Listen, I love my MacBook Air so much, way more than I would have ever expected. For reasons previously and extensively documented, I’ve discovered that this minimalist portable machine makes for one of the best laptops I’ve ever used.
The Apple MacBook Air (M1, 2020) is lightning fast, never overheats, has one of the best battery lives out there, and is so light and portable yet so durable. What’s more, the current version of the macOS Ventura is not nearly as susceptible to viruses or spyware due to it being not as much of a walking targeting as Windows OS, and no updates that constantly break applications and features and need to be patched.
A great laptop, it is. But perfect? Absolutely not.
Though there’s plenty to love about the MacBook Air, there are also tons of features and tools that even the best MacBooks lack, keeping me loyal to the best Windows laptops. And it seems that Apple hasn’t integrated any of them into its own products, despite the recent design overhauls and the more powerful silicon.
This year, however, Apple has a chance to add at least some of these features to its upcoming laptops. And if the tech giant incorporates at least two (though preferably all) this time around, I will be a fully converted Mac-head. This is especially important as the Surface Laptop 6 has the potential to really challenge the next MacBook Air in several key points.
But what are these magic features that make Windows still so appealing and would boost the charm of the MacBook? I’ll break down five of them.
A superior trackpad
Imagine me writing the phrase ‘a superior trackpad’ on a whiteboard in black marker. Now imagine me taking a red marker and circling that same phrase. That’s what I’m essentially doing right now in writing, because everyone must understand the severity of this point.
The trackpad on the M1 MacBook Air absolutely sucks. It first tricks you with an incredibly appealing texture that begs you to run your fingers across its smooth and oh-so-satisfying surface. But when you actually begin to use it, it becomes a nightmare in terms of sensitivity. The trackpad often doesn’t register your click or double tap properly you end up fighting with it to properly register what you want it to do.
Dragging the cursor to either highlight text or drag an icon around the dock has to be a punishment that’s used as torture in hell. For the former, if you press on the first word too hard, the Dictionary application activates then you have to reselect the text. As for the latter, dragging works so inconsistently that I only managed it once so far, and that was to move my Opera GX icon to sit with the other browsers. I had to switch to a mouse for peace of mind, which hurts portability.
A mouse with better ergonomics
I just mentioned that I had to switch over to a mouse because of the trackpad. Initially, I was interested in purchasing an Apple mouse, specifically the Apple Magic Mouse because look at how gorgeous and stylish it is! The fact that it’s so thin would really help with portability, and it matches perfectly with my laptop.
Except that it only has a single ‘button’ on the entire mouse (so no mapping buttons), the touch surface on the mouse easily tires out your index or middle finger, and there’s no real resting spot for your thumb that doesn’t pinch it between the mouse base and the top piece that functions as the single button.
Probably the worst feature of this mouse is that the charging port is located on the bottom – a topic we touched on in our upgrades we want to see on the rumored iMac 2023 piece. Yes, that means you can’t use it while charging it because you need to lay the mouse on its side.
If Apple insists on making these expensive first-party accessories, then it needs to do better with its designs. Either that or go the Windows way and entirely rely on third-party options, like my Alienware gaming mouse that I use for my MacBook Air instead.
Better port selection
Barring laptops like the HP Dragonfly Pro, the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1, and the LG Gram Style, which are exceptions to the rule, Windows laptops tend to have a pretty solid port selection, with a wide variety that covers most users’ needs. Port selection is important to me too. Besides multiple USB ports for devices and thumb drives, I also prefer having an SD card slot for file transferring, an ethernet port in case I need a more stable internet connection, an audio/mic jack combo for latency-free listening and speaking, and more.
So imagine how I felt seeing that the MacBook Air only has three ports: two USB Type-C and an audio/mic jack. It’s absolutely desolate, and there’s no excuse not to have more than this, as some of the best thin and light laptops have a better selection. Apple has also been doing this with its desktops, which tends to mean that it wants you to use cloud storage and other non-physical means for file sharing and application use – though to be fair it has improved the port selection on the MacBook Pros.
Having these ports are vital for plenty of users, and for the price you’re paying for any Mac product, you should have a proper port selection instead of being forced to use external adapters.
Though Apple is currently making some serious strides in increasing its gaming presence, and games like Resident Evil Village run incredibly well thanks to the power of the M-series chips, the tech giant still has a long way to go.
Earlier I stated that Apple would need to incorporate at least two of these features that Windows has, but one of them is non-negotiable and that’s the ability to play any of the best PC games without restriction. I do plan on testing the GeForce Now gaming service on my MacBook, so we’ll see how that fares as an alternative option down the road.
As an avid gamer, I need to be able to have access to all of my Steam library, and only Windows allows me to do that. Seeing how many games suddenly become inaccessible once I switch over to my MacBook Air is rather depressing, especially since I tend to play indie titles, RPGs, and other games that my laptop could otherwise handle.
Macs have the potential to become absolute gaming beasts, far outstripping the power of the best Windows laptops, but only if Apple doubles down on its efforts and ensures that you can actually play games on these devices. And if the next MacBook Air could adopt any or all of these Windows features, then it would become a laptop better equip to truly challenge its rivals.