5 ways the MacBook Air changed laptops forever

Here's why the MacBook Air was one of the most influential laptops ever made

The MacBook Air’s tenth anniversary was January 16, and in honor of its birthday, we’re taking a look back at the most important, trend-setting features of the original MacBook Air. Whether you had one or not, laptops were different after the MacBook Air, and its effect can easily still be seen in laptops today.

Also, take a look at the video above for a look back at our original review. Yes, we know — ten years is a long time okay?

Here are five trends in laptops that the MacBook Air killed for good.

It killed optical disc drives

The original MacBook Air was one of the first high-profile premium laptops to hit the market without an optical disc drive. Sure there was an attachment you could buy — and you could always use Apple’s remote disk feature — but excluding the optical drive was important for a couple reasons.

macbook air

Not only is it extremely rare to find a laptop with an optical drive these days, it signaled to other manufacturers at the time that people would actually buy a laptop without an optical drive. With more software available online and iTunes shaking up the music industry, the MacBook Air was a marker that we were on the way to leaving behind optical drives for good.

It killed removable batteries

Remember back when you could just pop your laptop’s battery out and slot in a new one when you were running low? Yeah, we can barely remember those days either. It’s been so long since user-removable batteries were a standard feature that they seem almost quaint now.

The MacBook Air was one of the first high-profile laptops to omit a user replaceable battery and at the time it was a very controversial decision, as noted in our original review. If you’re wondering if the risk paid off, just check to see if the laptop you own today has a removable battery.

It tried to kill your ports

Apple has long been engaged in a war against superfluous ports, and the original MacBook Air was no exception. Without an SD Card slot, and with its single USB port hidden under a bizarre metal flap, the MacBook Air tried to cut out the unnecessary clutter which dominated laptops at the time.

five things macbook air killed ports 3

It didn’t quite work out. Apple eventually backpedaled and included an SD Card slot on the MacBook Air — and did away with the flap. Even still, the amount of ports we have on laptops today has been drastically reduced. For good or for bad, we have the MacBook Air to thank.

It almost killed thick laptops

Of course thick laptops are still around, but the overwhelming majority of them are thin, light, and wedge-shaped. That wedge design pioneered by the MacBook Air still lives on in laptops like the Dell XPS 13. It’s easy to see why.

By shaving down the form factor in the right areas, manufacturers have managed to give their laptops the appearance of a svelte build without sacrificing performance or cooling capabilities. Laptops have only continued to get thinner and lighter — and the MacBook Air really started that trend.

It almost killed bad hinges

Take another look at the Dell XPS 13, the archetypal modern laptop. It’s got a wedge shape, a nice thin build, some premium materials, and one under-appreciated feature brought to us by Apple. The hinge that mounts the MacBook Air’s display to its chassis is located on the back-edge of its body, rather than on top.

This means the lid won’t open enough to lay flat, but it means you don’t have those unsightly plastic hinges taking up unnecessary real estate. Sure, they’re still around in some laptops, but the overwhelming majority of laptops today feature the integrated hinge pioneered by Apple and popularized by the MacBook Air.

Computing

The latest Best Buy sale takes up to $150 off the 2018 MacBook Air

Looking to save on a new MacBook Air? As part of an Apple Shopping Event, retailer Best Buy is currently taking off $150 off select models of the 2018 MacBook Air, bringing prices to as low as $1,100. 
Deals

From Chromebooks to MacBooks, here are the best laptop deals for February 2019

Whether you need a new laptop for school or work or you're just doing some post-holiday shopping, we've got you covered: These are the best laptop deals going right now, from discounted MacBooks to on-the-go gaming PCs.
Deals

From Air to Pro, here are the best MacBook deals for February 2019

If you’re in the market for a new Apple laptop, let us make your work a little easier: We hunted down the best up-to-date MacBook deals available online right now from various retailers.
Computing

Mac Mini and MacBook Air 2018 hit Apple refurbished store in U.S.

Apple is now selling refurbished versions of its MacBook Air and Mac Mini refreshes from 2018. Although the savings aren't astronomical, they can be a good way to get the latest hardware for cheaper than you might expect.
Computing

These Windows 10 keyboard shortcuts will take your skills to a new level

Windows 10 has many new features, and they come flanked with useful new keyboard shortcuts. Check out some of the new Windows 10 keyboard shortcuts to improve your user experience and save more time!
Computing

What is Wi-Fi 6? Here's a look at the next evolution of the wireless standard

We're exploring the new naming convention for wireless standards, how it affects the devices you buy, and what the upcoming Wi-Fi generation is changing for the better.
Computing

Windows is getting a face-lift in 2020, but you can get a sneak peek right now

Microsoft is increasing the lead time for an upcoming major update to Windows 10, giving Windows Insiders the ability to test it right now, even though it's not set for release until 2020.
Emerging Tech

A.I.-powered website creates freakishly lifelike faces of people who don’t exist

No, this isn't a picture of a missing person. It's a face generated by a new artificial intelligence on the website ThisPersonDoesNotExist.com. Here's how the impressive A.I. works.
Deals

The best Presidents’ Day sales 2019: Amazon, Walmart, Dell, and more

Presidents' Day sales are a great chance to score electronics, clothing, home and office stuff, and other goodies at a discount. We’ve smoked out a large handful of the best of these Presidents' Day deals, from tech to bedding, to help…
Deals

Keep your MacBook safe and dry with an Under Armour backpack for under $50

Under Armour is having a huge sale this weekend to help you on your quest for a better backpack. The UA Outlet Exclusive sale is going on now through Monday, February 18th, offering great discounts on stormproof backpacks.
Deals

Walmart Presidents’ Day sale: Instant Pot, Google Home, and 4K TV deals

Presidents' Day weekend is one of the best times of the year to find deep discounts on 4K TVs, laptops, Instant Pots, clothes, mattresses, and furniture. And Walmart is offering deals on all of those things and more.
Computing

The HoloLens 2 will be announced at MWC. Here's what we know about it so far

The HoloLens 2 is ripe for an announcement. Here's what Microsoft has revealed so far, what's likely in store for the next generation HoloLens, and everything that we know about this mixed reality headset.
Computing

Don't know what to do with all your old DVDs? Here's how to convert them to MP4

Given today's rapid technological advancements, physical discs are quickly becoming a thing of the past. Check out our guide on how to convert a DVD to MP4, so you can ditch discs for digital files.
Computing

Wi-Fi helps connect all of our devices at high-speed, but what exactly is it?

What is Wi-Fi? It's a technology we all use everyday to connect all of our portable devices, but understanding how it works and how far it's come from its humble beginnings is another thing entirely.