Unboxing & Setup
The unboxing experience for the mid-2019 13” MacBook Air is iconic Apple. A solid, white, cardboard box with a side preview of the device plastered on the outside invites the user to unwrap a smile.
A recently introduced pull tab allows the user to put away the utility or other more intense knives in the drawer to allow the user to discard quickly of the exterior plastic wrap. After lifting the top lid the MacBook Air is presented front and center for the user to lift up & out. Included USB type-C power charge cable and 30W adapter are included in the box. The user is also presented with some welcome materials and two Apple stickers to begin, or add to their collection.
Additional semi-clear plastic wrap envelopes the laptop but is soon discarded to the side. A one-handed lift of the lid is always appreciated raise the display in front of one’s eyes. Once lifted, the machine instantly booted and this user began the initial setup process.
The setup process is smooth and relatively painless for a user; so long as one has a quick recall or access to their iCloud account credentials. A welcome addition to the 2019 MacBook Air model is the TrueTone display. Professionals in the photo or video editing design process may not want this turned on by default as it can purposely cause the display to be presented in warmer color temperature and impact the user’s ability to make accurate adjustments to stock images or videos to production. With that said, I appreciate the TrueTone display feature as I believe there are benefits when the OS can effectively impede the amount of blue light that our eyes absorb. Since much of my day to day work is more productivity-focused this makes sense and believe I have less eye fatigue on a device with this feature as opposed to one without it.
Outside of the integration of the TrueTone display the panel on this 2019 model is relatively unchanged from the 2018 MacBook Air. Max brightness has increased from the stated 300 nits to 400 nits. Another welcome change to make the difference between this model and the MacBook Pro less extreme as the latter model sports a 500 nit panel. The resolution is uncharged and matches the 13” MacBook Pro at 2560×1600 for an aspect ratio of 16:10. Kudos to Apple for sticking with the taller display ratio than the 16:9 that is often seen in the ultrabook segment. The display hinge has a premium feel and if anything seemed a little “stuck” when opening or closing the lid. Due to this well-built hinge there is very little screen wobble when tapping on the corner of the display. There would not be a need to do this on this device as there is no option for a touchscreen on this Mac or any other model running macOS. I have very little complaints thus far regarding the display—it is bright, color-accurate, and a high-resolution panel that most users will appreciate for regular use.
Keyboard & TrackPad
Onto the keyboard & trackpad portion of this user’s impressions. I have used many different versions of the Apple-designed butterfly keyboard. My experience has ranged from the first generation key & switch on the 12” MacBook, 13” MacBook escape from 2017, a 2018 15” MacBook Pro to this most recent iteration on the 2019 Air. There is something just a little different about this generation of keyboard included on the 2019 model. I am unsure exactly what it is, but there appears to be a different feel and sound that I have noticed after just a few hours of use. Perhaps this will normalize once there has been more use to be more similar to the 2018 model and keyboard iteration. Consumers nervous about the long-term reliability of this keyboard are rightly concerned—fortunately, Apple has included this 2019 MacBook Air model in a free 4-year keyboard replacement program. This is a welcome sight for incoming college freshman who may receive a device for their college years. Type away young men & women and good luck. Gone on this model is the Touch Bar, which in my opinion has never caught the attention for deeper integration by developers and is not widely regarded by users as a must-have. I am also glad to see the function keys taking their rightful spot in the top row of this keyboard and hope we see this trend be pushed to other MacBook models in 2020 once the redesigned keyboard is released.
The TrackPad. What is there to say? It is a best in class experience. The coined term “Apple Magic” can be used here and is rightfully referenced. The size of the trackpad is sufficient and never once do I feel that I need to or should connect to a Bluetooth or USB connected external mouse. The smooth glass surface is a pleasure to use and with force-touch technology providing software-driven haptic feedback the click is consistent regardless of where you are initiating the click from.
The internal speakers of this device are very good for the device segment. The speakers get quite loud, but soon lack a full range of depth across the EQ spectrum and begin to sound off balance and perhaps a little tinny. Sound quality would be an individual perception and opinion—in short, these are good if not great speakers in a portable sub-3 pound ultrabook.
The iconic wedge design remains part of the 2019 MacBook Air and will keep its appearance factor well in place in the local coffee shop. The device weighs in at 2.75 pounds. It feels solid and if anything, heavier than 2.75 pounds. It is a well-built premium machined device, but I will soon be getting an exterior hardshell case or at minimum, a dbrand skin to keep the bottom and top lid scratch-free.
Device Specs & Closing Thoughts
The model device that I am sporting is the Intel dual-core i5-Y processor with 8GB of 2133 MHz DDR3 system memory and 128GB solid-state hard drive storage in the gold color. This is the base model. A current pricing discount at a big box retailer had this device listed for $899.99. At that price, this device is very good, if not a great value. The only deterrent at that price is the amount of hard drive space that the user has available to them. With many cloud storage options available this may be less of a concern but still may impede long-term usability for some interested consumers. Apple could, in my opinion, capture huge segments of the portable computing market if they would drop prices $150-200 across initial prices of the MacBook Air. Such a decision to lower prices may impact sales of the iPad, but unsure of their initial pricing justification. Recently, I had viewed a 2018 variant of this device with 16GB ram and a 512GB SSD for $1149—that is a lot computing value for each dollar in my perspective. This machine is primarily for my wife who would not need the additional memory and hard drive storage so the cost savings made this latest generation device more attractive.
After a few hours of break-in and setup, the 2019 MacBook Air has been as advertised. This is a solid entry-level portable computing device and for those with a preference for MacOS and productivity-focused computing needs can now get in at a reduced price thanks to some current pricing offers. Patient consumers may want to wait until the 2020 revision if they are not interested in dealing with potential keyboard issues, or do not enjoy the typing experience offered by the current butterfly design.