I Don't Particularly Want to Buy a Macbook Air: What Other Options Do I Have?
OK readers, here's the deal: I'm on the hunt for a new laptop, and I have certain specs that I want the laptop to have. Shockingly, the new 13.3" Macbook Air seems to come closest to the mark...but, given a choice, I'd prefer to not give Apple more of my money. I have no plans to run OS X regularly on it, so something that's built specifically for Windows 7 is more to my liking (rather than using Boot Camp on the Air).
What's most appealing to me about the hardware on the Macbook Air? The 13.3" screen running at 1440 x 900 resolution is #1 with a bullet. That's a great resolution for a thin and light notebook, yet it's extremely difficult to find in any product - most Dell consumer laptops for instance go from 1280 x 720 up to 1920 x 1080, which is a massive jump. You either end up with a low res or ultra-high res image; some of their 13.3" laptops have 1366 x 768 resolution, but not in their consumer line. Even the brand new Dell XPS 14 tops out at 1280 x 720 resolution. It's like Dell doesn't understand the concept that some of us want to have a decent resolution on our laptops. It's hard not to like the seven hours of battery life with the Macbook Air, and I'd be lying if I said that the thin and light hardware wasn't also appealing.
I have a Dell Vostro V13 right now, and while there's a lot that I like about it (review here), the underpowered CPU (the Core 2 Duo SU7300 clocks in at 1.3 Ghz), the limited battery life (three hours on a good day), and the anaemic GPU have got me a little fed up. The 13.3" screen at 1366 x 768 is pretty good, but the bump up to 1440 x 900 would be even better. I've looked at every Dell laptop I can find and nothing quite seems to match up.
What I'm looking for in a new thin and light laptop:
13.3" or 14" screen with 1440 x 900 resolution (maybe 1366 x 768)
A Core 2 Duo or better CPU at 1.8+ Ghz (2+ Ghz is even better)
Minimum 4 GB RAM
5+ hours of battery life
256 MB SSD, though I'd be willing to swap in a Segate hybrid drive in a pinch if no SSD option was available
Reasonably thin profile, not too heavy
Optical drive optional
Decent GPU (something other than Intel graphics basically)
Something that doesn't have a truly ugly design - sadly, that means the HP Envy 14 is off the list because it has a stupid floral pattern on it...however, I *might* just cover up an ugly laptop with a DecalGirl skin. I'd prefer not to though!
Price? Well, the 13.3" Macbook Air, upgraded with a 2.13GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 4GB RAM, and 256GB of Flash Storage, would run me $1849 CAD. So let's say that's the basic dollar amount I want to stay around.
What laptops out there today should I be looking at? The Sony Vaio Z series looks close, but strangely when I go into a custom config, the only resolution option is 1920 x 1080...on a 13.1 inch screen? Are you insane Sony?
Funny, I was going to suggest taking a look at Sony. Some of the best hardware I've bought. Price is a bit on the hight side, but they aren't a volume dealer. I have a little Vaio TX, just as small as any netbook, but it includes a DVD writer in it and a PCMCIA slot, along with the usual stuff. When I bought it there was certainly cheaper stuff, but always with less features. Those few of us who were willing to pay for them all, got what we wanted. It's running Windows 7 just fine though it is about 4 years old.
Wouldn't know about their support, never had to use it
"The Sony Vaio Z series looks close, but strangely when I go into a custom config, the only resolution option is 1920 x 1080...on a 13.1 inch screen? Are you insane Sony?"
So what are you saying? It's too good? I would guess the resolution slider exists and you don't have to run it at max resolution.
Sometimes you are the anteater, sometimes you are the ant.
I have two colleagues who specifically chose MacBook Pros as hardware to run Windows because of requirements at the hospital.
One is happy, now running Windows 7 as far as I've heard. The other is just as happy, but now uses Parallels to be able to run PC and OS X software simultaneously. One spoke about several colleagues fed up with their crapware and wanting both OS in their homes for their kids.
So, it's happening out there. I think you'd make your point well by choosing the best hardware for your purpose (keep in mind that even if you find another vender, will they come with the same track record for customer satisfaction that Apple does, or will they have a retail outlet within 15 minutes of your home).
Then you'd make your point further by showing up to the Genius Bar one day with Windows 7 lit up on the machine. lol
Come over to the dark side; or should I say white, or is it actually brushed aluminum
I just picked up my new air last night, exactly the same spec's you quoted. What a beautiful machine. I should say I have hated Apple products and refusded to purchase one, not even an iPod music player. When the iPad was released I was intrigued and tempted; I settled for its smaller sibling an iPod Touch. My experience with that device and the level of support I received from an Apple store in the US while vacation was one of the last straws for Windows machines (I was having battery issues with the Touch, and they replaced the device, no questions, no purchase receipt required). I have had a few issues fighting with Windows and HP laptop failures over the years; but that is a whole other story.
I have purchased Parallels and I am building my Air as a transition machine to Apple. I can't give up some of the programs I have on the Windows platform. I am running Parallels in "Coherence" mode in the hopes that I can get away from Windows completly.
I don't have a lot of hands on time yet, but I am travelling on Sunday evening overseas for work, and this will be my only laptop. One thing I can say is that the cold boot time is 15 seconds, the instant on works immediatly, the display is amazing, and the device is light, yet sturdy.
I am just starting a personal Blog on Digital Photography; and the first posts will be about my experiencines with the new Apple Air.
Also keep in mind that Apple does some pretty crazy things with the Air in terms of power management in OS X. I'm not sure you can expect comparable battery life if you run Boot Camp (or maybe even Parallels/Fusion). I'd also worry about that funkified SSD'ish drive and Win 7.
+1 for the Thinkpad T410s, but it is in a different weight class (but WAY higher performing and includes an optical drive). I suppose you could look at one of the smaller Lenovo U-series models, as well. But as Yuan said, you ain't gonna find an Air out there not made by Apple.