There's been a few bits of tech that I thought would be my gadget of the year, from the mighty Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra to the Steam Deck coming into its own and the wonderfully neat Geekom mini PC. I didn't expect it to be the MacBook Air M2.
Years ago I inherited an old-school MacBook Air from a colleague, and while I was no macOS pro, I loved the dinky little laptop. So when Apple re-designed the Air and added the M2 chip, I perked up and paid attention.
The MacBook Air M1 reviewed well but its design felt dated. But the 2022 MacBook Air looked fresh. And after seeing the critical acclaim heaped on the new Air, I decided to buy one.
But no sooner had I finalized the purchase that I immediately felt a pang of buyer's remorse.
Mulling over the MacBook
I'd decided to pay for the MacBook Air M2 in interest-free installments, thereby avoiding coughing up a lump sum and saving that money in a higher interest account instead. It also meant I could afford the 512GB mode with an extra GPU core.
But despite this move, whereby I pay back around £60 a month, I couldn't help shake the feeling I'd made a far too indulgent purchase. After all, I have a perfectly solid Windows laptop.
When the MacBook Air arrived, that feeling didn't leave me. In fact, I was hit by just how unfamiliar I was with macOS, leaving me to wonder if I’d made an even bigger mistake.
And so began my journey of re-learning macOS and adjusting to a slightly different keyboard layout. As time went by I started to notice a lot of things I liked, which, while small, made for a good laptop experience.
The Force Touch trackpad is magnificent, offering a large tactile space that makes using a trackpad a joy rather than a poor mouse substitute. It really does live up to its hype.
That 13.5-inch display is also lovely, offering a bounty of brightness, color and contrast. Sure, the notch looks a bit goofy when you really look at it, but the slimmer bezels are a good compromise. And macOS does a decent job at hiding the cutout a lot of the time.
A breath of fresh Air
As my familiarity with macOS grew, this appreciation only increased. The slim and seamless design is wonderful and while the Macbook Air can get warm, I never felt the M2's performance was compromised.
Of course, I'm not a video editor so I rarely push the silicon. But even with a mix of apps open and a load of tabs on screen, the Air never felt slow.
This had me try out a few games; the Air won't be running Cyberpunk 2077 anytime soon, but it can run less demanding games like Divinity Original Sin 2 and Disco Elysium — both of which are stellar games. Not to mention it's great for Apple Arcade games like Game of Thrones: Tale of Crows.
There was just something really fresh about using a laptop that ran silently, lacked the quirks Windows can throw up, and just feels so lovely as an overall package to use day in, day out.
However, the MacBook Air M2 really came into its own and won me over when I went to IFA 2022 in September.
I made it through the Berlin-based tech conference on nearly a single charge; I think I did one quick top up.
The sheer efficiency of the M2 chip was the real star of the show, seemingly sipping power when I was hammering out live blog posts or simply wandering around with the laptop in its sleep mode. Speaking of which, the Air wakes up instantly, making it super effective for covering busy conferences.
So when I boarded the plane back to London, I was completely in love with the MacBook Air M2.
Of course, it's not perfect; such a laptop doesn't exist yet. The keyboard doesn't quite have the tactile response of say a Dell XPS 13 or Surface Laptop 5. And I'd love a SD card reader. I'd grumble about just having two USB-C ports, but the use of MagSafe for charging frees them up. And a lack of USB A tends to be par for the course of modern ultra portable laptops.
So all things considered, I reckon the MacBook Air M2 is basically the best laptop for pretty much anyone who doesn't demand the power to render 4K videos on the move. And it's my device of 2022; I'm curious as to where Apple could take the MacBook Air next.