I bought the second generation MBA (the first good one) in 2011. It was a fantastic laptop. It was pretty much the right compromise of power vs weight vs cost. I loved how you could get a pretty darn usable Macbook for (eventually) like $1200.
For the first couple of years other manufacturers just couldn't compete with that much hardware for that price.
But then it got a bit long in the tooth. I, like many, was waiting for a screen upgrade (particularly to a retina screen). Other manufacturers were increasingly producing better hardware and smaller bezel displays. Yet no update from Apple (after about 2015 or so).
And then... the Macbook came out, which spelt the end for the MBA (a 12" MB and 11/13" MBAs were too many SKUs for Apple). And the MB was a terrible compromise. One port (also for power!). Terrible keyboard. Horrible performance.
And now we have Macbook Pros that have:
- Removed the super-useful Magsafe connector
- Added a stupid touchbar no one cares about
- Used a much worse keyboard and trackpad to save like 0.5mm in width; and
- Cost 2x+ as much.
Thanks for that, Apple.
All I wanted was an updated Macbook Air.
>- Added a stupid touchbar no one cares about
>- Used a much worse keyboard and trackpad to save like 0.5mm in width;
I have 2 of the new Touch Bar MBPs (one for work and one for personal) and those 3 things are something that sold me on the computer after I had purchased it. I had no intention of using the TouchBar and felt like they didn't need to mess with the MagSafe or the keyboard and yet all 3 of these things have won me over.
The TouchBar is amazing to me and something that I use regularly (made even better by BetterTouchTool). Being able to scrub through media while still having hands on the keyboard and then switching immediately to editing tools is a godsend for me.
The USB-C connector is a much better option, in my opinion, than MagSafe was (even though I really liked MagSafe) simply because it's not a proprietary connector and it's not limited to charging. I'll happily give up a dedicated port for charging when I don't have to buy chargers from Apple and the port doubles as an I/O port. In hindsight, MagSafe was convenient when laptops weighed and ton and could easily get pulled down by the standard laptop charger plug. I've had all different laptops for years now and can count on one hand the number of times MagSafe would have saved me a slight bit of trouble.
As for the trackpad and keyboard, I much prefer the feel of the new keyboard and I can't tell a difference between the trackpads simply because I prefer the larger trackpad. The "click" feels exactly the same in day-to-day use. The keyboard feels much more stable and even to me and I don't find the travel to be greater to one side of a key or another so it always feels like a solid press.
Maybe it's just me but I love the new Macbook Pros. I'd love to see an updated MBA with a Retina display instead of the 12" Macbook but I have no complaints about the Pro line at all and I'm a professional media creator and developer.
Didn't you get that inversely? It's today's lighter laptops that can MORE easily get pulled down by the standard laptop charger plug.
Absent a magsafe style solution, the easiness of which a laptop can be pulled down is an inverse factor of its weight.
>I've had all different laptops for years now and can count on one hand the number of times MagSafe would have saved me a slight bit of trouble.
That's still up to 5 times. And that's with YOUR use cases, others (e.g. less mindful, with pets, with kids, working on cafes, etc) can have it even much worse.
But even 1 time, never mind "measurable on one hand" times, of avoiding getting a laptop dented, with broken screen, etc, in a decade is a good ROI.
No, but I probably should have been clearer in my meaning. The chargers now plug in via a very tiny port that is easily removed with minimal force. The larger, heavier laptops of the past had the more standard wall-wort plugs that needed to be pulled straight back to remove them. USB-C unplugs too easily to ever be a risk for a computer getting pulled down and computers are too light now to actually disengage the MagSafe ports. It's a tough balance where too powerful of a magnet won't disengage a light computer and too light of a magnet causes the charger to fall off at the lightest touch.
As for your second point/question, I was mainly saying that paying a premium for a MagSafe connector is less worth it to me than having a non-proprietary port that is also multi-function since it's very uncommon for the use-case that MagSafe was designed for to happen nowadays with computers. I have yet to hear a current story where MagSafe saved someone's computer or where the USB-C cable trashed someone's computer by getting pulled and not releasing. MagSafe was awesome for its time but I think it's not as useful with today's tech.
Okay, so USB-C has a long pull. It’s not a short simple disengage that can occur at any angle. You can’t snap off a USB-C plug by rolling at an angle, without inflicting wear at best, or connector damage at worst.
The lighter the laptop, the more likely the laptop will be pulled by the binding of the tension clip, especially if the angle of pull is unintentionally wrong and accidental.
That the laptop is lighter is good, because on a bad drop off a table top, there’s less impact damage or probability of screen breakage, but a trip over a cord or an excited pet can still send the laptop flying MORE EASILY, not less.
The heavier chasis weight merely means that damage was more readily inflicted on the conductive ring-and-pin DC port itself, or the adapter wire, by serving to anchor the chasis in place, than would a lighter chasis get launched across the room.
The lighter chasis means a lesser magnet should be used to link the magsafe connector to the power port, but either way, magsafe wins. It’s the better design every time.
Back in the day, the magsafe connector saved multiple fragile components, preventing HDD head crashes, dents, bent plugs, sceen smashes and frayed power cord internals. But now, with SSD drives and gorilla glass monitors, and commodity cords, laptops are more durable and survivable on a drop than years ago.
Either way, it’s still extremely disconcerting to drop a laptop, no matter that they can withstand more abuse than the bad old days, and magsafe power connects were a reassuring presence.
Fortunately, it’s low technology, and USB-C is an open standard, so after market solutions could jump into the market for a save. It doesn’t have to be an Apple product exclusive anymore. It could be an Otter Box durability sweetener included with their hardened clamshell wrappers, or a Belkin accessory, or whatever dongle-du-jour company puts something out. It’s just that no one has pushed into that area yet.
Because it's a non-story. Magsafe saved my macbook a few times in Uni. I was working in Cafés, in uni with the cable going straight away from the table and at home with pets. I probably would have needed a macbook per year without magsafe. While I agree it's great to have a standardized USB-C plug, magsafe was the one thing where I didn't mind paying the Apple premium.
We could have a magsafe USB-C port. With enough people having a Macbook today this could become standard. And you'd just need a simple ($50) adapter cable to connect the two.
I find it ironic that everyone always beats up on Apple for having proprietary connectors (more for phone admittedly), but then when Apple does do something standard, they still get beat up. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t I guess.
Personally I love that it’s USB-C as now I can use an external battery with my Mac when I need extended run time without having to pay super premium prices for something like HyperMac’s old system. That and the fact I can plug power in on either side is a huge plus to me.
Or, one can think of it as "judging each case on its individual merits". For other stuff, it makes less sense to have a proprietary connector, whereas for magsafe it provided something good.
i sort of forget about the keyboard until i use my old macbook pro and remember what i'm missing out on. and even that one was a step down from the previous gen.
Isn't that something you could do with a modifier key and the touchpad?
Just one data point, I'm very happy with how this worked out.
Unlike Apple's terrible huge proprietary chargers, I now have portable battery packs and cheaper USB-C chargers all over the place that charge both my phone and MacBook Pro, and, best of all, they can go on both sides depending on where I'm sitting. The cables slide out pretty easy so MagSafe isn't even needed IMHO.
I am hugely happy with the new MBP, with having to blast the keyboard with air occasionally being the only irritation.
I did like the magnetic connector though.
It can also be a huge, "my laptop just got fried because of a BS el-cheapo charger" loss.
Don't give up on those Apple or Belkin charge cables just yet...
This isn't true if you buy both an Apple phone and computer, you have to get an Android. Just more evidence of Apple's backwards and confused direction as of late.
What disappoints me even further since 2016, separate from the laptop regression is how badly Apple dropped the ball on the monitor side.
The previous gen Thunderbolt display doubled as a lovely hub for Ethernet/audio in&out/traditional USB ports/Firewire/Thunderbolt. Convenient way to restore all the usual ports to the svelte MBA, and bonus, all on a PCI bus (i.e. fast).
Enter the LG 5k: the panel itself is fine, but the enclosure is butt ugly, costs more, and has none of the above.
It won't charge things when a laptop isn't connected.
Years later, finally we got power and video on one cable...but the monitor is a 3rd party sub standard mess, and good luck if WiFi devices are nearby. 
* Upgrade the screen to a retina display
* Shrink those old-fashioned bezels
* Integrated GPU only is fine
* Update the 2 USB ports to USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 with power delivery
* Current generation CPU
* Keep the weight about the same
Of course it is somewhat more expensive than the MBA, but you cannot expect upgraded technology for free.
tl;dr Apple did an "upgraded MBA" when they bifurcated the MBP line, and nobody noticed.
But...the goddamned keyboard has failed twice. In fact my mb is at Apple being replaced right now. Warranty, sure, but I can’t write much code on this iPad!
Fair to say that it's a significant upgrade and using the MBA now feels like a real step down.
Wouldn't you agree?
If it was just about hardware, I'd consider other options.
I was asking for you to connect your comment to the one which you had replied. As it is it's just a completely out of the blue, like stating "many people enjoy French fries" or something.
Exactly. But today the world is full of cheap MacBook Air knockoffs.
The challenge now, as it was then, is how does Apple leverage its manufacturing strengths to produce a laptop that no one else can at the same price?
The answer is the new MacBook and MacBook Pros. A success in the sense that no one else can produce such laptops. A failure in that few would want to. The MacBook knockoffs look like better machines.
If it weren't for the fact that I do some iOS development, I would have ditched the Apple laptop/desktop scene by now.
So... when will the keyboards be usable again?
I had one, and aside from the screen refresh it was so crazy how absurdly portable it was.
I would pay more than they want for that new Psion or the GPD pocket 2 for an updated vaio p with just a modern atom, or basically the specs of the GPD win. The rev2 with the trackpad on the screen glass was basically the perfect form factor.
I can't believe these still sell for what i paid for mine in 2011~ when it was barely old, which was about $400
Also, these days Vaio is no longer a part of Sony and thus likely can't chase niche markets as much.
GPD Pocket: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/gpd-pocket-7-0-umpc-lapto...
GPD Win 2: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/gpd-win-2-handheld-game-c...
Ockel Sirius A: https://www.ockelcomputers.com/sirius-a/
I have the original GPD Win, and it's a surprisingly competent PC for being roughly the size of a Nintendo 3DS XL. The keyboard is terrible for typing on, but that's kind of expected with its gaming focus.
Unfortunately the team trying to bring back something like the Psion are the same people who are not bringing the Spectrum Vega to its backers, but instead seem to be spending the backers money on frivolous lawsuits.
I was personally an Thinkpad X series guy, but that magnesium body (?) of the Sony laptop was beautiful.
had sony not fumbled over itself, i might still be using a upgraded version of that machine, rather than the macbook pro's i've used since (i'm hoping apple doesn't have a similar implosion, but it's looking sketchy at the moment). apple didn't really surpass that machine with the air, it was the retina macbook pro's that were the next step up.
And then 11" was a new level of portability. The 2013 model brought battery upgrades that were so far ahead of the rest of the thin and lights.
Perhaps the best part: the low price of $1099 made the 13" Air a bargain. Cheaper than the worse 13" Pro! And the 11" model was another $100 less. Combine that with discounts from retailers like B&H, Best Buy, or MicroCenter and you could get a brand new Mac for $799 at various times. Very unlike Apple.
I liked it much more than my current 2016 MacBook "Pro".
I've had MBPs before and it seems they tend to break easier. They are a bit hot and heavy.
I'm still doing fine with my 2012 MBA. The battery was shot, so I replaced it. I'd love to see Apple continue making them...
Are there any other options out there?
After selling the included Beats Solo3 (academic purchase), it was close to a free upgrade.
I'm surprised doing so would have such a good return.
But I think I sold the wifi card to someone building a hackintosh.
I'm interested (and I'm sure others would be), where did you sell the parts and did you use any disassembly guides?
Sold the parts on everyone's favourite auction house. Lots of repair guides out there, I used ifixit's.
Even though it's a 2011, lots of bricked systems out there that you can get functioning again for $0-$200 dollars in spare parts and a few hours of your time.
Source: me. I write iOS apps.
I can’t imagine having to work with one with the old iPod drives in them. Those things were dogs what with a small amount of RAM and a severe penalty for hitting disk. But, hey, I’m glad it served your needs! :-)
All day was a step change. I was sad when my new 13in MBP needs plugged in at lunchtime. The screen and other specs are much better of course but I’d become used to leaving my PSU in the office all day while zipping around.
I'm not sure why Apple still makes the air since the Macbook seems like the obvious replacement.
The 2011 MacBook Air was a good replacement for the discontinued white MacBook. It was a lot more modern, but retained the same price point. It still continued to fulfil the role of the entry level Mac.
The current MacBook doesn’t do that though. It’s too expensive to be entry level - similar spec’ed to a MacBook Air, it is $300 more, for some new colours and a slightly better screen? Ok it’s a little more portable, but it’s not like the MacBook Air is bulky... The base model having an underpowered processor definitely isn’t helping it’s reputation - it’s like the original MacBook Air all over again.
The MBA has MagSafe, two USB ports, Thunderbolt 2, and an SD card reader. That’s as much as the expensive MBP, and more useful day-to-day (for me) than the “cheap” 2-port MBP that was actually pitched as a MBA replacement by Schiller, IIRC.
The 13” non-touchbar MBP was actually announced as a MBA replacement when it was introduced if memory serves.
I replaced the battery last year and am unimpressed by newer Mac products.
Apple have completely lost me as a customer after years of my buying their hardware. I use an Android phone and consider Google to be the new Apple at this point in history.
I use the PowerBook mostly to type, code, and debug. The code most often runs on other hardware, although from time to time I have compiled the latest modern versions of software I use for the PowerBook.
I keep it plugged in as much as I can and have yet to replace the battery. I am also unimpressed by newer Mac products as the iPhone appears to be their focus.
Apple never really had me as a customer after decades of my using their hardware. I sometimes use an old Android phone without data and consider Google to be the new Microsoft at this point in history.
I'm asking because I still got a 2005 G4 12'' somewhere, and I'm wondering whether I should do anything with it.
I have managed to cut MSFT out of my life for the most part but in many ways I agree that Google are now their equivalent...
The Air was Apple's reaction to netbooks which were appearing at the time. I remember seeing an Air for the first time, which instead of an AUD 300 netbook was AUD 1200 or something. But it still looked super neat. The early machines with Celerons or something had pretty dismal performance at high price. But when the i5 machines came out with SSDs they were and are sweet.
This is being typed on a MBA from 2013. The battery life is still very good and the performance is fine for most things I do with it.
However, if I bought a similar machine now it probably wouldn't be a Mac because well, Apple just don't care about much or perhaps most of the range now and the Windows machines have got better and better. Surfaces are where people most excited.
I still have a netbook too. When you're travelling and don't want to take a machine a $AUD 250 netbook is remarkable. A 'real' computer that I do a few things on that is cheap enough to be almost disposable.
Nothing anyone else produced held a candle to the original iPhone. Details matter, user experience matters. Dismiss these things at your own risk.
I would hate for startup founders to read these sorts of comments and come away with the idea that they can ship dogshit but sell it based on specs anyway.
Apple participated in the space, and put in a great effort, but the story neither starts nor ends with Apple's products.
Oh, there was also the failed 'Ultrabook' thing from Intel that was Intel's attempt to certify effectively Air clones.
If Apple released a MBA with retina display and 16gb of ram with the same battery life, I've pay at least 2x the current price for it.
$1k is not expensive for a high-quality Ultrabook...In fact, I'm pretty sure the Macbook Air is still around that price. Have laptops really gone up in price since 2008?
...oh wait. A little research  suggests that the optional SSD added $1k to the price, bringing the total to $3100. That is and was expensive.
> $1k is not expensive for a high-quality Ultrabook...In fact, I'm pretty sure the Macbook Air is still around that price.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I read that as being $999 for the drive upgrade option itself. The total price for the laptop would have been higher.
[T]he useless laptop equipped with a solid state drive can be had for the low, low price of $2,598.
I remember everyone thinking it was "useless" too.
That’s not to say that cramming it into a case that size wasn’t impressive, and it was a rough preview of the nice Airs Apple would later build. Just two years later an Air was my main dev machine.
Even at that time I never could understand how the MBA could be used for showing off with. To me (lack of speed, lack of ports etc.) it was rather a device that shows to everyone that the user does not care about good technology or usability and has a desire to throw money down the drain. In other worse: A device that you use when you seriously want to be ridiculed.
Maybe they'll revive it with Ryzen Mobile, or stuff that into the MacBook. I can dream. For now I want a new laptop but have nothing to buy because, relative to my current 2013 13″ MacBook Air, the new MBAs are virtually identical, the MacBook Pro is too heavy, and the new MacBook is at best a sidegrade (the screen, Rose Gold finish and greater compactness are nice but the performance would be the same or worse).
How has that affected your work? Any thoughts to share?
A 1080p screen would be a nice addition though. Plus for the sub-$1k price point I think the overall specs are pretty good. Not to mention the battery backup. The macbook air really lets me use a laptop like a cellphone - charge overnight and use all day.
I'll drop in to the Apple store and give it another shot.
I thought there would be a large step down in power, but it's not really noticeable for my workloads (native mobile and full stack web development with Docker, some graphic design with Sketch, etc.). The only time I've ever really felt it made a significant difference is when I have 100+ tabs open in my browser (bad habit). You can get 16GB with the 2017 12" MacBook though, so if you're buying new, that's not a problem.
The battery life between the 12" MacBook and the Air is roughly the same, from memory. Maybe newer Air models are better, but both are good.
I'm not really sure what makes it a weird proposition. The MacBook having less power than the heavier, more expensive MacBook Pro is to be expected, isn't it? And the Air is just the cheapest model they keep around for the students. The 12" MacBook is for the average person.
They do have a force touch touchpad though, another reason I’m hesitant on am mba since those are still mechanical.
And I even have my settings so you really need to 'click' to click, a tap is not a 'click'. Same as i did with the mechanical version. It does just fine, really.
I do find the 1440x900 a useful improvement over 1280x800, in that the 1440px width allows for 2 side-by-side 80 column text views (assuming 8px character cells and giving some room for controls, etc.)
FWIW, I've used 8px as a benchmark for character cell width for years. The original PC's I used were CGA machines with 640x200 displays. 80 column text implied 8px character cells. (Even then, MDA's 9x14 character cells were much higher quality... I think the reason 8px works better these days is due to anti-aliasing, etc.)
Watching any flash video was impossible for more than few minutes.
Skype calls were impossible for more than a few minutes.
HD video was impossible for more than a few minutes.
The battery life is what makes it. The first time I could leave the house without a charger and not be worried.
Interactive performance feels the same as my MBP. Development is fine, from JS to Common Lisp.
Great systems. I'll keep buying the as long as Apple keeps making them.
It is still my home computer and have not noticed it slowing down!
I'm glad I chose this over the newly released 13" pro retina. The low DPI screen means this thing flies!
I can't see any reason I would to upgrade in the next year or two - appart from a new battery, and my power adaptor just started fraying.
A new Air wouldn't be significantly more powerful & would cost more than my original (Australian dollar doesn't convert as well now).
Although, having just got into audio production, I think I'm almost at the performance ceiling. CPU fan gets quite loud while using Logic with 15+ tracks & effects, but it still runs great.
I need to replace the battery - I think this will make it like an new computer.
But I sure am glad there are machines like the GPD Pocket around. I'm not entirely convinced the two, at each ends of various spectra as well as legacy, are inter-linked, however.
Which is to say the Air "was inevitable", its just that Apple did it 'best'.
Its taken a fair bit for other vendors of electronic junk to catch up with the Air factor, though, but I do wonder about what the future may hold for the GPD Pocket 2. It has the potential as a 'just as good Air experience', only .. you know .. fully open.
Most wanted a updated MBA, which many has pointed out that is basically MBP. And that is right, the MBP is what we wanted except the pricing. The same goes to Macbook, it doesn't replace MBA. Then there is the issues with trade off on Keyboard, thinness, and single port with Macbook
I.e Keyboard Issues and Port aside, people have problems with its value proposition against the MBA. It is either MB Pro is too expensive, or the MB Air offers too much value.
It was also noted that the discontinued MB Air 11" was the best selling Laptop at its time, simply because it was the cheapest .
There are also lots of consumers buying the Macbook Pro simply because the current Macbook is inadequate for them. Be it size or power.
Really, the MBA is Mac Mini, used to be the most valuable in the lineup, but is now neglected.
The battery was worse, it was heavier, same speed, keys constantly got stuff stuck under them. Only benefit was bright screen and better resolution. Returned it immediately.
I eventually got the new top spec MacBook, and its the spiritual successor to the air. I can't recommend it enough.
If my use case was browsing, emails and word processing, great. But I’m a professional audio producer and film editor. No dice.
Right tool for the job. The Air was never intended for your job.