such as cameras. You could connect high end displays as well, just in case you want to.

Battery

As in the case of the earlier MacBook Air, long battery life is once again a unique selling point for the device. Apple claims an all-day battery life, with 12 hours of wireless web browsing, and 13 hours of iTunes movie playback time.

Initial impressions

Apple has managed to package quite a bit into the new MacBook Air, while reducing 100 grams weight off the earlier one. It won’t be wrong to say that the original MacBook Air had a bariatric procedure. What’s the bitter gulp is the price tag of Rs 114,900. That’s double the money you’d pay to get one of the currently available MacBook Air computers. Technology innovation surely comes at a price. We’ll only be able to form a stronger opinion once we’ve used the new Air for a prolonged period of time. Till then, stay tuned to BGR.in for more updates.

  • Published Date: October 31, 2018 8:53 AM IST