Never before have we been so bothered about the devices we use. Is it heating up? Is it slowing down? Isn’t it a bit too heavy to keep on the lap all day long? And a lot of us are realising that what we thought was a good device for work, is not exactly that when it comes to working from home. In our cramped urban homes, most of us are also struggling to find the right place to sit and work, with the computer jostling for space on the dining table with leftover plates as the sink is already overflowing. This is where a lot of people are considering new devices for the new normal. And the new MacBook Air has arrived at just such a time.
MacBook Air 2020 specification: 13.3-inch 400-nit LED-backlit Retina display with IPS technology (2560x1600p, ~227ppi) | 1.1GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 (Turbo Boost up to 3.5GHz) | Intel Iris Plus Graphics | 8GB RAM + 512GB SSD | Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports x 2 + 3.5mm jack | 802.11ac Wi-Fi wireless networking; IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n compatible | Bluetooth 5.0 | 720p FaceTime HD camera | speakers with Dolby Atmos | 49.9-watt-hour lithium-polymer battery | macOS Catalina
MacBook Air 2020 price in India: Rs 92,990 onward
What’s new and what’s good?
Having got through the past few months using my old 2015 vintage MacBook Air and a review unit of MacBook Pro, the new MacBook Air came as a breath of fresh air. For one, this was a much lighter, much portable device compared to these two, though the same size as the last MacBook Air. The all-metal feel is not just style, as the bumps and folded edges of my old MacBook Air will tell you. This is made to last, and last they do.
In fact, after playing around with the device for a while, I started wondering if this was actually lighter than the new iPad Pro with the keyboard. While it really isn’t at 1.2 kg, that is how light this MacBook Air is. This is the device that does not tie you to a table and lets you move around — a Zoom call in the roof, early morning e-papers in the balcony, writing reviews on the sofa and back to the dining table for the dreaded spreadsheets.
The one aspect of the new MacBook Air that will stand out for those like me who have also used the earlier version is the Magic Keyboard, the same one Apple debuted with the MacBook Pro last year. The keys are now softer to your touch and offer the right amount the pushback and travel. The scissor mechanism is back and that spring in the keys makes the MacBook Air a great device for writing and editing for users like me. There is the inverted T for arrow keys so that you don’t have to look where your fingers are. Also, despite the small build, the trackpad is sufficiently larger and more than responsive for whatever you want to do.
The 13.3-inch Retina display has a native resolution of 2560×1600 pixels. The colours pop out and the text is sharp to read. In the display, things have really improved over last time and you feel it everywhere from the wallpaper to when wiring this using the dark mode in the Bear app I am so fond of. But what really stood out for me was how bright this display is. In fact, I can challenge people to work for more than 15 minutes indoors with the screen at full brightness. That is going to be really tough and you don’t have to push the screen beyond 60 per cent to work at home. The extra brightness can come in handy when you are trying to impress colleagues by taking that boring video call to under the interesting August skies.
The MacBook Air is often underestimated in terms of processing power. My old faithful can still pull through a video edit if needed and not even break a sweat. The new generation is no different. While you don’t really want to use purely for a high-intensity video editing call of duty, it will be more than able to help with one when the time comes. With whatever I did, editing stories, accessing a WordPress back end and playing around with designs on Canva, this one really up to it all the time. And given that even the most demanding apps like Photoshop are now cloud-based, this is all most of us will need. Apple offers configurations up to a quad-core 10th Gen Intel Core i7 processor with Turbo Boost up to 3.8GHz, and that should be more than enough for the target audience of this device.
And thanks to the SSD storage, this one is up and running whenever you want it. Just open it, tough the fingerprint scanner to unlock and you are back where you left it. All within a few seconds. The fingerprint scanner is habit-forming too and you hate the times when you have to key in the password. Since the MacBook Pro too has this feature, this is something I am already used to.
The battery is good enough to last you a full day at work, and you can keep the power adapter at home. Anyway, these days you can find USB-C chargers in most places and in case you run out of power that’s all you need to recharge this.
What to keep in mind?
Those moving from a larger laptop will take a few days to get adjusted to the smaller keyboard. I did coming from the larger MacBook Pro where I was doing most of my writing in recent days. But the transition is easy and before you realise the fingers will be finding the right keys.
I would have loved to see an edge-to-edge display on this one, just a little bit extra screen. Now, there is a bezel though a thin one.
As I realised recently with an accessory I wanted to test, the USB-A port is something some users moving from older devices will miss. Even though Apple has been pushing for a transition to USB-C, the ecosystem is still not there yet. Trying getting a good USB-C mouse and you will realise what I am talking about.
Should you buy it?
If your need is regular computing with portability and reliability, then the MacBook Air is really the device you should look at. Yes, I know a lot of you will feel the price is beyond you, but I’ve now convinced the longer product life of this device will more than make up for that in the long run. Those who need more power for high-end tasks and a larger screen should look at the MacBook Pro instead. In the realm of the thinnest, lightest and most portable computers, the MacBook Air still blows the competition away.
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