June 01, 2017

Product Note: 13-inch MacBook Air

Nicole Black
Neither the ABA nor ABA entities endorse non-ABA products or services. This review should not be construed as an endorsement.

Buying a new laptop can sometimes be a stressful experience. There’s a lot to think about before committing, and lots to do, including researching your options, comparing specs and prices, and choosing the right laptop for your needs.


Since I recently went through this process myself, I figured I’d share my experiences and provide some feedback and advice. By way of background, I’m an Apple fangirl, so of course I focused on Macs. And because I work for a company that provides cloud-based law practice management software, the MacBook Air was the obvious choice given that, not surprisingly, nearly all my software and data are in the cloud. As such, storage space isn’t a big priority for me, and I’m the ideal candidate for a MacBook Air.

But I wasn’t just in the market for a new work laptop; I also needed a new laptop for my family. As a result, I recently obtained two new MacBook Airs within weeks of each other—one from my employer and another that I purchased on Amazon from a third-party seller, which was fulfilled by Amazon. Both computers came with MacOS Sierra installed.

The work laptop was provided by my employer, was brand new, and is slightly nicer than the one purchased from Amazon. It has a 2.2 GHz Intel Core i7 processor, 8 GB of 1600 MHz DDR3 onboard memory, 256 GB of storage, and an Intel HD Graphics 6000 1536 MB graphics card. This laptop retails at $1,199 on the Apple site and it arrived at my home in early April. As of today, it still has 208 GB of memory available.

The laptop I purchased on Amazon was also brand new but has a slower processor and slightly less storage. Here are its specs: 1.6 GHz Intel Core i5 processor, 8 GB of 1600 MHz DDR3 onboard memory, 128 GB of storage, and an Intel HD Graphics 6000 1536 MB graphics card. It retails for $999 on the Apple site, but I purchased it for $856 on Amazon in early April. It currently has 97 GB of memory available and comes with the same one-year Apple warranty as is offered when purchasing it directly from Apple.

Because nearly all my software and data are in the cloud, getting each computer set up was a cinch. I use LastPass for password management, Google Apps for e-mail and contact management, Slack for work messaging, iCloud and Google Drive to store documents and presentations, etc., and I save all of my Google Chrome settings in the cloud. So all I had to do was sign into each cloud platform, and my laptop was ready to go. Because of the cloud, the transition from my old laptop to my new laptops was quick and painless.

Although my work laptop is a slightly better computer, from my perspective they are essentially identical. The only software I use on a regular basis that is loaded onto my laptops (as opposed to in the cloud) is for word processing and PDF review/annotation. For my needs, the lesser computer purchased on Amazon is more than sufficient. Although the additional memory and processing speed on my work laptop are no doubt a boon and for some might be necessary, for me the upgrade is just a bonus that will likely go unappreciated given how I use my computer.

So if you’re like me and spend a lot of time online and primarily use cloud-based software and storage tools, then the 1.6 GHz MacBook is the laptop for you. And rather than buying it directly from Apple, consider looking elsewhere. After all, why spend more for the same product (and warranty) if you don’t have to?


Nicole Black


Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York, attorney and the Legal Technology Evangelist at MyCase legal practice management software. She is the nationally recognized author of Cloud Computing for Lawyers (2012) and co-authored Social Media for Lawyers: The Next Frontier (2010), both published by the American Bar Association. She also co-authored “Criminal Law in New York,” a Thomson West treatise. She writes regular columns for The Daily Record, Above the Law, and Legal IT Pros, has authored hundreds of articles for other publications, and regularly speaks at conferences regarding the intersection of law, mobile and cloud computing, and Internet-based technology. She can be contacted at niki.black@mycase.com.