It’s been a really long time since I did a post on hardware recommendations. I guess it’s better late than never.

Context

  • My views here are based on the daily usage of a regular office worker. This means email, browsing, music, file management, and other basic tasks. I’m not considering heavy tasks such as photo or video editing, or anything more taxing.
  • It’s Q1 of 2019. So the newly designed retina MacBook Air has finally been launched.
  • I’m assuming you’re migrating from a Windows environment and have no experience in macOS.
  • As usual, I did one of these posts because I was writing up a recommendation for someone and figured I might as well make the advice public, and thus reusable.

What I’d suggest

Get the current retina MacBook Air with at least 16GB of RAM, and 512GB of storage space.

General

  • You’ll need to learn how to use macOS. It might seem a daunting task at first, but from my experience, after a week or two of daily use, you’ll get the hang of it.
  • There will be new apps (programs) that you’ll need/want to familiarise yourself with. Such as Apple Notes, Safari, and the Finder.
  • You’ll probably want to purchase a few apps. Just like in Windows, you’ll probably want more than the stock apps to do your daily work. The best apps are usually paid apps. If it makes you life easier at a reasonable price, I’d suggest you just buy the app.
  • You might want to consider purchasing some iCloud storage. Apple is currently still only offering 5GB of iCloud storage for free. It was embarrassing years ago, and it’s still embarrassing in 2019. You don’t need to purchase it, but having photos and files sync across your macOS and iOS devices seamlessly is pretty awesome.
  • Nothing is perfect. Switching to a MacBook Air isn’t going to make all your computing issues just disappear overnight. Just go with the flow and learn as you go.

Upsides

  • macOS is awesome. I can’t imagine going back to Windows. Every time I use a Windows machine, I get so frustrated.
  • The core apps for work are all available, and native. The whole Microsoft Office suite, which includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook are available as native macOS apps. Other apps such as OneDrive, Google Drive, Dropbox, Chrome, Photoshop, Whatsapp, WeChat, and many more are all available.
  • Excellent syncing. Photos, contacts, calendars, iMessages will (in theory) sync seamlessly with your iOS devices. The cynic in me will say that it works most of the time.
  • It uses a USB-C charger. So you can share a charging brick with your iPhone, assuming you have a USB-C to Lightning cable. I’d get mine from Anker.
  • It’s a lightweight machine. Easy to carry around.
  • The Retina display is amazing. You’ll never go back to a non-retina display.
  • You can ask me for advice. While this might sound pretentious, but the truth is I’m always giving out tech advice. My absence from the Windows ecosystem for years more or less means I can only support people who ask me questions on macOS or iOS nowadays.
  • It’ll work amazingly well with AirPods. You might want to hold out for the AirPods 2, but whether you wait or not, Apple’s AirPods are amazing and worth every penny. The integration between macOS and iOS is flawless.
  • Apple Notes. It’s a simple app, but surprisingly I haven’t found a good and reliable alternative to this, and I’ve probably tried every note taking app available.

Downsides

  • Welcome to Dongletown. Continuing Apple’s determination to be the trailblazer in USB-C adoption, the MacBook Air only comes with USB-C ports, so if you want to connect any USB device with a “normal” USB port, which is basically everything on the market, you’re going to need a dongle. Good USB-C dongles aren’t cheap, nor are they easy to find.
  • There are only two USB ports. Not only that, one of them will be occupied to keep the machine charged. So you’ll generally only have one port available. Good luck finding a reliable USB-C hub in 2019.
  • I still don’t trust the durability of the butterfly keyboard. Even taking into account the uncomfortable key travel on Apple’s redesigned keyboard with the butterfly keyboard mechanism, I still strongly dislike this keyboard as I don’t trust it to last through the lifetime of the machine. I don’t believe this third-generation butterfly keyboard will fix the well documented reliability issues that have plagued this controversial keyboard design. They cost a pretty penny to repair too.

Final Words

The MacBook Air and macOS may or may not be a good tool for you. As always, I recommend everybody to go check out the machine at a store, and think about what you need from a computer. Once you’ve determined your requirements and use case, you’ll be able to make a proper informed decision.

Published by matt

A tech enthusiast who spent his first paycheck ever on a mobile phone. Over a decade later, he's still throwing all his money at mobile technology, much to the chagrin of his wife.