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Posts tagged with "macbook air"

The M1 Mac mini and MacBook Air: A Giant Leap Forward for All Mac Users

It’s been just over two months since the first M1 Macs were delivered to customers. I purchased an M1 MacBook Air to replace my aging 2016 MacBook Pro, and not long after, Apple sent me an M1 Mac mini to try. In the ten weeks or so since then, I’ve used both almost exclusively for a wide variety of tasks, and although both computers are somewhat limited by their lack of ports, that has been less of an issue than I anticipated. What’s been far more notable, remarkable in fact, is the performance of the new MacBook Air and Mac mini.

Benchmarks don’t do these Macs justice. There are plenty of CPU-intensive tasks that are faster than before, which I expected would be the case. However, living with both of these Macs for as long as I have has given me a much greater appreciation for the impact that the M1 has on ordinary, day-to-day tasks. The differences are less pronounced for individual tasks that require less computing power, but the aggregate impact has still been significant for both computers, especially the MacBook Air.

The M1 SoC. Source: Apple.

The M1 SoC. Source: Apple.

Performance increases quickly become the ‘new normal.’ They tend to fade into the background. What starts as startling soon becomes ordinary and expected. The M1 Macs are no different in this respect and perhaps even more so because they look like the machines that came before them.

Still, if you step back and consider these new Macs in the context of those that immediately preceded them and account for the fact that these are entry-level models, the future of the Mac is bright. The M1 update makes these Macs substantially better deals than the versions they replace with computing power to spare for most users. The new machines also bode well for the remainder of the Mac lineup that hasn’t been updated yet.

I’m excited to see what the M1 means for the rest of the product line, and I’m sure I’ll be tempted to try them, but I’ve also never been more content with new Macs than these. I’m sure there are things I do that future M1 Macs will do even faster, but the M1 MacBook Air and Mac mini have introduced a fluidity in my daily computing that I haven’t experienced since I first tried the iPad Pro. It’s the sort of subtle, qualitative shift that can’t be captured by benchmarks but has rekindled my fondness for the platform by improving the experience across the board. Here’s what I mean.

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Apple M1 Mac Review Roundup: Big Performance and Battery Gains

Last week, Apple unveiled M1-based models of the MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and Mac mini. With deliveries of the computers beginning to arrive around the world, reviews are out, and I’ve rounded up some of the most interesting tidbits from them.

The reviews are overwhelmingly positive with a few caveats. However, reviewers were universally impressed by the new Macs’ performance and the laptops’ battery life. The experience of Wired’s Julian Chokkattu was common:

Spend a day with the new MacBook Air and the improvements are immediately noticeable. The thing’s as powerful as many of the higher-end Intel-powered Macs, blowing past the speed limits of the higher-tier MacBook Air from earlier this year. The M1 is no Mac evolution, it’s a Mac revolution.

What’s especially remarkable about these Macs is that they are low-end models as Jason Snell observes on Six Colors:

It’s all too easy to overlook the fact that these are low-end models, given how fast they are. But this is just Apple’s first step in what the company says is a two-year-long transition. The M1 chip, which appears to be a next-generation riff on the A12X processor in that 2018 iPad Pro, has a bunch of limitations that will undoubtedly not exist on future Apple-designed Mac processors: It only supports two Thunderbolt ports and up to 16GB of RAM. It has no support for external GPUs or discrete graphics of any kind. It can drive a maximum of two displays. It is, by every definition, a low-end chip, the slowest and least capable Mac chip Apple will ever make.

And yet…

Based on my testing, it’s also safe to say that all three M1-based Macs, these low-end systems at the bottom of Apple’s price lists, are among the fastest Macs ever made.

Jason and Myke Hurley also interviewed Apple’s Tim Millet and Tom Boger on Upgrade about the M1 Macs.

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The M1 MacBook Air and 13” MacBook Pro: The MacStories Overview

Before today’s event, little was known about the Apple silicon Macs that the company promised to release by the end of the year. Today, during an online presentation hosted by CEO Tim Cook from Apple Park, Apple took the wraps off its new M1 chip, which powers the new MacBook Air, 13” MacBook Pro, and Mac mini.

Let’s take a look at Apple’s new laptops.

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New MacBook Air Review Roundup

Today the MacBook Air review embargo lifted, allowing writers and YouTubers to publish their takes on Apple’s 2020 model. Unsurprisingly, considering all that the company improved this year, the reviews are strong across the board.

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Apple Releases Faster MacBook Air with New Keyboard and Increased Storage Starting at $999 and Doubles Storage on Base-Model Mac minis

Apple has released a new, faster MacBook Air with an updated keyboard and more storage at a lower price. The company also released a minor update to the storage of base-model Mac minis.

According to a press release from the company, the new Air features a 1.2GHz quad-core Core i7 that, with Turbo Boost, can achieve speeds up to 3.8GHz. This is the first time the Air has included a quad-core processor. The laptop also features Intel Iris Plus Graphics, which Apple says are 80% faster than previous models.

The Air’s keyboard has been updated too with a scissor switch-based Magic Keyboard that has 1 mm of key travel and an inverted-T layout of the arrow keys.

The Air's keyboard now uses scissor switches and an inverted-T layout for its arrow keys.

The Air’s keyboard now uses scissor switches and an inverted-T layout for its arrow keys.

The Air, which is available in gold, silver, and space gray, starts at $999, a $100 drop from prior models. Thankfully, Apple has also increased the base storage of the entry-level model from 128GB to 256GB SSD storage, a capacity that will make it easier for users to store photos and other media locally without resorting to external solutions. The new Air can also be configured with up to 2TB of storage, which is twice as much as could be previously configured, and is equipped with Apple’s T2 Security Chip, which ensures a secure boot process and handles Touch ID information.

Apple’s press release highlights the following features too:

  • A three-mic array for more clear voice capture for FaceTime calls with friends and family.
  • The industry-best Force Touch trackpad for precise cursor control and multi-touch navigation.
  • Thunderbolt 3 ports for data transfer, charging and video output in a single connector.
  • Support for up to a 6K external display, a first for the MacBook Air.
  • Advanced stereo speakers for immersive, wide stereo sound for activities like watching Apple TV+ content or playing games in Apple Arcade.

The new Airs can be ordered on apple.com starting today.

Finally, the base configurations of the Mac mini received a small update today. The $799 model now comes with 256GB of storage and the $1,099 configuration has a 512GB SSD.

The MacBook Air has been difficult to recommend because of its previous-generation keyboard. With a new keyboard, increased storage, faster CPU and graphics, all at a lower price-point, the MacBook Air looks like the Mac that will meet most people’s needs.



MacBook Air and Mac mini Review Roundup: Welcome Updates to Apple’s Mac Lineup

Tomorrow, Apple will begin delivering new MacBook Airs and Mac minis to customers around the world. It’s been a long time since either computer was updated; too long many would say. John Gruber of Daring Fireball asked around about the period between updates:

Behind the scenes last week in New York, I asked a few folks from Apple for any sort of hint why these two Macs — the MacBook Air and Mac Mini — went so long between updates. One thing I was told is that Apple wants to focus on “meaningful updates”. The days of “speed bump” updates are largely over. The value just isn’t there.

That may not be a message that long-time Mac users want to hear, but it’s consistent with recent history and seems to be supported by the reviews published today. Regardless of the backstory though, both new Macs are substantial updates that have received generally favorable reviews.

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Jony Ive Reflects on the Design of the New iPad Pros, Apple Pencil, and MacBook Air in a New Interview

Jony Ive, Apple’s Chief Design Officer, sat for an interview with David Phelan of The Independent to talk about designing Apple products in general and the new iPad Pros, Apple Pencil, and MacBook Air in particular.

On redesigning successful products Ive said:

Because when a product has been highly regarded there is often a desire from people to see it redesigned. I think one of the most important things is that you change something not to make it different but to make it better.

If you are making changes that are in the service of making something better, then you don’t need to convince people to fall in love with it again. Our sense of habit and familiarity with something is so developed, there is always that initial reaction that is more of a comment on something being different rather than necessarily better or worse. In my experience, if we try very hard to make material improvements, people quickly recognise those and make the sort of connection they had before with the product.

Ive also revealed that the original iPad was designed to be used primarily in a portrait orientation, while the new iPad Pros have no orientation:

So, in the new iPad Pro, one of the things we’ve been wanting to get to for a long time is a sense that the product is not oriented in a primary and then, therefore, in a secondary way.

The first iPad had a very clear orientation which was portrait. It had the ability to be used in landscape, I think very well, but it was pretty clear how the product was designed. And I think with the first iPad you had the sense that it was a product made up of distinct and somewhat separate components.

What I think marks the new iPad Pro as particularly special is it doesn’t have an orientation. It has speakers all the way around the perimeter. By getting rid of the Home Button and developing Face ID, the tablet is able to work in all of these different orientations.

On the Apple Pencil, Ive describes how its design abstracts away the underlying technical complexity to focus the user on the task at hand:

I think the way it just snaps onto the side, well, that’s a nice example of a sort of that magical feeling. It’s unexpected, we don’t quite understand how it’s working and even more incomprehensible is the fact that it’s also charging. You can see how that’s aligned with this idea that you can just pick the product up and use it without thought.

Actually, you’re using it with tremendous thought, but it’s based on what you want to be doing rather than wondering if you’re holding the tablet the right way up.

Phelan’s interview is full of many other wonderful insights and tidbits about the products Apple revealed earlier this week in New York and should be read in its entirety.

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The New MacBook Air: The MacStories Overview

This morning Tim Cook took the stage at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Howard Gilman Opera House to announce a brand new revision of the MacBook Air. This is the first significant redesign in years for Apple’s most popular line of Macs, and features huge improvements across the board.

The new machine marks the debut of a Retina display on the MacBook Air, which Cook said has been the most requested feature by far. Among other changes, the size and weight of the enclosure have also been decreased, two Thunderbolt 3 ports line one edge, screen bezels have been reduced, and new color options are available.

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