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!

Apple’s October 30th Special Event Brings New Macs & iPad Pros

On Tuesday, Apple held its October Special Event with new Macs and iPad Pros taking centerstage. Apple announced long-awaited updates to the MacBook Air and Mac Mini as well as the next generation of iPad Pros. Also announced were companion accessories for the new iPad Pros including the Apple Pencil (2nd generation) and a new Smart Keyboard Folio. Rounding off the event, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced the availability of iOS 12.1, which includes Group FaceTime with up to 32 people, support for dual SIM (SIM + eSIM) on the new iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max and iPhone XR, over seventy new emojis along with bug fixes and improvements. Singer-songwriters Lana Del Rey and Jack Antonoff helped close out the event with a special music performance.

Credit: Apple

Credit: Apple

MacBook Air

As highly rumored and anticipated, Apple announced a brand new re-designed and re-engineered 13.3-inch MacBook Air. On the outside, the new MacBook Air is thinner, lighter and utilizes 17% less volume than the previous MacBook Air. It features a high-resolution Retina Display, Touch ID, new keyboard utilizing the butterfly mechanism, standard function keys (no Touch Bar), a Force Touch trackpad with 20% more surface area, new stereo speakers offering 2x the bass and 25% more volume, three microphones, 720p FaceTime camera, two Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports and a 3.5mm headphone jack.

On the inside, the new MacBook Air features a new 8th generation Amber Lake 1.6GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor (Turbo Boost up to 3.6GHz), Apple’s T2 Security Chip, 128GB SSD Flash Storage (configurable to 256GB, 512GB and 1.5TB), 8GB of 2133MHz LPDDR3 RAM (configurable to 16GB) and Intel UHD Graphics 617.

The new MacBook Air offers up to 12 hours of battery life, weighs 2.75lbs (roughly a quarter pound less than the previous generation) and is made from 100% recycled aluminum. It will be available in three colors: Silver, Space Gray and Gold. The new MacBook Air starts at $1,199 ($200 more than the previous generation but $100 less than the base price of the 12-inch MacBook and 13.3-inch MacBook Pro with function keys) and will be available starting November 7th.

Credit: Apple

Credit: Apple

Mac Mini

Apple announced a new Mac Mini aimed at meeting the continuing needs of Apple users who enjoy the small form factor while giving it some real bite. The new Mac Mini features 8th generation Intel quad-core (starting at 3.6GHz quad-core Intel Core i3) and six-core (starting at 3.0GHz 6-core Intel Core i5 Turbo Boost up to 4.1GHz and configurable up to 3.2GHz 6-core Intel Core i7 Turbo Boost up to 4.6GHz) processors offering up to 5x faster system performance, 8GB of 2666MHz DDR SO-DIMM RAM (configurable to 16GB, 32GB and 64GB), 128GB SSD Flash Storage (configurable to 256GB, 512GB, 1TB and 2TB), Intel UHD Graphics 630 offering up to 60% faster graphics, four Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports, HDMI 2.0, two USB 3 ports, 3.5mm headphone jack, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Ethernet (configurable up to 10Gb Ethernet), Bluetooth 5.0, the Apple T2 Security Chip and a new thermal architecture.

The new Mac Mini weighs 2.9lbs, comes in Space Gray and the aluminum enclosure is made from 100% recycled aluminum. The new Mac Mini starts at $799 and will be available starting November 7th.

Credit: Apple

Credit: Apple

iPad Pro

Apple announced two new iPad Pros – an 11-inch model and a 12.9-inch model. Both models feature a new edge-to-edge Liquid Retina Display, the same display found on the new iPhone XR. Gone are the Home button, 3.5mm headphone jack and lightning connector. The iPad Pros support the same familiar gestures found on the iPhone X. The lightning connector is replaced with a new USB-C connector which will allow you to connect external displays, cameras and even charge your iPhone from your new iPad Pro. If you’re dead set on using headphones or earphones with a 3.5mm plug, you’ll need to get the new USB-C to 3.5mm headphone jack adapter, which will cost $9.00.

The new iPad Pros also feature Face ID which works in both portrait and landscape mode, an all-new A12X Bionic Chip with the new neural engine offering faster performance and up to 2x faster graphics, support for Apple Pencil (2nd generation) which includes the ability to pair and charge the Apple Pencil (2nd generation) wirelessly and attach the Apple Pencil (2nd generation) magnetically to the new iPad Pros. The Apple Pencil (2nd generation) also supports gesture controls. Also available is the new Smart Keyboard Folio which protects both the front and back side of the new iPad Pros, offers a keyboard and serves a stand with two viewing angles.

The new iPad Pros come in two colors: Silver and Space Gray with storage capacities of 64GB, 256GB, 512GB and 1TB. Both iPad Pros come in Wi-Fi only and Wi-Fi + Cellular models. The 11-inch iPad Pro starts at $799 and the 12.9-inch iPad Pro starts at $999. Both iPad Pros will be available starting on November 7th. The Apple Pencil (2nd generation) will cost $129 and the new Smart Keyboard Folio will cost $179 for the 11-inch iPad Pro and $199 for the 12.9-inch iPad Pro. Both the new Apple Pencil (2nd generation) and Smart Keyboard Folio will be available on November 7th.

For full product details, technical specifications, pricing and to watch the Apple Keynote, visit Apple’s website.

“There’s more in the making” . . . Apple announces October 30th Special Event

Credit: Apple

Credit: Apple

A day before pre-orders began for Apple’s all-new iPhone XR, Apple announced a highly rumored and anticipated October Special Event last Thursday. The Special Event will take place in one week on Tuesday, October 30th at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Howard Gilman Opera House in Brooklyn, New York. The event will begin at 10am ET (not PT) and will also be live streamed on Apple’s website.

There have been quite a few rumors about what Apple might showcase at its event next week including new iPad Pros featuring a thinner bezel, Face ID support and the move from a lightning connector to USB-C, a new lower cost replacement for the MacBook Air, a possible refresh for the MacBook and a refresh of the Mac Mini and/or possibly a pro-level Mac Mini.

Will AirPower finally make an appearance or will we at least get an update on its status? Apple first announced AirPower last Fall; however, we have heard little about it since then. Apple also announced that a new wireless charging case for the AirPods was in the works, but it too has yet to make an appearance. A second generation of the AirPods is supposedly in the works as is a second generation Apple Pencil, both of which could be announced at next week’s event.

We’re just a week away from Apple’s October Special Event so stay tuned!