The Return of the MacBook Air: Retina Edition
by Jim Lundy
After years of speculation by the press, Apple finally did a major refresh to the MacBook Air, the machine that spawned the super thin laptop era. While there are many laptops that look like the MacBook Air, it remains one of the most popular MacBooks that Apple has ever produced. This blog goes into details about the new refresh.
The New MacBook Air: Retina and More
The biggest thing about the new MacBook Air is the HD resolution provided by the Retina screen. One could say that Apple finally added to the MacBook Air what the MacBook Pros have had for years, and this isn’t far from the truth. On this feature alone, we expect a surge in demand. The other aspect that made the MacBook Air popular was the straightforward options—it was a solid MacBook and you didn’t get a lot of choices. For many buyers, that made it an easy choice.
With the new MacBook Air, buyers get much more when it comes to customizing their machine. Memory goes up to 16GB and storage is up to 1.5TB (note: solid state drive (SSD) only). Our take is that the base unit with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage is a great home machine. I’d note that for Aragon configurations, we are going with 16GB and 512GB of storage, but we create a lot of content.
Battery Life and USB-C Power Supply
One of the big things about the MacBook Air is the battery. With a slightly longer battery life than a MacBook Pro, you should be able to go all day without charging. I’d note that on new MacBook Pro units, some batteries have had issues, so we will see what the actual usage life of the new class of batteries actually is.
On the power supply and charging front, USB-C features super fast charging. You do need to make sure your USB-C cable is all the way plugged into the USB-C port and when it is, it chimes. All that said, charging is very fast and when combined with battery life, this is a game-changer. I’d also note that charging an iPhone or iPad via USB-C is also super fast. You only need to have the right cables (USB-C to Lightning).
Access and Security
TouchID makes life so easy for logging into your MacBook. I’ve had it for two years on my MacBook Pro and it has become a standard for all laptops and mobile phones.
The new T2 security chip has already been quietly rolled into recent Macs, and is now being highlighted. It stores encryption keys for Filevault and biometric information (i.e., fingerprints). It also prevents the microphone from being accessed when the lid is closed. For more on these features, check out Apple’s detailed profile.
MacBook Air or MacBook Pro?
The MacBook Air is ideal for the day-to-day knowledge worker. It comes with a new Intel i5 chip (1 processor, 2 cores). For heavy use—such as video editing—you need to go with a MacBook Pro with an i7 chip or higher. We had MacBook Airs at the beginning of Aragon but since the Retina MacBook Pros emerged in 2012, these became our go-to unit. That said, with the price point of the MacBook Air for everyday use, it is now a solid choice and we expect it to be a best-seller.