I’ve been debating for a while about trading in my iPad Air for the new M2 MacBook Air as a backup and travel laptop. The iPad is a good intent consumption device, but I’ve always found it difficult to work into regularly using it for image editing.  I’ve been using (and continue to use) a 14” MacBook Pro as my main computer for image and video editing. There have been times when I’ve wanted to bring my MBP with me on a photowalk (there have been times when members have had questions on editing images, etc.). However, the 14” MBP can at times be a bit bulky.

When Apple announced the M2 MacBook Air at WWDC 2022, the specs were pretty impressive (at least to me). What caught my eye was the 13.6” Liquid Retina display (no pun intended). Apple’s Liquid Retina display is very sharp and kind to the eyes. Text at standard resolution is very easy to read. The display is a bright 500 nits (same as the standard brightness level for last year’s MacBook Pro’s). Although the MacBook Air display is 60Hz (vs the 120Hz on the MacBook Pro), scrolling on web pages (even Facebook – which can use up resources really fast) is very smooth.

Audio wise – the four speaker wide stereo is good….just don’t expect the same deep bass you get from the MacBook Pro’s woofers. I put on my favorite live concert video (KISS Symphony – Rock ’n Roll All Night), and the MacBook Air was missing the bass kicks the MacBook Pro thunders out.  But the sound quality overall was very acceptable.

I opted for one of the base models – 8GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD. Mostly because the MacBook Air isn’t my primary laptop for image editing, and because Apple’s M1/M2 processors are a “system on a chip”, they do a much better job at allocating system resources than an Intel x86/x64 based system (sorry Windows – them’s the facts). So far, Lightroom Classic runs very smoothly. Other programs like ON1 Photo RAW 2022, Exposure X7 and Luminar Neo all run just as well as on the MacBook Pro with 16GB of RAM. Admittedly, Lightroom is the big unknown, because it seems all Adobe products tend to be resource pigs.  Time will tell as the number of images and catalog size increases.

Size wise, weighing only .8 pounds less and .17 inches thinner is very noticeable when holding both the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air. But even though it’s thinner, it is still solidly built.

If this were to be my main laptop, I would have opted for 16GB of RAM and maybe a 1TB SSD. If you’re not a professional photographer or videographer, I think the MacBook Air might be a good choice over a MacBook Pro.

Charles Putnam
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