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May 7, 2014 - Dave Hecei
Yesterday, Apple released all new updated MacBook Air notebook computers. There really wasn’t much of a speed improvement, at least not enough to justify a whole article, but the pricing is sending a new message. It will be interesting to see what the ultimate message is, but for now, Apple has lowered the cost of owning a Mac notebook to the lowest point ever. We are now merging into the iPad Zone.
I can only think that this move has to be intentional. The 11.6-inch MacBook Air (some would just round it up and call it a 12-inch) now has a starting price of $899. This gets you a new Haswell core i5 processor with dual cores, 4GB of RAM, 128GB of super fast storage, and decent enough graphic processing in the Intel HD 5000.
With these specs you’re not going to working in Final Cut Pro X, Motion, or Photoshop CC all day. I’m not saying that this Mac won’t run them; it’s just that you won’t really want to do anything to serious with it. This Mac is meant to be a mobile computing device with a full keyboard an operating system. A 12-inch screen notebook that weighs just 2.9 pounds is perfect to take anywhere – especially with up to 9 hours of battery life.
This $899 Mac is also going to make it harder for those who like the idea of a high-end tablet, say the 128GB iPad Air, and an ultrabook style laptop. The new iPad Air with 128GB of storage and cellular data is priced at $929, which is more than the new base MacBook Air. If you were to add a Zagg or Logitech keyboard cover to the mix you’re over $1000.
The iPad Air weighs in at 1.05 pounds and the keyboard should add just about another pound to that making the iPad just over 2 pounds. The new iPad Air with its A7 chip is more than fast enough to move it into the realm of content creation. There are plenty of Apps out there for writing, drawing, painting, photographing, etc. that really puts it in a whole new workspace.
All this just makes it harder to choose. For most people, the iPad is ideal. It’s small and light with a great Retina display. If you mainly like to go on the web, email, chat, and occasionally play games, it’s a no brainer. Add in all the other stuff it can do with the gigantic array of Apps available why would you want a laptop?
The base MacBook Air is for those who need to do just that little bit more that a tablet can’t. I’m talking about running full Apps on a full OS. There are times when you really need to work on more than one program at a time and the Macs ability to multitask makes this easy. The MacBook Air also gives you a true file system. This might be archaic in this day and age, but there are times when having the ability to have access to all the files on your computer just makes more sense. Yes, the iPad does keep things safe and makes your device secure from outside threats (like viruses or malware). There are still those out there that need to either have full access to their stuff or be able to work with others by easily sharing files.
There may come a time when the iPad and the MacBook start to converge. This has not happened yet, except for the pricing. Starting now, the base model of the MacBooks costs less than the high-end iPads.
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