The same in both:
- Screen size, resolution, and finish
- Graphics chip
- Dimensions, except thickness
- Backlit keyboard
- Wireless capabilities
- Build quality
- $200 cheaper.
- 250 GB hard drive. (Air’s is 120 GB, and slower.)
- Upgradeable hard drive to any standard 2.5” drive, which are cheap and widely available. (Air’s is sealed, and uses rare 1.8” drives.)
- Upgradeable RAM, up to 4 GB. (Air is permanently sealed at 2 GB.)
- Much faster CPU. (2.4 GHz vs. Air’s 1.6 GHz, same core.)
- Two USB ports. (Air has one.)
- Replaceable battery.
- Battery-life indicator LEDs. (Turn your Mac laptop over and hit that little round button on the battery. Those. Did you know they were there?)
- Sound-in port.
- Hard-wire Gigabit Ethernet port. (The Air’s optional USB Ethernet dongle is slower than wireless and nearly useless for big file transfers. And it takes up the only USB port.)
- CD/DVD drive.
- Battery life. The specifics are unknown, but Apple’s (admittedly unrealistic) estimates are 5 hours for the MacBook and 4.5 hours for the Air. Those numbers probably aren’t absolutely correct, but as long as Apple’s applying the same metric to both, the MacBook is likely to have slightly longer battery life.
(Keep in mind that almost all of these advantages also hold for the $1299 MacBook except that it has a lower CPU speed and smaller hard drive capacity — but both still significantly beat the Air. The $1299 MacBook’s keyboard also isn’t backlit. But it’s $500 cheaper than the Air.)
Advantages: MacBook Air
- Weight. (3.0 lbs vs. 4.5 lbs. for MacBook.)
- Thickness. (0.16-0.76” wedge vs. constant 0.95” for MacBook.)
I think the Air just became a much harder sell. And this is coming from an Air owner. Were I purchasing a new Apple laptop today, I wouldn’t get an Air with this excellent new MacBook available.
Furthermore, while the Air’s limitations prevent me from recommending it to anyone as their only or even primary computer, I can solidly recommend the MacBook to be both for most people.