Up-to-date alternatives to 11in MacBook Air?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by mkrndll, May 29, 2013.

  1. macrumors member

    May 3, 2011
    So I like everything about the 11in MacBook Air and I will most probably renew mine with the upcoming June 10 update.

    However, just for the sake of being thorough and not buying only based on past experience, what would be some alternatives at the moment? I am most interested in small form-factor and most importantly smallest possible weight and longest battery-life.
  2. macrumors 601

    Aug 27, 2012
    All you have to do is to Google "ultrabook" for the latest offerings.

    But the fundamental hasn't changed. All Wintel competitors are only interested to do "just enough" and cheaper than the Macbook to entice you to purchase theirs.

    Ultrabooks are for people who are on a budget constraint, or already heavily invested in Windows.
  3. thread starter macrumors member

    May 3, 2011
    lol, yeah, I'm well aware of that and I tried it too, along with checking CNET's ultraportable reviews and other forums. I'm looking for real people's opinions here ;)
  4. macrumors 601

    Aug 27, 2012

    U maybe disappointed.

    1. Traffic kinda slow here.
    2. Few posts about anything other than the Air.
    3. The few posts about other than Air invariably generates arguments toward OSX vs Windows.
    4. Is a rarity for a Mac user to look over the fence unless there are specific reasons to do so, say gaming, and you gave none other than curiosity.

    But OK, lets see if ur forage into MR Air is fruitful.
  5. macrumors 6502a

    Nov 5, 2010
    Have you considered a Windows tablet with a keyboard attachment? I think you are more likely to find a tablet with an 11 in display versus an ultrabook. I could be wrong though as I am not in the market for either a tablet or ultrabook at the moment.
  6. macrumors newbie

    May 19, 2013
    If you want tablet/laptop hybrid. look into Samsung ATIV 500T. Apparently has a good battery life and a form factor. Also has a WACOM digitizer tech built in, which is pretty neat if you want need to annotate on powerpoint/PDF.

    Asus zenbook seems to be the windows version of macbook air. I used my friends for a bit and it is very well built, has this very solid feeling to it.

    That said, I don't recommend buying these right now. You'll probably want to wait for a device with the new Haswell cpu if battery life is one of your concerns.
  7. macrumors 68000


    Mar 7, 2013
  8. thread starter macrumors member

    May 3, 2011
    I own an iPad and a keyboard too, unfortunately iOS really is limited in terms of content production. A windows tablet why not I guess. The only real alternative I know about is the surface, and its price tag is very similar to that of the 11in MacBook Air, while far less of a machine. Do you have any example in mind?
  9. macrumors 68000


    Mar 7, 2013
    Surface Pro is a good option because battery life is similar and it has similar specs. Don't know why it's less of a machine.
  10. macrumors 68000


    Dec 8, 2006
    Personally, I think you'd be crazy to get anything but another MBA 11" (it's what I own currently), but I do have a friend that isn't an Apple person and I looked at all the Wintel options at the time and convinced him to buy one of the tiny Sony computers (VAIO T I think it was). That laptop was tiny and every time he brought it with him on holidays I was so envious (I'd pull out my work IBM ThinkPad) - his Sony was so small and so portable, very lightweight, but of good quality. He bought an extended battery (which actually elevated it in the back and made typing even nicer than it being flat) and that thing would run for hours and hours on a single charge. Recently, I looked at them again, they are nice, but wow depending on the model and options you choose, they can be expensive. Still, if you're going to go Wintel, from the experience of my friend, the Sony is a very nice system, and has lots and lots of options. He just replaced that old machine and went for a Toshiba, but I don't think it's nearly as nice as the Sony, and I don't think he likes it nearly as much as the Sony (he's actually talking about trying an MBP!). Good luck in your search!
  11. macrumors regular

    Jan 28, 2012
    I'm in the same boat as the OP, currently have a 2012 i7/8GB and love it. The MBA is just the most complete package out of all the ultraportables and its tough to find others that stack up. I'm looking forward to seeing what the new MBA brings at WWDC.

    That said, the closest competitors to the 11" MBA (IMO) are:

    Disclaimer: Ignoring OS differences, and placing higher value on DisplayPort for high resolution desktop monitor usage.

    Surface Pro - very different, but has close to equivalent computing power. No 8GB RAM option, slightly smaller screen (but higher resolution). Does have some narrow usage scenario pros (tablet use, stylus).

    Toshiba Kirabook - screen on par with rMBP 13" but bigger form factor, decent looks. No DisplayPort, new product so I'd be hesitant to try it out.

    Asus UX21A Prime - Good aesthetics, no 8GB RAM option, no DisplayPort. 1080p. Has been around for a few iterations so should have some polish to it.

    Dell XPS 13 - Seems to be best of the bunch. 13" screen in form factor slightly larger than 11" MBA, has equivalent processor options and 8GB RAM, DisplayPort, 1080p, good aesthetics.


    To the OP: the XPS 13 has matured into what appears to be the most complete competitor to the MBA, and with Windows 8.1 + Haswell it will be very good. It still remains to be seen what 10.9 and the 2013 MBA will bring, but the OS-agnostic user searching for a new computer has 2 very good options to choose from.
  12. macrumors regular

    Jul 30, 2010
    Thanks for the useful post gwijbo. If the next MBA doesn't get a screen spec bump, things will get very tempting to go ahead with the Dell. It looks great! I didn't realize it was this close to the 11'' MBA in size.
  13. macrumors 603


    Sep 19, 2003
    Canada, eh?
    I've been keeping an eye on the "convertible tablet" ultrabook market, with products like Lenovo's IdeaPad Yoga 13 (and new Yoga 11S) as well as Dell XPS 12 (and of course, Surface Pro).

    Very torn, I tell ya... I may just end up with a 13" MBA for the 'it just works' factor but I really like the idea of selling my iPad and having one machine to do it all.
  14. macrumors regular

    Jul 30, 2010
    **** it, I don't want to settle for that dell, though.
    I really hope Apple will be smart enough to offer a (slightly) more HD screen option like they offer for the 15-inch, that way they compete directly with the increasing amount of full HD ultrabook offerings. It would be perfect!
    Having high resolution things get downscaled to the air resolutions is a major pain.

    Looking at the dell, they managed to get a great 13'' 1080p IPS display in a 13 inch compact chassis. Apple should definitely be able to up the ante. *fingers crossed*
  15. macrumors 603


    Sep 19, 2003
    Canada, eh?
    Hopefully we'll find out in less than 2 weeks!
  16. macrumors 68000

    Jul 3, 2009
    Ipad with keyboard cover. It's the only real alternative. Most of the 'high' end ultra books are expensive, flakey, stuck with windows 8, and knock offs of the Air!
  17. macrumors newbie

    Apr 15, 2012
    I went from 2011 MBA 11 inch to a 13inch Zenbook and...


    The build quality of this thing is sooo lousy, I can hardly believe it. I'm currently trying to sell it at a huge loss. To no avail so far...

    Stick with MBAs for the love of god.
  18. kwijbo, Jun 1, 2013
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2013

    macrumors regular

    Jan 28, 2012
    I too was surprised at how Dell was able to squeeze a 13" screen in such a small size. The bezel on it is just amazing, and its still a pretty thin machine. The taper at the front of the machine isn't as aggressive as the MBA but the back hinge is just about the same thickness.

    Personally, I'd love to see the MBA lineup consolidated into one 13" model with the smallest footprint possible (like the Dell), with a retina screen and Haswell ULV options. Give both rMBPs a discrete GPU so there is a tangible "pro" threshold between the Air and Pro, and can the cMBP. Re-release the 17" as an "ultra" model with 4k resolution, a Core i7-4930MX, GTX 780M, 16GB RAM and 1TB SSD. Ok, enough of that tangent...back to reality.

    As I just went to look up those specs on Dell's site, the XPS 13 page has removed the "Buy" link...seems like an update is coming soon! June 10th needs to hurry up!

    It has been interesting to see the concepts PC manufacturers have been coming up with. I thought most of them would be gimmicky but they have been getting some good reviews online. The dual sided capacitive screen of the ASUS Taichi is pretty cool, among others.
  19. macrumors 6502a


    Jun 17, 2009
    The CCTV Capital of the World
    Unless to need to save money, I do not see the need to look elsewhere given your requirements. Out of curiosity, is your current 11" faulty? We have one from launch and it is still a very capable machine for what it is, as they were never intended as power machines.
  20. macrumors 6502

    May 27, 2013
    Haha the iPad an equivalent to a proper computer, you have to be kidding. It's useless for productivity.

    As for Ultrabooks, they pretty much match the air these days in terms of price, spec and build, and there's nothing wrong with Windows 8.


    Odd you say this as they're basically the same computer. They're built very similarly, spec and construction wise, by the same company, pegatron. They even look almost identical inside. If you say the Zenbook has poor build quality, so does the air
  21. macrumors 68000

    Jul 3, 2009

    Are you crazy? I've used the iPad as my only machine for about 4 months now. I haven't had a problem since. Considering I am running a company off the iPad, I would say it isn't even close to useless.

    Ultrabooks are not even close to the build quality of Macbook Airs. They are knock-offs at best. And nothing wrong with Windows 8? That's like saying the Titanic hit a minor speed bump.
  22. macrumors 6502

    May 27, 2013
    Well I feel bad for you - evidently you've forgotten what a full computer feels like. An iPad is terrible for multitasking and Safari struggles as a full web browser.

    Again, the Zenbook is made by the same company and follows the same design. It's an extremely similar machine. It might be a copycat but the build quality is extremely similar. I've compared both side by side, it's obvious why apple is mad they're made by the same company - apart from the keyboard it matches the air.

    As for Windows 8, it's sold as much as 7 in a declining PC market, and has gained 8% of tablet share. This means more people are going out and buying 8 separately than they did with 7. 8's barely different to 7 UI wise and is actually an improvement in a lot of areas, it's extremely good and anyone insulting it has barely used it.
  23. macrumors 68000

    Jul 3, 2009
    1). Your ignorance is astounding. The ipad is more than capable for all but the most graphical and video work, which I have no interest in.

    2) I have worked a good bit with windows 8. I worked with a surface pro for over a month to try and give it a fair chance. It was such a piece of crap (windows 8, I was very impressed with the actual hardware) I tossed the thing in the basement to rot, I didn't even feel like inflicting the pile of hurt on someone else by giving it away.

    I don't know why this bugs you so much. Go play with windows, it work for you, so that's great, I'd rather pull my own fingernails out with pliers.
  24. mattferg, Jun 2, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 25, 2013

    macrumors 6502

    May 27, 2013
    1) I've used a tablet as a daily driver for a few months now. I find myself resorting to the PC quite a few times because a tablet OS just can't handle certain parts of the web. FACT. The iPad is NOT an alternative for a full MBA, an ultrabook IS.

    2) I've listed what's wrong with an iPad and what's good about Ultrabooks, why can't you actually argue what's wrong with 8?

    You bought a Surface Pro, didn't like it, and didn't return it? errr yeah sure you did....

    Oh and FYI I use a Macbook Air and an 8 desktop, they both have their pros and cons, shame I can see that and you can't.
  25. racer1441, Jun 2, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 25, 2013

    macrumors 68000

    Jul 3, 2009
    Did you work on making Windows 8 that you have your knickers twisted up so much?

    I have encountered exactly zero web sites that I use that have any issues at all on the iPad. That argument doesn't hold much weight any more.

    As for what's wrong with Windows 8....

    The touch nature makes Windows 8 a big fat pain in the rear for the majority of computers, you know ones that don't have the touch screen.

    On top of which, you are forced into the interface formally known as 'metro' instead of a more traditional desktop. That's a big pain in the rear end to support if you have any more than about 6 or so customers. Imagine pushing that interface out to dozens or hundreds of employees that have used the same interface for 20 years.

    Additionally, you have apps, if you are lucky enough to find any that are worth while, that do not work between the two conflicted sides of the operating system. Go play with Skype, and you'll see what I mean.

    As for the Pro, i was beyond my return period, and I wouldn't push windows 8 on anyone. I'm waiting for the Blue update, see what that's like. I'll play with that for a month, just like I did before. If it's better, I'll most likely donate the thing off to a school or library. If it's not, the pro will be taking a one way trip to the dump, or I'll see if the thing can get a good Linux distro put on it.

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