We Tried Out Apple's New Laptop, the MacBook Air M2

Throughout CNET's coverage of Apple's annual developer's conference, WWDC 2022, this story appears. Despite the addition of many new features in Apple's new M2-powered MacBook Air, the laptop's starting price is over $1,000, which is my least favorite feature.

While the MacBook Air started at $999 for most of its life, a redesign in 2018 pushed the price up by $200.By 2020, the starting price was back to $999, and I felt that everything was back to normal. Guess what? The MacBook Air is now $1,199, with another redesign. The UK price is £1,249 and the Australian price is $1,899

Because of its significant price tag, a very mainstream laptop will be out of reach for many students and artists who could benefit most from it. However, I still like the new version pretty much, even though it's out of reach for many people. It's also worth mentioning that the late-2020 M1 MacBook Air is still available at $999 for now. 

My hands-on time with the new MacBook Air was limited after Monday's WWDC 2022 keynote. There wasn't much time to check out the new physical design and the system's overall feel. 

The M1 MacBook Air, one of the first sets of Macs to move from Intel to Apple Silicon, is not a bad-looking machine, but it was released in 2018, about a lifetime ago in computer terms.

With its boxier, blockier look, the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro laptops from late 2021 replace the traditional soft, tapered design. It rejects decorative stylization in favor of a more modern, constructivist design.

One important difference between the new MacBook Air and the Pros it copies is that it comes in a new color -- a matte-black finish -- instead of the usual gray, silver, and gold of the M1 Air. It's hands-down the most striking new MacBook look in a long time and reminds me of the old matte-black polycarbonate MacBooks of the mid-2000s. 

Weight and footprint are both a hair lighter than before, at 2.7 pounds versus 2.8 pounds for the M1 MacBook Air. The new model felt even smaller and more portable when I picked it up -- mostly because it's thinner, at 11.3mm.

M1 measures 16mm at the rear hinge but tapers down from there. It may be a while until I can give the new M2 MacBook Air a more in-depth, hands-on test because it doesn't go on sale until July.

I'm especially eager to see how its 1080p-resolution webcam works, which is probably the single most important upgrade for many people who've tired of the never-great 720p webcam in previous MacBook Air laptops, up to

Also, I'm eager to spend more time with the slightly larger, 13.6-inch screen (versus 13.3-inch), which is said to be 25% brighter, at 500 nits, according to Apple.

In addition, it includes MagSafe, which was introduced with last year's new MacBook Pro systems, and its touchpad is said to be slightly larger, although Apple declined to provide a specific number or percentage. A 13-inch MacBook Pro, also announced at WWDC 2022, does not include most of these improvements.

The 13-inch MacBook Pro has a smaller screen, a better camera, MagSafe connectivity, and new colors. On paper, it's the same as the late-2020 13-inch MacBook Pro, except the M2 chip replaces the M1. The Touch Bar, however, remains the only way to touch it (or get it).

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