How does the new version of Apple's entry-level laptop fare in a music and audio-based environment?
Last year, Apple began a long-overdue refresh of the company's laptop range, starting with the announcement of a 16-inch MacBook Pro. Accommodating up to 64GB of memory and 8TB of storage, aided by an advanced thermal design and arguably the best speaker system yet heard on a laptop, the 16-inch MacBook Pro replaced the previous 15-inch model, putting the 'Pro' back into the MacBook Pro. But with the base model costing £2399$2399, not everyone has the budget, or perhaps even the requirements, to justify such a MacBook. Mindful of this, Apple next turned their attention to the opposite end of the company's laptop line-up, unveiling a new MacBook Air in March.
The design of today's MacBook Air remains concordant with the model introduced by Steve Jobs in late 2010, which I reviewed back in SOS January 2011 issue. The form factor has subtly evolved since then, and the latest model retains the same sleek appearance from the last significant upgrade in 2018, with tighter corners and a smaller bezel around the screen. With a footprint of 11.97 x 8.36 inches and the recognisable wedge shape starting at 0.63 inches and resolving to a 0.16-inch depth, the MacBook Air weighs in at 1.29kg. It's available in either Gold, Silver, or Space Grey finishes — aesthetically, there's something about the foreboding Space Grey that appeals to my visceral predilection every time.
The new MacBook Air features what Apple are calling a 'Magic Keyboard', first seen on last year's 16-inch MacBook Pro. This new keyboard sees the return of the inverted-'T' layout for the cursor keys, making them easier to navigate, and reintroduces a scissor-based mechanism. This provides an infinitely better typing experience than the 'Butterfly' alternative Apple had been adopting since the launch of the too-little, too-soon 2015 MacBook. And even if you don't type that much, using the new keyboard just for shortcuts and naming in your music or audio application of choice elicits a more pleasurable reaction.
Retaining the Touch ID button for certain kinds of authentication, such as logging in, the MacBook Air's Magic Keyboard also continues to use physical function keys instead of adopting the MacBook Pro's Touch Bar. While the Touch Bar is kind of neat, it lacks significant support from third parties and can often interrupt workflows rather than enhance them. So I quite like the fact that the MacBook Air preserves the physical past in this case.
The screen remains the same as the previous generation, featuring a 13.3-inch Retina display with a native resolution of 2560 x 1600 that provides four scaled resolutions: 1680 x 1050, 1440 x 900, which is the default, and two lower resolutions for those preferring Brobdingnagian proportions. True Tone technology is present (as introduced in a modest...