MacBook Air vs. MacBook Pro
I have the 13” versions of both of these notebook computers in my possession. How is that? Well, the MacBook Air I bought for myself when it was on sale at Best Buy (less expensive than at the Apple Store), back when I was going through my Apple products phase.
The MacBook Pro was, less then two months later, given to me by my employer. How nice of them! Actually, it’s not my regular work computer which is a crappy Dell, and it may not be in my possession for much longer, and if I want to use it during non-work hours I have to schlep it home from the office.
Both computers are pretty similar, for the most part. You could easily mistake one for the other if you didn’t know that the Air has a tapered shape to it. The tapered shape is actually kind of gimmicky and it makes my Air very slightly wobbly while the Pro doesn’t have a wobble problem. Thus the only two reasons to buy the Air over the Pro wold be that the Air is 0.6 lbs lighter and it costs a few hundred dollars less, but both computers cost more than a thousand dollars so neither is especially inexpensive. If money were no object, I would definitely put up with the extra 0.6 lbs to reap the advantages of the Pro.
And what are the advantages? The fast microprocessor is a minor advantage. It’s only a little bit faster, and even the slowest Air is fast enough for regular office software and surfing the web. The speakers sound better on the Pro. I thought the Air had good speakers for a notebook computer until I heard the Pro. Wow! Unbelievable sound quality for a notebook computer that only weighs 3.57 pounds. I went to the Apple website to try to figure out what was in the Pro to make it sound so good, and I discovered that it has a built-in subwoofer.
But the really huge thing about the Pro is the Retina display. It’s not just about the extra pixels. The Air looks pretty sharp for regular office applications and web surfing, although of course the Pro is better. But the Air has pretty poor color accuracy. Lemon yellow looks orange, and running the included monitor calibration program doesn’t solve the lemon-yellow problem. And the Air’s screen is very sensitive to viewing angle. Even a slight change in viewing angle drastically changes the screen’s gamma. The Pro has excellent color accuracy, more saturated colors, and the screen looks the same no matter what angle you view it from. Watching movies on the Pro is an absolute joy on account of the quality screen. And the speakers are so good you could even forgo headphones.
In retrospect, I wish I had bought the Pro for myself instead of the Air.
I guess the question some might have is whether either computer is worth so much money when you can buy Windows notebooks for so much less, although if you want a computer with similar specs (lightweight, SSD drive, 7-hour battery life) then the Windows notebook might not cost much less money, and might not come with such a nice trackpad as either of the MacBooks have. And a major disadvantage of Mac is that if you already have Microsoft Office for your PC, it won’t run on the Mac, and you can’t play Civilization IV on the Mac (well theoretically there’s a Mac version, but you can’t use any of the best player-created mods).
One of the benefits of Mac is that you can feel superior to people using PCs. I didn’t realize I would feel this way until I was at a business meeting where half the people were using Macs and have were using crappy Dells, and I felt like one of the cool bobo people because I had a Mac.
This blog post was written on my MacBook Air, using LibreOffice (although I expect I will soon bite the bullet and buy Microsoft Office for Mac).