Listen, I love my MacBook Air so much, way more than I ever expected. For reasons well documented previously, I’ve found this minimalist portable to be one of the best laptops I’ve ever used.
The Apple MacBook Air (M1, 2020) is blazing fast, never overheats, has one of the best battery lives on the market, and is so light and portable, yet so durable. Additionally, the current version of macOS Ventura isn’t nearly as vulnerable to viruses or spyware, as it’s not as heavily targeted for attacks as the Windows operating system and doesn’t come with updates that constantly break applications and features and need patching.
A great laptop, that’s it. But perfect? Absolutely not.
While there’s a lot to love about the MacBook Air, there’s also plenty of features and tools that even the best MacBooks lack, which is why I’m sticking with the best Windows laptops. And it seems that despite recent design overhauls and more powerful silicon, Apple hasn’t incorporated any of these into its own products.
However, this year Apple has a chance to add at least some of these features to its upcoming laptops. And if the tech giant includes at least two (preferably all) this time around, I’ll be a completely rebuilt Mac head. This is especially important as the Surface Laptop 6 has the potential to really challenge the next MacBook Air in several key respects.
But what are those magical features that would make Windows so attractive and add even more charm to the MacBook? I’ll break down five of them.
A superior trackpad
Imagine me writing the phrase “a superior trackpad” on a whiteboard with a black marker. Now imagine I take a red marker and circle the same sentence. That’s what I’m writing right now, because everyone must Understand the gravity of this point.
The trackpad on the M1 MacBook Air absolutely sucks. First, it fools you with an incredibly appealing texture that invites you to run your fingers across the smooth and oh-so-satisfying surface. But when you actually start using it, it becomes a nightmare in terms of sensitivity. The trackpad often doesn’t register your click or double-tap properly, so you end up having trouble registering what you’re trying to do properly.
Dragging the cursor to either highlight text or drag an icon across the dock must be a punishment used in torture in hell. In the first case, if you press too hard on the first word, the dictionary application will activate and you will have to select the text again. As for the latter, dragging is so inconsistent that I’ve only managed to do it once so far, and that was to move my Opera GX icon to the place of the other browsers. I had to switch to a mouse for security reasons, which affects portability.
A mouse with better ergonomics
I just mentioned that I had to switch to a mouse because of the trackpad. I was originally interested in buying an Apple mouse, specifically the Apple Magic Mouse because it’s so beautiful and stylish! The fact that it’s so thin would really improve portability and it fits my laptop perfectly.
Aside from the fact that the entire mouse only has a single “button” (so no mapping buttons), the mouse’s touch surface easily tires your index or middle finger, and there’s no real resting surface for your thumb that doesn’t pinch where you place it between the mouse base and the top, which acts as a single button.
Probably the worst feature of this mouse is that the charging port is on the bottom – an issue we touched on in our upgrades we’d like to see the rumored 2023 iMac. Yes, that means you can’t use them while they’re charging because you have to put the mouse on its side.
If Apple insists on making these expensive first-party accessories, it must get better results from its designs. Either that, or go the Windows route and rely entirely on third-party options, such as my Alienware gaming mouse, which I use with my MacBook Air instead.
Better port selection
Aside from laptops like the HP Dragonfly Pro, Dell XPS 13 2-in-1, and LG Gram Style being exceptions to the rule, Windows laptops tend to have a pretty solid port selection with a wide range covering the covers most users’ needs. Port selection is also important to me. Along with multiple USB ports for devices and thumb drives, I also prefer an SD card slot for file transfers, an Ethernet port in case I need a more stable internet connection, a combo audio and microphone port for zero-latency listening and speaking, etc more.
So imagine how I felt when I saw that the MacBook Air only has three ports: two USB Type-C ports and an audio/mic jack. It’s absolutely desolate and there’s no excuse not to have more than that as some of the best thin and light laptops have better choices. Apple has done this with its desktops too, which tends to mean you’ll want to use cloud storage and other non-physical means for file sharing and application usage – although in fairness the port selection has improved on the MacBook Pros.
These ports are critical for many users and for the price you are paying for a Mac product you should have an appropriate port selection rather than being forced to use external adapters.
Although Apple is currently making significant strides in increasing its gaming presence, and games like Resident Evil Village are running incredibly well thanks to the power of the M-series chips, the tech giant still has a long way to go.
Earlier I explained that Apple would have to integrate at least two of these features of Windows, but one of them is non-negotiable and that is the ability to play any of the best PC games without any limitations. I plan on testing the GeForce Now gaming service on my MacBook, so we’ll see how that fares as an alternative option later.
As an avid gamer, I need access to my entire Steam library and that’s only possible on Windows. Seeing how many games are suddenly inaccessible when I switch to my MacBook Air is pretty depressing, especially since I tend to play indie titles, RPGs, and other games that my laptop can otherwise handle.
Macs have the potential to become absolute gaming beasts, far outperforming the best Windows laptops, but only if Apple redoubles its efforts and makes sure you can actually play games on these devices. And if the next MacBook Air could inherit some or all of these Windows features, it would be a better equipped laptop to really challenge its competitors.