New MacBook Air is the gold standard for productivity laptops

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      I was one of the first people to use a MacBook Air when Apple introduced the line of laptops back in 2008. It was weird operating a system without a DVD drive and without a port for a network cable, but now it seems strange and off-putting to have those things in a laptop.

      The entire point of the Air was that it was as light as air. With a dramatic knife-edge/wedge design, it provided incredible portability and functionality, even if some of that functionality was dropped in favour of greater portability.

      Over the years, the Air continued to be my workhorse. Over a few iterations, it improved, but then Apple seemed content to just sustain the lineup, not improve on it.

      That changed this fall. The latest MacBook Air (starting at $1,499) to be released was a fundamentally different machine, and it is packed with the best of the improvements that Apple has been rolling out to its other products.

      The case, for example, is smaller than the previous 13.3-inch Air cases and is now made entirely of recycled aluminum. But the smaller footprint contains a crisp Retina display with the thin bezel that is a hallmark of the MacBook Pros. There’s also a butterfly keyboard which allows for a thinner device, and a large and responsive trackpad with a haptic motor allowing for Apple’s Force Touch feedback.

      Instead of the full-width touch bar found on the MacBook Pro, the Air has a touch button instead. That means you can use your fingerprint to unlock the computer with Touch ID, which is the only thing many people use the touch bar for anyway.

      There’s still some sacrifice in the MacBook Air. You’re not getting the biggest hard drive (off-the-shelf models have solid-state drives in either a 128 GB or 256 GB sizes, but you can upgrade to 1.5 TB) or the fastest processor (it features the eighth-generation Intel Core i5, not the i7). For those things, you need to look to the MacBook Pro lineup.

      I’ve been using the latest MacBook Pro for months, and while it’s a powerful and capable computer, I’d trade it in right now for the new Macbook Air. If you’re a typical laptop user and you want a robust, useful, beautiful laptop, that’s what you’d do, too. It comes in gold, silver, and space grey.

      In the past few years, as the Air lineup dwindled, other computer manufacturers have been coming up with rival laptop designs that were better in terms of power, functionality, and design. But with the new Air, Apple has leapt to the front once again, setting a new bar, higher than before.