The Apple MacBook Air vs MacBook Pro with Retina Display choice can be a confusing decision, but it doesn’t have to be: In fact, now that Apple is offering a wicked-slim MacBook Pro with Retina Display in the 13-inch form factor, most people would be better off with a 13-inch MacBook Pro than a MacBook Air.
Still, most people isn’t necessarily you — but if you consider the core elements of each Mac laptop that really matter, the decision will reveal itself.
First, forget most of the tech specs. Think about how you want to use your new MacBook. These questions will help:
Is price a serious factor?
Price is often a factor, but when considering the MacBook Air vs the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display, the difference between comparable models is $200 — essentially $1099 for a 13-inch MacBook Air and $1299 for a 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display. (While you can get an 11-inch MacBook Air for just $999, it’s a hard size to recommend to anyone but die-hard travelers.)
If you can scrape up $200 extra for the 13-inch MacBook Pro, I highly recommend it in most every case.
Do you travel a lot or are always on the move?
The best feature of the 13-inch MacBook Air is the sheer slim size. At 2.96 pounds, it’s light. And it will slip into and out of your bag all day long. If you are constantly on the go, the Air form factor is sweet. On the other hand, the new 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display is just 3.46 pounds — just a half pound heavier. It’s still light and nimble.
But wait, there’s more: The MacBook Air will deliver up to 12 hours of wireless web usage while the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display caps out at 9 hours. Why the difference? The Pro unit has a more powerful processor that consumes more energy . . . along with a Retina Display, which also consumes more energy. The slower processor and simpler display lets the MacBook Air get longer life out of a smaller battery.
So, in highly portable environments, the MacBook Air still wins out . . . but only by a slim margin.
Do you want to be able to do more, longer, with a much better display?
If you’re still uncertain, here’s why the new 13.3-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display crushes the 13.3-inch MacBook Air:
- Sharper Screen — Retina Display delivers a glorious screen experience (also better for photo and video editing)
- Faster Processors — Intel Core i5 processor options are faster
- Better Graphics — Intel Iris Graphics are superior to the Air’s Intel HD Graphics 5000
- More Ports — HDMI (easy TV hookup) plus an extra Thunderbolt port
These additional features — particularly the Retina Display — will extend the usable lifespan of your purchase by at least a year, if not longer. Why? You’ll have the new Apple standard display as well as the computing horsepower to run new applications and new versions of Mac OS X farther out into the future. If you want to use your MacBook for at least two years — if not more than three — suddenly a $200 price difference enters a new perspective.
If you take a lot of photos and video, consider the 13-inch MacBook Pro with 8GB of memory and 256GB of storage — it’s the smartest blend of investment in this segment.
Check out prices and models at Amazon: