The original MacBook Air was announced in January 2008 and released just a couple of weeks later. Marketed as the ‘world’s thinnest notebook’ it gained high praise for its portability. However, it wouldn’t change the face of laptop computing immediately as critics were quick to point out that the design caused far too many compromises to make this an attractive purchase for most computer users.
Competitors in the ultrabook market
However, subsequent redesigns in the following years enabled more powerful processors and increased storage, ensuring the MacBook didn’t fade into obscurity. People in the market for a laptop computer are spending far longer considering the benefits of a MacBook Air than they did just a few short years ago. This has made competitors stand up and take note.
A set of specifications laid out by Intel has created a subdivision of laptops that they’ve coined ‘ultrabooks’, and these models are looking to take a bite out of Apple. So who are the rivals to Apple’s ultra-thin crown?
Toshiba Satellite Z830-10T
When you look past gimmicks such as the face recognition login options you’ll find an ultrabook that demands attention. Weighing in at 1.12kg, it’s one of the lightest ultrabooks around, and 230g lighter than the MacBook Air (since all the ultrabooks compared here have 13” screens, all comparisons are referring to the base model of the 13” MacBook Air). However, the computer’s processing power doesn’t quite match up to Apple’s standard.
HP Folio 13-1000ea
HP’s model is £900, the same price as the Toshiba, and around £200 cheaper than Apple’s 13-incher. Although marginally heavier at just under 1.5kg, it just about matches the MacBook Air on processing power, RAM and storage. The 9.5 hour battery life is undoubtedly one of the Folio’s biggest selling points.
The ASUS is one of the few ultrabooks that trumps Apple in terms of processing power, boasting an Intel i7 1.8GHz processor, and it still comes in at £99 less than the MacBook Air. However, there has been disappointment about the quality of the keyboard and screen display, which may prove to be an annoyance too far for some.
Software rather than hardware the deciding factor?
One thing that rivals to the MacBook Air have in common is that they run on Windows 7. Computer users that are happy with Windows may not want to change, and won’t even consider a MacBook Air in the first place. Meanwhile fans of OS X would most likely rather be computer-less than resort to anything else, suggesting the hardware may not be as important as the software in this case.
This post was written by hosted desktop expert, Simon Blythe from the UK.