|Subject||Posted By||Forum||Category||Last Activity||Activity|
||Shawn Moshier||Apple||Hardware||8 months ago||
||Shawn Moshier||General Discussion||Hardware||8 months ago||
||Shawn Moshier||Microsoft||Hardware||1 year ago||
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 2560x1600 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.
After owning and using a 2017 ThinkPad X1 Carbon, 5th generation for over two
years I wanted to provide some long-term thoughts regarding the device.
The model I purchased in May 2017 is equipped with an Intel dual core i5-7300U
processor, 16GB of DDR3 memory, and a 256GB PCIe-NVMe solid state hard drive.
The display is a 14" IPS Full HD 1920 x 1080 matte, anti-glare panel. It delivers
good viewing angles and gets relatively bright to 300 nits. If you like to take your
computing device outdoors this may not be the ideal machine for you as 300 nits
will be sub-par in outdoor bright environments for frequent use, but otherwise
the display is suitable for everyday productivity tasks. I am delighted to see that
more recent generations of this laptop model have offered brighter and higher
resolution display options. For example, there is a 4K HDR display option that
delivers 500 nits as an available option on the 7th Generation device that was
recently released earlier in 2019. A matte display may also be a deterrent if your
primary use of the device will be to watch Netflix or other video content, but is a
pleasure to use when creating written content. Outside of the increased brightness
options that Lenovo has delivered across their HD and HDR displays it may also be
beneficial for Lenovo to shift from the current 16:9 aspect ratio to 3:2 for the
business & productivity segment of the market this device targets. I don't foresee
them making this change, but I would interested in such a device for my particular
The internal down firing speakers are lackluster. I would recommend using a set
of corded or bluetooth headphones to better your listening experience. Lenovo
has taken user feedback seriously in this regard and the more recent generations
of this device have been upgraded to a more premium listening experience.
Windows 10 runs great on this device as to be expected. I am currently running
1903 and have had nary an issue. I recommend any user running Windows 10 or
really any modern OS today to seriously consider 16GB of system memory as the
minimum. With more work being done in the browser and browsers hogging
system memory, a 16GB upgrade is often worth the dime.
The integrated Lenovo Vantage software also provides a reliable and
consistent interface to install updates to the system BIOS or other systems that
have available updates provided by Lenovo.
Keyboard & Trackpad
The keyboard on this device is simply great. It offer a generous 1.5mm of key
travel. This depth of key travel is nearly unheard of in the Ultrabook segment of
latops available today. This iconic Lenovo keyboard is head and shoulders above
many laptops that run either Windows 10 or MacOS.
When I am not using this device my other daily driver is a base model 2018 15"
MacBook Pro. While I don't flat out dislike the butterfly keyboard, it does pale in
comparison to quality and overall user experience to the keyboard on this 2017
ThinkPad X1 Carbon.
The glass trackpad support multi-touch gestures and is sufficient in size and
usability. However, it does not quite match up to the trackpad experience on the
MacBook laptops. In fact, when using this device for extended periods of time I will
connect to USB mouse or a bluetooth enabled Logitech MX Master mouse to use as
the primary pointing device. I have never relied solely on the iconic Lenovo
TrackPoint in the center of the keyboard, but I know there are some who swear by
it as the only way to navigate the OS and installed software programs in the most
The 5th Generation ThinkPad X1 Carbon is a 14" laptop, but the weight is a
minimal 2.49 pounds thanks in large part to the Carbon Fiber chassis that is
vigorously tested in Lenovo labs. I am still, after 2+years since the purchase date,
pleasantly surprised at just how light & premium the device feels in the hand
when carrying from one room to another. It has a excellent feel in the hand and it
just exudes confidence that the device is comfortable in its skin and behooves the
user to present in the coffee shop, classroom, or board room.
This 14" laptop is easy to carry around town and would be a great machine for the
on the go college student whose primary tasks is note-taking and written
assignments, or the frequent jet setting business professional who needs to create
some content while in an airport or flying in the sky.
Connectivity & Ports
The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 5th generation device also offers a plethora of
connectivity options that will suit nearly every use case the typical user can toss at
it. With two USB type-C ports, two USB type-A ports, and a HDMI port there are
endless opportunities to connect to many peripherals if you want to use this
machine at a desk and connect to external peripherals and use as a workstation.
The 5th Generation ThinkPad X1 Carbon has been a great laptop that has provided
this user over two years of excellent reliability and satisfaction. If you are in the
market for new Windows 10 laptop this back to school season do not overlook the
7th generation or even last year's 6th generation series of ThinkPad X1 Carbon
laptop as an option if suitable for your computing needs.
A year later...still a beauty.
The Macbook Air has nothing on this device. From the premium and inviting packaging that mimics an Apple unboxing experience, to the smack in your face presentation of the device once the packaging cover is popped off, Microsoft appears to have a delivered on a laptop worthy of some praise.
Once unboxed and unwrapped, the Surface Laptop invites you to open it up and rest your hands on the keyboard deck. It is here where this device begins to be set itself apart. The soft Alcantara fabric is a welcome experience from the often too cold feel of aluminum or cheap plastic on other devices. The model I have has the Platinum color. It has classic appeal and invites use, but may not set itself apart in the local Starbucks as would the Graphite Gold, Cobalt Blue, or Burgundy. Regarding the Alcantra fabric that covers the keyboard deck, I was a little skeptical of such a move as its longevity might be called into question. Props to Microsoft for the bold decision making to take some of the best design elements of the Surface Pro and Surface book and form into a traditional clamshell device. To keep the keyboard deck looking great, I'll just be careful when eating around the device and attempt to keep some wet wipes nearby to keep my fingers oil-free.
The keyboard and trackpad are excellent. What smoothness may be lacked by the Microsoft precision drivers in comparison to a trackpad found on a Mac, the keyboard more than makes up the difference. Outside of potentially having a slightly scalloped shape to them, nod to the Lenovo keyboards, the key travel and tactile feedback is spot on. After just recently test driving the 2017 Macbook Air, I don't miss that keyboard in any way. Well, I take that back; In just one way--the proportional direction arrow keypad found in the lower right-hand corner of the keyboard.
Upon looking up, after powering on the device, you are drawn to amazement if your emotional response meter has not tilted toward that already when seeing the colors pop on the gorgeous 13.5 inch, 3:2 aspect ratio display. There is no rubber seal along the outer edge and no Microsoft branding to be seen; just a display packed with pixels inviting you to explore & navigate the OS. My primary tasks are productivity driven so the extra vertical screen real estate of a 3:2 aspect ratio is welcome and appreciated. My only complaint regarding the screen is that it is quite reflective and may be difficult to use in sunlight due to its glossy & reflective qualities.
The Windows 10S experience lasted all of 5 minutes. This was a failed experiment and one glance at the Windows Store will explain why. Living within the walled garden of apps available within the Windows Store is simply not sufficient for many. Luckily, the upgrade to Windows 10 Pro can be completed with just a few clicks and is otherwise a seamless experience.
The upgrade process to the latest version of Windows 10 was time consuming but otherwise without a hiccup. Windows has made strides in handling much of this process behind the scenes to allow the user to continue using the machine while the latest version downloads and for many components, installs. A lengthy restart process completes the process. The process in which Apple delivers MacOS updates is well, cleaner. Considering the many variants of hardware sophistication and quality that the Windows OS is a solution for doesn't easily allow for the Mac level of optimization. I won't lose hope that someday it can be matched to a MacOS-like process, and you would think that piloting greater optimizations on Surface hardware would the place to start. However, when reading the recent writings on the wall, Microsoft's C-suite decisions, I am not confident they will invest the needed resources for the small percentage of users that would appreciate the focus & dedication this would require.
What about the last generation, not future proofed ports you might ask. Well, put simply, it has not been a problem thus far. While proprietary charging is not the best design choice, a magnetic and lighted connector is much appreciated. I have not had use for the one USB-A, and mini display port. I will use both of these in days to come as I will hook the device up to an external, Das Keyboard, and a 34" Dell Ultra-wide monitor. I anticipate no issues and thus far prefer to use the device as intended--as a traditional clamshell laptop. Connecting a bluetooth enabled Logitech MX Master was painless, but the use of the smooth glass trackpad is often more convenient and with the headphone port on the left, correct, side of the device it won't interfere with any mouse movements on the right-hand side of the device.
The 2017 Surface Laptop after one year on the market is still an eye-catching device that should be on your list of potential laptops to buy if you are in the market for a new device this summer.
About the Author:
Shawn Moshier is a Product Manager & Business Analyst at Morgan Stanley. When away from the office he enjoys personal technology, reading, writing, and spending time with his family & friends.