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User Review: MacBook Air Computer

Updated on October 29, 2016
Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

Marcy writes about American life, holidays, politics and other topics. She has written hundreds of articles for online & print publications.

Side View of Sleek MacBook Air

The thin profile of the MacBook Air makes it very portable and easy to pack.
The thin profile of the MacBook Air makes it very portable and easy to pack. | Source

Why is MacBook Air so Popular?

It's powerful and lightweight. If you've been lugging a traditional laptop through airport security, or balancing it like a load of bricks on your lap while working at home, you're in for a treat the first time you hold a MacBook Air in your hands. Actually, you can hold it in just one hand - it's that light.

The MacBook Air comes in 11" and 13" models, and you can now get as much storage and power as many desktop models, which means it can probably blast your old PC out of the water in terms of speed and space.

The feature that draws most owners to it, though, is its thin and lightweight design. It's several pounds lighter than most traditional laptops (although many other makers have jumped onto the 'less is more' bandwagon in recent years).

Because of its size, it can be slipped into a roll-on bag without hogging up a ton of space, and can easily be retrieved when you need to put it into those grey bins at the airport as you go through screening.

Your arms won't ache from hauling the much-heavier laptop you used to own (if you're a convert to Mac), and you'll be amazed at the speed the Air offers; its solid-state construction allows an almost instant-on element similar to the iPad or iPhone.

I switched to Mac a few years ago, and I am never going back. Read on to find out why.

Rating of MacBook Air

5 stars from 1 rating of MacBook Air

Classic Video: Steve Jobs Introduces the Mac

Thin, lightweight MacBook Air

The MacBook Air is the sleekest laptop on the market.
The MacBook Air is the sleekest laptop on the market. | Source

How to Switch from a Windows Laptop to a MacBook Air

As a convert to Mac (in just the past few years), there were a few adjustments to make when I bought the MacBook Air. Because I'd owned an iPhone for a while, though, the transition wasn't painful at all.

Possibly the biggest learning curve to Mac computers is the keyboard. Although you do get used to the delete button going backwards rather than forwards if you've come from a Windows environment, you may adjust a bit grudgingly. Maybe one day Mac will merge the user-interface a bit with the keyboard set-ups we use almost everywhere else and develop a delete button that works the same way the rest of the world does. However, after using the Mac keyboard for the last several years, I do not notice it at all - it's second nature.

Otherwise, the keyboard on the MacBook Air is a dream in every way. The keys are almost flush with the surface, which means there's very little noise as you type, and absolutely no sticking keys or wide crevices to collect dust or cookie crumbs (you do eat at your computer, don't you?).

The touchpad on the MacBook Air is pressure-sensitive, so rather than responding to the 'feel' of your fingers, you have to press it lightly to activate it. For me, this is a huge help - I am cursed with an electrical field around my hands and wrists that made my other laptop go crazy, so I had to use a mouse. Not so with the Air - the touchpad is easy to use, and only works when you actually touch it, not when your wrist hovers over it.

After several years of loving my original 13" version (although I'd coveted the tiny 11" model from the start - so small!), as you'll see below, I added the 11" version to my virtual family. I chose the 13" for the first purchase because I often need to be on multiple screens and toggle back and forth. I also got the 8-gig processor and the 256gb storage, because I tend to keep things for several years, and I wanted this investment to last for the long haul. Also, I have an iPad, and at the time, it seemed redundant to get almost the same size in a computer.

MacBook Air 11.6"

Since my career demands escalated further, I bought a second MacBook Air recently (and kept my beloved 13" as well) and I chose the 11.6" version for that purchase. Even though my 13" version is lighter than other laptops I'd owned, the 11.6" is significantly lighter still. It is now my travel computer, and is a joy to take through airport security or to haul in and out of hotels or conference rooms. I recently spent more than two weeks in Europe, in a total of four hotels, and I was very happy to have the lighter Air on that trip.

Why do I have two laptops? I am on the computer almost during all waking hours. This allows me to work in tandem, or to let one unit charge while the other one is being used. It also gives me an important backup computer in case one of them needs repairs. This was hugely helpful when my 13" needed a new battery after several years of faithful service. I love them both - they're keepers!

The MacBook Air keyboard is easy to use.

The streamlined keyboard surface has a good feel, even for those who give it heavy use.
The streamlined keyboard surface has a good feel, even for those who give it heavy use. | Source

The 11-inch MacBook Air is the Lightest Model

Features of MacBook Air

The 13" MacBook Air has two USB-3 Ports, which move date with a lightning speed. The comparison to USB-2 is amazing! If you start converting to USB-3 thumbdrives, be sure to check the label carefully to make sure it's the right version.

The Air also has an SD slot, so you won't have to search for your card reader when you download photos. And it has a Thunderbolt Port, which many people will never use, but those who do will love the speed it offers.

As of 2012, the Air has an improved design to the charger cord; rather than putting the hot end at a 90-degree angle (which made it awkward to use ports on that side while it was charging), the hot connection is at the very end of the cord and plugs directly into the computer (as with an iPhone or iPad). However, it is magnetic rather than pressure-driven, which is a different feel from the way you insert chargers into iPhones or iPads.

The charger for the Air is considerably smaller and lighter in weight than the brick-sized chargers for many Windows laptops. The combined savings in the weight of the laptop and charger is around 3-4 pounds, in my case - that's a lot of sore-shoulder pain I can now avoid.

One problem with some earlier Airs has been a failure to accept a charge. I had to take my Air to the Genius Bar after a few weeks, but the Apple store was excellent to work with and actually offered to replace it. Who can complain, with that sort of great service?

After many years of Windows frustration over slow boots, operating systems that made me crazy (notably the Vista fiasco), and other issues with PC-based computers, I am happy to be with Mac, and the Air is easily worth a five-star rating. The Air is reliable, it boots within a minute or so from the 'off' position and more or less instantly from the sleep mode. And, as with most Mac products, its green engineering saves energy by turning off the charger once the battery is full.

Retina Display is a huge buzzword for Mac in recent months, so you'll want to check out that feature to see whether you need it or want it. Personally, and for the work I do (no brain surgery, watch repair, or intricate design work), the regular display is great, and super-sharp enough.

I highly recommend the MacBook Air for anyone looking for their next portable computer!

© 2012 Marcy Goodfleisch

Comments

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  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
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    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    Thanks, Writer Fox! I am still in love with the Air - I take it with me several times a week, and it's so much lighter than my other laptop - by several pounds. It also boots faster, and is a cleaner user experience. Hope you give it a try - I do like it!

  • Writer Fox profile image

    Writer Fox 4 years ago from the wadi near the little river

    I think the light weight is a real draw for this Mac. Your review is very convincing, too.

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
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    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    I'm with you, James - I use the iMac for bigger projects, and the Air is my portable workspace. My brother loves his Pro, however, and carries it everywhere. But he rarely flies to business meetings. Thanks for your comments!

  • Joseph Muendo profile image

    Joseph Muendo 4 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

    I like most of apple products but prefer the pro for heavy work and the air for travel due to its lightness.

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
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    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    Hi, Teamrn - I am not sure where it went either - but I found it just now - sorry for the delay! My brother also bought the Pro, and loves it. He does almost all of his work on the laptop, so that was a good choice for him. I have an iMac with a huge hard drive (still more than 500gb of memory left), and I got the Air with 240gb and the 8gb processor, so it's pretty robust. If the laptop were my only resource, I would go for the Pro, too. Since I travel a lot, and carry it around with me, the Air works well for me because it is so light. Either way - I am a Mac person from now on!!!

    Thanks for commenting, and for pointing out the advantages of the Macbook Pro!

  • teamrn profile image

    teamrn 4 years ago from Chicago

    I don't know where my comment went (lost in cyberspace!), but it pertained to the question of to get the Air or not. When presented with the option a few weeks agao, I was advised against it by the mac salesman because EVEN though it is so light, it doesn't have much memory or processing speed, and can't play or burn CD/DVDs. No plopping a move in your Air, and no upgrading the memory past a certain point or increasing the processing speed.

    I chose to stick with my MacBook Pro.

  • teamrn profile image

    teamrn 4 years ago from Chicago

    There are two drawbacks to the Air, even though I love Macs, because I was in the market not long ago and was talked out of it. The Air, even though MUCH MORE LIGHT, has less room for memory, and you can't play or burn CDs.

    I don't know what your needs are, but that was the main reason I chose my MacBook Pro.

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
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    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    Hi, Tina - thanks so much for your comment here! As with you, I had PCs for years - for several reasons (price, the wide use at places where I worked, etc.). Early on, I looked at Macs and was put off by the cartoonish icons they used for some tasks. But then, I'd been in settings where we used WANG, if you can believe it! I'm a faithful Mac user now - and I've tried both.

  • thougtforce profile image

    Christina Lornemark 4 years ago from Sweden

    I love Mac for the design as well for the simplicity and I would like to have a Mac Air as my next computer buy. I now have a iMac and wouldn't dream of buying a PC ever again. Mac has always been my favorite computer ever since my first computer ever was a Mac. I fell into the trap of buying PC for some years but never again. Thanks for this article, I think you did an excellent review and the article made me eager to start saving more seriously.

    Tina

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
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    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    Lol! I'll remember that! Actually, my brother (I call him my 'pusher' when it comes to electronics) is my first responder when I need help. He can usually answer anything, and as with you, much of the rest of what I've learned is self-taught.

  • teamrn profile image

    teamrn 4 years ago from Chicago

    Marcy, not to me! I know just enough to be dangerous; in my defense though, taking this internet marketing course, I've learned soooo much about computers, a good part of it self-taught and Mac makes it easy to self-teach!

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
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    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    I think we must have the same level of knowledge (or need for it!) about computers and operating systems, Teamrn. As with you, the transition to Mac was super easy, and the freedom from viruses, slow-loading systems and other hassles has been liberating. Not only that, if I do have problems, I know where to go for help!

  • teamrn profile image

    teamrn 4 years ago from Chicago

    The price difference is incredible, but I've found going from knowing NOTHING about computers to knowing ALOT about websites quite easy and the transition from a PC to a Mac was so seamless- and the OS is so simple. I don't worry about viruses and my PC friends talk about their different 'drives' and I don't know what they're talking about, It's a different language and I don't speak it. I know some who are fluent in both, but those who are fluent in both tend to lean to liking Macs; though I never thought to asking them why.

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
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    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    Hi, Alocsin - Yes, I know there's a big price difference. I had considered all of that, but since I keep computers (and my cars!) for several years, I decided it was worth the extra investment. And, as I mentioned, I really became disenchanted with Windows and Word. I consider you an expert on our site, though, so I truly appreciate your take on things!

  • alocsin profile image

    alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA

    I have played with the MacBook Air and overall, I like it. The only thing that prevents me from getting one is the high price. I'm able to get a couple of Windows laptops for the same amount of money. Voting this Up and Useful.

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
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    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    Hi, Angie - so good to meet you here!

    My brother kept telling me I needed a Mac, but since my old PC was working fine, I resisted. Finally, he offered me a deal I couldn't refuse (sold me their 24" iMac when they upgraded, and gave me a great price on it). You are so right - I will never go back! I had already decided to switch to Mac when I was 'ready' to get a new one, but I was just lazy about looking into it. There were a few differences in the user interface, but they're easily overcome, and the entire system is so elegant that the learning curve is almost seamless.

    I'm All Mac now - I never use the old laptop, and (interestingly), my PC crashed only months after I got the iMac, so I guess the Universe was looking out for me! Thanks for commenting here!

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
    Author

    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    Thanks for mentioning the graphic apps, teamrns! I am looking for some that will work for me, and I have a feeling they'll become addictive once I start using them.

  • Angie Jardine profile image

    Angie Jardine 4 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ...

    Once you’ve had a Mac you can’t go back, as they say, Marcy.

    Good balanced review of an amazing Apple product. My son has one and has to frisk me every time I leave his house in case I’ve pinched it ; )

    But I’ve had a little white MacBook for many years now and it too is brilliant. It knows what to do even when I don’t!

    Voted up etc.

    I LOVE MY MAC!

  • profile image

    teamrns 4 years ago

    Marcy,

    I'm having a whale of a great time learning graphics on GIMP, Skitch and lots of other apps

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
    Author

    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    I'm with you, teamm! I love my Mac - really love it! I also have the iMac, which has the DVD/CD slot, so I didn't mind getting the Air. If it was my only computer, I'd probaly opt for the Pro, too. I just think you can't lose with a Mac, no matter what. I confess I'm still new to the world of graphics, though, so I need to add that to my bucket list of goals.

  • teamrn profile image

    teamrn 4 years ago from Chicago

    I became a Mac person because my husband is a graphic artist and graphics on macs are superb and macs are idiot proof. But, what I use tha mac for is data processing, not much art there.

    But, the Mac Air is something I've not warmed up to. Even with it's increibly low weight, it doesn't have the ability to slap a CD or DVD in.

    So, I'll continue with my Mac Book Pro, spending more than I need to (I can by a very good PC laptop for about $7-800; but the mac is so idiot proof that you can be half asleep with one hand behind your back and the village idiot-it still stands the test of time. The mac proves once and fore all, the old truism, 'GARBAGE IN, GARBAGE OUT;

    I LOVE MY MAC!

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
    Author

    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    Hi, Golden Thread - good to see another Mac fan here.

    I used PCs for years, too, and never thought I'd switch. I credit my brother for coaxing (more like nagging) me to jump ship. My tipping point was when Vista was the required OS on all new systems (it really stank), and then the new Word release produced documents that weren't readable by the old version.

    My brother has a 17-inch Pro, and he loves it. My goal was to cut down the weight I was carrying around on trips, so I opted for the Air. But if I wanted a laptop with a bigger screen, I'd go for the Pro in a heartbeat. I do have an iMac now, though, and it's amazing.

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
    Author

    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    Thanks, Nettlemere - I have to say the Air is the only laptop I've really loved using. I still have a Windows-based laptop that's several years old, but even though it's fairly modest in size, it seems like a dinosaur in terms of speed and weight. A bit like the old cell phones that were as heavy as bricks.

  • profile image

    GoldenThreadPress 4 years ago

    Thanks for writing about Apple! I used PC's for years (lost count), when I finally made the dive and bought an Apple MacBook Pro (17 inch). Love, love, love it! I don't think I would ever want to go back to the PC platform again. You are right the Air is manageable and light. I believe that with technology being what it is, it may eventually reach the same capabilities as my larger unit! Best Regards!--Deb

  • Nettlemere profile image

    Nettlemere 4 years ago from Burnley, Lancashire, UK

    You've put up quite a persuasive argument there Marcy! I can't quite get to grips with lap tops at all, but I can see this would be pretty handy of you have to travel quite a lot.