MacBook Air 2018: What Critics Love and Hate
For years, the MacBook Air’s thin and lightweight design has been a favorite for people across the globe. And aside from a few small updates over the years, it was in desperate need of an overhaul.
But is the new MacBook Air, which launches on Nov. 7, enough of an upgrade?
Read on for a roundup of reviews from pundits who have some good — and bad — things to say about Apple’s new MacBook Air:
Our very own Henry T. Casey took the MacBook Air for a spin recently. And in his review for Laptop Mag, Henry was impressed with the MacBook Air’s Retina display and nice design, but wanted far more power and a better starting price for the value.
The new MacBook Air is a welcome upgrade with a sharper display in a thinner and lighter design, but this laptop could use more power.
“The 2560 x 1600-pixel Retina display is the true star of the new MacBook Air, offering crisp detail and solid colors. As I watched the first episode of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, I noted rich reds in her jacket, lush green foliage in a creepy forest and vibrant pink neon at a movie theater.”
“In the top right corner of the keyboard, you'll see a Touch ID fingerprint reader, which I found works great for unlocking the MacBook Air and signing into 1Password, my preferred password manager. Thankfully, Apple's giving users the power of this biometric sensor without burdening them with the Touch Bar that accompanies Touch ID on the company's MacBook Pros.”
“My why-oh-Intel-Y-series concerns reared their head when the MacBook Air notched a 7,871 on the Geekbench 4.3 general performance benchmark, achieving about two-thirds of the 12,230 category average.”
“The MacBook Air sports two speedy Thunderbolt 3 ports (which enable much faster data-transfer speeds) on its left side, with a headphone jack on its right. That might be an upgrade from the MacBook's singular, slower USB Type-C port, but it's lacking in comparison to most competitors.”
Over at The Verge, reviewer Dieter Bohn was impressed with the MacBook Air’s ability to meet the demands you place upon it without hesitation. But he cautioned that other devices, like the iPad Pro or even a Chromebook, might be a better buy, depending on what you’re looking for in a new computer.
It’s a computer that will let you do whatever you want, even though some of those things are probably beyond its capabilities.
“This laptop feels a lot nicer than the old MacBook Air. It fits the same size screen in a smaller body, but it’s not as thin or as light as the thinnest and lightest of laptops you can get today.”
“Those bezels are not as tiny as what you can get on some Windows laptops, but it’s still a massive improvement over the old Air.”
“You’ll find it’s a little weird to type on for the first day, but you’ll get used to it. Some people still really don’t like it, but I’m not one of them: I really like this keyboard, even if it is a little clacky.”
“Apple’s macOS isn’t designed to work with touch at all, so it’s not here. Most other computers these days — whatever their form factor — do support touch.”
“This new MacBook Air is faster than the old MacBook Air, but not by the kind of margin you’d expect after three years (or even one, if you happened to buy the 2017 model).”
Wired’s Lauren Goode was clearly impressed with the MacBook Air’s improved keyboard, better speakers, and the overall refresh that keeps the MacBook Air a nice option for mobile computing. But Goode also wondered if the device is worth buying when not much has really dramatically changed in the MacBook Air sales pitch.
It's ready for reinvention. Well, sort of. It's more accurate to say that it has caught up with the times.
“So far, I haven't had any problems with the keyboard on the Air. I like that it's quieter. I don't miss the TouchBar, a touch-sensitive strip of shortcuts, emoji, and apps that floats above the keyboard on MacBook Pros.”
“The speakers on the new Air are louder. How good they sound will depend on your source material.”
“If you're someone who builds graphics, edits 4K videos, or processes large photos for a living, the Air isn't going to cut it.”
“The computer is not particularly innovative. Its chiseled build, high-resolution display, eighth-generational Core i5 processor, long-ish battery life, quiet keyboard, larger trackpad, and fingerprint sensor are not breaking any new ground.”
The Wall Street Journal
At The Wall Street Journal, reviewer Joanna Stern firmly believes that the MacBook Air is still Apple’s best laptop and one that many people might like. But if you’re looking for a device with an outstanding keyboard, Stern said, the MacBook Air isn’t it.
Once the leader, the Air is now the follower, and the competition is pulling ahead in features, ergonomics and battery life.
“With the redesign, the MacBook Air remains the best choice of all of Apple’s laptops.”
“Instead of embracing touch screens on its laptops, Apple has decided to expand the trackpad to the size and shape of Kansas. OK, it’s actually 4.7 inches x 3 inches, and it’s wonderfully responsive, accurate and smooth.”
“Absolutely not a novelty: Touch ID. The fingerprint sensor, embedded in the upper right corner of the new Air’s keyboard, beats typing in passwords.”
“Hate is a strong word for the keyboard so I’ll just say I strongly dislike it.”
“Hate is the right word to describe my feelings on the 128GB of storage that comes with the $1,199 entry-level model of the Air. Not only does the laptop cost $200 more than its predecessor, but it starts with an amount of storage that was paltry even four years ago.”
Score: No Score Provided
TechCrunch reviewer Brian Heater says the MacBook Air was a nice upgrade over the previous generation and its display is downright impressive. But when you compare its internal specs to those of other machines in the market, its price might be a problem.
Barring some major future upgrade, the 12-inch [MacBook] likely isn’t long for this world. And that’s perfectly fine. The new Air is very clearly the better buy.
“This latest generation is quieter, has a better feel and has the added benefit of a new rubberized bladder, which should protect from spills, along with particulate matter, which has become a bane of everyone with an earlier model’s existence.”
“The display is, as advertised, a massive upgrade over the last model. If you’ve spent any time with a Retina display, you know the deal. It’s big and bright, with a nice color balance.”
“The new Air’s internals are, naturally, an upgrade across the board over the 2015 model, but it’s more of a mixed bag when compared to the MacBook. In fact, the concurrent existence of the two products is likely to cause confusion among buyers — and understandably so.”
“The two USB-C ports are located on the same side, which means a bit more maneuvering when charging — though the new ports are much more diverse than the old power model.”
Score: No Score Provided
Credit: Laptop Mag
- Which MacBook Should You Buy? MacBook vs. Air vs. Pro
- New iPad Pro Benchmarked: This Blows Away Windows PCs
- Top 11 macOS Mojave Features