This is not a full review, as I’ve only had my 2020 M1-based MacBook Air for a day, but I can give a few impressions.
First, yes, I got a replacement for my 2016 MacBook Pro just a few weeks shy of its four-year free keyboard replacement offer ending.
After mulling over the differences between the equivalent MacBook Pro replacement and the Air, I opted to go with the Air because:
- The Air costs a fair bit less, allowing me to increase the ram and storage without spending more
- They have the exact same M1 chip, so general performance is pretty much identical
- The Air only loses out on sustained performance, something my use case would rarely if ever hit
- As a bonus to the above, the Air has no fan, so is completely silent
- The Touch Bar still seems like a goofy, unnecessary idea
- The extra battery life of the Pro is nice, but the Air is already way better than what I had before, so the improvement in the Pro is not worth the price premium
Setting up the Air was pretty straightforward. I have made a new rule this time, which I plan to strictly enforce (until I stop):
Only install programs I am actually using, not ones I might use or may eventually need to install. Slim (installs) is in. So far I have installed:
- Edge (to have a Chromium-flavored browser handy)
And that’s it!
For Firefox, I started with the current non-native version, but it was just janky enough to drive me to use the 84.0a beta, which is M1 native. The two issues I encountered were crashes on quitting and searches not working. Annoying and I could have probably managed, but the beta has been stable and runs fast.
Ulysses is M1 native. Edge and OneDrive are running under Rosetta 2 translation, but they both seem fine. So software-wise, I haven’t had any major issues, or nothing that couldn’t be fixed fairly easily.
I set up Touch ID and it is fast. FAST. Pretty much instant. But having the system unlock with the Apple Watch is even better.
The system wakes up almost instantly, too.
Battery life so far seems very good, though I haven’t really used the Air enough to give it a proper workout.
I selected Silent Clicking for the trackpad, but can still hear it click. Maybe I need to reboot? Maybe silent means kind of silent.
Oh, and the keyboard. This feels much closer to the keyboard on my old 2013 MacBook Air. It is still clicky (and clicks notably with my caveman typing style), but the clicks are much softer, because there is actual travel now. It no longer feels like pounding your fingertips into hard, unyielding plastic. It’s what the 2016 keyboard should have been. Better late than never, I suppose.
I’ve ordered a dock for the Air and in a few days will ship off my Mac mini for trade-in, so the Air will be doubling both as my laptop (for the future days when people can take laptops outside their homes again) and as a desktop machine, where simply plugging one cable from the dock to a Thunderbolt port should be all I need to get it working with an external monitor, keyboard, mouse and all that stuff.
So far it seems pretty good. We’ll see how it holds up over the long term. My MacBook Pro still works, but I can’t say I ever enjoyed typing on it. Considering it was my primary writing tool for a few years, that was a bit of a problem. Hopefully the Air will be a better overall experience.