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The MacBook Air M1 changed my relationship with laptops forever – Digital Trends

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I’ve been using a MacBook as my primary computer for over 10 years. Not the same one, thankfully — I started with an early-generation MacBook Air and went through several iterations of MacBook Pro. I use MacBooks because I’m the most comfortable with MacOS, and I love their designs. But it wasn’t until early this year, when I got my first M1-powered MacBook Air, that I had a truly game-changing no-compromise experience with an Apple laptop.
The MacBook Air M1 has changed my relationship with laptops forever.
I’ve used MacBooks for so long despite their well-chronicled shortcomings. Early Airs had subpar screens, even my most recent MacBook Pro 13’s battery life was never that great, I’ve had bad experiences with dying butterfly keyboards, and I constantly poked fun at the aircraft-loud fans kicking in at even the suggestion that I might open more than two apps.
But now, I don’t have to face any of those issues. It’s like the MacBook Air M1 is my reward for sticking with MacBooks all this time — it’s the MacBook idea, perfected. It’s terribly cliché to say, but the Apple Silicon era has finally made the idealistic potential of the MacBook Air a reality. A machine that’s thin, light, and portable — but also one that’s quiet, cool, and has incredible battery life.
And this generation didn’t bring any new compromises into the equation. The MacBook Air M1 is actually faster and more consistent in performance than my 2019 MacBook Pro it replaced. Wild.
At any given time, I couldn’t tell you when I last charged my MacBook Air. Seriously. The battery life on the MacBook Air M1 is so good, I don’t even know how long it lasts on a charge — because I’ve never been able to use it continuously long enough to kill it from 100%. Once your laptop’s battery gets to the point of not needing to be charged every day, it’s not even worth trying to keep track of the typical longevity. You just know it’s going to last.
Traveling with the MacBook Air M1 really seals the deal for me. Flying from NYC to the West Coast last week, I got to the airport at 6 a.m., spent 90 minutes getting set with work duties for the week, and then nearly 6 hours on my flight using it (yes, workaholic here) … and still had over 50% battery when I went to plug in at the hotel.
And I have this carefree freedom despite doing nothing to conserve power. I set my display brightness to whatever it needs to be. I use Chrome, not Safari, and have no fewer than 15 tabs open at any time — plus Microsoft Teams, Outlook, Messages, and TweetDeck most of the time. There are lots of laptops that can get great battery life — but they don’t do it irrespective of workload as this MacBook Air M1 does.
At any given time, I couldn’t tell you when I last charged my MacBook Air.
I used to carry a huge 99wH portable battery with me anytime I left the house with my old MacBook Pro, which had enough juice for a full recharge — because even though I could expect four to five hours of usage out of the Pro, it was never enough to actually feel confident. If I needed to edit some photos in Lightroom, take a couple of video calls, or heck just run it at full display brightness, it was game over after just three hours.
Great battery life has a knock-on effect on charging as well. The power draw is so low that I can easily charge up the MacBook Air M1 with a smartphone’s 30W USB-C charger that’s a fraction of the size of the old 61W Apple bricks. I regularly charge my laptop off of a power outlet in our kitchen that has a couple of low-power USB ports. A little charge here, a little there, and I never have to think about it. This computer rarely hits 100% charge, unless I leave it plugged in overnight.
This computer is silent. Blissfully silent.
I know it sounds like a true champagne problem to be frustrated with how loud your laptop’s fans are, but it really is annoying. Apple laptops in particular have been the butt of jokes in the tech world for years thanks to their form-over-function inadequately-sized fans that had to spin up loudly, and often, to keep performance acceptable.
I used to use MacBook despite its well-chronicled shortcomings. Now, I use it because it’s the best laptop available.
It’s something that pushed me to use my iPad Air with a keyboard case more frequently than I wanted to, just because needed a break from my laptop to use a simple silent computer. While the higher-end MacBook Pros with the M1 chip do have fans — albeit only for when you’re working intensely — the MacBook Airs don’t. And I’m so happy that’s the case.
And even without fans, the MacBook Air M1 doesn’t get anywhere near as warm as my old MacBooks did. No more sweaty legs when you’re actually using a laptop on your lap.
Now that I have a MacBook Air M1, my iPad Air spends most of its time collecting dust. My iPad still has a place — it’s a great machine for the most casual browsing and media watching (particularly the latter, with this great display), and with the addition of a keyboard I can knock out messages and emails or even write some articles when I want to focus on just one task at a time.
But typically, I only want to carry one computer — and now, the MacBook Air wins a vast majority of the time. The iPad Air’s screen isn’t quite big enough. The iPad keyboard case isn’t quite good enough. And, at least right now before iPadOS 16 ships, the software isn’t quite powerful enough. That used to be a tough decision when the MacBook came with its own trade-offs … and now it doesn’t. Realistically, the only thing I’m missing on my MacBook Air M1 is a touch screen — and that just isn’t going to get me to put it down and pick up the iPad.
Now, all I’m thinking about is whether I need a new MacBook Air M2 instead.
This spring could be a momentous one for Apple fans, with a top-secret mixed-reality headset and new Apple silicon Mac Pro lined up for release. We’ve also heard whispers that Apple is planning to launch a 15.5-inch MacBook Air, and that idea just received a major boost from a well-known industry expert.
That’s because display industry analyst Ross Young has just claimed in a post to his Twitter subscribers that screen panel production for the larger MacBook Air has already begun, with Apple lining up an early April release date for the device. If he’s correct, that means there are just a couple of months to wait. It follows previous reporting from Bloomberg journalist Mark Gurman and Young himself pointing toward a spring release.
If you’ve been holding out for Apple to launch a refreshed iMac, there’s some bad news: it might not launch until late 2023 or early 2024. If correct, that could mean disappointment for anyone who has been waiting for Apple’s all-in-one computer to get upgraded to the latest and greatest chips.
The news comes from Bloomberg reporter Mark Gurman (via MacRumors), whose track record for Apple leaks is one of the best in the biz. In his Power On newsletter, Gurman explained that he has not seen any indication that a new version of the iMac is imminent. “So if you want to stick with the iMac,” he added, “you’ll just have to sit tight.”
I’m not a typical Windows or Mac user. Where most people choose one operating system and stick with it, I use both Windows 11 and MacOS regularly, going back and forth daily depending on my workflow. And it’s easier to do than you probably think.
I have a fast Windows 11 desktop with three 27-inch 4K displays, and I use that for all my research-intensive work that benefits from multiple monitors. But for writing simple copy, and for personal tasks, I use a MacBook Pro 14 M1 Pro simply because I like it so much. It’s not MacOS that draws me to the machine, but its battery life, cool yet quick operation, excellent keyboard and touchpad, and awesome HDR display. To stay sane, I’ve worked out a few tricks and techniques to make the constant switching bearable. Here’s what I’ve learned.
Adjust to your keyboards
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