Apple MacBook Air 13” (2017): Hands on review
13th March, 2018.
13th March, 2018.
MacBook Air is one of three Macintosh portable computers, other two being MacBook Pro and MacBook(retina). It’s is usually Apple's entry-level laptop and was first introduced in 2008. Over the years MacBook have seen very little changes, except for 2010 where it’s sharp edge design was something exciting. But since then it feels like the MacBook Air is being neglected for the other two MacBooks, in terms of features. Even at that, it’s still a decent notebook with a relatively more affordable price tag. Also it’s noteworthy to appreciate the core upgrade in the the 2017 model. It may not seem like an exciting change but an upgrade from a 1.6GHz to 1.8GHz Core i5 CPU would mean a slightly faster notebook.
It's still available in just the one silvery colour, unlike the 12in MacBook (Silver, Space Grey, Gold or Rose Gold) or 13in and 15in MacBook Pro (Silver or Space Grey).
A lot about the design holds it back. It still has its sharp edge design with properly framed in bezels...almost like it looked in 2010. Apple has somehow refuse to conform to the current trend of bezel less and high resolution screens with the Air. The MacBook Air's screen is a 13.3in anti-glare LED-backlit glossy widescreen display with a resolution of 1,440 x 900 pixels and a pixel density of just under 128ppi. It’s supported by a durable aluminum unibody design that covers most of its structure. As sleek as it may look you still have to try and avoid those permanent black scratches the aluminum easily gets.
Previously introduced by Apple as the world’s thinnest laptop, it’s still pretty much a slim notebook. Weighing 1.35kg with a width of 12.8inches it’s so comfortable to carry around.
The full size keyboard comes with the trackpad that responds to multi touch gestures. I used the Air for just about two days and I honestly like how the keyboard feels. As always the ports on the Air are placed on both sides. On the left there’s a USB 3.0 port, a MagSafe 2 charging connector, an headphone jack and dual mic ports. On the right is a SDXC memory reader, Thunderbolt 2.0 port and another USB 3.0. You might need to accessory or an adapter for other types of connectivity.
The Air has a processor of 1.8GHz dual-core Intel Core i5, Turbo Boost up to 2.9GHz, 3MB shared L3 cache and 8GB of RAM. The Air operates on the macOS High Sierra, the new version of the macOS. The High Sierra focuses mostly on improved speed and functionality in the data, video and graphics aspect. Apple says the High Sierra has introduced a modern file system, Apple File System (APFS), with an advanced architecture that brings a new level of security and responsiveness. It introduces features like built‑in encryption, crash‑safe protections, and simplified data backup on the go. Another interesting feature of the High Sierra is the High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) that can compress video up to 40 percent more than the current standard for video compression. Using HEVC, videos stream better and take up less space on your Mac, while preserving the same visual quality.
The High Sierra comes with more features like the Metal 2 graphics API, an improved photo editing feature, better safari tracking, expanded memories and lots more.
As much as I’d expect all these and even more from an improved operating system, it still doesn’t really give us an idea of the speed, responsiveness or relations with third part apps. According to GeekBench 4 scores the MacBook Air is comfortably above average, in terms of speed, doing better than most comparable notebooks. Apple also offers a feature called Turbo Boost which basically pushes the processor to work faster. I don’t think the MacBook Air was intended for heavy duty or ultra speedy task, but it at least delivers most basic speed requirements. The battery has to be its best feature. For the whole day I was with the Air, it didn’t seem to die out. Apple says the built-in 54watt‑hour lithium‑polymer battery can withstand up to 12 hours wireless web, up to 12 hours iTunes movie playback and up to 30 days standby time.
The MacBook Air is available in either 128GB or 256GB storage choice.
In all I still think it’s a decent device. It’s a little held back in its design and display but it makes up for this with its battery life. If you need something that’s easy to carry around for just basic use, then the Air might be a considered option.
- 13.3-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit glossy widescreen display with support for millions of colors
- Supported resolutions: 1440 by 900 (native), 1280 by 800, 1152 by 720, and 1024 by 640 pixels at 16:10 aspect ratio and 1024 by 768 and 800 by 600 pixels at 4:3 aspect ratio
- 128GB PCIe-based SSD
- Configurable to 256GB or 512GB SSD
- 256GB PCIe-based SSD
- Configurable to 512GB SSD
- 1.8GHz dual-core Intel Core i5, Turbo Boost up to 2.9GHz, with 3MB shared L3 cache
- Configurable to 2.2GHz dual-core Intel Core i7, Turbo Boost up to 3.2GHz, with 4MB shared L3 cache
- 8GB of 1600MHz LPDDR3 onboard memory
Battery and Power
- Up to 12 hours wireless web
- Up to 12 hours iTunes movie playback
- Up to 30 days standby time
- Built-in 54‑watt‑hour lithium‑polymer battery
- 45W MagSafe 2 Power Adapter with cable management; MagSafe 2 power port
Size and Weight
- Height: 0.11–0.68 inch (0.3–1.7 cm)
- Width: 12.8 inches (32.5 cm)
- Depth: 8.94 inches (22.7 cm)
- Weight: 2.96 pounds (1.35 kg)3
Graphics and Video Support
- Intel HD Graphics 6000
- Dual display and video mirroring: Simultaneously supports full native resolution on the built-in display and up to 3840-by-2160 resolution at 60Hz on an external display, both at millions of colors.
- Thunderbolt digital video output
- Native Mini DisplayPort output
- DVI output using Mini DisplayPort to DVI Adapter (sold separately)
- VGA output using Mini DisplayPort to VGA Adapter (sold separately)
- Dual-link DVI output using Mini DisplayPort to Dual-Link DVI Adapter (sold separately)
- HDMI audio and video output using third-party Mini DisplayPort to HDMI Adapter (sold separately)
- 720p FaceTime HD camera
Charging and Expansion
- Two USB 3 ports (up to 5 Gbps)
- Thunderbolt 2 port (up to 20 Gbps)
- MagSafe 2 power port
- SDXC card slot
- 3.5 mm headphone jack
- 802.11ac Wi-Fi wireless networking; IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n compatible
- Bluetooth 4.0 wireless technology
- Stereo speakers
- Dual microphones
- 3.5 mm headphone jack
Keyboard and Trackpad
Full-size backlit keyboard with:
- 78 (U.S.) or 79 (ISO) keys, including 12 function keys and 4 arrow keys (inverted “T” arrangement)
- Ambient light sensor
- Multi-Touch trackpad for precise cursor control; supports inertial scrolling, pinch, rotate, swipe, three‑finger swipe, four-finger swipe, tap, double-tap, and drag capabilities
Electrical and Operating Requirements
- Line voltage: 100-240V AC
- Frequency: 50Hz to 60Hz
- Operating temperature: 50° to 95° F (10° to 35° C)
- Storage temperature: –13° to 113° F (–25° to 45° C)
- Relative humidity: 0% to 90% noncondensing
- Operating altitude: tested up to 10,000 feet
- Maximum storage altitude: 15,000 feet
- Maximum shipping altitude: 35,000 feet
Operating System: macOS High Sierra
Accessibility features help people with disabilities get the most out of their new MacBook Air. With built-in support for vision, hearing, physical and motor skills, and learning and literacy, you can create and do amazing things.
- Reduce Motion
- Closed Captions
- Siri and Dictation
- Text to Speech
- Increase Contrast
- Switch Control
- Photo Booth
- App Store
- Time Machine
In the Box
- MacBook Air
- Power adapter
- AC wall plug
- Power cord
The MacBook Air starts at £949/US$949 for the 128GB model and £1,099/$1,199 for the 256GB model.