Is MacBook Air Worth the Money? Five Slim Laptops Face Off

Illustration for article titled Is MacBook Air Worth the Money? Five Slim Laptops Face Off

Click to viewUpdated with battery life stats, by popular demand. We can all agree that the MacBook Air is a slick-looking little laptop. It's so thin! You can't argue with that! But if you're in the market for a small, high-performance laptop, is it the best option? I pored over specs for four similarly positioned and more-or-less similarly priced laptops to see if you'll get your $1,800 worth out of the Air. Let's go to the chart, shall we?

Illustration for article titled Is MacBook Air Worth the Money? Five Slim Laptops Face Off

It turns out that, surprise surprise, you pay a premium for a tiny form factor. The MacBook Air is seriously expensive for the guts you get inside, but Apple isn't the only company guilty of charging insane amounts for smaller computers. Just look at the Sony Vaio TZ150N, for example. $2,100 for a 1.06 GHz processor? Are you kidding me? I don't care how small, it's still a rip-off.

The best deal—if you don't mind an extra pound of weight and half-inch of thickness—is the Dell XPS M1330. It bests the MacBook Air in nearly every single category, delivering about 30% more processing power, 50% more memory, over 300% more hard drive space, plus a dedicated graphics card. All of this, for $300 less. But also, two hours less of battery life, thanks to the new smaller and more efficient Core 2 Duo processor in the MacBook Air.

But it's really no surprise that a form factor as striking as the MacBook Air's warrants a premium price. Super-slim and light laptops as a category have yet to come down from the stratosphere, dollar-wise. It's a form factor that SSD just makes loads of sense for, lightening them up and cutting down on battery life, but that drives the price up even further for the time being. Chips are still getting smaller and screen technology keeps improving. In a couple of years, these form factors will be reasonably priced with great specs, but until then, prepare to pay a huge chunk more for a bit less power, just so you can brag about having the thinnest computer on the block.


[Gizmodo's Macworld 2008 Full Coverage]

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MBA isn't intended to be used as a machine to play Crysis in Bootcamp. The targeted audience needs something small and light, that they can lug around on airplanes and to business meetings for demonstrations, or for the coffee-shop junkie to sit and sip their half-caff-latte's with the royal dutch chocolate shavings on the decorative foam, while composing bad poetry.

Anyone who wants to play recent video games are going to look at machines that will play them.

Personally, I have no intentions of buying an MBA. My 12" PB G4 works just fine.

However, if I were in the market for a new laptop, I would figure out my requirements and look for the laptop that fits the needs.

If someone buys an MBA and after they get it home are disappointed to find it won't run the software they want, well, thats their fault, not a deficiency in the MBA's specs.