Replacing Macbook Air


  • Apple experienceKey usage models:  information browsing, media streaming and communications
  • Potential usage model:  college / work tool (research, papers and presentations)
  • Important features: Long battery life, SecureExcellent graphics, Light weight

Based on the new product releases from Apple (a review of the event), there is a key decision that will drive the product selection

This article from The Verge explains that a user should think about Mac or iPad … the experiences are a bit different and the features as well.  I think the key difference is how you like to ‘type’ – if you type (thinking about writing papers or long emails) at a table or desk all the time – the iPad works great w/ the extra keyboard; if you type in places that are NOT flat and stable (working in bed, on the sofa, at the beach, etc), then the stability of the Macbook Air keyboard is essential.  The referenced link helps out tremendously.

If you want a iPad

  • There are two sets of decisions  (see comparison image below)
  • Pro or not Pro, and if Pro what size (bigger or standard)
  • Accessory keyboard or not (as well as extra stylus)

**a note on prices – there may be education or Corp discounts for these, but do not think more than 5% and assume same discounts on all- relative prices will be same

Feature iPad Pro BIG 12.9”iPad Pro Standard 11”iPad Standard 9.7”
256 GB SSD & WiFi only (no cellular)$1149.00$949.00Only 128GB SSD$429.00
Keyboard / Stand$199.00$179.00Not available
Total Cost$1477.00$1257.00$528.00

*older version of the stylus

Some thoughts

  • New iPad Pro have upgraded processors and will last longer for new usage models (AR for example and better displays)
  • There is also a 10.5” iPad Pro (last version – do not recommend)

If you want a Mac,

  • There are two possible machines.  The standard Macbook (1 year old) or the new Macbook Air.
  • Here are some reviews of the new AIR – I only copied publications that are typically objective and thorough
  1. (Apple update on it)

I made some technical decisions on configurations making sure to not get a ‘cheap’ component that will not last for the life of the machine and how i imagine targeted usage models.

Feature MacbookOld AIRNew AIR
Screen Size12 inches13 inches13 inches
CPUCore i-5 7th GenCore i5 5th GenCore i5 8th Gen
Memory8 GB1866 mz DDR38 GB1600 mz DDR316 GB2133 mz DDR3
SSD Size512 GB256 GB256 GB
GraphicsIntel 615 Integrated graphicsIntel 6000 Integrated graphicsIntel UHD 617 Integrated graphics

Final Recommendation

For the best like-for-like and expecting this to be your ‘go to tool’ for typical browsing, streaming and communications the decision comes down to:

  1. New 13” Macbook Air – $1599
  2. Big iPad Pro – $1477

Reasons the others were thrown out

  • Old Air – technology is too old and may limit life of new machine
  • Macbook – for basically same cost you can get the new model; the 512gb SSD was also the only option for the needed CPU increasing cost
  • Standard iPad – the lack of a decent keyboard from Apple and the older generation stylus
  • Small iPad – the screen size would just be too small for graduate school work as well as larger format movies / video

Ultimately, its a usage question.  Do you want the ‘flip / finger / touch’ experience of iPad or you want the keyboard experience of the Air.  

I do not think that technology obsolescence will be an issue w/ these generation products (meaning that Apple will reduce R&D in one or other – most analysts think that the IOS / iPad / iPhone experience will receive the greater R&D budgets).  I do think Apple is putting more $ into the quality of the IOS experience.