These are a few useless words about the new M1 MacBooks.
I’ve very excited for the future of Apple’s hardware. Notch problems aside, I’m no longer afraid to upgrade a MacBook and might actually be looking forward to it. I hope Apple regains its dominance in the laptop market because it was always a joy to see a audience full of nerds with glowing Apple logos.
I’ve been using a new M1 MacBook Air for 6 months and it might be my favorite computer of all time. Sure, I still have nostalgia for my old Mac IIci but this MacBook Air has changed the way I use my computer.
The MacBook Air is so light and the battery lasts so long, that I barely touch my iPad Pro for more than sketching and PDF annotation.1 I grab my MacBook Air off my desk, unplug the single Thunderbolt cable connecting it to a desk full of peripherals and plop down in the backyard to work. I can work for the entire day without worrying about a power cable and when I’m done I can plug it back into that one cable and sit behind a 38" display to work in the luxurious glow of more pixels than I need. And those are the MacBook Air features that are holding me back from buying a new MacBook Pro:
- Battery Life
That third one might be a little surprising but it’s true. Whenever I work on my M1 MacBook Air I don’t feel like it’s a compromise. It feels like a beast, even after working on an iMac Pro for years. I don’t do much video or audio editing but I do a lot of work with Microsoft Office and those apps destroy CPUs. I also write a lot of bad code and if anything will stomp on a CPU it’s my un-optimized code.
That brings me to the only major downside with the new MacBook Pros: they are heavy. I expected them to be bigger, because, well, that’s why you buy a bigger laptop, so it will be bigger. But they are substantially heavier than the MacBook Air. Here’s a lazy screenshot comparison of the physical specs of the M1 MacBook Air and MacBook Pros:
The 14 inch MacBook Pro is is nearly a pound heavier while the 16 inch model is nearly two pounds heavier. That’s a lot when I’m just thinking about grabbing a laptop to type words. It’s enough that I start thinking about which device is right for the work session.
Apple also states that the 14 inch MacBook Pro also has slightly less battery life with a projected 17 hours of use compared to the 18 hours for the MacBook Air. It’s not a huge difference but I’m also a spoiled baby that no longer even cares about what my battery meter says. When Apple says the battery lasts 18 hours, you can believe it. It’s an incredible feeling to go work somewhere all day and not worry about an electrical cord.
And all that leads me to decision paralysis for my next upgrade. The 21 hour battery in the 16 inch MacBook Pro is very compelling but the extra two pounds is a turn off. It reminds me of my old attitude toward my MacBook Pro. It mostly sat on my desk because it was too damn heavy to be very mobile.
All that said, there are a lot of good reasons to love the new MacBook Pros:
The MacBook Pros have more than double the screen brightness. This is a huge bonus for working outside.
A bigger internal disk is always the best choice. I’m still comfortable with the 2TB disk I got in this MacBook Air but I know it will start to feel constraining, just like every laptop I’ve ever had.
The extra ports on the MacBook Pro will be a huge bonus when traveling. I carry a dock in my bag but that can get messy when working in the airport or coffee shop.
It feels good to have too many choices for a laptop again. I’m excited for the future of this hardware and I’m relieved Apple cares about competing for the laptop market again.
I’d still want to buy an iPad Pro even if I only ever use it for sketching and annotation. It’s dynamite at it and I love the feel of working with the Apple Pencil. ↩︎