It is only when you are a frequent traveller that you realise the impact a few extra grams in your backpack can have on your health. I started appreciating the convenience of lighter computers once I became a regular at airport security and the long lines at airline gates and immigration counters. A heavier device starts taking its toll on your shoulders and back, so much so that finally you start dreading your next trip. And this long fight with spondylitis is what made me move to an iPad as my primary device while on the move. But on a quick trip to the US last week, I packed Apple’s new MacBook Air M2, because it was as light, or maybe a lighter, than the iPad Pro which has been my fellow traveller for years.
This MacBook Air is Apple’s 2022 iteration of its iconic laptop, now powered by the latest M2 chipset. Apple’s own silicon is helping Cupertino push the envelope on design, especially when it does not need a fan.
While the design now veers more towards the new MacBook Pro style, with no tapering on the clamshell as we are used to, I have to say this version of the MacBook Air feels so much lighter than my beloved 2015 version for instance, despite the uniform thickness all over. Compared to last year’s MacBook Air, the new version is just about the same weight, maybe a few grams lighter on record, but the slimmer aluminium unibody design makes this look and feel a lot slimmer.
Despite the compact design, the MacBook Air offers a well-spread-out Magic keyboard that makes no compromises. There is a full row of function keys with the TouchID that makes the device much easier to unlock. In fact, the Macs with TouchID gradually change your behaviours and keeping your finger at the top of the keys starts becoming a natural thing to do. The keys have a better play than before and are not as noisy as some of the earlier versions.
The trackpad is one of the best in the business, almost as versatile as a touch screen. It’s large and adapts easily to the swipes, pulls and pushes that Mac users are used to.
The MagSafe charging port is on the left, along with two Thunderbolt USB-C ports, both of which you can also use to charge the Air. In fact, on the short trips I have been taking in the past few weeks, I chose to just carry a smaller USB-C charger which can be used with some of the other gadgets I have and worked well with the MacBook Air too. But otherwise, the addition of the MagSafe means you have two additional ports for other stuff and these are not competing when you also have to charge the laptop.
I also have a small issue with the placement of the ports. All of them are on the left which means if you are in a place where it’s more convenient to charge from the other side, then you have to bring the cables around or adjust how you sit — trust me, it is an issue where I work from every morning. But I love that Apple has kept the 3.5-mm headphone jack and made it compatible with high-impedance headphones like the ones I get to review every now and then.
The 13.6-inch Liquid Retina display has thinner bezels compared to the earlier version and is brighter than before. You can see the colours really pop out when you are browsing, playing the fun large-screen version of Subway Surfer or watching a Netflix show trying to kill time in a lonely hotel room. The speakers are really good and loud, capable enough to entertain you on their own if you just want to laze around with Apple Music.
One question that’s been put to me a lot is whether one should opt for a MacBook Pro or if an Air will suffice. The answer is simple and one the user only can answer. What is it that you do with your computer? If your work is more about browsing, reading, writing and even working on spreadsheets and other documents, then the Air is more than capable now to do what is needed.
I open and work on large data sets with both Google Sheets and Numbers without the MacBook Air complaining in any manner. But if your work involves heavy video editing — the Air can manage photos pretty well and a lot of easy video work too — and graphics then you need more than the fanless model of the Air, and that is where you need to step up to the Pro. In the few weeks I used the MacBook Air as my primary computer, stepping away from the MacBook Pro M1 I was using till then, I did not feel powerless in any way. That is because the work I do really does not need a MacBook Pro. So for all the writers, professors and senior management staff out there, the Air is the ideal device, provided they don’t need a larger screen size.
As someone who writes and edits about 5000 words every single day, along with working on sheets and even some creatives, I loved every minute I got to use the MacBook Air. It is a big help that this is a device you can take anywhere, hold at any angle and still get the work done. I was perching it on the armrest in an Indigo flight as the table was occupied with cup noodles, and later checking data in an Uber on a call. These scenarios become very tough with a larger laptop, even if it is just larger and heavier by a fraction.
And then comes the comfort of knowing that with a full charge you can actually attempt a two-day trip with this one thanks to the 18 hours plus of juice, the M2 enables despite the better and brighter display and more power. In case, you do run out of power, you can borrow a smartphone charger to juice it back up.
The new MacBook Air successfully reimagines what could well be one of the most popular computing devices in the world without compromising on either power or convenience or putting off the diehard fans. With a starting price of Rs 1,19,900, this might appear pricey but there aren’t many other devices that can last as long as a MacBook Air — I’m telling you this as someone who still uses a 2015 Air without any issues.
But then, I don’t really see a reason for regular buyers to consider the high-end version with the 10-core GPU as the 8-core version will be more than enough for everything you want to try. As for extra storage, buying an extra large external device is always cheaper than Apple’s own storage options. Also, if you think this is still too expensive, the older M1 version is still a great option to consider. Still, this year’s MacBook Air with M2 is the most powerful compact laptop you can invest in and you will not regret it one bit.