I hinted in my December 2021 review that my transition to an Apple laptop seems imminent.
But this soon? Yes! I’ve had the M1 MacBook Air for two days. And I love it.
Why not the MacBook Pro?
Awful sales policy.
After I received no support whatsoever from Apple or its Premium/Authorized Resellers in India, I decided to not give over $4000 of my money to Apple, and try to look for a more budget option within the ARM variants.
My biggest concern with my original pick (MacBook Pro with the M1 Pro) was whether I needed the 16 GB memory variant or the 32 GB, and whether I could make do with 14.2″ or I needed to go big on the 16.2″ variant. Officially, Apple dislikes its Indian market segment for some reason (they don’t offer any returns or exchanges). I quote from their sales policy:
Products purchased at Apple Store in India cannot be refunded or exchanged.
If you believe that your new Apple product is defective please contact Apple Store Customer Service to discuss your options.Apple India Sales Policies as on 2022-01-01.
I assumed they might make an exception if I spoke to them, and the paper policy might be to deter obvious frauds. Of course, they didn’t make any exception. I was told to “make a decision before buying because there’s no way for you to upgrade your memory or get a new laptop in exchange. We simply don’t.”
Air versus the Pro 13.
I finally went with the MacBook Air, with 16 GB of memory and 512 GB of disk space. I also opted for the extra GPU core, although I’m told it doesn’t really make much of a difference. It’s just a nice to have so I can hopefully run this machine for two or three years.
At this point, it’s already over a year old, and it might have been better to wait for the M2 Air, but waiting for new tech is an endless cycle. Assuming something is announced/released in late-2022 or even mid-2022, the chip shortages are expected to continue, and getting my hands on one would have delayed it to early 2023. Why wait a whole year? I’m frustrated today, might as well replace today.
That said, the M1 Air I feel was priced a bit more on the lower end because it was the start of a big bet.
MacBook Pro 13 on the other hand isn’t a massive upgrade over the Air, and even includes a Touch Bar which is on the way out. I wanted no part of that.
Not difficult to move on from.
The M1 MacBook Air runs about $1770 — still significantly more expensive than the US counter-part which is at $1449, but a way more affordable piece than the MBP14/16 with at least half their price if not more.
If this went sideways, selling an Air would be indefinitely easier than a Pro. If it worked out, I could live with it for two to three years.
My experience with the Air.
Apart from the Monterey download bugging out twice, and a Messages’ interaction causing the whole system to crash while on Big Sur, everything has been flawless.
I’m quite surprised by how well macOS manages memory: running Docker has been no issue for my workload! ARM supports seems okay at this point. I was able to install NodeJS and Python using asdf.
I haven’t had a proper work day on this machine yet, but I’m expecting it to be fine.
The two-year transition period.
Rosetta 2 works so transparently I don’t even notice what is native vs. translated, and everything is still very fast!
There are some apps that do feel slow, like Standard Notes, which is indeed translated. On the iPhone, their app is really fast, and I hope to see that on the desktop as well once they release an ARM variant of their app.
31 December was the last due date for filing income taxes here in India for the April 2020 – March 2021 period.
On day one, I charged the laptop to 100% and went about my work… browser tabs, YouTube videos, lots of research, working with PDF files, chatting intermittently, and so on. And I lost about 3% through these three to four hours. I almost felt like the battery toggle is simply bugged out or lying to me. Impossibly good.
The little things.
- Touch ID works great. I don’t think it’s too small. Not yet anyway.
- Wake up is instant — I’ve never owned an Apple laptop/desktop before. I’m extremely happy with this.
- The speakers are an upgrade — they’re not the best there is, but they are good.
- Turning on and connecting to the mobile hotspot all from a single click on the Wi-Fi menu is amazing. So convenient.
- I actually like Spotlight so far.
- Preview with Space Bar is amazing. How have I lived without this for all my computing life?
I thought I’d hate the glossy display after using and preferring a matte screen for the last seven years. That’s not the case. The colors pop.
The bezels are clearly thicker than my XPS — which is four years old and has kept up with all the technology madness that has happened in the last few years. Do they bother me? Not yet.
Compared to the XPS, this isn’t a huge step-up, but I prefer the MacBook keyboard already. The keys feel…a little less heavy on my fingers, a little more tactile.
The backlight under the keys doesn’t bleed out like the XPS, and feels better and easier on the eyes.
Weight and cooling.
It’s fan-less, weighs just 1.29 kg and about 1.46 kg with its 30 watts charger. I’m worried how I’m ever going to go back to the 1.8s and the 2.0s.
It can get a little warm at times, but not to a point where it’s unusable.
So there you go…
If you are a professional web developer but not reliant on running dozens of Docker containers, even the 16 GB memory variants should hold up well. This was one thing that was very hard to find on the internet. People are split between the 16 and the 32 because web development can mean different things to different professionals.
The best thing you can do of course is find someone from whom you can borrow their 16 GB laptop with the M1/M1 Pro, and that will leave you feeling confident walking into an Apple/reseller store.
I am really enjoying my first introduction to iCloud, macOS, Air, and the ARM architecture — I would 100% recommend this to a Windows/Linux user. Try it, and go back if you wish to after. Take the experience in, so you can take it back to the work you do.
Featured image by AppleInsider.com.