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M2 MacBook Air – 6 months with the ULTRA notebook

I have been spoiled by the MacBook Pro, but how does the little brother hold up?

M2 MacBook Air – Apple silicon, midnight blue
image courtesy of author

First love

My first-ever Mac, was a MacBook Air. I actually still have it, and it can often be seen lurking in the shadows in the background of my videos.

I’d always wanted a Mac. At that time, there was no reason for me to need to use one, but Apple’s marketing, had already spun its magic. I just thought I’d be cooler, and more creative with a Mac. Actually, that’s a lie. Not even creative, I just thought I’d be cool. Well, you can’t blame a man for dreaming!

Little did I know that 2010 MacBook Air, would eventually lead me to writing blogs about Apple gear every day.

The affair has lasted over a decade now, with Apple taking far too much of my money in the interim. This year, as the talkingtech side of my life took a grip, it has seen me renew or replace much in my Apple and MacBook arsenal.

One of those new additions was the M2 MacBook Air. It’s been with me every day since June. Many of you may be thinking of treating yourself, a close friend, or family member to an M2 MacBook Air this Christmas. So, with that in mind, what’s it like?

Easy-peasy

If you find yourself mobile for much of your time, then you need to take a close look at the M2 MacBook Air. I have never been a fan of iPads, and this MacBook Air, drove another nail further in to that coffin.

For the same money as an entry-level M2, 12.9-inch, iPad Pro, you can get a base model M2 MacBook Air. Except, this, of course, comes complete with a keyboard and trackpad. Any serious iPad user will want to add on the Magic Keyboard and pencil, which suddenly makes the iPad a much more expensive option.

And, not only pricier, but bulkier and a tad heavier as well. I guess there will be some iPad users out there that swear by the tablet, but, honestly, I can’t think why (with artists the exception). iPadOS is still mighty confused, but with the M2 MacBook Air, you get macOS Ventura. That means all the convenience of a desktop Mac, is sitting, literally, in the palm of your hand.

You want to multitask? No worries. You work with numerous Safari tabs open simultaneously, have PDFs on your desktop, and drag and drop to your heart’s content…it’s all just so easy with the M2 MacBook Air.

Usability

Brilliant – shall I move on?

The Mac I spend most time working with, or on, is the 16-inch MacBook Pro. I am a massive fan of it. The kind of work I find myself doing most days, needs the extra ‘grunt’ under the hood that the MacBook Pro has.

But, that is not to say that the M2 MacBook Air is incapable of seeing you through the day. The model I have, and, am writing this on, has only 8GB of unified memory. You have the choice to spec that up, though, to 24GB thanks to the M2 architecture.

Again, my M2 MacBook Air is entry level when it comes to storage as well. Mine only has 512GB of storage, but there are choices of 1 or even 2TB of lightning fast SSD storage. I’ll come back to storage a little later on.

Workability

The keyboard is light, responsive, tactile, backlit, and fairly ‘clicky’. You’ll be able to work and type on the MacBook Air fast! You once again have a full row of function keys, and a trackpad that is the equal of the MacBook Pro’s.

The screen is brighter and bigger, than the outgoing (but still available), M1 MacBook Air. The 13.6-inch screen is big enough to work on when on the fly. I am a lover of big monitors and screens, but due to the slimmer, black bezels on the M2 MacBook Air, the screen feels deceptively large – comparatively at least.

Again, I have to remind myself, I am comparing many things here to the M1 Max MacBook Pro that is sitting to one side of me today. The brightness of the M2’s screen is good. OK, not as bright as the MBP, but better than most PCs or notebooks of the same cost.

Audio & visuals

If you want to listen to music on the go, the speakers inside will do a job. Just be reasonable though in your expectations. The body of the MacBook Air is tiny, meaning, there is not a whole ton of space in there for the speakers to do their thing. Bass loves space and air, which are both commodities, that by design, the MacBook Air is limited on. I’ve found, though, that generally I tend to be out and about when using this MacBook, and such, use my AirPod Pro’s anyway.

I haven’t used the camera and mics on here for any genuine calls, but they will get you through most needs. Both are OK for general online, work or social video calls. Don’t forget, if you are running Ventura, you can use your iPhone and Continuity Camera now, anyway.

That storage question

I know many will tell you that buying Apple Storage is expensive, and in truth, it probably is. But, here is my take on it, certainly regarding the MacBook Air range of Macs.

The unique ability these Macs have, is to be super-portable, lightweight, and compact. If you choose to buy external storage, it does away with the MBA’s trump card. Suddenly, you have to remember to take cables and drives with you as you leave the building. And then, once up and working, you’d have drives hanging out the side.

I’d say, buy as much internal storage as you can afford. It is more than likely that this Mac will not be working on massive files, so I’d say that the 1TB option is probably the sweet spot. Not only will it have enough storage for your day-to-day work, but it will have better future residuals for you when you come to sell it as well.

Apple listened

This Mac is over six months old now, so I am sure you will have read, or watched many reviews on the M2 MacBook Air already. That is why I won’t labour the points about ports, battery life, and colours. But, in short…

The battery life is everything you’ve heard, and then some. The only drain I have found is running the screen on full brightness for too long, apart from that, the battery life is brill! You have ample ports to get through the day, particularly, if you have up’d the internal storage. The notch is nothing you need to concern yourself with, and the bodywork is fine.

There were concerns that the dark, midnight blue I chose may suffer easily from scratches, but so far, mine is showing no wear or tear, and it is my travel Mac too.

We know there is some memory swapping going on with the M series of chips, but you wouldn’t know it. Well, there is one way you do, and something I possibly advise caution on.

Normally, I am a fan of CleanMyMac. I have it installed on my three Macs currently. But…on the MacBook Air, it will randomly flash up a red warning of memory nearly full, or something to that effect.

When that warning comes up, the Mac is not warm, taxed in any way, or behaving slowly. If it was not for that screen warning, I’d have no idea that memory swapping was going on. I don’t overwork this Mac, and most of the files are on the cloud. After those 6 months, I still have almost 400GB of the 500GB free.

So, this is something I never thought I’d say, think twice before installing CleanMyMac on your MacBook Air. Unless you know you are likely to want to clear big, old files from it, or uninstall apps, honestly, you probably don’t need it.

Wrapping up

Buy one! Treat yourself. Fan free, quiet, quick, portable, robust and super simple to get work done on.

Buy as much internal storage as you can afford, and revel in the MacBook Air doing what it was designed to do – make your workflow mobile. This MacBook will keep you productive for your days away from the desk, and save you money too, compared to an iPad.

The M2 MacBook Air brings everything that is good about the Apple Silicon range of Macs to the road.

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