The MacBook Air is a line of portable Macintosh computer from Apple. First introduced by Steve Jobs during the 2008 Macworld Conference, the product has undergone several hardware upgrades while still maintaining the infamous slim aluminium exterior.
In terms of sales, this laptop remains one of the most popular ultraportable computers. It is iconic in terms of design and build quality. Decent hardware specifications have further made this laptop universal for both entry-level users and professionals.
However, like any other Apple products, the MacBook Air comes with a high price tag. The 11-inch base model retails at USD 899 while the 13-inch base model retails at USD 999. Note that there are Windows-based alternatives that are cheaper or more advanced. Hence, it is better to weigh the pros and cons of owning a MacBook Air.
Advantages of MacBook Air: Reasons why you should buy
1. Mobility from thin and lightweight metal body: Steve Jobs introduced the MacBook Air as the thinnest laptop in the world. While this is not completely true today, this device remains one of the lightest and most mobile laptops in the market.
Both the 11-inch and 13-inch models have a thinness of 0.11 to 0.68 inches. The 11-inch model has a weight of 1.08 kg while the 13-inch model has a weight of 1.35 kg. The MacBook Air is undeniably built for carrying around.
2. Decent hardware specifications: The latest Intel Core i5 processor powers both the base models of the MacBook Air. The base 11-inch model has 4GB on-board memory and 128GB to flash storage. The base 13-inch model has 8GB RAM and 128GB flash storage.
Note that both models are configurable prior to purchase. Those who prefer a better-performing device can request for an Intel Core i7 processor with 8GB RAM and 256GB to 512GB flash storage.
With the aforementioned hardware specifications, the MacBook Air can easily run day-to-day applications for word processing, web browsing, and media consumption. Nonetheless, this device is perfect for office productivity use.
3. Solid-state internal storage: An internal solid-state drive or SSD is one of the advantages of the MacBook Air over bulky laptops and cheaper netbook alternatives. Both the 11-inch and 13-inch base models come with 128GB flash storage.
An SSD-based internal storage improves the speed and lifespan of a device. Compared to a typical hard disk drive, an SSD is 25 to 100 times faster. This means faster boot times and quick file transfers. An SSD is more durable than a HHD because it has no moving parts. SSD makes the MacBook Air a true ultraportable computer.
4. All the benefits of macOS: There are several reasons to love macOS. First is that it is less susceptible to viruses and malware than Windows. Then there is OS optimisation. Apple is both a software developer and a device manufacturer. The company has optimised the macOS to work seamlessly with all of its hardware components.
Another reason is that the system interface gives a simple yet powerful user experience. Those who are familiar with the interface of iOS found in iPhone and iPad will find Mac OS somewhat similar—especially when it comes to installing and using apps.
There is also a seamless integration between the macOS and iOS. This makes switching between devices hassle-free. A user can start a task using an iPhone or iPad and continue it using their MacBook Air without the need to synchronise the two devices using other cloud-based drive such as Google Drive or OneDrive.
5. Comes with a number of useful apps: Every MacBook Air comes with powerful apps for work and play. These include office productivity apps such as Pages, Numbers, and Keynote. Other productivity apps include Reminders, Notes, Calendar, and Maps.
The MacBook Air also comes with creativity apps such as the video editing app iMovie and the music production app GarageBand. Other useful apps include Safari for web browsing, Mail for email, and Message and Facetime for text and video messaging.
6. Impressive battery life: Another noteworthy advantage of MacBook Air is long battery life. Compared to other ultrabooks and netbooks in the market, this device has better outstanding performance.
The 11-inch model lasts up to 9 hours between charges. The 13-inch model lasts up to 12 hours. Both models have a standby time of 30 days. Other independent tests and reviews have placed battery life around 15 to 17 hours between charges.
MacBook Air also has better battery performance than the MacBook Pro with Retina. Aside from the lithium-polymer battery capacity and SSD efficiency, the newer Intel processor has effectively made this device more energy efficient.
Remember that battery performance depends on several factors to include battery lifecycle, app usage, and external temperature, among others.
Disadvantages of MacBook Air: Reasons why you should not buy
1. Limited hardware upgrade options: One disadvantage of MacBook Air is limited hardware upgradeability. The memory and processor components of the device are soldered together in a single circuit board. Most Windows laptops allow some degree of customisation.
Remember that you can configure your MacBook Air before purchase. However, once you bought it, there is no room for processor, memory, and storage upgrades. You are essentially stuck with it unless you have enough money to buy another laptop with better hardware.
2. Out-dated screen display: Both models of MacBook Air still sport a low-resolution twisted nematic or TN LCD screen. The 11-inch model only has a resolution of 1366×768 while the 13-inch model has a resolution of 1440×900.
Note that the new MacBook and MacBook Pro come with the Retina display. The Retina display is an in-plane switching or IPS LCD that features high pixel density, better colour reproduction, and wider viewing angles.
Compared to an IPS display, the TN LCD display in the MacBook Air has lower resolution. Pixels are very evident. Viewing angles are also limited and colour reproduction is inaccurate. These setbacks can easily deter consumers accustomed to high-resolution displays.
3. Geared toward office productivity: The MacBook Air can easily handle every-day productivity use. It can also handle minor home video projects and music production. However, unless you will configure your MacBook Air with advanced processor, memory, and storage specifications, this device has limited computing capabilities.
High-definition games would not readily run in the base models of MacBook Air. This is also true for resource-heavy tasks including 4K video editing and photo editing. Remember that this device is more suitable for entry-level users and business professionals.
4. Windows has more applications or software: Developers, especially small and independent software companies, often consider building software for Windows first because of greater reach. Of course, Mac computers have undeniably become more popular in recent years. However, there are still more Windows users around the world.
Case in point is games. There is quite a number of game titles that are available in Windows but absent in macOS. Some enterprise software might be unavailable for MacBook Air as well. Remember that Windows computers are popular in business because they are cheaper.
5. Limited internal storage capacity: Storage capacity is another disadvantage of the MacBook Air. The 512GB storage capacity is the most you can get from this device. But this comes with a price. Buying the 11-inch or the 13-inch base model means making the most out of the 128GB storage.
Note that the MacBook Air can alternately run both macOS and Windows. However, installing another operating system will eat up a considerable storage space. The limited storage capacity also makes this device not ideal for creative applications such as video and photo editing.
Conclusion: Advantages and disadvantages of owning a MacBook Air
The aforementioned advantages of the MacBook Air make it an all-around every-day laptop. With mobility from a compact build and design, this ultraportable laptop from Apple is ideal for on-the-go individuals such as students and business professionals.
With the addition of useful apps, the MacBook Air is ideal for office productivity. Coupled with a battery life that remains one of the best in the market, this laptop truly caters to mobile users.
However, in considering the disadvantages of the MacBook Air, it is easy to conclude that power users such as graphic designers and gamers are better off looking for another laptop. The MacBook Pro or a Windows laptop might be a suitable alternative.
There is the high price tag as well. The 11-inch base model retails at USD 899 while the 13-inch base model retails at USD 999. Because of poor hardware upgradeability, you are stuck with the hardware limitations of your MacBook Air.