Ever since Apple’s envelope-pushing re-design of their 12-inch MacBook Pro in 2012, the main improvements added to subsequent versions of newer model computers like the Macbook Air have consisted of very little outside new Intel processors and tweaking the ports and internal memory. The main advantages of owning a Macbook Air, like the slimmer design and more affordable price, still keep this Apple workhorse in high demand. So it still matters when Apple launches the 2015 version of one of the most universally useful laptops you can buy. Starting at only $999 for the 13-inch version, the Air also has gained its dependable status thanks to its long-lasting battery life-longer than any other on the laptop market. A minor tweak of Intel’s fifth-generation Core I-series processors gives the Air a performance boost that not only increases responsiveness but extends battery life to a device that already possesses the longest available. This new CPU comes with a speed boost from Thunderbolt to Thunderbolt 2 for the data/video port. The 2015 version worked for 18 hours on a battery drain test using non-stop video. This means it’s virtually an all-day laptop even when using heavier-draining apps like Microsoft Office or your Steam Player. While a Macbook Pro or another Apple laptop may be more appropriate for IT Admins or hardcore games, the Macbook Air is the perfect laptop for the casual-to-moderate user.
The MacBook Air now iconic look hasn’t changed since 2010, with its smooth, aluminum outside and its modern and minimalist look. It still is heavier than the 12 inch Macbook and lighter than the Macbook Pro. It still doesn’t have a touch display and the Macbook Air still has a thicker bezel (the space between the screen and the edge) than the Macbook or Macbook Pro. This only shows how certain design aspects of the Macbook Air are becoming stale. However, other aspects of the Air design are perfect as is, including the keyboard and mouse trackpad. The newer Force Touch trackpad isn’t still not included in the Macbook air, but most users will hardly miss it. Going into the preferences menu to enable all the multitouch options make the Air’s trackpad almost as cutting edge and contemporary as the Force Touch. The back-lit keyboard is a welcome return, however, as the inclination to redesign what already works hasn’t infected Apple as it has other laptop manufacturers. The main letdown in the 2015 version in its display. With a capped resolution at 1,440×900, it’s display capability is well below the HD standard of 1,920×1,080 found on newer laptops around the same price point, even those that display 4K HD. The lack of an accompanying retina display like those found on Macbooks and Macbook Pros makes the Air seem like more of a step down if you’ve owned those other laptops before. Responding to past criticism of too few USB ports, Apple has now installed on the Air a pair of USB 3.0 ports – Thunderbolt 2 which works with HDMI or VGA and a slot for an SD card. This is unlike the newer Macbook Pros with only one USB-C port for everything, including power. Even though it’s easy to foresee this technology rolled out on future versions of all Macbooks, this seems to the be the main advantage the Air has today over Apple’s other two current-gen laptops. – more flexibility with other, older generation devices.
Better CPU, Longer Battery Life
The shift from the older Intel CPUs to this fifth-gen Intel Core i5-5250U will make a significant, if slight, difference in performance in everyday applications like Web surfing, social media, HD video playback and iTunes. The operating systems used is a better determining factor for how any given Apple product performs. OSX Mavericks is currently running faster than the latest version of OSX Yosemite, so having the 2015 Air operate on Mavericks is the best way to get more out of the newest Intel CPU. The actual reason the MacBook Air remains a vital part of laptop production is the battery life, and this is where the new and improved CPU makes its case. The 2013 13-inch Air performed for 14 hours and 25 minutes in a video playback battery drain test. The 2014 version managed 16:26 on the same kind of test. The 2015 has brought the performance up to 1,080 minutes – roughly 18 hours. Even with non-stop HD video, it lasted for about 10 hours. It’s this detail that makes the Macbook Air still one of the best Apple laptops on the market when trying to balance cost, performance and battery life.