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MacBook Air is Cheaper Than a Dell Ultrabook

April 20, 2012 - Dave Hecei
Ask any Windows user why don't they use a Mac and you will get many different responses. A good majority will likely say 'Macs cost way too much money'. For the most part, this might be true. I did paid a lot more for my Mac than I did for my HP. Even so, I think Macs are built better, with better components, and much better support.

My HP laptop has a bigger screen, larger hard drive, and a Blu-Ray drive. It isn't any faster than my Mac, but I get more done on my Mac than the HP. The keyboard is much better on the Mac. The software and OS on the Mac works smoother. And even though we have finally come to the day when Macs can get Malware, I feel the Mac is safer.

So i decided to take a look at the best selling computers today, the ultrabooks. Back in 2010, Apple updated the original MacBook Air model with better everything. The most important revelation was the decision at Apple to forego with spinning hard drives for storage and use SSD (Solid State Drive) instead. This decision was shear genius since an SSD allowed the Air to boot in record time. It also allows Apps to launch faster and give the Air at least the appearance of being fast even though it had the slowest processors in the Mac lineup.

The latest MacBook Air is a top-selling computer for Apple. Dell, HP, Acer, Asus, et al didn't want to miss out and are releasing their own versions - with the help of Intel who is the driving force behind the Windows ultrabook craze.

The 11-inch Air is the lowest priced Mac laptop starting at $999, with the 13-inch model starting at $1299. I decided to compare the 13-inch Air with a Windows machine so I chose a new Dell ultrabook, the XPS 13.

I got onto the Dell site and selected the XPS 13 and ran through the customization wizard to keep it as close to the Air as possible. Here are the specs I came up with for the XPS 13:

Intel Core i5 1.6GHz, MS Windows 7 Ultimate, Intel HD 3000 graphics, 4GB DDR3 RAM, 128GB SSD. Other features - backlit keyboard, 802.11 a/b/g/n + Bluetooth 3.0 wireless connectivity, (1) USB 3.0, (1) USB 2.0, Mini Displayport, headphone jack,

Here are the base specs for the 13-inch Air:

Intel Core i5 1.7GHz, OS X 10.7 Lion, Intel HD 3000 graphics, 4GB DDR3 RAM, 128GB SSD. Other features - backlit keyboard, 802.11 a/b/g/n + Bluetooth 4.0 wireless connectivity, (2) USB 2.0, (1) Thunderbolt (mini Displayport compatible), SD card slot, headphone jack.

As you can see, both of these super-thin laptops are very closely configured. The Dell advertises their screen being made with Corning's Gorilla Glass. It has a resolution of 1366 by 768 and uses the same design as the Air with an edge-to-edge glass panel. The 11-inch Air has the same 1366 by 768 resolution, but we're talking about the 13-inch. The Air has a resolution of 1440 by 900.

Since we are talking about ultrabooks here, size does matter. The XPS 13 starts at 2.99 pounds, whatever that means. The size comes out to be 0.71 x 12.4 x 8.1 inches. The 13-inch Air is 2.96 pounds and measures 0.68 x 12.8 x 8.94. Surprisingly, the Air is a shade lighter, but has a bigger screen, which also makes it slightly bigger - 0.4 wider and 0.8 deeper.

What this all breaks down to is that these two machines could be mistaken as siblings. The Dell design is almost identical to the Air, from the keyboard right down to the glass infused multi-gesture capable trackpad. The surpise happened when I finished up my order and put each into a 'shopping cart'. (No I didn't buy both, or either for that matter.) The 13-inch MacBook Air came to $1299, which as it happens is the base price. The Dell had to be customized slightly to give it similar specs, which brought the price up to $$1529.99. I could of lowered the price down to or under the Air, but that would not of been and 'Apple to Apple' comparison, so to speak.

When someone asks you why you use an expensive Mac, just grin and know for the most part, Macs are no more expensive than a good PC. And as I've shown here, are sometimes even cheaper by a few hundred dollars.


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