The New Macbook Air – One Step Forward, Two Steps Back?

We’re faced with a big decision in the next few months, what laptop will we upgrade our teachers to next. They are all rocking the 13″ MacBook Air from 2014 and aside from some battery issues on the oldest ones, I must say, the devices have held up really well. In fact, if Apple had simply upgraded the processors in the old MacBook Air chassis and maybe thrown in a bit higher resolution screen, we would have already made the decision.



But, unfortunately, Apple had to go and “improve” on what was arguably already the best laptop ever made. So, I’ve been demoing one of the new MacBook Air 2018 models for the past week and here is where I’m at:


  • Nice Screen – brightness seems fine in daily use, despite the reviews
  • Small Bezels!
  • Decent performance (although I’ve seen Chrome stutter a bit here and there)
  • I can use my Pixel phone charger to charge it!
  • Speakers are nice
  • TouchID Power Button is awesome


  • I really miss the old MacBook Air keyboard –  The travel is non-existent and I am missing more keys when typing than usual
  • No MagSafe adapter to save me from myself
  • Surprisingly heavy, especially for the reduced size and when compared to the old MacBook Air 13″
  • Headphone jack on the right hand side (that’s just wrong)
  • Apple Logo doesn’t light up – gone is any external indicator that the machine is on, or sleeping when the lid is closed.

So, is this the device for 350 educators to use day and in day out in their classrooms for the next 4-5 years? At this point, I am not sure. I think for next steps it would make sense for use to order a few more and put them in the hands of teachers in the classroom to find out. Given the magnitude of this decision, I think we need some heavy classroom use before we can make an informed choice.

On another note, from an organizational perspective, I wish Apple would think about more than just the individual user sometimes. We have invested in an entire system of spare power adapters and display dongles to support our fleet of MacBook Airs. Regardless of what device we end up moving forward with, we are going to have to replace all of that with new accessories. Thanks USB-C.


With this new MacBook Air, I feel like we’ve taken one step forward and two steps back. We had the best keyboard on the market. We had MagSafe, which was just brilliant at saving ourselves from ripping out the power cord. We had a thin and light chassis that really only showed it’s age around the screen resolution and bezel size.  In the end, we gave up a lot of user friendly innovation and all we really got in exchange was a TouchID enabled power button.

One thing is certain, ever since Apple got rid of the polycarbonate MacBook, they’ve continued to limit the options for Education if we want to stay on the Mac OS platform. Maybe we should be testing teacher Chromebooks instead…