MacBook Air Review Roundup: ‘On Par With the Rest of the Laptop World’

Ahead of tomorrow’s release date for the all-new MacBook Air, the first wave of reviews for the laptop were published by a number of media outlets this morning.

MacBook Air pre-orders began last Tuesday in over 50 countries, while the first deliveries to customers and in-store availability will begin tomorrow, November 7. Featuring a faster 1.6GHz dual-core 8th-generation Intel Core i5 processor, a Retina display, up to 16GB of RAM, up to 1.5TB of SSD storage, and Intel UHD Graphics 617, the MacBook Air also has Touch ID, two Thunderbolt 3 ports, and the same third-generation butterfly keyboard as the latest MacBook Pro.

Here’s what Wired‘s Lauren Goode had to say about the new MacBook Air’s battery life:

What might push you towards the Air, though, more so than any other Mac laptop, is its battery life. […] 

Not surprisingly, the laptop drained much more quickly when I used the MacBook Air to charge my iPhone, something I do often. But in another recent test—browsing in Safari, running Slack and iMessage, editing a few photos in Lightroom, all with the display between 60 to 70 percent of maximum brightness—it lasted just under eight hours.

Dana Wollman of Engadget notes that the MacBook Air’s display doesn’t stand above the pack, rather in the middle:

This is the same screen technology already in use on the 12-inch MacBook, and the color spectrum Apple is touting is actually sRGB — a common spec for laptops in this price range. In fact, that’s one of the main differences between this screen and the MacBook Pro: For the money, Apple’s highest-end laptops step up to the professional-grade P3 color spectrum. I don’t miss it, but if you do, the Air wasn’t the right laptop for you anyway.

TechCrunch‘s Brian Heater said that while the new MacBook Air does render the 12-inch MacBook obsolete, it doesn’t come close to the entry-level MacBook Pro:

A nice spec (and price bump) over the previous Air renders the 12-inch MacBook a non-starter […]

A quick glance at the above graphic really highlights the gulf between the Air and Pro, though the new chips do mark an upgrade over the 2017 MacBook’s single- and multi-core scores of 3,527 and 6,654. The new silicon is plenty zippy for most users’ daily tasks, but if you need more out of your system — be it for gaming or resource-intensive tasks like video edit — it’s worth the jump to the Pro.

The Wall Street Journal says that the update, while welcome, is three years late, turning the MacBook Air from a leader to a “follower”:

With the redesign, the MacBook Air remains the best choice of all of Apple’s laptops. The MacBook, released in 2015, is svelte but slow with sad battery life. The MacBook Pros, refreshed in 2016, have the speed, but they’re bigger and only run 10 hours on a charge—not 13 like the old Air. The new MacBook Air is as balanced as its predecessor, in a more modern design.

The bad news? It’s three years late. Once the leader, the Air is now the follower, and the competition is pulling ahead in features, ergonomics and battery life. While there’s a lot to love about the Air, there is still a lot to be desired […]

Daring Fireball‘s John Gruber says that the new MacBook Air is the computer that most people looking for a Mac should buy:

A lot of people are looking at the lineup as it stands today thinking they must be missing something, because it seems obvious that most people looking for a MacBook in this price range should buy the new MacBook Air. They’re not missing anything. The new Air is exactly that: the MacBook most people should buy, and exactly the MacBook everyone has been asking Apple to make.

The Verge‘s Dieter Bohn concludes that the new MacBook Air is simply on par with the rest of the competition, not above it:

People like the Mac. It’s great to have a computer that does all of the computer stuff you want in a way you’re familiar with. Until recently, the best computer for most people was the MacBook Air, and Apple took way too long to update it. So people have been waiting. And waiting. 

Now, the wait is over. But if you were hoping that lightning would strike twice and this new MacBook Air would be as revolutionary as the old MacBook Air, well, it’s not. It’s basically a MacBook that finally includes all of the stuff that has been happening with laptops for the past few years. It is on par with the rest of the laptop world, but it hasn’t moved beyond it.

Pricing on the 13-inch MacBook Air starts at $1499 CAD for 128GB of storage, a 1.6GHz dual-core 8th-generation Intel Core i5 processor, and 8GB 2133MHz LPDDR3 memory.