Living with a Macbook over the last couple of weeks has been different. But is it any better than the Chromebooks I have been using for my main devices over nearly the last decade? Let’s dive in and find out…..
Despite my love affair with Chromebooks the one big advantage Macs (and indeed PC’s) have over them is in the handling of Chrome profiles. As my work consists of being a Google partner in the Google Workspace industry, therefore, having multiple client admin logins, the way Chromebooks handles this is not as fluid as the other Operating Systems.
The particular model I am using is the M1 Macbook Air with 8GB Ram with 250GB of storage.
So to the good things.
Keyboard and Trackpad are sublime. This though is a personal thing. I have found over the years I have bought laptops or keyboards after a glowing review only to be disappointed so you must take this as my own take. The backlit keys have excellent travel and just the right noise when depressing them. The trackpad, as in previous Air generations is large and responsive and houses the usual useful gestures. The addition of new function keys on the top row is useful and a good addition (albeit a nod to Chrome OS keyboard itself).
The Airs display is crisp and sharp although I do not see this as a huge leap above other devices I have had in the past including a 2017 Pixelbook. However, it is also insanely bright – I don’t even have it past 50% and I like my screens bright traditionally!
The feel of the Air is lovely – well made, delightful to hold and carry, no screen wobble and still the signature lift with one finger. Speakers are pretty good as well!
The small things: Webcam ok not great, Ports a bit limited but you do get 2 USB C’s (but why next to each other? makes no sense to me) and having a headphone jack is a relief (not all of us are bluetooth headphone fans especially for video calls).
Now for the speed of this machine.
Much has been said about this new M1 chip – and certainly it has helped cure the achilles heel of previous generations of Macbooks – the battery. Whilst in this pandemic world we live in its difficult to ascertain how much by in the real world.
And so we come to the not so good things.
Mac OS is still behind Chrome OS in many areas – not least in services and applications. I just find Chrome OS so much more intuitive with a laser focus on web applications. It doesnt try to be all things to all people like the Mac. Granted I am neither a heavy image or video editor but even so iCloud is just a confused mess. Apple’s productivity apps feel and behave no differently than previous and will work well in isolation but are no where near as integrated and useful as Google’s offering.
Still the best browser on the planet is Chrome and I am delighted to declare that the new Chrome application especially built for the M1 chip runs flawlessly. No heat, little or no hit on battery life and runs exceptionally well. Safari has improved but is still behind on Chrome – as it suffers with unexpected crashes, lack of extensions and general tab management functionality missing.
Strangely though, at least at the moment, iOS applications which became available with the implementation of the M1 chip, are few and far between. At the moment the deployment of this is way behind that of android apps on Chromebook, but I fully expect this to get better over time – watch this space!
Overall the look and feel of the 2020 Macbook Air is one of luxury – it is blazingly fast and is only let down by Apple’s software and services. For me though for my next purchase it will be a Chromebook – mid to high tier version – with I hope as good a keyboard and trackpad as the Air!