The M2 MacBook Air from Apple serves as an exceptionally speedy companion for remote work, boasting a captivating keyboard experience.

Let’s get straight to the point: If you’ve been holding off on upgrading your MacBook Air for four or five years, now is the time to take the leap.

The 2022 MacBook Air is powered by Apple’s own M2 chip and is practically the perfect companion for remote work or working from any location, really. Starting at $1,200, this new M2-powered Air provides all the essential elements for any computer-centric job: Exceptional battery life, a larger 13.6-inch display compared to its predecessors, an irresistible keyboard, and sufficient power to breeze through daily tasks.

Is it flawless? Certainly not. The new M2 MacBook Air still requires improvements in areas like refresh rate and port selection. However, if you’re someone who, like me, has spent an excessive amount of time working on an older MacBook Air, upgrading to this new model is an obvious choice.

Larger in size, yet retaining its slim profile.

Apple’s most recent MacBook Air serves as a direct successor to the M1-powered MacBook Air introduced in late 2020. Thus, I’ll utilize that particular model as the foundational point for most comparisons. Notably, the physical appearance stands out as one of the primary distinctions between the two iterations.

This fresh M2 Air model boasts a redesign that might not hold much significance for the average person but could be apparent to those more inclined toward tech. Previous versions of MacBook Air featured a tapered bottom half, gradually reducing in size from one end to the other. In practical terms, while using the laptop, the keyboard and trackpad portion was thinner at one end than the section connecting to the display.

However, this hallmark design element of MacBook Air is now a thing of the past. Apple opted for a consistent thickness of 1.13 cm all around, in contrast to the 2020 model, which measured 0.41 cm at its thinnest and 1.61 cm at its thickest. As someone who values symmetry and uniformity, this change is pleasing. While the extreme thinness might not match the previous version, the overall result is still an impressively slim device.

This achievement becomes more remarkable when considering that Apple upgraded the display size from the previous 13.3-inch to a new 13.6-inch dimension. While a third of an inch might not seem substantial, in the realm of ultra-portable laptops, it can wield a significant impact. Having spent the last three and a half years working on a 2016 MacBook Pro with a 13.3-inch display, I immediately noticed the difference, so take my word for it.

Apple’s ability to enlarge the display while retaining an admirable level of slimness and even reducing the weight (2.7 lbs. compared to 2.8 lbs. of the 2020 Air model) is undeniably impressive. However, the new camera notch, carried over from the 2021 MacBook Pro, leaves me less impressed. I can tolerate such a feature on a phone screen (though I’m not particularly fond of it there either) due to its smaller size. However, on a larger laptop display, the notch can be a tad distracting.

To Apple’s credit, the notch doesn’t actually interfere with streaming videos (platforms like YouTube and Sling incorporate black bars where the notch would be), but its appearance is aesthetically unappealing to me.

That said, the notch incorporates a significant upgrade in the form of a 1080p camera, a noteworthy improvement over the modest 720p lens of the previous iteration. In straightforward terms, if you decide to invest in the new M2 MacBook Air, your video calls will appear substantially better, and this isn’t solely due to the enhanced resolution. I’ve spent years positioning myself meticulously in front of a backlight during work calls to prevent it from overshadowing my face. With the new M2 MacBook Air, that overpowering glare transforms into a gentle glow in the corner, leaving my face clearly visible.

The latest significant physical alteration involves introducing a MagSafe charging port alongside the existing pair of Thunderbolt / USB-C ports on the left side of the MacBook Air. This addition enables you to charge the laptop while leaving two Thunderbolt / USB-C ports accessible. However, I would have appreciated the inclusion of one or two more of these ports to match the count on the outdated 2016 model I’ve been using, which boasts a total of four ports. One aspect I have no complaints about, though, is the presence of a 3.5mm headphone jack on the right side.

Before delving into the actual user experience, let’s take a closer look at the specifications of the M2 MacBook Air:

  • Four colors: space grey, starlight, midnight, silver
  • 13.6-inch display with 60Hz refresh rate
  • 1080p front-facing camera
  • 8GB, 16GB, or 24GB RAM
  • 256GB to 2TB storage
  • MagSafe 3 port, two Thunderbolt / USB-C ports, 3.5mm headphone jack

Regal Keyboard

Speaking as someone who endured the torment of Apple’s dreadful old butterfly keyboards for years, transitioning to the M2 MacBook Air felt akin to stepping into heavenly bliss. The keyboard on this device is truly exceptional and should be a persuasive selling point for anyone who has suffered with a butterfly keyboard.

The keystrokes possess a satisfying weight without generating excessive noise. The act of typing, simply pushing down the keys, brings about a sense of gratification. It’s akin to pressing actual buttons, a stark contrast to the butterfly keyboard that felt like trying to dislodge something trapped in molasses. It’s worth noting that this keyboard’s tactile experience is nearly identical to that of the 2020 M1 MacBook Air, making it a consistent continuation of a positive trend.

A significant alteration is the expansion of the function row along the top, rendering the keys full-sized rather than the half-sized version found on the 2020 Air. This alteration is most noticeable with the escape key, which now boasts the same form factor as the tab key. Personally, I find this enlargement appealing, as someone with relatively large fingers, more surface area is always appreciated. The Touch ID key remains in the upper right corner of the keyboard, functioning impeccably as an efficient means of logging into the machine, sparing the need to type out a password each time.

Without a doubt, if you’re still using a slightly older MacBook, this keyboard stands as the most compelling reason to upgrade. Unfortunately, the same level of praise cannot be extended to the display.

Requires a higher frequency.

To clarify, the display of the new M2 MacBook Air is, generally speaking, impressive. With a resolution of 2560×1664, it ensures that images, videos, websites, and various content appear remarkably sharp on a screen of this size. With a peak brightness of 500 nits, it outshines the 400-nit maximum of the 2020 Air model by 25 percent. The display is more than sufficient for virtually any daily task, posing no issues.

However, there is one substantial concern I have with it: The refresh rate is capped at 60Hz. Given the laptop’s starting price of $1,200, this limitation feels inadequate. While it suffices for streaming, matching the prevalent refresh rate of most streaming platforms, standard web browsing gains significant benefits from a smoother 120Hz refresh rate. The desire for that heightened smoothness is strong.

Nevertheless, don’t allow the display to dissuade you from considering the new M2 MacBook Air. As I mentioned, it performs exceptionally well in every other aspect, and I found it particularly enjoyable to use as a secondary screen for watching baseball while my primary TV was occupied. Although the refresh rate might not reach its maximum potential, the laptop’s overall performance profile still creates a pleasant experience.

Fast and quiet

Much like its predecessors, the M2 processor maintains the swift performance of this new MacBook Air. This comes as no surprise, as exceptional performance is one of the reasons why people are willing to pay the premium often referred to as the “Apple tax” for the company’s devices. Apple products are anticipated to deliver excellence, and the new MacBook Air lives up to those expectations.

In my assessment, I primarily employed it as an everyday machine for work and web browsing. This included tasks like engaging with colleagues on Slack, participating in numerous video calls, exploring Twitter, composing articles, streaming baseball games, and efficiently clearing out emails to achieve that coveted “inbox-zero” state. These are activities that could potentially slow down my 2016 MacBook Pro, yet they had no adverse impact on the 2022 M2 MacBook Air.

The entire experience is marked by speed and fluidity, validated by GeekBench benchmark scores that position it near or even above the pricier 2021 MacBook Pro in certain aspects. While Apple hasn’t altered the battery life ratings from the 2020 Air (i.e., 15 hours of web browsing / 18 hours of video playback), this isn’t necessarily a drawback. In my real-world usage, I managed to attain 24 hours of runtime between charges, a more than satisfactory outcome for a laptop of this caliber.

Moreover, the most noteworthy aspect is its complete and absolute silence throughout operation. No fan noise whatsoever, and no associated issues.

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