If you've been waiting for Apple to give its MacBook Air one of those shiny, sharp Retina displays, the time has finally come. But the 2018 MacBook Air has more going for it than a new screen. From a fingerprint sensor that makes life easier to speakers that turn this MacBook into the life of the party, there's a solid list of reasons to get Apple's new laptop. Unfortunately, it's far from perfect.
Here are the biggest reasons to buy and skip the new MacBook Air.
If you've been using a MacBook Air for years, your biggest gripe is likely its low-res 1440 x 900-pixel screen. It's not even Full HD. Fortunately, Apple finally solved this issue in the 2018 MacBook Air, which features a crisp Retina Display with 2560 x 1600 pixels. This 13.3-inch panel also provides solid, accurate color reproduction. I noticed the vibrant red and green hues, as well as the inky black tones, in The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina on Netflix.
A fingerprint sensor is a must-have these days, adding a major layer of security that saves you from entering your password every time you unlock your laptop. The Touch ID sensor that Apple's added to the MacBook Air provides that perk, and then some. Not only does it enable Apple Pay purchases, but it works with third-party apps, such as my password manager 1Password, a Fort Knox for all my unique, complex passwords.
The MacBook Air may be thin and light, but it produces enough sound to fill some pretty large rooms. Over the weekend, with everyone out of our office, I used the Air as my personal boombox, filling our open-office newsroom with the booming sounds of the post-punk band Idles and pop star Carly Rae Jepsen. Apple says the MacBook Air's maximum volume is 25 percent higher than the previous generation and that its bass is twice as strong.
While the touchpads on Windows laptops can be hit or miss, the oversize Force Touch trackpad on the MacBook Air is silky smooth and accurate. It's 20 percent larger than the touchpad on the previous Air. And the Force Touch technology makes it feel like the pad is clicking down when it really isn't. There are plenty of handy gestures, too, such as swiping up with three fingers for Mission Control.
If you're worried about how much waste is produced by the constant cycle of buying and replacing these bulky, hard-to-recycle gadgets, the MacBook Air won't add to that concern. The Air is made of a 100 percent recycled aluminum alloy created by Apple itself, for 47 percent lower carbon emissions when compared with previous Macs. And don't worry about the reliability of this new material, it looks and feels exactly like the sturdy aluminum that Apple's used for years.
Although Apple proudly announced that the MacBook Air features an 8th Gen Intel Core i5 CPU, that chip comes with an asterisk. It's a Y-series CPU, which is slower than the U-series chips in most similarly priced Windows-based laptops. While the Air's processor proved enough for multitasking during our testing, Windows machines like the Dell XPS 13 cleaned Apple's shiny new clock on video editing and spreadsheet macro tests, as well as on synthetic benchmarks.
If you're not firmly planted in Apple's walled garden, you're probably looking at the entry-level $1,199 MacBook Air with suspicion. Similarly-spec'd PCs cost up to $300 less, especially when you buy the Air with 256GB of storage (it starts at 128GB, which is far too little). Also, some of those PCs have touch-screen displays, which Apple continues to ignore.
I hope you like your dongles and adapters. The new MacBook Air’s packing dual Thunderbolt 3 class USB Type-C ports, and no other input options. That means the wireless mouse adapter you've got won't plug directly into the Air, and neither will most external hard drives. Sure, these ports are superfast, faster than the sole USB Type-C port in the 12-inch MacBook, but they require an additional accessory purchase. Credit: Laptop Mag