Apple's new MacBook Air is 10 percent thinner and boasts enhanced graphics, all-day battery life and USB-C ports.
- The Apple MacBook Air 13 is a few years old, but it retains its value as a top buy for business use.
- The Air 13 was ahead of its time in performance and still competes with the latest models today.
- The combination of portability, convenience and power makes the MacBook Air a difficult computer to beat in terms of raw, practical ability.
Apple's MacBook Air is lighter, faster and more secure than many laptops, even new models. It boasts a 13.3-inch Retina display that depicts 48% more color than previous generations. Its built-in HD FaceTime camera and array of microphones make video calling and FaceTiming crisp and clear. Its promise of all-day battery life means you can use it on long flights and not worry about needing to plug it in.
Many of the latest laptops being marketed today are trying to keep up with the blend of style, portability, convenience and power of the MacBook Air 13.
Apple's MacBook may be a consumer product, but it has some ideal features for business owners everywhere. However, those features will definitely cost you: The MacBook Air starts at $1,199.
Hardware, storage and speed
The MacBook Air features an eighth-generation Intel Core i5 processor, Intel UHD Graphics and a 2133 MHz system memory up to 16GB. For comparison, 10th generation processors offer only marginal performance upgrades. It also offers SSDs up to 1.5TB in capacity.
Apple is known for including convenient bells and whistles as selling points on all its products, but this laptop is a strong product inside and out. It's 0.61 inches at its thickest point. It weighs 2.7 pounds. The compact, portable nature of the MacBook Air means you can travel with your laptop without being weighed down by it. [Read related article: Mac or PC? What Should Your Small Business Use?]
Apple boasts an all-day battery life on the MacBook Air. This means 12 hours of battery life during wireless web use and up to 13 hours of iTunes movie playback. This is an impressive lifespan, ideal for traveling or constant on-the-go use. This is one of the standout business features of the MacBook Air. This battery capacity is on par with some of the longest-lasting laptops on the market.
Touch ID and security
Apple built a fingerprint sensor into the keyboard, which allows you to quickly unlock the computer without the hassle of typing in a password. Apple also wants to protect your biometric (and personal) information – the MacBook Air includes an Apple T2 Security Chip. It protects Touch ID information and analyzes software to ensure nothing has been tampered with. It also offers data encryption for everything stored on your SSD.
While some models try to sell facial recognition locking features, fingerprint IDs have proven more reliable for consistent access. Changing reading glasses or wearing a hat won't make it harder to use your laptop.
This laptop can handle intense video and graphics projects. You have the option to bring Radeon Pro Vega graphics to your MacBook, which can deliver up to 60% graphics performance. Apple included two Thunderbolt 3 ports on the side of the Air, so you can charge your notebook or transfer data via USB and Thunderbolt. Because USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 are the same port type, you can also connect to the thousands of USB-C-supported devices on the market. Another notable feature is the Air's keyboard, which is 20% larger than the previous generations' keyboards.
The graphical processing on the Air 13 is still competitive by modern standards. It can enable video editing projects that stagger newer laptops that weren't built with the same applications in mind.
Is it good for business?
The MacBook Air is ideal for business owners and employees who travel frequently. It offers a lightweight, powerful laptop experience. Its improved hardware, slimmed design, impressive security and long-lasting battery make it a great computer. While it's certainly not cheap, it's a great option for business owners looking for a powerful, slim laptop – and the latest in a long line of impressive and reliable Apple products.
Comparing the latest models
The latest MacBook Air is still powered by an Intel Core i5. It comes with a standard 8GB (upgradeable to 16GB) of memory, and it utilizes the same PCIe solid-state hard drive storage system. In benchmark tests, there are no substantial performance upgrades with the newer model. Battery life expectations are identical when rounding to the nearest hour.
In the pursuit of a portable laptop with powerful capacity and a wide range of business functions, the Apple MacBook Air 13 is a great buy. You're getting competitive performance with a chance for substantial cost savings.
Purchasing older models
In the tech world, old devices carry a stigma worse than used cars. Technology is pushed every day, but there's a hidden truth: Unless you're designing software/systems that utilize the year-on-year minor upgrades, a two- or three-year-old computer can prove more cost-effective than purchasing something brand new. In practical applications, brand new computers rarely provide substantial performance increases over models that are up to three years old.
This is particularly true of Apple products that hold their value longer than other brands and maintain top-end performance years after their initial release.