I Like The New MacBook Air, But . . .

Credit: Apple

Credit: Apple

The MacBook Air has become one of my all-time favorite laptops out of all the laptops I’ve seen and used over the years. When the first MacBook Air came out, I wasn’t a huge fan. While I liked the sleek design and portability, the hefty price tag which started around $1,799 made it tough to justify.

As the MacBook Air evolved and the starting price dropped, the MacBook Air truly became a major contender as a laptop offering possibly an ideal balance between portability, performance and price. In early 2014, I finally decided to upgrade from my Late 2009 13.3-inch MacBook to a Mid-2013 13.3-inch MacBook Air. The starting price was around $1,099 and I configured the MacBook Air with a 1.7GHz Dual-Core Intel Core i7 Processor Turbo Boost up to 3.3GHz, 8GB 1600MHz LPDDR3 SDRAM and 256GB PCIe-based Flash Storage. Along with AppleCare, the total price with tax came in just under $1,850. While not inexpensive, the longevity has paid for itself. I’ve had the Mid-2013 MacBook Air for almost five years. It lacks a Retina Display and isn’t as fast and powerful as the current laptops on the market, but it can run Mac OS X Mojave, it still has great battery life and holds its own weight.

Not long after the 2018 MacBook Air was released, I headed over to an Apple Store to check them out. The new MacBook Air looks incredible. The new MacBook Air retains the essence of what makes the MacBook Air one of my favorite laptops and then some including a sleeker and slimmer form factor, a reduction in weight by about a quarter pound versus the previous generation, and of course, the long-desired Retina Display. The new MacBook Air also comes in three colors: Gold, Silver and Space Gray, is configurable with up to 16GB of RAM and 1.5TB SSD storage, has improved audio, a Force Touch trackpad with 20% more surface area, USB-C Thunderbolt 3 ports and great battery life.

So, what’s not to like?

Well, for me, the main issue I have is with the processor. The new MacBook Air is only available with an Amber Lake 1.6GHz Dual-Core 8th generation Intel Core i5 Processor Turbo Boost up to 3.6GHz. Now, hold up! Both RAM and SSD storage are configurable on the new MacBook Air; however, the processor only comes with one option! Seriously!

So, what about pricing? The starting price on the new MacBook Air is $1,199 with 128GB storage or $1,399 with 256GB storage, but the previous generation had a starting price of $999. So, we’re paying more now? I get it . . . but if we do an apples-to-apples like comparison, a new MacBook Air starting at $1,399 with a 1.6GHz Dual-Core 8th generation Intel Core i5 Processor Turbo Boost up to 3.6GHz, 8GB 2133MHz LPDDR3 memory and 256GB storage with AppleCare and tax comes in under $1,800 which is $50 less than what I paid back in 2014 for my Mid-2013 MacBook Air so it’s not unreasonable.

Of course, times change and for my purposes today, I would likely opt for the MacBook Air with a 1.6GHz Dual-Core 8th generation Intel Core i5 Processor Turbo Boost up to 3.6GHz, 16GB 2133MHz LPDDR3 memory and at least 512GB storage. Along with AppleCare and tax, the total would be around $2,230. Again, not unreasonable; but, in this case I would prefer a more powerful processor than what is currently available. I’d want more bang for the buck!

An iPad Pro, a broken headphone jack, an expired AppleCare warranty, oh my!

When I originally bought the first generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro, it was intended as a major upgrade from my aging second generation iPad. With the inability to upgrade iOS on my second generation iPad, lack of supported apps for an old version of iOS and terribly sluggish performance on a long discontinued and unsupported device, it was finally time to take the leap and upgrade to a new device.

With the 12.9-inch iPad Pro available, I decided to go with the larger form factor over the traditional 9.7-inch model. The added display real estate made it quite appealing. As I hadn’t upgraded my iPad in years and with Apple products demonstrating longevity, it made sense to invest a little bit more into a device that I’d be using for years to come. That said, I opted to get the 128GB model with Wi-Fi + Cellular, which I believe was the top of the line for the first generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro at the time.

Let me say, the 12.9-inch iPad Pro did not disappoint. The larger display made such a huge difference and the overall performance was fantastic. I practically used my 12.9-inch iPad Pro daily to watch TV, stream videos, surf the web, use apps and so forth. Since I did use my iPad Pro heavily to watch or listen to media content, I used the headphone jack practically every day, so that jack went through quite some wear and tear.

I’ve used plenty of Apple and non-Apple products over the years but it’s been quite some time since I’ve run into a problematic headphone jack let alone a broken headphone jack but that’s exactly what happened to my iPad Pro. One night while using my iPad Pro, I tried to insert my EarPods into the headphone jack, but it would only go about two-thirds of the way in before it got stuck. After a few attempts, I checked the jack and it was clear that there was an obstruction. Something inside the jack either bent or broke off and as a result, the EarPods could not be inserted properly into the headphone jack. Fortunately, the mechanism that detects whether headphones or earphones are inserted into the jack was not detecting that headphones or earphones were inserted; otherwise, the external speakers would not work. I was fortunate for that.

Unfortunately, after checking my warranty status on the Apple website, I discovered that my iPad Pro was no longer under warranty. While I did purchase AppleCare for my iPad Pro, the AppleCare warranty had expired. While I could try to get the headphone jack repaired, the repair cost undoubtedly would not make sense.

So, what were my options?

Well, I had at least three viable options:

I could buy a new iPad. While certainly a viable option, it was not necessarily the most economical though quite tempting with the release of the brand new 2018 11” and 12.9” iPad Pros.

I could use a pair of Apple EarPods with a lightning connector and connect them via the lightning connector in lieu of the headphone jack. This option works if you have an iPad with a lightning connector and iOS 10 or above installed. Apple EarPods with lightning connector cost $29.00.

I could use Apple AirPods or other Bluetooth enabled headphones/earphones to connect wirelessly to the iPad Pro. Apple AirPods cost $159.00.

While I’m not thrilled about the broken headphone jack, there are cost-effective alternatives and workarounds to this unfortunate situation. My first generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro still works great. It’s running Apple’s latest version of iOS - iOS 12 and it’s still incredibly fast and performs extremely well. I hope to continue using this iPad Pro for quite some time.