This has been an interesting trip to London. Having packed only the M1 MacBook Air into my Waterfield backpack, I’ve fallen in love with it.
Not only has it helped me edit and send a YouTube video to a sponsor while out on the road, but it has also proved, once again, that this version of the MacBook Air is the best laptop Apple has ever made.
Just to clarify, this is the base model version – the one with ‘just’ 8GB of unified memory and the ‘lowly’ binned M1 chip featuring just seven cores of graphical power.
It shouldn’t be this good. Bearing in mind my daily production driver is a laptop that cost more than three times as much and has oodles more power, I can’t quite fathom how capable this little machine is. In fact, it has impressed me so much over these last two days that I’m genuinely considering switching back to it, from the M2 MacBook Air.
Here are five reasons why I’m so tempted to do that.
1. It can SMASH 10-bit 4K video edits
I won’t go into the full details today, because I reported on the M1 MacBook Air’s video editing performance against its newer sibling yesterday, but suffice it to say this thing is a brilliant Final Cut Pro machine.
It shouldn’t be, given the spec. It should struggle, stutter, and throw up constant beach balls.
But it doesn’t. Over the last two days, I’ve successfully edited over ten minutes of a-roll for one of my YouTube videos. The stuff I’m working with is 10-bit, 4K footage from an expensive Sony camera, and the base model M1 MacBook Air barely bats an eyelid.
For someone who is increasingly finding himself in need of a time-bound video edit on the road, the M1 MacBook Air represents a mighty return on investment.
2. It’s got loads of cool stickers on it
My Midnight M2 MacBook Air is covered in one thing – smudges. My M1 MacBook Air is covered in loads of really cool stickers.
I began applying them earlier this year, and I couldn’t stop. As a result, the case for this laptop now proudly shows off the logos for everything from YouTube to Oasis (it’s even got the Batman sign on it, and everything).
As any long-term MacBook Air owner knows, this is a sign of true love and dedication to one’s laptop.
3. I can throw it around more
I promised I’ve looked after my M1 MacBook Air, but it has travelled a fair bit with me, and my girlfriend (who has been its most recent custodian) is less inclined to treat it with kid gloves.
As it turns out, the inevitable minor nicks it has picked up along the way are rather endearing. More importantly, they mean I’m less inclined to treat it with kid gloves myself, and therefore happy to sling it into my rucksack without a case and throw it around a bit more (don’t worry – not literally; I’m not frisbeeing this thing across the room).
This is one of the issues with the M2 MacBook Air – despite retaining Apple’s near-unbeatable build quality, I do worry about bending it and scratching that Midnight finish. Although, admittedly, the presence of the aforementioned unavoidable smudges makes any marks or blemishes completely irrelevant.
I take good care of my devices, but when they spend most of their lives as workhorses, I don’t have as much time to be super careful with them. Therefore, the carefree attitude I have with this M1 MacBook Air and its ability to deal with a bit of rough-and-tumble is very refreshing indeed.
4. The battery and performance are still stellar
I’ve been hammering this laptop for the last few days. It has been through that heavy bought of video editing, and a significant amount of writing.
Having left the charger with 100% battery yesterday morning, it still has about 25% left over 24 hours later.
Nothing beats this. The M2 MacBook Air is on par, of course, but when you consider what the M1 version is capable of while travelling, the battery remains its crowning glory.
5. There’s just SOMETHING about it
I wish I could explain what that ‘something’ is, but the M1 MacBook Air absolutely has it.
Maybe it’s the fact that it’s packing such incredible performance in such an old chassis. Perhaps it’s just the ‘Air’ moniker and everything that has come with it since Steve Jobs unearthed the original version from a manilla envelope in 2008.
Whatever it is, this is a laptop that really gets under your skin. You find yourself proud to own it, delighted to lift the lid for whatever task you’re about to undertake, and always glad of its presence in your rucksack.
I think this is the Apple ‘magic’ that remains absent in so many of their recently launched products. The second-generation AirPods Pro have it, as does the Apple Watch Ultra, but the new iPads, iPhones, and even the beautifully designed new MacBook Air just don’t feel as special as those devices. And they certainly don’t feel anywhere near as special as the M1 MacBook Air.
Will I do it?
I’m sorely tempted to switch from the M2 MacBook Air back to the M1 MacBook Air.
Something is holding me back, though. I think it might be the investment I’ve placed in the former, and the desire to squeeze as much productivity out of it as possible. Remember – although I have delved into on-the-go video editing recently, 99% of the work I undertake on my MacBook Air feels entirely comfortable with that M2 chip.
I’m in the fortunate position to have both, therefore perhaps the halfway house is to make the M1 MacBook Air my travelling companion (when my girlfriend doesn’t need it).
What would you do?