If you have been following the online tech world lately then you’ll sure know how this entry level MacBook Air, costing just 999$, is bowing away people’s minds. It just showed the world what a company can achieve if they have total control over the hardware and software and just keep pushing the boundaries. When I unboxed it a few days ago, I was super excited to try out the first Mac ever, but besides running a few geek bench scores what I was oblivious about was the kind of a true power house this machine is. This was truly amazing, I bet the top level employees at intel are probably having a tough time at the moment, they have some monstererous catching up to do.. seriously.
And I’m gonna answer the questions first rather than doing this at the end:
1) Is this 999$ MacBook Air all the computer which you will ever need – YES
2) If you are a student and looking for a great laptop, then is it the 999$ M1 MacBook Air – YES
3) And even if you are trying to dip your toes into the Mac ecosystem then will this laptop fit the bill perfectly – YES
4) Final question, for pro level applications do I need to spend me and get the 8 core gpu version or go for the MacBook Pro – NO
Let’s me try and justify my decision and then you can make up your mind
First, let’s get the basic stuff out of the way.
I don’t think we can ever fault Apple’s build quality, yes sometimes they are fragile but they are very well built. This MacBook air is like that, it screams quality from every nook and corner.
Next, considering Apple’s stringent storage allocation on its base models, we here have 256GB ssd which is more than decent.
The screen is utterly gorgeous at about 2.5k resolution. I really think you don’t need to go all 4K, this is a solid screen and everything is just beautifully vibrant
The speakers are loud enough to make this laptop a communal thing. You can happily get together with the Mrs and watch some Netflix by just relying on the internal speakers and the device once again to remind you is this thin:
Then the trackpad .. honestly guys, Apple’s trackpads have always been amazing. It almost feels as fluid as the multi touch interface on the iPads. The trackpads on Windows laptop do not come even close to the kind of experience the MacBook ones provide.
Then the keyboard, I know apple experimented with butteryfly keys and that turned out to be a disaster. I personally haven’t used it but heard the internet go on and on, but not to worry here, this is their successful older magic keyboard version.
First time when I typed on it, I felt a bit strange. The keys don’t have that much click on them as Windows, but then it felt very smooth, it made me feel as if I am interacting with a very premium piece of tech. The keys have this concave curvature in the middle which makes it feel like your fingers are hitting the exact centre point. It’s really funny is a super nice way. I’m sure if you are new to Mac, you would absolutely feel this too. I asked the Mrs and without me prompting anything she said the same. So an excellent keyboard that makes you just want to type.
Next the OS – Big Sur .. and it feels soo much like iOS .. mainly iPadOS. Apple did this intentionally and that is a super good decision. See I already felt at home even though I’m using the Mac for the first time and besides a few laptop related exclusives everything is very familiar. The app icons are same as iPadOS, everything is neat, where it needs to be and super minimal. It feels grey to look at this. And for everything jumping ship to Mac OS or buying their first Mac, it’s not that difficult to get the hang of. You could just also Siri and she will guide you.
The arm chip architecture also allowed Apple to enable both iPadOS and iOS apps to run on the new MacBooks and they work brilliantly.
I tried Lumafusion and to be honest, it’s everybit as easy and efficient as how it is on the iPad.
However, I don’t think all of them add much value as if you already have the iPhone I don’t see a point of having these apps on the MacBook as well. Maybe games can benefit with the key and mouse control and productive apps like lumafuison would be more effective with a keyboard and mouse pointer support.
And next I have to talk about that amazing, amazing battery life. The M1 chip has improved battery life tremendously, to test this I watched the entire 3 hour amazing interstellar film on Apple TV at 100% battery and do you know how much battery was left at the end .. 88%!! And the movie was streaming from Apple cloud and is not downloaded on the MacBook plus I had Airpods connected via Bluetooth and a few more apps running in the background. That is really insane, you can pretty much hit Apple claimed battery numbers without any issue.. and that too on a laptop ..it’s simply amazing!
Next, standby time. .. I left the laptop on sleep mode at 88% and woke up to find out the battery next morning was 86%. Note that I put her laptop for sleep and not turn it off altogether.
Then that fanless design, makes the entire laptop feel like an iPad. I ran Lumafusion along with several tabs in Safari, got Asphalt 9 in the background and a few more apps opened and the laptop behaved like an iPad. Not a single peep or a gush, pin drop silence!
And the thermal cooling system, actually the laptop was ice cold to touch. What to do, British weather and alliminuim doesn’t play well together. It’s 2.5 degrees when I recorded this and you could feel that cold when you touched the laptop, even after such an intensive usage session! My Dell Inspiron laptop would have actually functioned as a mini heater if I’d run those same applications!
Next, let’s move onto performance, guys see I do not use and edit 8k footage, I do not transfer gigabytes of raw photo footage from my DSLR and I do not render 3D graphics using Maya.. I am not that guy.. and I don’t think 95% of people reading this are. And if you are that guy then you need to head towards the Pro. But yes for the rest 95% of us, you have seen the numbers, you have seen how this entry MacBook Air blew away the competition so badly that I think intel is probably getting their top engineers to work overtime now!
4K video editing is super smooth, video playback is uninterrupted and photediting using Adobe lightroom or running pages, keynote – its all seamless.. Fast and without any delay whatsoever.
And then gamers .. lots of people asked me if they can play cod or gta on the core i5 budget laptop video which I posted l. I know many are tying to turn this basic machine which is not an all expensive gaming laptop into one . Personally I tried asphalt 9, which played fine.
And if you check the relaxing end channel, then the white gloves guy does play shadow of the tomb raider and that looks awesome without any lag or dropped frames. Several benchmark testers have not put this 7 core gpu at the top with other seriously powerful gaming laptops but it still does play games like Fortnite and Shadow of the Tomb Raider with ease. Now that is quite a lot of offering from a machine which is not built for gaming!
And then if you are already a part of the Apple echo system then the way this integrates with your other devices is simply awesome, no other brand offers you this level of seamless integration. For instance, Microsoft hasn’t got a decent mobile phone or Samsung doesn’t do its own pc operating system. Apple has the added advantage of having complete control over the software and hardware, on just just one device but across its entire product range which results in seamless integration between all these devices making it convenient whilst aiding productivity.
You can start writing something on your iPad and pick it up on the MacBook, you can reply to messages and make FaceTime calls on your MacBook, you can use you iPad as a additional screen via a feature called Sidecar, you do not need any additional cables to do so.
Apple really has this nailed to the tee and now with their own M1 chip, instead of relying on intels chipsets they have soo much control over everything and I can only begin to imagine how wild its gonna get with future updates. That 16 inch MacBook Pro will eventually makes its way next year and I can only imagine how insanely powerful that’s gonna be! Maybe you can control the entire Mars landing sequence with just that machine.
And finally for most users, at this point comparing benchmarks and performance scores, there really is no need to pay more for the 8 core GPU or even consider the MacBook Pro as this entry level MacBook Air offers such amazing performance that it’s totally pointless to pay anything more that than the 999$
But is everything that good? There should be some trade offs right? Well this still is a gen one product, the first to have Apple silicone inside it, so all the applications written for the previous intel chips will not work. And you need to run a compatibility module called Rosetta to make them work. I tried a few and they worked fine. Several YouTubers did try out photoshop and other Adobe software and mentioned that it works fine. But if you are someone who relies on those quite a lot for you main work flow then it is better to wait a little, until everything is properly compatible.
And then the price, the entry level model is still priced at 999$. Had this been somewhere in the 799$ price range, we would have been having a totally different conversation. It would have had a bigger impact on Windows laptops and would have changed things quite dramatically. Sadly we do not see any sort of price reduction.
And then the ports, here are just 2 of them so you will need an adapter. But most slim ultra books do the same and now that you don’t have plug it in that often due to that amazing battery life, you can fully use both the ports most of the time.
The screen bezels are also a bit thicker. Some laptops like Dell XPS and Razr offer amazing screen to body ratio but think this is going to be the inevitable future of MacBooks and we might see it in the next gen products.
Also a lot of people complain about the 720p camera but with the new image processing capability of the M1 chip, the picture from it isn’t that bad.
So that pretty much it, nothing else to report, no other shortcomings, no other corners cut, everything else is simply brilliant.
Wow what a year it was!! Especially for Apple. First it started with the amazing and powerful iPad Pro, then the budget iPhone SE with an amazing camera and price, then the colourful iPad Air 4 followed by 4 iPhone 12 models concluding with the new M1 Mac Computers. It’s really been amazing, if it would not have been for the disastrous COVID situation this would have been one of the best years for all tech enthusiasts.
More importantly, this year proved to us with the iPad Air 4 and the M1 MacBook Air, that you don’t have to pay top level price for that Pro features and performance!! The middle tier is perfectly adequate this time
So yes, I found the best laptop currently available. It’s made of shiny aluminium and has a bitten Apple on it and adopts the name of one of the elements. That’s the new M1 MacBook Air in a nutshell.