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Old May 19, 2011, 02:48 PM   #1
MoodyMedStudent
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If the next MBA is to have identical specs as the 13" MBP...

Along with the SSD, superior resolution... and possibly also a back-lit keyboard...

Then who will buy the 13" MBP? Seems like the only advantage would be the optical drive and perhaps slightly better battery life, unless I'm forgetting something significant.

Just wondering what everyone thinks about this.
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Old May 19, 2011, 02:54 PM   #2
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Who said it would have identical specs? There is no way it could and still have any sort of battery life or not constantly overheat. It will still have a far slower processor, and be more expensive.
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Old May 19, 2011, 03:11 PM   #3
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There's firewire 800, gigabit ethernet and room to upgrade memory yourself. No way will the next MBA have identical specs to the MBP.
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Old May 19, 2011, 03:12 PM   #4
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That's what I've been thinking... but I think a couple things that Apple will do to keep them different:

1) MBA doesn't get a backlit keyboard (despite how much I'd like one)
2) MBP has higher storage options (some people prefer space over speed)
3) Isn't the MBP's screen higher quality? (despite lower resolution)
4) The MBP will perform better because the MBA may get a ULV or slower LV processor, which'll negatively impact CPU/IGP performance.
5) Like mentioned, obviously the MBP has the ODD, up to 8GB RAM, and a slew of ports
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Old May 19, 2011, 03:27 PM   #5
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At some point in 2012 or 2013 I do think the MBP 13 and MBA 13 will merge together and fusion as one.

But as of now - you will probably not see backlit keys, not 8 GB ram option, not fast of the fastest SB CPU and no Ethernet and FireWire 800 ports in the upcoming MBA 13 because apple need to sell a few MBP 13 too
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Old May 19, 2011, 03:31 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by KylePowers View Post
That's what I've been thinking... but I think a couple things that Apple will do to keep them different:

1) MBA doesn't get a backlit keyboard (despite how much I'd like one)
2) MBP has higher storage options (some people prefer space over speed)
3) Isn't the MBP's screen higher quality? (despite lower resolution)
4) The MBP will perform better because the MBA may get a ULV or slower LV processor, which'll negatively impact CPU/IGP performance.
5) Like mentioned, obviously the MBP has the ODD, up to 8GB RAM, and a slew of ports
Yes, unfortunately the Macbook Air has a lower quality screen although it has a higher resolution. Erik Lanigan pointed this out with his 13" MBA, which is the reason he returned it and got an 11".
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Old May 19, 2011, 04:59 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by alust2013 View Post
Who said it would have identical specs?
... and, yeah 13 MBP vs 13 MBA will retain the advantages of:

storage space
more CPU power,
(easily) upgradeable: takes 8GB RAM, can swap out HDD, can 'optibay'
optical drive,
better battery life,
slightly more rugged?,
firewire,
and cheaper

... and possibly backlit keyboard.

(all repeats, i guess. me is bored.)
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Old May 20, 2011, 01:24 AM   #8
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Probably the only thing changing will be internal specs. I'd be surprised if anything other than specs are changed. Every "rumor" claims that it's (sort of) a minor update, not as groundbreaking as the October one.
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Old May 20, 2011, 01:07 PM   #9
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That's what I've been thinking... but I think a couple things that Apple will do to keep them different:
I don't understand why Apple wants to keep them different in the first place. I just posted about this in another thread, but offering 3 13" laptops at the same time is really unusual. They upgraded the 13" Aluminum Macbook to a Macbook Pro and brought back the plastic Macbook, then introduced the 13" Air. I just bought the Air, but I spent a lot of time looking at the Macbook & MBP. It seems like they took out the Keyboard Backlighting in the MBA just to keep them more separate, which is a stupid move.
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Old May 20, 2011, 02:51 PM   #10
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I don't understand why Apple wants to keep them different in the first place. I just posted about this in another thread, but offering 3 13" laptops at the same time is really unusual. They upgraded the 13" Aluminum Macbook to a Macbook Pro and brought back the plastic Macbook, then introduced the 13" Air. I just bought the Air, but I spent a lot of time looking at the Macbook & MBP. It seems like they took out the Keyboard Backlighting in the MBA just to keep them more separate, which is a stupid move.
13" is the sweet spot for notebooks. Sounds OK to me to have a budget option (even if it's not worth it nowadays), a "prosumer" option and an ultraportable. And they're trying to differentiate a lot. I have a 2011 MBP but would take a 1440x900 screen over the backlit keyboard anyday. Or even trade the backlit for a little caching SSD.
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Old May 20, 2011, 02:58 PM   #11
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I don't understand why Apple wants to keep them different in the first place. I just posted about this in another thread, but offering 3 13" laptops at the same time is really unusual. They upgraded the 13" Aluminum Macbook to a Macbook Pro and brought back the plastic Macbook, then introduced the 13" Air. I just bought the Air, but I spent a lot of time looking at the Macbook & MBP. It seems like they took out the Keyboard Backlighting in the MBA just to keep them more separate, which is a stupid move.
Apple has offered three 13" laptop lines since the 13" MBP was introduced in June 2009. MBA came already back in 2008 and back then, there were three 13" MacBooks too. The white MacBook stayed, even though Aluminum MBs were released (theoretically just two lineups since they were all MacBooks).

Yes, the MBA has become more affordable but since Apple has offered three 13" laptops for years now, I wouldn't call it unusual.
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Old May 20, 2011, 03:34 PM   #12
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Apple has offered three 13" laptop lines since the 13" MBP was introduced in June 2009. MBA came already back in 2008 and back then, there were three 13" MacBooks too. The white MacBook stayed, even though Aluminum MBs were released (theoretically just two lineups since they were all MacBooks).

Yes, the MBA has become more affordable but since Apple has offered three 13" laptops for years now, I wouldn't call it unusual.
True, it's not unusual in that they have had the three options for a few years now, but in a more general way Apple usually has very few options to choose from when buying products. If you look at their iPod lineup, each one is very different from the next (shuffle=tiny with buttons, nano=slightly bigger with touchscreen, touch=full sized with iOS, classic=most storage). Their desktops are even more limited (mini=basic computer, imac=main consumer device, mac pro=professional tower). Heck, the first page of the Apple Store only has 13 products to choose from!

Now, what's the difference between the three 13" notebooks? They all basically serve the same purpose, but they are made from different molds/material, and have slightly different specs/ports. Usually when Apple has two options, there is a less expensive/worse one and a more expensive better one (iPad w/ or w/o 3G and different amounts of storage). But with the Air, it's got a better hard drive and screen, but slower processor and less ram. And the Macbook actually has the fastest (highest number) processor, but it's an older model and will be slower in reality, and it has less ram than the pro but can be upgraded more than the air. It's just a lot messier than I expect from Apple.

I didn't have any problem picking out a notebook, because I know a decent amount about computers and do a lot of research before buying anything. It just doesn't seem as obvious-to-the-customer as most things Apple does. I think that if they're going to do anything to change their lineup, it's likely to simplify the choice between notebooks.
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Old May 20, 2011, 04:15 PM   #13
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True, it's not unusual in that they have had the three options for a few years now, but in a more general way Apple usually has very few options to choose from when buying products. If you look at their iPod lineup, each one is very different from the next (shuffle=tiny with buttons, nano=slightly bigger with touchscreen, touch=full sized with iOS, classic=most storage). Their desktops are even more limited (mini=basic computer, imac=main consumer device, mac pro=professional tower). Heck, the first page of the Apple Store only has 13 products to choose from!

Now, what's the difference between the three 13" notebooks? They all basically serve the same purpose, but they are made from different molds/material, and have slightly different specs/ports. Usually when Apple has two options, there is a less expensive/worse one and a more expensive better one (iPad w/ or w/o 3G and different amounts of storage). But with the Air, it's got a better hard drive and screen, but slower processor and less ram. And the Macbook actually has the fastest (highest number) processor, but it's an older model and will be slower in reality, and it has less ram than the pro but can be upgraded more than the air. It's just a lot messier than I expect from Apple.

I didn't have any problem picking out a notebook, because I know a decent amount about computers and do a lot of research before buying anything. It just doesn't seem as obvious-to-the-customer as most things Apple does. I think that if they're going to do anything to change their lineup, it's likely to simplify the choice between notebooks.
I actually find it strange that people complain about having too many choices. All three computers are still pretty different though.

MacBook is the budget model but still a full-blown computer.
13" MBP has a sturdier body and more horsepower than the MacBook.
11" MBA is a compromised machine and can't do the same stuff as e.g. MacBook. For most people, I don't think the 11" MBA is an option.
13" MBA is more expensive than any of the others but it features some premium features like hi-res screen and SSD. However, 1299$ for 128GB of storage may not be enough for everyone, thus the market for MBA is again more limited.

MacBook might be the lonely dog at the moment but I can't see apple dropping their 999$ laptop (11" MBA isn't an option for everyone). For most people, 200$ is a lot money. Every model attracts slightly different people, that is why they all sell. I guess that is the main reason why Apple has so many laptops, they are selling like hot cakes so why to lose potential sales by simplifying the lineup too much?
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Old May 21, 2011, 07:22 AM   #14
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I actually find it strange that people complain about having too many choices. All three computers are still pretty different though.

MacBook is the budget model but still a full-blown computer.
13" MBP has a sturdier body and more horsepower than the MacBook.
11" MBA is a compromised machine and can't do the same stuff as e.g. MacBook. For most people, I don't think the 11" MBA is an option.
13" MBA is more expensive than any of the others but it features some premium features like hi-res screen and SSD. However, 1299$ for 128GB of storage may not be enough for everyone, thus the market for MBA is again more limited.

MacBook might be the lonely dog at the moment but I can't see apple dropping their 999$ laptop (11" MBA isn't an option for everyone). For most people, 200$ is a lot money. Every model attracts slightly different people, that is why they all sell. I guess that is the main reason why Apple has so many laptops, they are selling like hot cakes so why to lose potential sales by simplifying the lineup too much?
huh? since when?
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Old May 21, 2011, 07:29 AM   #15
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huh? since when?
64GB of storage is pretty compromised if you ask me. The thing is, MacBook is great as your only computer but for most people, 11" MBA has way too many limitations to be used as a main computer. High-end 11" might be another case but then again, it costs as much as the base 13" MBP which has several pros over the 11" MBA.
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Old May 21, 2011, 07:32 AM   #16
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11" MBA is a compromised machine and can't do the same stuff as e.g. MacBook. For most people, I don't think the 11" MBA is an option.
hmmm Funny. Last time I checked my 11" MacBook Air could run Final Cut Pro 7, Logic Pro 9 and Motion 4 perfectly happily, even with HD content. Admittedly its not the fastest, but for any larger projects Id hate to use a MacBook either. Ill take my 11" Air over my 13" MacBook anyday. (And in fact I do. Since the 11" is always in my bag, and the 13" never is anymore). I don't get why everyone bashes the 11"er... It can handle everything I throw at it, which is the same as Id throw at a MacBook (Final Cut Studio excl. DVDSP, Adobe CS5.5 and Logic Pro), the only times I use my MacBook is when I need FireWire 400, which is something the newer MacBooks don't have anyway.

Oh, and mine is the low-end 11".
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Old May 21, 2011, 07:39 AM   #17
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hmmm Funny. Last time I checked my 11" MacBook Air could run Final Cut Pro 7, Logic Pro 9 and Motion 4 perfectly happily, even with HD content. Admittedly its not the fastest, but for any larger projects Id hate to use a MacBook either. Ill take my 11" Air over my 13" MacBook anyday. (And in fact I do. Since the 11" is always in my bag, and the 13" never is anymore). I don't get why everyone bashes the 11"er... It can handle everything I throw at it, which is the same as Id throw at a MacBook (Final Cut Studio excl. DVDSP, Adobe CS5.5 and Logic Pro), the only times I use my MacBook is when I need FireWire 400, which is something the newer MacBooks don't have anyway.

Oh, and mine is the low-end 11".
"Can't do the same stuff" was probably a wrong choice of words but you can't beat the fact that 11" MBA is a lot more limited machine when compared to MacBook. You have a Mac Pro to handle the heavy lifting and storage while my point was that 11" MBA, especially the low-end, may not be suitable to be used as a main computer. Sure, you will probably find people who use it as their main computer but I'm talking about the masses here, not exceptions.

Most owners of 11" MBAs own another machine from what I have seen.
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Old May 21, 2011, 07:45 AM   #18
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"Can't do the same stuff" was probably a wrong choice of words but you can't beat the fact that 11" MBA is a lot more limited machine when compared to MacBook. You have a Mac Pro to handle the heavy lifting and storage while my point was that 11" MBA, especially the low-end, may not be suitable to be used as a main computer. Sure, you will probably find people who use it as their main computer but I'm talking about the masses here, not exceptions.
I would quite happily take it as my main machine if I didn't have to regularly edit multiple streams of HD Video and need my ProTools and BlackMagic cards. I do a lot more of my actual work on my MacBook Air than on my Mac Pro (As in for college etc - I do all my coursework programming and notes etc on my MacBook Air, as well as email and this forum) - Its just for professional level Video and Audio editing that I need the Power and Storage of the Mac Pro.

Before I got the Mac Pro, I used my White MacBook (2008) as my main machine, with a 64GB SSD and 2TB Externally over USB2. That thing ran everything fine like that for a year. (It was only when I went from prosumer to pro level/ newer software (FCE -> FCS, Logic Express -> Logic Studio, CS4 -> CS5.5, Mathematica 7 -> Mathematica 8) and editing that I jumped across to a powerful machine, otherwise Id be quite happy with my MacBook Air as my main machine).
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Old May 21, 2011, 08:14 AM   #19
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"Can't do the same stuff" was probably a wrong choice of words but you can't beat the fact that 11" MBA is a lot more limited machine when compared to MacBook. You have a Mac Pro to handle the heavy lifting and storage while my point was that 11" MBA, especially the low-end, may not be suitable to be used as a main computer. Sure, you will probably find people who use it as their main computer but I'm talking about the masses here, not exceptions.

Most owners of 11" MBAs own another machine from what I have seen.
I agree with you that the 11" MBA is a machine that is limited in what it can do compared to other Macs that exist. but I would argue that "the masses" do far less than the average person posting here, and it would be a fine computer for them. I'm one of "the masses" and I don't even know what Final Cut Pro 7, Logic Pro 9 and Motion 4 are. Well, yes I do, but I'm trying to make a larger point -- these are not programs that I need to even come NEAR in my computing life, nor do my parents, nor do my work colleagues. We need word processors, we need web browsers, we need someplace to store pictures and music, we need to send emails, and we occasionally need a program to edit photos to make them smaller so that we can post them on Facebook. For me and for people like me, the MBA is perfectly fine as a main computer -- maybe the lack of storage is a issue, but then again, I have a 30GB iPod that is only half full. I have a 13 inch MBA that has 45 out of 128GB unused. Not everyone carries around every song they own or picture they've ever taken.

I've been reading Macrumors for a long time now and I love the site, but sometimes I think that the people here get wrapped in a bubble. They think that any computer that can't run Giggity Pro X, that doesn't have the fastest and the best processor, is "limited" and therefore undesirable.

People post here every day wringing their hands about whether they should buy X, or Y? when they will never need the amount of power that they seem to crave. How can I say this so definitively? Because if you KNOW FOR SURE that you need 8 gigs of RAM or faster processors or a great deal of storage space in your normal workflow, you wouldn't have to ask "should I buy X or Y?" *You'd already know.*

Thinking that "the masses" care whether their computer can run Final Cut Pro and a bunch of processor-intensive programs at the same time, is bubble thinking. I assure you, the masses out here don't care. We are not the exception. The posters here are the exceptions.
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Old May 21, 2011, 08:57 AM   #20
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Old May 21, 2011, 08:58 AM   #21
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I agree with you that the 11" MBA is a machine that is limited in what it can do compared to other Macs that exist. but I would argue that "the masses" do far less than the average person posting here, and it would be a fine computer for them. I'm one of "the masses" and I don't even know what Final Cut Pro 7, Logic Pro 9 and Motion 4 are. Well, yes I do, but I'm trying to make a larger point -- these are not programs that I need to even come NEAR in my computing life, nor do my parents, nor do my work colleagues. We need word processors, we need web browsers, we need someplace to store pictures and music, we need to send emails, and we occasionally need a program to edit photos to make them smaller so that we can post them on Facebook. For me and for people like me, the MBA is perfectly fine as a main computer -- maybe the lack of storage is a issue, but then again, I have a 30GB iPod that is only half full. I have a 13 inch MBA that has 45 out of 128GB unused. Not everyone carries around every song they own or picture they've ever taken.

I've been reading Macrumors for a long time now and I love the site, but sometimes I think that the people here get wrapped in a bubble. They think that any computer that can't run Giggity Pro X, that doesn't have the fastest and the best processor, is "limited" and therefore undesirable.

People post here every day wringing their hands about whether they should buy X, or Y? when they will never need the amount of power that they seem to crave. How can I say this so definitively? Because if you KNOW FOR SURE that you need 8 gigs of RAM or faster processors or a great deal of storage space in your normal workflow, you wouldn't have to ask "should I buy X or Y?" *You'd already know.*

Thinking that "the masses" care whether their computer can run Final Cut Pro and a bunch of processor-intensive programs at the same time, is bubble thinking. I assure you, the masses out here don't care. We are not the exception. The posters here are the exceptions.
I never said the masses run Final Cut and stuff. I'm fully aware that MBA has the horsepower required by consumers but in my opinion, they are more likely to choose something else than low-end 11" MBA as their main computer. I don't think they value the lightness of MBA as much as we do. If you compare the MacBook and 999$ MBA, the only thing that MBA has is its smaller form factor.

What consumers see is that the MacBook has better specs and costs the same. I believe consumers want the best bang for their buck and obviously, they think that MacBook offers that due to its better specs (even though they likely won't notice any difference). I would also argue that most people find 11.6" screen to be too small in their main computer (usually something you find in netbooks), even though the resolution is actually greater than in 13" MacBook (Pro).

13" MBA is a totally different case IMO. I got one and it could easily be my main computer. Not because of the slight extra power but because of the extra storage and screen estate. I wouldn't want to look at 11.6" screen all day long. You have already filled 45GB. The 64GB SSD in MBA has 49GB of empty space when you boot it up for the first time. You would pretty much have filled the whole SSD already.

Of course, these are just my point of views. However, if I think about my family and friends, I can't see any of them getting the 11" MBA unless they have another machine already.

My original point was that Apple has three laptop lineups for a reason. The 11" MBA simply cannot provide everything that the MacBook can. That means there is market for both and thus there is no reason to eliminate one from the lineup. We could argue all day and night what is the usability of 11" MBA but my point never was to make it sound like a useless machine. It is an amazing machine but like any machine, it has its tradeoffs.
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Old May 21, 2011, 09:14 AM   #22
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I never said the masses run Final Cut and stuff. I'm fully aware that MBA has the horsepower required by consumers but in my opinion, they are more likely to choose something else than low-end 11" MBA as their main computer. I don't think they value the lightness of MBA as much as we do. If you compare the MacBook and 999$ MBA, the only thing that MBA has is its smaller form factor....

My original point was that Apple has three laptop lineups for a reason. The 11" MBA simply cannot provide everything that the MacBook can. That means there is market for both and thus there is no reason to eliminate one from the lineup. We could argue all day and night what is the usability of 11" MBA but my point never was to make it sound like a useless machine. It is an amazing machine but like any machine, it has its tradeoffs.
Definitely concur with your last point that there are multiple laptop lineups for a reason. Just because one computer may be for "the masses" doesn't mean that you don't provide something for the power users.

As for whether the 11.6 is someone's main computer...I'd be interested to see which one is outselling the other in the consumer market. I know that Macbook Airs as a whole are selling briskly, but is the 13 inch MBA the main driver of those sales? I've not seen any news that breaks it out that way, but maybe I've just missed it. Now I"m curious.
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Old May 21, 2011, 09:44 PM   #23
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11.6 is my main machine. Does everything `i need so far. I would like to see a touchscreen on the new model.
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Old May 22, 2011, 09:00 AM   #24
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11.6 is my main machine. Does everything `i need so far. I would like to see a touchscreen on the new model.
Why? So you could use it once then come back on this forum and complain of wrist cramps because of the sharp angle?

Touchscreens will never be sucessfully implemented on non-tablet computers, as its completely impractical, ESPECIALLY on notebooks.
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Old May 22, 2011, 01:06 PM   #25
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Seems like the only advantage would be the optical drive and perhaps slightly better battery life, unless I'm forgetting something significant.
PRICE!!! The MBA will cost more than the base 13" MBP, due to the screen and SSD. You also have the option of upgrading beyond 4GB on the MBP, and installing 2 drives if you lose the SuperDrive, for those who want some customization ability.
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