After a fortnight of use…how is my midnight M2 MacBook Air bearing up?
Does size matter?
When I decided to buy the midnight M2 MacBook Air, I made a pledge with myself, to really use it. Day in and day out, carrying out as many tasks as possible on it.
It was not just going to be a case of use, review & return. I had in mind a full, hands-on approach to my appraisal. And, after two weeks of solid use, I think I am now in a position to comment on what it is like to use as a daily Mac.
Over the last fortnight, I have probably used the M2 MacBook Air, more than the other two Macs in my arsenal – a 27-inch iMac and the beast…my 16-inch MacBook Pro.
The greatest challenge for me, I feared, would be the screen size. At 13.6-inches, clearly it is the smallest Mac that I own, and I wondered how I would cope with that aspect.
I have always yearned large displays. The MacBook Pro, because of the Liquid Retina XDR display, which packs in a resolution of 3024×1964 native at 254 pixels per inch, feels much larger than it is. Working on that Mac has been a joy, whether or not it is connected to the Studio Display.
Although I have, once or twice, connected the M2 MacBook Air to that display, for most of its life, it works as a stand-alone unit. The work I carry out most days on any of my Macs would include writing these blogs in Ulysses, some light Photoshop work, video editing, and possibly some audio editing in Audition as well.
At times, I have struggled a little with the screen, but nowhere near as much as I had originally thought. The quality of the display, clearly helps out. Reaching a max brightness of 500 nits, the backlit LED panel is plenty bright enough to work on, and, because of the small bezels, it feels pretty spacious.
The notch rarely bothers me. I have the Mac set to dark mode, which means in most apps I can’t see it. The exception to that is Premiere Pro. When I go full screen, the notch sticks out like a sore thumb. Maybe Adobe could address that in a future fix?
Fit n’ finish
Ok, ok – let’s talk fingerprints.
I saw the early reviews from MKBHD and others. I knew what I was probably getting myself in to, by choosing the midnight finish on the M2 MacBook Air. Out of the four colours available (starlight, space grey & silver being the other choices), it was by far the most attractive. The other colours had a feeling of ‘been there, done that’ about them, to be honest. Well, to my eyes, at least.
So yeah, it does attract every single mark, smudge and fingerprint, just as much as you’ve heard. Fingerprints, to the midnight MacBook Air, are like moths to a flame – you’ll just have to deal with them!
I am pretty fastidious about any kind of smudges on my kit. I am the same with my iPhone. I run that case free, and am continually polishing it. If anyone ever touches a display on my Mac’s, I whip out a microfibre cloth in a flash! I only mention that as reference for what I am about to say – the smudges are not a massive issue – and that’s to a ‘neat-freak’ like me!
Most of the fingerprints are on the lid, which you can’t see when you are working on it.
That means, the only area you really have exposed at all times, is the body either side of the trackpad. Mostly, it is the side of your hands that brush over that area, so unless you have extremely greasy skin, it is not too bad. Honestly.
Speaking of the trackpad – it is as great to use as any other, recent MacBook. It’s big, tactile and, intuitive, reacting to gestures dynamically. Sitting just above that, of course, is the keyboard.
Apple are back to their best these days with keyboards. Gone are the Ive inspired butterfly keyboards of the mid-2000’s, in favour of the good-old, Magic keyboard.
If you’ve used a MacBook over the past few years, you’ll know what you are getting…balanced and sorted, making day-long typing, even for a plodder like me, a breeze. A set of full height function keys are back, and now you also have the addition of a full-sized Touch ID button too. If you don’t yet have an Apple Watch, it makes unlocking the M2 MacBook Air super-quick. Oh, and also the fact that it wakes from sleep, the moment you open the lid gets both thumbs up from me.
With the iconic, tapered wedge shape that was the trademark of the MacBook Air since its inception now gone, I do find the edges of the chassis digging in to my wrists and hands ever so slightly. It’s a niggle, but not hugely uncomfortable.
It’s super lightweight, making it easy to carry around, and the hinge has a lovely weighted balance and mechanism to it.
I elected to choose the higher spec’d of the two models that were available on launch day – so I have the MacBook Air with 512GB of SSD storage with 8GB of unified memory.
I mentioned above the work that I do most days, and this MacBook has largely been up to the task. Although I would not normally decide to edit and export video on here, as I have the MBP languishing about, I wanted to push it and see what it was capable of.
You won’t be disappointed – promise. Put to one side, all the negativity that you may have seen or read. For a fan-free notebook, this MacBook chomps through all tasks amazingly well. I did an export comparison on a recent YouTube video. The purpose was not to show it was slower than my max’d out MacBook Pro, rather to demonstrate how well it compared.
The simple, 8-minute video was rendered and exported with no fuss or drama. No spinning beachballs, and was only lightly warm to the touch. It took 4 minutes longer than the MacBook Pro, but, I don’t think that is too shabby – do you? The fact that you can meaningfully work in Premiere Pro on the move like this, shows just how far we have marched along, with these Apple Silicon machines.
If I could have spec’d this M2 MacBook Air up a little more, I would have, and suggest you look to think closely about that too.
If you are going to hold on to this MacBook Air for a while, and use it as your main workstation, then I’d dump the 1TB SSD in it if you have the available budget. I’d choose that over adding more unified memory. In my experience, the memory is holding up just fine, but more storage is never a bad piece of mind to have. Adding the 1TB SSD to the 8‑core CPU, 10‑core GPU model, will set you back £1749. Begin popping on further bells & whistles, and you’ll soon be in 14-inch MacBook Pro territory…so just be careful what option boxes you tick.
The in’s and out’s
It’s ok on this score. You don’t get much, but enough to get by.
MagSafe is back, along with a colour-coded, braided cable. On my Mac, I had the dual-port brick included. One of the drawbacks I have found is that the M2 MacBook Air is slow to charge. I know a fast 67W charger is an option, but using mine, even in the single port mode, I am surprised how long it takes for a full-charge.
One neat trick I do need to try out, though, is the ability to ‘infinity-charge’. It would appear that by using your MagSafe cable in a loop style (having the MagSafe and USB-C plugged in simultaneously), that you will never lose charge! I have not tried it yet, but if that works, how cool would that be?
On the upside, you won’t need to be using the charger often, though! It holds charge really, really well. The one bit of advice I’d give, is to enable ‘dim on battery’ in the preferences. That makes a world of difference to the uptime between charges.
Having MagSafe means that both Thunderbolt / USB 4 ports are free to use for your other devices or external drives etc. There have been some mentions this week, about the bodywork chipping around the ports. Having just checked mine, I don’t have any issues…could be that ’neat-freak’ tendency I mentioned, is coming in handy then!
The overall experience
I am more than happy with the M2 MacBook Air, and would recommend it to anyone in the market for a new Mac.
I have now used it to perform all of my workflows, and it carries them out painlessly. This is the Mac that travels with me every day. It was designed for that purpose, and it has honestly given me a new lease of life.
Rather than get bogged down with the negative comments, rejoice in what we have. For a MacBook that weighs next to nothing – at only couple of pounds, and with no active cooling, you can perform audio, video, and photo edits on the fly with this M2 MacBook Air stashed away in your rucksack. What more could you possibly ask from it?
This is the MacBook Air at its finest – the Mac for all reasons & seasons…the Mac of the people!
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