Yup, it happened. I got a 2018 MacBook Air. I’ve been waiting for this for over two years, and it finally happened. My wife finally gave me permiss… er, I mean, Apple finally released a significant update and I got one. My previous laptop is six years old. Why did I wait so long? Should you get one? Let’s find out.

Apple's MacBook Air 2018 promo photo

You Get What You Pay For

While I work professionally in a primarily Windows 10 environment, I have been a Mac fan boy since my MacPlus in my Hagget Hall dorm room at the University of Washington in 1991. People often opine that Mac costs too much. I say you get what you pay for.

Here are the highlights on the Mac I’m upgrading from.

  • Mid-2012 MacBook Pro. Cost at release: $1,199. Discontinued late 2016. They made this model for over four years!
  • 2.5 GHz i5 “Ive Bridge” processor with Turbo Boost up to 3.1 GHz.
  • 4 GB RAM
  • 13.3” display driven by the integrated Intel 4000HD graphics with a 1280×800 native resolution
  • 500 GB HDD which I later replaced with a 128 GB Kensington SSD, and an SD card slot.
  • Two USB 3 ports, one 1 GB Ethernet port, one FireWire 800 port, one 1/8” headphone jack, 802.11 a/b/g/n wifi and BlueTooth 4.0.
  • Shipped with Mac OS X 10.7.3 and is running smoothly under macOS 10.14.1 “Mojave”
  • Weighs 4.5 pounds and is 0.95 inches thick
  • When new, the battery lasted up to 7 hours of web activity. Now I get a good 45-60 minutes out of it.

Here are the highlights of the new MacBook Air I just got.

  • Cost at release: $1,199.
  • 1.6 GHz i5 8th-generation with Turbo Boost up to 3.6 GHz
  • 8 BG RAM (standard!)
  • 13.3” “Retina” display driven by the integrated Intel UHD Graphics 617 with a 2560×1600 native resolution
  • 128 GB PCIe SSD
  • Two Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports for charging, external displays, storage, and peripherals, one 1/8 headphone jack (which surprised me), 802.11ac a/b/g/n wifi, BlueTooth 4.2
  • Shipped with macOS 10.14 “Mojave”
  • Weighs 2.75 pounds and is 0.61 inches thick
  • Apple says the battery lasts up to 13 hours of web activity and so far I believe them.

If you haven’t seen it yet, here is Apple’s overview video of the new Air.

What about all those missing peripheral ports on the Air? Am I going to have to carry around another bag full of expensive dongles (man I hate that word) to connect stuff? Nope! Just one dongle (shudder), and it ain’t from Apple. Look for another review of that little gem soon. Let’s just say $60 (on sale down from $90) for three USB 3 ports, one HDMI, one 1 GB ethernet, an SD card slot AND a microSD card slot, and a USB-C charging passthrough, all in one device (it’s smaller than an iPhone 5!) leaving the second USB-C port open on the MacBook Air. I’m kinda stoked. And it’s Space Gray finish! So pretty.

The old Pro laptop has served me very well over six years. It has done everything I’ve asked it to do. FinalCut Pro sermon editing, live music and podcast production, I’m actually going to miss it. Cost of ownership over six years is $200/year plus one SSD for around $100. I think I easily got my money’s worth.

Why Do I Need A New One?

If my old Pro is so great, why am I replacing it? Fair question. First, my wife is in need of a new(er) laptop because the 9-year old Late 2009 white unibody MacBook my wife has been using is stuck a few OS versions behind and is having a hard time keeping up. It’s older than our dog. She’s starting a new business and needed something that will keep up for the next few years and the 2012 MacBook Pro will be fine for her, especially with this cute case (her words not mine). (Her new website is in the works.)

Second, here’s my list why it’s a good fit for me.

  • Even though the MacBook Air is the same screen size as my old Pro, it’s 4x the resolution. This Retina Display is gorgeous! Way more screen real estate which I need for the web development and contend creation I do that needs more screen space. Not to mention the Bible study apps I use (Olive Tree and Accordance) like lots of screen space.
  • It’s much faster. The difference in generations of chips is significant. Even thought its slower in the GHz department, every component is significantly faster. RAM, the SSD, the motherboard architecture, it is a day and night difference.
  • Because this is a significant revision over the previous MacBook Air, and because I don’t need a Pro (as beautiful and speedy as they are), the time was right.

Initial Reactions

I can’t prove it, but I think Apple has designed their boxes in such a way as to torture the one opening it. Never has there been such well-designed cardboard! These boxes are vacuum sealed, I swear. Let me get to my new toy! Click To Tweet

Once I got it open I was honestly a little surprised at how heavy it felt. I’ve worked with plenty of previous Airs and I did just look it up to be sure, but this one does weigh less than the last few revisions of Airs. So it isn’t actually heavier. It’s more solid, and I like it. There is less air in this Air.

Even though my old Pro has the same amount of storage, I didn’t do a direct migration of my account from the Pro for a couple of reasons. A) Most of the stuff I access regularly is all in one cloud or another. DropBox, Google, Lima (yes I have one and love it), and my Netgear NAS at home. 2) I didn’t want to bring over any bloat from apps and 7 different version of the OS that I don’t use anymore. Old FinalCut and Logic stuff that now lives on my Hackintosh at home (yes, I’m one of those guys), stuff like that. It’s a pristine drive and a pristine user account.

But even after installing the apps I know I will use regularly (like Ulysses in which I’m writing this review) and reconnecting all the clouds, I have around 80 GB of free space. I don’t keep my iTunes library on here, I might download a movie once in a while for trips and such. Otherwise, it’s my everyday mobile workstation with my desktop serving as the archive and keeper of all things large.

I LOVE that I can unlock the screen with my Apple Watch! I didn’t even know that was a thing!

I also love TouchID right there up in the corner when I need it. So handy.

Who Else Should Get A MacBook Air?

If you have been waiting patiently for this next revision, now is the time. For the average person looking to get a new portable Mac and you aren’t sure if you should go Pro, that right there tells you; you shouldn’t. The Air will do just fine. Spend some more money if you know you will want/need more storage (up to 1.5 TB, holy cow!), and/or more RAM (up to 16 GB). You could do a whole lot with this thing.

Since pastors and people in ministry are near and dear to my heart, I would also recommend this laptop. Get a good (and compatible) external monitor for your desk at the office, maybe a vertical stand, and a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse, and you will be able to do everything you need to do. Take it home or to meetups in coffee shops (or pubs if your all hip like that) and you will still have everything you need.

If you aren’t going to be doing high-end graphics or video editing, the MacBook Air will be a great fit for you for years to come. I’m planning on doing some on-location audio recording for my new podcast project. I’m looking forward to sharing that project as well as how this Mac does running ProTools.

Lemme Sum Up

The MacBook Air Late 2018 in Space Gray. I love it. Using it makes me want to not stop using it. This review is from the first week of using this puppy (let’s call it Day 1). I’ll be posting a follow-up review in the future for comparison (Day 180?). I am going to love using this thing. I already do.

PS, I love this rev 2 butterfly keyboard. Don’t hate!

Join The Discussion

What kind of computer do you use daily? What do you love about it? What do you hate about it? Is it time for an upgrade? What are you looking at getting?

Photo credit: Apple, Inc.