Apple just announced the new version of their thinnest laptop, the MacBook Air. While many people think that the iPad is the future of computing, why would you get a MacBook Air? It seems redundant, especially since most of us already have a laptop. There are some good reasons why it's still a great device.
The new MacBook Air comes in two varieties, the 11.6-inch model and the 13.3-inch model. There aren't a lot of options, but the there are quite a few differences between this new ultraportable laptop and the iPad. First of all, the MacBook Air comes with a webcam, perfect for Skyping and chatting.
One of the most significant differences is that the MacBook Air can come with up to 256 GB of flash-based storage, which is supposed to be really fast compared to optical hard drives. The first generation MacBook Air didn't have much storage, which is why this is a really a nice size. Most new laptops can come with up to 640 GB of storage, but most have less, so the MacBook Air isn't too far behind.
While the iPad uses Apple's App scheme for installing programs, this isn't the case for the MacBook Pro. This means that you can install any program that you like, without worrying about whether it has been approved by the App store. Also, Apple announced an App store for Macs, meaning that with the MacBook Air you get the best of both worlds.
The iPad is a great device that has definitely changed the way we perceive mobile computers, however the whole philosophy of the App store is restrictive, especially to PC owners who are considering making the switch. The novelty of the iPad will quickly wear off for users who actually want to get things done and work on it. They'll find that it's problematic, which is why it's good to see that they have another option with the MacBook Air.
The fact that the MacBook Air comes with a keyboard is also a significant difference. It's basically a laptop. The iPad has a touch-based virtual keyboard or you can plug one in. There isn't much overall difference in form factor between the 11.6-inch MacBook Air and an iPad with a keyboard.
There is only one problem, and that's the price. The 11.6-inch MacBook Air is nicely priced at $999. However, the 13.3-inch model can cost up to $1,799 (with 256GB of storage, 4GB of RAM), which is more than the MacBook Pro 13 and exactly the same price as the base configuration of the MacBook Pro 15. That makes you wonder which is a better buy, a MacBook Pro or the new MacBook Air?
Ultimately, this depends on whether you already own a MacBook Pro. If you don't, then you're faced with similar devices that do the same thing, from MacBooks, to MacBook Airs, to full-sized MacBook Pros. MacBook Pros offer a lot more performance, but with a heavier weight and larger form factor. We're betting that most users will probably have a combination of different Mac laptops as their mobile computing solution.