Like a pair of old trainers, Apple's 2015 MacBook Air is boring, familiar, reliable and more than up to the task. If you don't need tons of screen real-estate (or a half-decent screen for that matter), or prefer to hook your laptop up to an external monitor, it remains the most solid all-rounder out there today, whether you're desk-bound or frequently travelling.
The MacBook Air's stellar battery life remains best-in-class for a 13-inch laptop, and its keyboard is the best in the business. The addition of Thunderbolt 2 will go a long way if you own compatible peripherals. Its storage speeds hold up to Apple's "twice as fast" claims and will prove a boon for those who regularly copy information to their Mac's storage drive.
New machine, same chassis. Apple's reluctance to give the MacBook Air a Retina display is wearing thin, and it's causing buyers to look at alternatives – even defecting to Windows in some cases. Its lack of personality is compounded by poor speakers, an unsightly bezel and large footprint. Simply put, the MacBook Air just isn't that cool anymore.
Much faster storage and a better performing processor/graphics combo make this year's 13-inch MacBook Air a technically better machine than its predecessor, but unless you really need those gains it's not worth the upgrade. That's particularly so in the absence of any new features – such as the Retina MacBook Pro's Force Touch Trackpad.
Elsewhere, it's business as usual: while the MacBook Pro with Retina is a faster than the Air and packs more features, Apple's lighter machine is no slouch. And while the Retina model is chunkier than the Air, it's not a great deal heavier and has a smaller footprint. With both machines residing in the same price bracket, the deciding factor is more likely to be how prepared you are to put up with the MacBook Air's outdated display.