And why you should consider it before purchasing another computer.
BY ERIC BEATY, OCTOBER 10, 2015
Personal Laptop Computer
Avg: $800 - $1500 USD
With even the most modest of features (128GB Drive, 4GB RAM, fewer ports), I'm able to get my work done in a highly efficient, quick, and reliable way. The ultra-fast solid-state drive (flash based) allows for more speed and lighter weight; because of this the older, clunkier hard drives can't compete.
Consider getting the MacBook Air if you don't need the heavy lifting (video editing and other RAM-heavy processes) of the MacBook Pro. Most writing programs take up very little hard drive space or RAM, so just the basics for the MacBook Air suit me just fine. The way I see it, why pay more for "extra" options you will likely never use?
Welcome to my review of the MacBook Air (Early 2015 model, 13-inch). I'm excited to share with you all the great aspects I've encountered in the last several months since I've owned this computer (originally purchased Summer 2015).
Below you'll find my full review of the pros and cons of the MacBook Air, as well as some of the great features this computer offers. I'll also let you in on any of the great options I've found while testing my MacBook Air in various settings such as:
I could go on and on about this topic, so I won't attempt to go into depth here. Suffice it to say that I've used both PC (Windows/Linux) and Mac (Apple) computers. I've dealt with the hassles of constant updates, restarts, bloatware, and viruses that come with owning PCs.
Even with Linux, free third-party apps are hardly compatible with more well-known apps—or printers, for that matter— from Windows or Mac, and having to learn to workaround these problems with various complex commands in the Terminal is a nightmare...unless you're a programmer.
Macs, on the other hand, don't require excessive restarting; most updates install quickly and smoothly without the need for it. And the software that comes pre-installed on a Mac is essentially everything you need for most any computing situations you find yourself in, without all the extra stuff loaded onto your computer that ultimately slows you down and takes up extra hard drive space.
In addition to my new MacBook Air, I've owned my Mac mini (mid-2012) for around three years. I recently upgraded it to 8GB of RAM and haven't looked back since. It's my workhorse when I need to spend time editing my YouTube videos or working on multiple things at once. However, I found myself spending large chunks of time holed up in my home office, never venturing into the outside world where I could get some fresh air—and fresh insights—that would fuel my ideas for writing.
I knew I needed a solution. I knew I needed inspiration. I knew I needed a laptop...but which one?
When initially shopping for which laptop to buy for my writing needs, I was hard-pressed to decide between the popular MacBook Pro and the more subtle MacBook Air. My wife had owned a MacBook Pro for a couple of years before I decided it was time to unplug from the office and go mobile myself. So I already had an idea of what to expect from a MacBook Pro. However, the price point was way too high for what I wanted to accomplish with my new computer: more writing.
I began my search comparing the two models and found some interesting factors which ultimately led me to take a chance on the lesser promoted of the two: the MacBook Air. Listed below are some specs that ultimately sold me on the MacBook Air.
For the Low-Maintenance User
Here are some of the main features of the MacBook Air.
For the Powerhouse User
Here are some of the main features of the MacBook Pro.
From researching the specs above, I knew that although the MacBook Air is a somewhat lesser version of the MacBook Pro, I shouldn't discount it completely. Below are a few of the main questions I found myself asking during my research, some of which you would also do well to consider before making your final decision.
When considering Question 1, I knew I could use my Mac mini for such high-powered tasks as video editing (iMovie), audio recording (GarageBand), and other similar tasks. So with my recent upgrade from 4GB to 8GB of RAM, I couldn't see justifying getting a laptop that had such a large amount of memory if I didn't intend to use it for similar large tasks; even if it meant I couldn't upgrade to a higher RAM capacity after purchase. And I'm not a computer gamer, so I don't need the fastest processors known to man either. To do the simple tasks I needed to—mainly writing, blogging, Internet browsing, and watching online videos—I also didn't require the most expensive machine out there.
Storage was one of the biggest issues it took a long time for me to finally settle on. As you can see in the above comparison chart, the MacBook Pro can go all the way up to 1TB (1 terabyte = 1000 gigabytes). That's a lot of storage...even by video, audio, or picture file size standards. However, in my case, I own not one but two external hard drives: one is 500GB and the other is a whopping 3TB external hard drive. These are more than sufficient for my storage needs. I therefore opted for a MacBook Air with a 128GB hard drive, 4GB of RAM, and a 1.6GHz processor, which I knew would be perfectly suited for the low-maintenance tasks I planned to perform on a regular basis. The flash-based storage combined with the processor—which has a Turbo boost of up to 2.7GHz—convinced me that I would still get fast processing speeds even with the lower 4GB of RAM. I've been pleasantly surprised with my decision thus far.
One other thing I considered was if I would need an internal DVD/CD disc drive/writer. Luckily, I had already purchased an external disc drive for my Mac mini, so I knew I could easily detach the drive from the USB port on my Mac mini and attach it to my MacBook Air whenever I needed it. When initially purchasing it, I had also opted for a cheaper disc drive, seeing as how Apple's SuperDrive is nearly $100! Plus, the lack of such an extra feature on the computer would further contribute to how much lighter the MacBook Air would be than the MacBook Pro. So if you're worried about not having the internal disc drive, just purchase a similar disc drive to my own.
One final thing about storage: you have to ask yourself if you're going to be using a lot of online storage such as Google Drive, Dropbox, or other similar cloud-based website services. If so, you may want to reconsider exactly how much hard drive space you can be happy with, especially if you don't want to slow your computer down by using a lot of onboard hard drive storage in the first place.
As to Question 2, I admit I was a little sad that the MacBook Air didn't come with as many ports as the MacBook Pro (but it's nothing compared to the single measly USB-C port that comes with the newest version of the MacBook). In my case though, since my wife has her own MacBook Pro, I can use her laptop's HDMI port for watching videos on my high-def TV. If that's something you need, however, the MacBook Pro may be for you...or it may not.
What really eased my worries about making the right decision was the fact that, even with only two USB3 ports on my MacBook Air, I can always add additional USB ports via a USB hub similar to the one I'm using for my Mac mini. The great thing in particular about the 13-inch MacBook Air—and another reason I recommend choosing it over the 11-inch model—is that, if you need the extra hard drive space, you can easily utilize the SD card reader with much more affordable SDHC cards rather than paying out the nose for a more expensive on-board solid-state flash drive such as the 256GB or 512GB drive upgrades. And if you look closely at the comparison chart above, you'll see that the only (minor) differences between the MacBook Air (13-inch) and the MacBook Pro, when it comes to available ports, is that the MacBook Pro has an extra Thunderbolt port—which I basically never use anyway—and the addition of the HDMI port.
Before making your decision on which computer to buy, ask yourself if buying a MacBook Pro with an HDMI port is really worth the extra price point you're going to pay (versus getting basically the same ports as a MacBook Air), especially when you consider cheaper alternatives like a USB to HDMI or Thunderbolt to HDMI adapter. In my case: methinks not!
Question 3 is one question that will garner a different answer for everyone. I asked this question for myself, but you have to ask it for yourself...and really be honest about your answer. To me, this goes back to Question 1: How much computer do you really need? And will it be sufficient for performing your routine, everyday tasks?
In my case, this was probably the ultimate tie-breaker. When it comes to Macs, the MacBook Pro may be the Camaro of laptops, sporting the most ports, the fastest processors, the highest hard drive capacities, and—we mustn't forget—the largest price points. But if, like me, all you need is a computer that will get you quickly from point A to point Z, with the longest battery life, and with fewer distractions to deter you from your main tasks, then you won't mind settling for the Mini-Cooper of Macs: the MacBook Air.
But seriously, if you're fortunate enough to own a Mac of any kind, are you actually "settling"?
You could own your very own MacBook Air right now! Just imagine getting out of the house, into your favorite coffee shop, and ordering a soothing cup of cappuccino or a flavorful chicken salad sandwich to enjoy while you work on the day's projects.
The MacBook Air may be the most versatile computer of any I've ever owned.
I'm glad you asked. Since purchasing my Macbook Air in the Summer of 2015, I've been able to use it to accomplish several goals I set out to achieve this year. Among them are...
Mind you, each of these tasks was no small feat. Hours and hours of production were involved, with many more still to go before the said books are published. Before, I was doing all this on my Mac mini at home or otherwise having to borrow my wife's MacBook Pro; but now with my MacBook Air, I'm free to roam about from coffee shop to coffee shop, the library, or other various relaxing writing spots and thereby do my work on the go.
Though I mainly purchased my MacBook Air for writing, I've been able to use it for various other tasks; and it's performed very nicely on all of them. The writing program I use (Scrivener) runs super fast for all my writing and organizing needs. If you use online writing programs such as Google Docs, or even onboard apps like Microsoft Word or OpenOffice, have no fear: the MacBook Air blazes through them without a hitch. So you're covered no matter your preference in writing programs. But let's face it, writing's hardly the biggest processing hog out there. For that, you're going to need more CPU-heavy programs—like iMovie.
I recently edited a thirty minute video in iMovie using my MacBook Air. I was certainly curious to see how the performance of my 4GB of RAM stacked up to this resource hog. I was pleasantly surprised when I was able to finish the edits of my video within an hour without any glitches in the editing. No restarting the software after crashes. No lagging of the video while working on the edits. Nothing like that whatsoever. What I got instead was a pleasant experience that would have taken me nearly twice the amount of time on my Mac mini with the same amount of memory. I haven't yet tried working with GarageBand—another resource-heavy app—but I'm confident my results will be equally satisfying.
One of the best things about my MacBook Air is that I never have to worry about the battery dying while I'm out and about. (Notice the extra three hours of battery you get with a MacBook Air as opposed to the MacBook Pro in the comparison chart?) And speaking of the battery, the charge time is also super fast. In just about a half an hour to an hour (depending on how weak the charge level is) I'm back up to 100% charge, even if I use it while it's charging.
So far storage hasn't been much of an issue with me. As I said before, I have an external 3TB drive which is more than sufficient for my needs. When it comes to accessing online cloud-based storage, one of the main factors is the speed of your internet; and with the latest in wireless internet technology (802.11ac Wi-Fi), syncing to my Google Drive or Dropbox usually takes less than a few seconds. This, of course, depends on the speed of your internet, whether you're at home or out and about at your preferred local wi-fi-accessible restaurant, coffeehouse, etc.
Not only all this, but one of the main things that make or break a machine for me is the length of time it takes for apps to start up. On my MacBook Air, apps open in a matter of a few quick seconds. I don't have to wait forever and a day to get to work and strike while the inspiration is hot. For my schedule time is of the essence, and it's very important that I get things done within the blocks of time I've allotted for them; even 30 minutes over what I've allowed for can cause a domino effect that can ruin the rest of my projects for the day, so having a computer that's not only ready when I am but ready at the speed at which I work is essential.
I could go on: multitasking, multiple tabs in your internet browser (I'm a tab addict; I have over 20 tabs open as I write this), you name it. The MacBook Air takes everything I throw at it and makes my life much easier by keeping up with me; and if it can do that, I dare say it could keep up with the much more expensive MacBook Pro. And with the brand new release of OS X El Capitan (September 30, 2015), everything promises to run even smoother with even more great features that are typical of Apple such as:
There's never been a better time to buy a new Mac...whatever your choice. For mine, I chose the MacBook Air. I'm glad I made that choice. With the latest technology at our fingertips and the longevity and compatibility with newly released, more advanced software and operating systems from Apple on a consistent basis, now is the time to invest in yourself and in your dreams of owning a computer that will enable you to fulfill even bigger dreams in life.
Personally, I took advantage of this year's Tax-Free Weekend Holiday to save an extra $90 on my MacBook Air. (Okay, I'll admit, it was a great early birthday present to myself as well!) Fortunately, even though this year's Tax-Free Holiday has come and gone, with Thanksgiving and Christmas just around the corner—or maybe someone's birthday—you may want to take advantage of the upcoming Black Friday, Cyber Monday, or a number of other holiday deals. If that's the case, it would still be wise to do some research on what's available in the MacBook Air lineup before you make your decision to buy.
I consider the purchase of my MacBook Air an investment on future returns. My main goal is to replenish the funds I used to purchase my MacBook Air in the selling of my writing. It's a challenge I'm willing to meet head on, especially with two books now complete and ready for edits and multiple short stories under my belt. As I see it, it's only a matter of time before I'm able to break even on sales from my stories and ebooks; everything after that will be icing on the cake.
I've given you my own experiences thus far with the MacBook Air. Now it's time for you to decide if owning a MacBook Air is a great fit for you. Perhaps, like me, you already own a desktop computer and just want to unplug yourself from the office. Maybe you're tired of PCs and their constant problems and are ready for a switch. Or maybe you don't have a computer at all and are looking to make the right decision for your personal or business needs.
Either way, I believe the MacBook Air is a great place to start. And that's why I give it a 4 out of 5 stars.
X Limited storage capacity options
X No onboard disc drive
X Fewer ports than MacBook Pro
X Lighter duty than MacBook Pro
If you're ready to take the next step in achieving your own goals and dreams with the help of a new MacBook Air, click the button below now to get started on your journey toward faster performance, sleek design, and better technology than the competition can deliver.