Should I Get the MacBook Air or the New iPad Air?

Should I Get the MacBook Air or the New iPad Air?

Gregory Han
Oct 31, 2013
(Image credit: Apple)

Q: I have been going back and forth on a tech purchase and was hoping other Apartment Therapy readers could help me make a decision. The question: MacBook Air (11.6") or iPad Air?

I know you're thinking that these are very different things: a tablet vs. laptop. But with the current capabilities and accessories available for the new iPad, does getting the newest tablet make sense as my primary device or is it just better to get the MacBook Air?

Some assumptions:

  • Lots of people I know have an external keyboard for their iPads (great for taking notes). So, I could be getting an iPad and a Bluetooth keyboard (i.e. Logitech).
  • Prices for Macbook Air - I've seen some decent sales on the MacBook Airs (e.g. Microcenter sells the 11.6 Macbook Air for $899 (versus $999).

With those assumptions above, here are my options: the Macbook Air at $899 vs. the new iPad Air (64GB) for $699 + $100 (Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard) = $799.

I've been using the 64gb storage option for the iPad, but I know the 128GB option is also available. But given that, I can't seem to get over the fact I can get a MacBook Air for just $100 more. Of course, the key feature for the iPad is the gorgeous Retina display. But is having that display outweigh the functionality of a laptop? Are the apps that much better on an iPad than having a laptop?

With the availability of the iPad Air just days away... thought I'd seek your opinion (and the readers if you happen to post it).

Sent by Peter Kim

Editor: Peter, it's difficult to give you a solid recommendation without acknowledging what you'll be regularly working on and in what circumstances with each device. I've found as an iPad and MacBook Pro owner the two serve different uses, while sharing some overlap in both the consumption and creation departments.

I'd like to direct you to a post over at Daring Fireball I read yesterday morning weighing the pros and cons of choosing one of the iPads over a MacBook Air. John Gruber notes:

Performance matters, but the iPad has always been fast enough for many people, and with each passing year it becomes fast enough for more people.

The A7 in the iPad Air is a huge upgrade performance-wise over previous iPads. More importantly, and more intriguingly, it brings the iPad Air into line with late-model Mac and PC laptops.

In other words, if your workflow predominately requires only email, browsing, word processing, Document creation, and other typical office tasks executable using apps and maybe iWork/Google Docs, the iPad could prove to be a formidable option.

But personally I believe both the iPad Air and previous generations remain a complementary secondary device rather than a full-fledged replacement for a laptop except for the most basic of users. In other words, you'll likely never regret having the extra options of a MacBook Air (or similar slim profile laptop), while you might find yourself without concise options on the tablet front (for now), even without the Retina display.

What do you think, should Peter go with the new iPad or with the more features of a MacBook Air? Leave your suggestions and recommendations for Peter Kim in the comments - thanks!

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(Image: Apple)

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