In the past, Apple's MacBook Air was the definition of a thin and light laptop with a fantastic keyboard and a great battery. Today it faces much tougher competition.
Today you have an incredible range of options, especially in the 13-inch class that the MacBook Air plays in. It was revised in 2018, making it much more modern. But does it still have what it takes to beat stunning new 2-in-1s like the HP Specter x360 13? Read on to find out.
Mark Coppock / Digital Trends
The revised MacBook Air is well known and yet far more modern than its predecessor. The chassis is thinner, lighter, and has smaller bezels so it looks more like 2020 than 2012. It's just as elegant and conservatively attractive and available in gold, silver and space gray. The overall design hasn't changed much since then, just the underlying hardware.
The current Specter x360 has an iteration in the gemstone cut that has angles everywhere and captures the light. You can get it in natural silver, Nightfall Black, or Poseidon Blue. Either way, it's a look that definitely stands out more than Apple's laptop.
Both are solidly built and have an aluminum casing that is rigid with little bend or bend. The MacBook Air is 0.63 inches compared to 0.67 inches thinner than the Specter x360. It's also lighter at 2.8 pounds versus 2.88 pounds.
The input is also important. The latest MacBook Air comes with Apple's new Magic keyboard, which was first introduced on the 16-inch MacBook Pro in 2019. After several attempts to resolve the butterfly switch-related issues, Apple reached out to Scissor Switches and hasn't looked back. The Specter x360 has one of the best keyboards you've ever found on a laptop, with deep and roomy keys.
The Magic Keyboard from Apple is complemented by a large Force Touch touchpad, which provides clicking feedback without the use of moving parts. The HP touchpad is smaller than the Force Touch version and now supports Microsoft's Precision touchpad drivers, which improves input over the previous model.
One major difference, however, is the HP touch display, which supports an active pen for Windows Ink. The MacBook Air does not have a touchscreen, nor does it support the Apple Pen.
Connectivity is another point of divergence. The MacBook Air literally doubles to USB-C with Thunderbolt 3 and offers two of those ports and nothing else. The Specter x360 also has two USB-C ports with Thunderbolt 3, but also supports older devices with a USB-A 3.1 port and a microSD card reader for storage expansion and compatibility with cameras and external accessories without an alternative connection. It has all the benefits of Thunderbolt 3 without the need for dongles for older peripherals.
Riley Young / Digital Trends
The MacBook Air uses Intel Ice Lake two- and four-core processors of the 10th generation. The Specter x360, on the other hand, uses a different set of 10th generation CPUs, but also has configurations with 11th generation Tiger Lake chips. You'll see faster performance with the Specter x360, which can better handle more demanding productivity and content creation tasks. You have to jump to the MacBook Pro to find a worthy opponent.
The MacBook Air's PCIe Solid State Drive (SSD) is faster than that of the Specter x360. This does not mean that HP is slow to access and store data. However, this is the only performance metric that is beneficial to Apple.
Typically, MacBooks offer the best displays with the widest and most accurate colors, the highest contrast, and the highest brightness. Unfortunately, the MacBook Air is an outlier here. The retina panel with a resolution of 2560 x 1600 only offers an average display performance.
With the Specter x360 Full HD model that we tested in early 2019, we found that it was about the same in terms of colors and brightness, but offered a much higher contrast ratio. At the same time, HP installed Intel's 1 watt screen, which consumes about half the power of a typical display. You will see the results later in the battery comparison.
After all, the Specter x360 model we tested in late 2019 had a 4K AMOLED display. It was sufficiently bright at 405 nits and excellent in color and supported 100% of sRGB and 98% of AdobeRGB. And because the screen was OLED, the contrast and black levels were better than anything we've seen in a long time.
Riley Young / Digital Trends
You won't notice any of these laptops in your backpack. They're equally portable, making them a great option for anyone whose work isn't anchored in one place. However, size and weight are just two considerations of portability.
Battery life is also important. In our web browser test, the Full HD version of the HP Specter x360 13 lasted 12 hours and 45 minutes from early 2019. The 2020 MacBook Air followed with 9.5 hours, and the Specter x360 with the 4K AMOLED screen at the end of 2019 last ended up in less than six hours.
In our video loop test, the Full HD model lasted 17 hours and 36 minutes, followed by the MacBook Air in just 10 hours. The 4K AMOLED tester from HP almost reached the air with 9.5 hours.
Overall, the Specter x360 model with a Full HD display is one of the most durable laptops we've ever tested, and that makes the more portable laptop more meaningful.
The HP Specter x360 is faster, lasts longer, and looks better
Mark Coppock / Digital Trends
The cheapest MacBook Air is $ 1,000. It comes with a Core i3 processor, 8 GB of RAM and a 256 GB SSD. With the lower price, improved keyboard, and twice the storage space, this isn't bad business, especially if you own an iPhone, iPad, and / or Apple Watch. If you want more performance, the $ 1,299 model might be a better choice.
The HP Specter x360 starts at $ 950. The base model has a 10th generation Core i5 processor, 8 GB of memory and a 256 GB SSD. You can equip it with up to Core i7-1065G7 and up to 2 TB of storage. The model with the 11th generation Intel CPU costs the Core i5-1135G7, 8 GB of memory and 256 GB of memory from $ 1,200.
Mac fans will no doubt prefer the look and feel of multiple devices connected to the Air. But if you're a little more agnostic, there's really no need to settle for that. The Specter x360 is more powerful, more durable and has 2-in-1 functions. It wins on almost every level.
Apple Macbook Air:
HP Specter x360: