MacBook Air 2019 – A review from a PC Guy’s perspective

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Lately, it has felt like thin and light laptop manufacturers have been getting so close to creating the perfect laptop. Look at the Microsoft Surface laptop for example – it’s sexy, the screen is great and the keyboard is amazing but the I/O, it is just garbage.

Image credit: Tom’s Guide

The Dell XPS 13 with its top-tier build quality, solid I/O and is really quick but the screen options and the webcam placement in particular, are mediocre.

Awkward camera placement on the Dell XPS 13
Image credit: laptopmag.com

Alright – so what about the OG thin and light laptop king Apple?

To find out I decided to completely switch to Apple products, giving up my Surface laptop and Pixel 4 for the iPhone 11 and MacBook Air which has finally been updated in 2019.

First Impressions

Image credit: laptopmag.com

First impressions last a lifetime and the first impressions of the MacBook Air are that it’s probably going to have a long lifetime. This is a damn well built machine. The aluminum chassis is easily among the stiffest on the market. There is virtually no screen-flex whatsoever and although it is thin, it’s kind of denser than you might expect specially when it weighs just under three pounds.

Compared to the last version of the Air which was debuted in 2013, the reduced bezels and the way that the glossy black extends right to the edge really ups the sex appeal of this model and you wouldn’t feel weird taking it out of your backpack no matter what the setting.

The Dongle Life

One thing you will need to make sure that while you’re putting the Air in your backpack, you remember to put your dongles too. Now to be clear I am not too torn up about the I/O or lack of it. MacBook Air comes with two Thunderbolt 3 ports with compatibility for displays, docks, external GPUs, any USB device you could want including charging the Air itself. So I would take these over a Type A USB and a mini DisplayPort any day of the week.

Screen

Now lets get back to the screen. It is more than just glossier. It addresses every problem with the old MacBook Air design. The resolution has increased to 2560×1600, that’s a taller 16:10 aspect ratio for those of you keeping score at home, and it also increases the color gamut, making it among the best laptop displays available (** as long as you don’t need TOUCHSCREEN).

I don’t expect that the absence of touch screen makes much difference. In fact I suspect that Apple gives exactly zero F***s about what I think, but I am once again disappointed that they refuse to include touchscreen support in macOS and on their laptops; but hey at least the touchpad is great!

Feel the Touchpad

The touchpad on the MacBook Air is awesome. I know we always go on about how great Apple’s touchpads are but there is really no comparison. There are bunch of gestures actually that have been available on Windows for a long time but I’ve never used them because they just don’t feel right.

By contrast after only a couple hours on the macOS the gestures become part of the natural flow of using the machine because they are so well thought-out.

The big size of the touchpad and its closeness to the keyboard makes it really easy to operate with your thumb while you’re typing.

Touch ID

Also super natural is the fingerprint sensor in the power button. There is one place that a fingerprint sensor is better than Face ID and this is it. Apple has nailed it. The fingerprint sensor is so fast and well implemented that I am always logged in at the same time the screen turns on.

Keyboard

Unfortunately, there is one area where the MacBook Air can’t get close to the Surface laptop, and that is the keyboard. I am not a fan of touch bar on the Mac personally so I am not going to take that into consideration but these short throw and potentially short life key switches are just not a great time to type on for extended periods.

Making matters worse is the lack of a Delete key, well the Backspace key on the Mac says ‘Delete’ but in reality it is just Backspace. I know you can press Fn+Delete instead but man I miss the dedicated Delete key when using a Mac.

The part that gets me the most though is that Apple had fantastic laptop keyboards, arguably the best in the game and then they felt the need to take whats in my is a step back.

macOS and iPhone Integration

Now lets take a step back and talk about one of the things that Apple people are always shouting about – macOS and the iPhone and the integration that comes along with them.

iMessage and FaceTime is really nice to have on the desktop but I don’t really feel that it adds a ton of value. All of my friends use WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger and frankly the disappointing webcam on the MacBook Air made for a very mediocre FaceTime experience.

The best thing about the macOS is that everything just seems to work with no babysitting required. If you reboot it plunks you right down where you left off. You don’t need to make sure if it’s not updating in the background, sucking up your battery and all those sort of things.

I know a lot of people in my life that could benefit from macOS simply because it’s better at crap management than Windows. If what you plan on doing is mostly productivity and internet based then the macOS on MacBook Air is pretty darn great and the surprisingly snappy experience given the low-power processor really stand out.

Under the hood

This bring me really nicely to what doesn’t stand out about the new MacBook Air 2019. It is only available with a dual-core CPU when four-core has been the standard in ultra books for the last year or so.

Although it handled most of the stuff thrown at it in our tests, it’s at a significant disadvantage compared to competitors like the Microsoft Surface Laptop, Dell XPS and Lenovo X1 Carbon when it comes to multitasking and multi-threaded workloads.

1.1GHz Dual-Core Core i3 Processor with Turbo Boost up to 3.2GHz
256 GB Storage

  • 1.1GHz dual-core 10th-generation Intel Core i3 processor
  • Turbo Boost up to 3.2GHz
  • Retina display with True Tone
  • 8GB 3733MHz LPDDR4X memory
  • 256GB SSD Storage
  • Intel Iris Plus Graphics
  • Touch ID
  • Two Thunderbolt 3 ports

AED 4199.00

1.1GHz Quad-Core Core i5 Processor with Turbo Boost up to 3.5GHz
512 GB Storage

  • 1.1GHz quad-core 10th-generation Intel Core i5 processor
  • Turbo Boost up to 3.5GHz
  • Retina display with True Tone
  • 8GB 3733MHz LPDDR4X memory
  • 512GB SSD Storage
  • Intel Iris Plus Graphics
  • Touch ID
  • Two Thunderbolt 3 ports

AED 5459.00

Battery Life

The good news is that the low-power dual-core chip can be silently cooled in even in such a thin device and it unsurprisingly yields great battery life. It lasted a good 10 hours while doing work like editing this blog.

Price

But is it worth the asking price? Well that’s another question. The model we tested (16GB, 512GB) cost an eye-watering AED 7,619 but even our bang for the buck recommended config (8GB, 256GB) comes in at AED 4,199 and that’s a lot for an ultra book!

On the other hand Apple kind of sets the bar for the premium thin and light market and with other manufacturers creeping their prices up over the last few years it’s not actually not that far out there anymore.

Bottom Line

So the bottom line is that the MacBook Air is not a beast when it comes to performance but its still one of the best options out there if you are looking for an ultra thin and light laptop, assuming you are ok with the keyboard and bear in mind of course that this is coming from a PC guy.

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