Macbook Air Laptop review 2021
Over the past few years, Apple Macbook laptops have had an unpleasant history of keyboards that can easily clog up and fail quickly. A large number of users faced such a problem and scolded the company at every opportunity. As a result, the keyboard underwent a couple of modifications, but this did not change the situation much and the “butterfly” was abandoned, returning to the previous version – Magic Keyboard. This year, the MacBook Air also changed the keys, and with them refreshed the equipment. In this article, we will see how Apple’s ultrabook has changed.
What’s in the box for the MacBook Air
If there are changes inside the laptop itself, then nothing changes with it in the contents of the box: everything also contains a laptop, a power supply unit with a detachable cable, information papers and stickers in the color of the device case. It is worth noting that despite the presence of Thunderbolt ports, the cable in the box is a regular USB Type-C for charging.
Among the changes in the Magic Keyboard, we can also mention the Touch ID. The fingerprint button isn’t new to Apple, but this time it’s matte. The sensor works perfectly and can help not only log in to the system, but also enter passwords (there is even support for third-party services, such as 1Password), confirm purchases in the App Store and pay using Apple Pay.
The trackpad is in its usual position and hasn’t changed in any way. It’s still a large glass surface that doesn’t need any extra keys. Of course, it has a response that simulates a “click” and also recognizes different degrees of pressure (Force Touch) to implement Macbook additional system functions. Subjectively, this is still one of the best trackpads found in modern laptops, but, say, for photo manipulation or other precision tasks, a mouse might be better. And I don’t know if only I think so, but the shade of the trackpad is slightly different from the body.
I hardly remember how the speakers of the previous Air, which we had, sounded, but here they clearly did not get any worse. The sound of even large laptops can rarely please, especially when playing music, but Apple has long found a solution to this issue. The new MacBook Air may not be the same as the Pro models, but it will still be sufficient for music in small rooms or kitchens. Separately, it should be noted that at maximum power, strong distortions will not appear, but the body can resonate noticeably.
The FaceTime HD webcam has not yet been changed for something more decent in any of Apple’s Macbook laptops. It is noisy in some conditions, but suitable for video communication. And the microphone remained near the Fn key. Due to the proximity to the keyboard, the sounds from the keys will get into the conversation, like other ambient noises, but the voice quality itself is pretty good.
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Performance and software
Speaking of ultrabooks, there is usually no concept of “headroom”. Such computers, first of all, must provide long runtime and very good portability, which is not very comparable with high performance. The previous two MacBook Air models were equipped with an Intel Core i5-8210Y processor, and starting this year there is a choice between the Intel Core i3-1000NG4, i5-1030NG7 and i7-1030NG7. In all cases, Intel Iris Plus integrated graphics only. Memory is also here with options: 8 or 16 GB of RAM (3733 MHz, LPDDR4X), and from 256 GB to 2 TB of storage. Wi-Fi is still ac standard and there is Bluetooth 5.0.
The test configuration is the most basic, with an Intel Core i3, 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. Its cost in the United States is $ 1000 (excluding state tax). This will be enough for the user for simple everyday tasks. Moreover, in the “typewriter” mode with a browser, music, instant messengers and other “little things”, Air works the same as mine, albeit not the freshest, but 15-inch MacBook Pro. Although it’s worth starting Lightroom and, say, removing specks of dust in the photo, it immediately becomes clear that this is not a configuration that likes to “strain”. It makes no sense to think about games, because in the banal Dota 2 with a resolution of 1440 × 900 and low graphics settings, the FPS indicator mostly moved in the range of 20-30 frames.
In most cases, along with this laptop, they immediately buy hubs with the necessary set of ports. Since Apple abandoned USB-A, HDMI and other connectors, the world around has not changed and the Air owner still needs an adapter to connect a banal flash drive or memory card. Of course, you can find accessories with USB-C or Thunderbolt, but sooner or later the user will still “catch up” with something less modern, for which an adapter will be needed.
Design and usability
One of the most popular ultrabooks has a new look in 2018. Then, naturally, we got to know him . A few months ago, it changed minimally, returning to the old keys. Visually, it is almost imperceptible, but it had a slight effect on the case. Now the Air dimensions are 30.41 × 21.24 × 0.41-1.61 cm, whereas before in the “thickest” place it was 1.56 cm. And if the weight of the previous model was 1.25 kg, now it is 1.29 kg. True, these are all the changes that are in the design of the MacBook Air 2020.
They did not affect the user experience in any way (we will return to the keyboard itself later). Air remains the same aluminum ultrabook with a perfect assembly: all parts are precisely fitted, you can still open it with one hand, and compactness and portability are still a priority in development. The new model looks exactly the same as the previous one, so if this appearance suits you, then this one will not disappoint. There are three color options for the case: dark gray, gray and gold. The latter, depending on the lighting, can change the hue quite noticeably, which is clearly seen in different photos of the test version.
As mentioned in the previous paragraph, there are not so many options for connecting external devices. There are two Thunderbolt 3 ports on the left, and a combo headphone jack on the right. Everything. And the bundle does not include any hub to help, you will have to buy it separately. Fortunately, there are a lot of them and finding a suitable one is not a problem, but they can even cost a couple of hundred dollars if they include many ports.
The weak point on the case is the apple Macbook logo. It is still mirrored and can be damaged relatively easily. You need to be a really neat user so that no traces remain on the logo after, for example, a year of use. At the same time, the logo looks good, but there is still a slight nostalgia for the backlight in the lid.
The former delight from such an ultrabook is gone. Competitors can find lighter options with more ports, and MacBook Pro models with the same screen size don’t weigh much more, or even slightly thinner. They have only that the shape of the body does not narrow. But the Air is still very good to use and will definitely not upset the buyer.
MacBook Air display
It’s been two years since the big MacBook Air update and it’s the third iteration since then. She also got the familiar Retina display with a resolution of 2560 × 1600 pixels and an aspect ratio of 16:10. On a 13.3-inch screen, this number of dots is still enough for a clear image and for a comfortable system operation that does not overload during, for example, streaming video in high quality.
The matrix remains the same – a well-tuned IPS. Its color rendition has practically not changed, but even in the previous model (2019), it “learned” to adjust the temperature to the lighting. Yes, this is True Tone technology, which is well known from other devices of the company. In my case, it mainly made the picture noticeably “warmer” than the norm. For some, this may not be very comfortable, but the desire to refuse this function has never arisen. Is that processing the photo, it made sense to turn it off for a while.
The screen doesn’t have as much backlighting as we’ve seen in some other laptops. The limit value was 323 cd / m². But this is not so little. The display is, of course, glossy, but it has a polarizing layer, which, in combination with such a backlight, is quite enough so that even in a sunny room you cannot see your reflection in the screen. When working in complete darkness, the brightness can be “screwed” up to 4.6 cd / m². It is very convenient that the laptop has automatic backlight adjustment.
Keyboard, Touch ID, touchpad and multimedia
The biggest change for the MacBook Air is the keyboard update. Well, how to say, “upgrade” … Like the Pro, the Air also returned to the Macbook Magic Keyboard, which was in Apple laptops before the appearance of “butterflies”. Personally, I am one of those users who did not have any problems with the new generation of keyboards and I really like working with them to this day. In the same way, I understand people who have these keys stuck and refused, and it is impossible to clean them easily. Apparently, there were so many problem cases that the company still abandoned the new switches.
If the user has nostalgia for old keyboards, then in the new MacBook models, including the Air, they will delight: typing on this is also great, the navigation key block has returned to its previous state, where the arrows “left” and “right” are small, and white backlight in place. The key travel has become less, but after the “butterflies” you cannot say so. Opponents of the TouchBar also have nothing to fear, because the row of F-keys is also familiar here. In general, the issue of the keyboard in the MacBook until the next generation of switches will clearly be closed, because before there were no global problems with them.