The new MacBook Air brings moderate performance and Retina to a beloved device

Better screen, more RAM, and a faster (but not fastest) processor at an accessible price. What's not to like?

Apple describes its MacBook Air as its "most beloved notebook ever," and we believe it. It's had a reasonable entry-level price, great portability, and reasonable functionality. But it didn't have was a Retina display -- until now.

Must read: Apple's new iPad Pro, MacBook Air, Mac mini: Can features, specs retain business momentum?

Apple has introduced the 2018 MacBook Air. Its big feature, as mentioned, is a 13.3-inch LED-backlit display with IPS technology. This display supports 2560x1600 native resolution at 227ppi.

The base MacBook Air starts at $1,199. There aren't a lot of upgrade options for the new Air. You either get 128GB or 256GB SSD storage. Equipping 256GB (and you really, really should) moves you up to $1,399.

The only other upgrade is RAM, which can go to 16GB for another $200. This, too, is something I'd consider an essential upgrade. But that's not bad. For $1,599, the MacBook Air can be a genuinely useful device for most Mac users.

Also: Apple 15-inch MacBook Pro (2018): Impressive performance at a premium price

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(Image: Apple)

As for processor, all you can get is a somewhat anemic (but still way better than the old Air) 1.6Ghz dual-core Coffee Lake i5 processor (which Apple claims can be Turbo Boosted up to 3.6Ghz). Sadly, there is no i7 upgrade option.

On the other hand, the Air does come with a T2 chip, which provides for a Touch ID button at the right of the F12 key. There's no Touch Bar (which is no great loss).

The T2 also provides support for "Hey Siri," and Apple said the new Air is 25 percent louder, has 2x better bass, and a wider stereo sound.

Also: Apple's surprise MacBook Pro update further strains its relationship with pros

As for the much-maligned Apple notebook keyboard, Apple said this one is its third generation unit with four times more stability. Only time (and possibly cranky users) will tell.

As for size and weight, this new device has 17 percent less volume and is a quarter-pound lighter than before. The machine also comes with two Thunderbolt 3 ports and a headphone jack.

Finally, Apple said this is the greenest notebook it makes, with 100 percent recycled aluminum and a 50-percent reduced carbon footprint. You can get it in gold, silver, and space gray.

Orders begin now, and it'll ship on Nov. 7.


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