It’s called the MacBook Air, but it’s an Air in name only. This new version of the popular laptop might as well be called the MacBook Pro Lite, because that’s essentially what it is.
The long-standing tapered Air design, with its thick screen bezels, smallish touchpad, deep keys and multiple types of ports is gone, replaced by the familiar design cues of the post-2016 MacBook ($1,279 at Amazon Marketplace) and MacBook Pro. If anything, the new Air looks and feels like a half-step between the 12-inch MacBook and the 13-inch MacBook Pro, rather than an evolution of the classic Air.
The new MacBook Air comes in space gray, silver and gold.
In person, as seen during a hands-on demo session following Apple’s Oct. 30 event, it was hard to distinguish this new Air from Apple’s other laptops at first glance. (One Apple rep misidentified a nearby new Air as a Pro to us.) Picking up the new Air, it immediately felt lighter and smaller than the current Air, which — having had the same basic design since 2010 — many of us are intimately familiar with.
You get more screen and less body, thanks to a display that cuts the thick bezel border by half and adds edge-to-edge glass over it. Now the Air display looks much like the one on the MacBook Pro, with the same True Tone color shifting and wider color range.
At 2.7 pounds (1.25 kg) and about 15mm thick, its size and weight is actually very middle-of-the-road when it comes to 13-inch laptops. The slimmest systems get down under 10mm, but at the expense of battery, features and processing power. If you want super thin and light, step up to that aforementioned 12-inch MacBook for just $100 more — but know you’ll be losing considerable features and power.
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While size and weight aren’t particularly unusual versus other laptops in this price class, the new MacBook Air does feel substantially more solidly constructed than most of the competition. Like the current Pro and 12-inch MacBook, the new Air still feels as tough as a tank, with its one-piece aluminum construction (now 100-percent recycled aluminum, according to Apple). That’s one of the reasons MacBooks, both Air and Pro, have been able to command premium prices for so long — because you’re making an investment in a product that will hopefully last for several years, which has often been the case for the traditional MacBook Air.
It’s all about the keyboard
As the only MacBook with a traditional island-style keyboard, the MacBook Air was the one refuge for those who disliked the super-flat butterfly mechanism keyboards in newer MacBooks. Now the new Air is firmly in the same camp as the other models.
Some may lament the loss of the