Lion of the Blogosphere

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).

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

March 2, 2013 at 8:06 pm

Posted in Bobos, Technology

27 Responses

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  1. Like a nerd, I use a thirteen inch MacBook Pro. I am using the Lion software, no relation to Lion of the Blogosphere.

    Blog Raju

    March 3, 2013 at 12:05 am

  2. One of the benefits of Mac is that you can feel superior to people using PCs.

    You have at last realized value creation and value transference can reinforce each other.

    The Undiscovered Jew

    March 3, 2013 at 1:09 am

    • You may feel superior, but the people actually using PCs are most certainly going to laugh in your face. Especially those with hardware superior to your own (i.e., Lenovo Helix with stylus) that didn’t even cost that much.


      March 3, 2013 at 3:25 pm

      • Yeah, I *assure* you I used to feel superior to my effete classmates spending an extra few hundred on a barf-inducing SWPL status symbol.

        Samson J.

        March 4, 2013 at 3:46 pm

    • Hey UJ can you elaborate on your reply a bit more? I sort of understand what you mean, but not fully, and I think you make an interesting point. Thanks.


      March 4, 2013 at 6:21 pm

  3. I’ve been very happy with NeoOffice. I’d check it out before spending big bucks on Billware.


    March 3, 2013 at 1:41 am

    • LibreOffice is the most-recommended Open Office derived Mac office suite, but only genuine Microsoft Office offers 100% compatibility with the advanced features of Microsoft Office that the rest of the world is using. MS wants it that way; the save format is not documented, and it hasn’t been perfectly reverse-engineered.

      On a desert island, LibreOffice is fine. In the real world where you have to share documents with everyone else who is using Microsoft Office, only Microsoft Office works. It’s a form of value transference.

      • YMMV (obviously) but in 4 yrs I’ve only had one instance where lacking MS-Office actually prevented me from being able to completely and properly use a spreadsheet that a third party had sent me.

        The wrench in the gears in that case was they were using macros that pulled data from cells across multiple sheets. NeoOffice couldn’t translate the macro for reading a cell on a different sheet.


        March 3, 2013 at 10:35 pm

  4. Buy Parallels Desktop and you can run a Windows desktop as a window inside Mac OS. Civ IV is perfectly playable that way too.
    Dude you should code a HBD mod where non-white civs have high population growth but can’t fight, and white civs become pussies after 1945.


    March 3, 2013 at 3:38 am

    • Spandrell,

      you just gave me my first laugh of the day. thanks.


      March 4, 2013 at 11:33 pm

  5. The current version of Office for Mac is very good, one of Microsoft’s best efforts.


    March 3, 2013 at 3:45 am

  6. “I have to schlep it home from the office”: oh, the intolerable burdens of life! Not very lion-like, I have to say.


    March 3, 2013 at 10:04 am

    • Those of us who live in humid-summer Asia (and particularly in Japan, where *indoor* temperatures are kept at 28°C/82°F in the summer) pay attention to every gram of weight that we carry around. And “build up some muscle” is not a valid criticism: you’ll still sweat just standing in one place.


      March 3, 2013 at 11:18 pm

  7. lets see. the posts are about
    -best muffin
    -mac book

    kudos to your girlfriend who gradually turned you into a pussy.


    March 3, 2013 at 11:41 am

    • Making the new name quite (unintentionally) ironic.


      March 3, 2013 at 3:49 pm

    • Well, his girlfriend is likely not slim as being slightly overweight is considered by some to be healthiest.


      March 5, 2013 at 12:10 pm

  8. Way to blow your own money, and your company’s money by your boss, on overpriced computing devices that don’t do anything additional to ultrabooks and convertibles that are more than half the price.


    March 3, 2013 at 3:19 pm

  9. With high-powered Windows 8 ultrabooks selling for hundreds of dollars less, I don’t really see the advantage of the Macbook Pro anymore. Most of the people I know that use Macs are hardware and software illiterate, only use their computers for internet, and never step off the Apple plantation when it comes to the programs they use (Safari, iTunes, etc.). The distinction between OSX and Win 8 for the basic user is almost non-existent. Apple laptops are very nice gear with high resale value; I just don’t think it’s worth the price premium anymore.


    March 3, 2013 at 9:55 pm

  10. Why would you want to be like a bobo? There are other types of high class people who are not bobos. You should try to be more like a frat douche…


    March 3, 2013 at 10:46 pm

  11. I bought a Lenovo x300 last year on Ebay for $290 after shipping. It was Lenovo’s response to the MacBook Air when it was released in 2008 priced at $2500 to $3000, but it failed miserably most likely due to being even more expensive than the Macbook Air. It weighs a hair under 3lbs, has a solid state HD, track point, touchpad, built-in optical drive (advertised as a selling point over the Macbook Air) and the other specs are similar to the Macbook Air on the time. It’s a decent machine. It’s thin, light and sturdy. But it’s very plain looking and ugly. The trackpad is tiny due to having buttons above it for the track point and has poor response. A few buttons are insensitive and need to be push really hard. The trackpoint is a piece of crap that I seldom ever use. As with most PC machines, it was a good value for the price, but aesthetics does make a difference. Are Macbooks durable? If I can get a couple year old refurbished Macbook that will last at least 2 more years, I’ll buy it. Do not underestimate the value of beauty.


    March 4, 2013 at 1:33 am

  12. While waiting in line at Wal-Mart (it was the only place open at 1am), I saw a female arguing about something with the cashier; you know the type who gets off on giving lowly service workers a hard time because she herself is also likely a powerless person employed in some low-wage and demeaning job. Anyhow, while the cashier did a price check or whatever, the complaining lady pulled out her Samsung Galaxy SIII to ease her boredom. I turned into Pavlov’s dog at that moment and decided to not buy an Android phone, which I had thought about doing. I hate both Androind and ios. What am I to do? go with Windows 8 or the new Black Berry?


    March 4, 2013 at 1:43 am

  13. I recommend the Pro because you can’t add more memory to Macbook Airs, and OS X and its applications can be huge memory hogs. Or if you’re buying an Air, get it with as much memory as possible.


    March 4, 2013 at 1:46 pm

  14. Once you use a Retina display, everything else looks like crap.


    March 4, 2013 at 3:47 pm

  15. Mac pro retina display is fantastic. Good for watching movie.

    big cat

    March 4, 2013 at 11:32 pm

  16. Once you build a couple of computers (easy like legos), and therefore have a realistic sense of hardware costs, it’s impossible to buy into the inflated cost of Apple because of it’s commercially supported Linux based OS. The reduction in horsepower, dollar for dollar, is too hard to swallow. It’s not a small cost difference for similar, and in some cases (RAM), possibly lesser quality hardware than you would normally acquire. Of course, I’m talking about desktops. I’ve never built a laptop, but I also don’t use them because I find them too limiting and don’t need them for work. A maximum of 17″ screen just doesn’t cut it for my use. If you want a better screen for your desktop, then buy a professional level screen ($200-600). I recommend learning about screens and then buying a good one that’s refurbished or even just used. I paid $200 for my office surplus HP screen that has worked flawlessly for three years, has designer (photographer, web) level color reproduction, and is a comfortable 24″. Or, pay 2-3 times as much and buy a Mac monitor off of amazon. Either way, your giving yourself much more flexibility by keeping your screen considerations separate from the rest of your hardware decisions (ie: not getting a Mac because you like the monitor).

    If you hate windows, which is legitimate, and can honestly rate yourself as at least an intermediate level OS user, then look into a free Linux distribution like Ubuntu or Mint. They often take a bit of hacking to get your media drivers set up like you want (it’s not that hard with forum help, someone else has always already had your issue and posted about it). However, once you do you are free from both the forever being attacked and hacked windows as well as the overpriced Apple OS. Also, apart from the possible simple issues in the beginning, these OS’s are rock sold stable and all around fantastic in terms of how well they are compiled and function. In the rare instance that you need to run something in windows, you can install and run windows in a virtual machine and run it over top of Linux, just like Mac users do. You’ll also free up a ton of RAM using a Linux distribution versus running windows.


    March 4, 2013 at 11:59 pm

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