Review: The Apple M2 MacBook Air for Home Use

Products Reviews

This review of Apple’s new M2 MacBook Air is written from a different perspective than most of the reviews out there. Rather than go into depth about every brand new feature and tech spec on the new laptop, I wanted to review the product from the perspective of someone just using it as their main home computer.

Why Did I Purchase the M2 MacBook Air?

Like many people, these days, both my wife and I work from home a good portion of the work week. Because of our teleworking, the computer-related equipment in our house has changed quite a bit over the past two years to accommodate. Our computing habits also changed. We got used to mobile computing in varying locations around the house when working from home, so having a dedicated iMac desk computer for home use really didn’t make sense for us anymore. The other reason for switching from an iMac to a MacBook Air is my non-work writing. I am taking a comic book writing class and I am starting to travel again for my day job. I needed a non-work computer that would allow me to dial into class and work/write while on the road. So the M2 MacBook Air really came out at the perfect time for our change in needs.

How Have I Been Using the M2 MacBook Air?

Since the MacBook Air replaced our home iMac I have been using it for scanning and processing bills, budgeting work, and more fun things like watching movies and YouTube videos. I also use the Air for writing, both for GeekDad and for my comic book writing class. Notice that none of these activities are by any means stressing the powerful M2 chip. The closest thing to multitasking I use the M2 MacBook Air for is when I dial into my comics writing class and have Zoom up on the laptop display and take notes on the external monitor. The only real-world-performance-taxing-related thing I have noticed so far is that rebooting the machine is almost instantaneous and turning on FileVault and having it encrypt my drive took no time at all. These are both very different experiences as compared to doing them on my 5-year-old iMac.

What Do I Like About the M2 MacBook Air?

Since we use the M2 MacBook Air for normal home use, the positive aspects of the machine are different than if I were a power user. My favorite new feature (at least new to me) is the Touch ID built into the power button. I absolutely love being able to open up the lid of the laptop and press a button with my index finger and instantly be working (or playing) on the computer.

The light form factor of the Air is also really handy as I use the laptop in pretty much every corner of our house (including on our back porch or in our gazebo in the back yard). It is so lightweight and easy to carry around the house and use anywhere. The battery life is also darn near magical. I’ve had the Air for almost 2-months now and I’ve only had to charge it a couple of times. My wife and I went out of town this past weekend and I took it with me. Even though I took the charging brick, I didn’t need it. The Air simply powered through the entire weekend on battery.

Another feature I really appreciate with the M2 MacBook Air is the built-in speakers. When I’m not using my AirPod Max headphones, the laptop speakers are perfectly adequate for watching TV shows and movies. Obviously, headphones are a better audio experience, but with every other laptop I have owned before it was very obvious that I was using laptop speakers and the sound was just ok. With the M2 MacBook Air, I find the listening experience to be almost good enough that I don’t even bother reaching for my AirPod Max headphones unless I really need sound isolation, and I certainly don’t have any issues getting enough volume out of the laptop speakers.

MagSafe 3 and the new braided cable. (Image by Skip Owens)

And finally, I get to the MagSafe 3 power adapter and cable. I have no idea why Apple did away with MagSafe in the previous editions of their laptops. Back when they previously had MagSafe, I still had pretty young kids and really appreciated the extra protection that MagSafe provided. The last thing you want is a kid running by and tripping on a power cord and ripping your laptop down onto the tile floor. Now that my kids are old enough that they won’t do that anymore I have another problem… my aging eyes. MagSafe makes it so easy to just connect the charging cable without even having to look much less see the charging port on the side of the laptop. I have an older 16” MacBook Pro for my work computer and I am constantly struggling to find the tiny USB-C port and get the charging cable aligned properly to charge it. The braided power cord is also a really nice touch. Previous power cords had the tendency to get kinked and deformed and the braided cable seems to resist that. Whether it is true or not I don’t know, but the braided cable makes me think it will stand up to travel a lot better than the previous design.

What Do I Not Like About the M2 MacBook Air?

I guess if there is one drawback to the M2 MacBook Air it would be that it is a bit of a fingerprint magnet. I opted for the Midnight color and I absolutely love it. But it does show smudges and fingerprints. The picture below is the exterior of my M2 MacBook Air and I haven’t wiped it down since I got it.

The fingerprints are definitely there. (Image by Skip Owens)

My point here is this: yes, the Midnight color shows smudges and fingerprints. But unless you are out modeling your laptop in direct sunlight you really don’t notice it. It’s been enough of a non-issue for me that I haven’t even bothered to wipe down my laptop and I’m a bit of a neat freak. So while this is a bit of a negative against this color I think it is a negative that has been blown a bit out of proportion. One other minor complaint is that the M2 MacBook Air only supports using a single external monitor. For my home use, I really don’t have a need (at least right now) to use it with two external monitors, but it would have been nice to have the option to do so in the future if the need arises. The M2 should be plenty powerful enough, so I’m not sure why this wasn’t a feature.

Summary

I know this wasn’t a horribly technical or geeky review. I have some very simple uses for this laptop, but even with just very basic use, the new M2 MacBook Air has some very nice features that make it a fantastic laptop for our home usage. I didn’t need the M2 MacBook Air for its performance or flashy new features, but it came along at a time when my house was ready for a change in home computing form factor. A lot of people know me as a tech geek, so I get asked quite a bit about “when is a good time to buy a new computer or a new iPhone,” and the best answer I can give is “when you need one.”

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