13.3" Macbook Air Competitors: 2014 Edition

tsutsu

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Jan 13, 2014
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I live in the US. My wife's MBP broke, so she needs a replacement. I'm hoping this gets her off the Apple tax (she prefers Windows UI anyway), but at first glance, there isn't much in the way of Windows competitors.

This will just be internet/productivity machine so I'm looking in the $1,000-1,200 range.

Priorities:
1. Light weight
2. 13-14in
3. Battery life
4. Screen

The current 13.3" MBA meets the first 3, with the only downside being an old screen (1440x900px). But it's got a decent CPU/iGPU and at $1,100ish it's not that horrible a price.

Is there an Ultrabook/Ultrabook-like that can compete, or is the 13" MBA the best bet?
 
Part of the problem (if you can call it that) is that Intel changed the Ultrabook spec to require a touchscreen. So I doubt you'll find an ultrabook which matches the MBA in weight without costing a bundle, simply for the reason that the MBA doesn't have the added weight of a touchscreen.

But the best ultrabooks I see mentioned in your price range (depending on configuration) are the Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro, Asus Zenbook, Sony Vaio Pro 13. The Samsung series 9 (not the lite) also gets high accolades, but is outside your price range.
http://www.mobiletechreview.com/notebooks/Lenovo-Yoga-2-Pro.htm
http://www.mobiletechreview.com/notebooks/Asus-Zenbook-Prime-UX31A-Touch.htm
http://www.mobiletechreview.com/notebooks/Sony-Vaio-Pro-13.htm
http://www.mobiletechreview.com/notebooks/MacBook-Air-2013.htm
http://www.mobiletechreview.com/notebooks/Samsung-ATIV-Book-9-Plus.htm

Asus hasn't yet rolled out a Haswell refresh of their line though. The MBA's display is also poor at color reproduction, not just resolution. As the other poster said, the rMBP is a good ugprade choice if you're willing to go up in weight and price.

While I do believe there's an "Apple tax", I think it's more of an "ultralight form factor tax." I've been buying laptops in this category since the 1990s, and it has always been pricey. (Thinkpad 701c, Portege 3440CT, Sony Z1 to name a few.) The difference with Apple is that they do not offer laptops outside this category which do not have the tax. The Apple fan will say this means there is no Apple tax. The critic will say this means Apple simply concentrates on the market segment where they can charge the most tax.
 
Part of the problem (if you can call it that) is that Intel changed the Ultrabook spec to require a touchscreen. So I doubt you'll find an ultrabook which matches the MBA in weight without costing a bundle, simply for the reason that the MBA doesn't have the added weight of a touchscreen.

But the best ultrabooks I see mentioned in your price range (depending on configuration) are the Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro, Asus Zenbook, Sony Vaio Pro 13. The Samsung series 9 (not the lite) also gets high accolades, but is outside your price range.
http://www.mobiletechreview.com/notebooks/Lenovo-Yoga-2-Pro.htm
http://www.mobiletechreview.com/notebooks/Asus-Zenbook-Prime-UX31A-Touch.htm
http://www.mobiletechreview.com/notebooks/Sony-Vaio-Pro-13.htm
http://www.mobiletechreview.com/notebooks/MacBook-Air-2013.htm
http://www.mobiletechreview.com/notebooks/Samsung-ATIV-Book-9-Plus.htm

Asus hasn't yet rolled out a Haswell refresh of their line though. The MBA's display is also poor at color reproduction, not just resolution. As the other poster said, the rMBP is a good ugprade choice if you're willing to go up in weight and price.

While I do believe there's an "Apple tax", I think it's more of an "ultralight form factor tax." I've been buying laptops in this category since the 1990s, and it has always been pricey. (Thinkpad 701c, Portege 3440CT, Sony Z1 to name a few.) The difference with Apple is that they do not offer laptops outside this category which do not have the tax. The Apple fan will say this means there is no Apple tax. The critic will say this means Apple simply concentrates on the market segment where they can charge the most tax.
 

jaguarskx

Champion
Moderator
I would say either the 1st generation ($1,189) or 2nd generation ($1,299) 14" ThinkPad X1 Carbon since they match the prices of the two 13.3" MacBook Pros on Apple's website.

http://shop.lenovo.com/us/en/laptops/thinkpad/x-series/x1-carbon-gen-1/

http://store.apple.com/us/buy-mac/macbook-pro


- The lower priced 1st gen X1 Carbon and MBP are both based on Intel's 3rd generation Core CPU. The X1 has a Core i5-3337U (1.8GHz / Turbo Boost 2.7GHz) vs Core i5 with no model number (2.5GHz. / Turbo Boost 3.1GHz). The X1 Carbon is an ultrabook so it is required to have a ULV (ultra low voltage) CPU.

- Both have 4GB of RAM, but there are versions with 8GB. I know the RAM is soldered into the motherboard for the X1 Carbon, but I dunno about the MBP. That means you cannot upgrade RAM yourself.

- The X1 Carbon comes standard with a 128GB SSD, but no options for a standard HDD. The MBP comes with a 500GB HDD, but a 128GB SSD is a $200 upgrade.

- The X1 Carbon has a 1600x900 resolution screen, but the 13.3" MBP only has a 1280x800 resolution screen.

- The X1 Carbon is rated 8.2 hours by Lenovo. The MBP is rated at 7 hours by Apple. Real life? Dunno.

- The X1 Carbon weighs in at 2.99lbs. The 13.3" MBP is 4.5lbs (I thought it was supposed to be lighter, unless I am thinking about the MB Air)


 

jaguarskx

Champion
Moderator
The 2nd generation X1 Carbon only seems to be available at $1,499 (1600x900 resolution screen) and $2,099 (2560x1440 resolution screen). It seems the "build your own version" starting at $1,299 is not yet available.

http://shop.lenovo.com/us/en/laptops/thinkpad/x-series/x1-carbon/
 

tsutsu

Honorable
Jan 13, 2014
2
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10,510
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Thanks, all for your feedback!

Basically,

* Because the manufacturers are behind on updating their lineups with Haswell
* Because Intel mandated that "ultrabooks" be touchscreen as of 2013
* Because Windows manufacturers are competing on components, not price

...I'm going with the MBA.

That's pretty sad that there's no clear Windows competitor even though the MBA was released over half a year ago. Who would have thought that Apple would be the most complete at product/price for the mainstream user (nice screen and component upgrades aside, but that's really for the enthusiast/gamer market)

 
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