MacBook Air Alternatives

The MacBook Air Isn’t The Only Ultrabook Worth Buying Anymore

The MacBook Air does offer a few unique features that no other Ultrabook currently on the market can emulate. In particular, OS X is something you won’t be able to get anywhere else (with the exception of running some unstable “Hackintosh” software). It’s also the only system supporting Thunderbolt for now. If you can pass on Thunderbolt and OS X, there are several other Ultrabook options that truly do best the Air in one form or another.

If you want the closest thing you can get to a MacBook Air experience while saving a bit of money, the Sony T-Series has a lot to offer.

Dell’s XPS 13 and XPS 14 give you the option of a larger screen without the need of a larger notebook, and anyone with an active lifestyle will likely appreciate the solid construction and thoughtful design. Plus there are a few performance perks thrown in as well.

Asus offers one of the most compelling alternatives with its new Zenbook line. If you ever wished Apple would bring its Retina Display to the MacBook Air, the Zenbook line is for you.

Anyone who is into a bit of casual gaming would love the prospect of an Ultrabook that can double as a gaming laptop, and Acer’s TimelineUltra M5 does just that (and is one of the few Ultrabooks with an optical drive). Even better, Acer is one of the few manufacturers that doesn’t charge a premium for its Ultrabooks, making it a great choice for anyone looking to save big – just keep in mind that it does sacrifice a bit of quality to make up for the difference.

And if you want the most battery life in the slimmest possible form factor you can find, an Ultrabook to the extreme, Samsung’s Series 9 boasts a solid design that will certainly turn some heads.

It’s clear that the MacBook Air isn’t the only high-performance ultra-portable out there, so if you feel like it’s missing something, don’t be afraid to look elsewhere. Don’t make the one-size-fits-all compromise.

  • acerace
    I love this article. :)
  • Hybrid hard drives negate a lot of what makes the Macbook Air great.
  • farensabri
    the truth
  • halcyon
    Very nice. I especially like the Dell, Asus, and Samsung pieces. While I may prefer OS X from a UI standpoint, I love this what these have to offer enough that I'd make the sacrifice.
  • fudoka711
    While I know many of us like to bash Apple, I like how this article wasn't focusing on why Apple sucks, but instead focused on why the competition is better, or at least probably better to the average consumer. Props to Mr. Escallier for outlining each vendor's pro's/con's in comparison to each other and the MBA.

    If I had to choose, I'd get the Zenbook because I love its design and 1080p output. Not gonna be gaming on it, sadly, but watching movies on it would be great. Plus I love the design.
  • altriss
    but it’s really just an “Ultrabook” – a term trademarked and defined by Intel
    without beeing specially an Aple fan, I find this stupid. Be honest if Aple hadn't created McBookAir, Intel would never had the Idea of UltraBooks.
    By the way I agree with fudoka711 about the general view on this article. Nice to see than PC builders finally created something that is worth a macbook air!
  • unstable hackintosh?its not unstable at all if you know what your doing everything works just fine and app store also so i dont see a problem...
  • quantumrand
    NotFastEnoughHybrid hard drives negate a lot of what makes the Macbook Air great.
    My counter argument: You can go with the Sony Vaio T-Series with a hybrid drive and save $400, taking a small hit in load times for apps you don't use often, or you can go with the T-Series with a SSD and save $200 and get the same SSD performance that "makes the Macbook Air great." :-)

    altrisswithout beeing specially an Aple fan, I find this stupid. Be honest if Aple hadn't created McBookAir, Intel would never had the Idea of UltraBooks.
    If you want to go with who came first, Gateway had the very first "subnotebook" form factor with the Gateway Handbook back in 1992.

    In 2002, Sharp had its Ultranotebook PC-UM20. It used a specialized Ultra-Low Voltage Intel processor (just like today's Ultrabooks) and was only .65 inches thick, thinner than even the current MacBook Air. I'd argue that this was the first "Ultrabook" in the non-Intel defined sense of the term.

    In 2004, four years before the MacBook Air, Sony released the PCG-X505. It featured the same processor specs as the full-sized laptops of its time, but was 10.4" laptop that was only 0.8 inches thick.

    There was also the Lenovo ThinkPad X300 which was a contemporary of the MacBook Air (released just weeks after the Air) and was actually thinner.

    Apple was by no means the pioneer of the Ultrabook platform. The MacBook Air just happened to be the most well-known one. If Apple didn't exist, Intel would still have gone forward with its "Ultrabook" concept. I would absolutely not give Apple credit with coming up with the Ultrabook idea. It gets credit for popularizing it, and that's all.
  • DjEaZy
    ... MacBook Air Alternatives? Without OS X? Except, if you make a hackentoch... but then you can take the original...
  • halcyon
    TBH, while the MacBook Air and its Ultrabook derivatives are nice enough I don't think I'd want to give up any of what my 15" notebook has to offer in terms of performance just to save a few pounds that, by carrying, can only help me stay in better shape than if I were not carrying them. The idea was novel at first and I've had my share of the MacBook Air (I've had 3) and my wife now has one but I'd rather carry my 15" notebook.