With a price difference of at least $600 ($399 iPad 2 vs. $999 Air), the MacBook Air and the iPad are quite the difference in price from each other. But despite a huge price difference between them, you can pit them together in a battle to see which device is better and you can still have a fair battle. As a matter of fact lets have that battle. We will compare the top features people want to see in their computers and I will show you why the iPad is a (strong) competitor against it’s Mac brothers. In this battle, I will specifically pit a iPad 2 and a $999 11″ Air together. Please note that pitting a different MacBook with a different iPad will not yield the same results. I also can not and will not pit the iPad and MacBook Pro together since they do not belong in similar categories.
Computers have been known for their ability to run multiple applications since the 80s-90s. To most people, multitasking is very important and we judge our computers on the ability to run multiple high-powered applications. Neither iPad nor the low-end MacBook Air can do it very well. iOS 5 (current version) has no multitasking. You can have apps in suspended mode so you can leave the app and return to it where you left off, however you can not run multiple applications at the same time with the multiple applications running. The iPad 2 only has 512 MB of RAM, while the MacBook Air has 4 GB (customizable to 8GB). The MacBook Air not only has more RAM to handle tasks efficiently, it can have more than one application running at the same time, so it is with that I give the award to the MacBook Air.
Screen Size, Weight, and Other Specs
Both the screens in the iPad and the 11″ inch iPad are quite small. The iPad is just a bit smaller than the 11 inch MacBook Air, putting on a screen size of just under 10 inches. However, there is a difference and that difference will give one device the point. The MacBook Air is a laptop, its going to go on your lap. The iPad is a tablet but tablets are typically held in the hands closer to the face. If the iPad is held to the face at its optimal distance of about a foot from your face, you can see text better on it than you can on a device 2-3 feet from you, even if that 2-3 feet-from-you-device is just a tad bigger, so in the screen size arena, I will award it to the iPad. Moving on to the weight. The weight of an iPad 2 is 1.33 pounds while the weight on the 11 inch is 2.38 inches, so the MacBook is just a little heavier, however not by much. The ability to pick up either device is not hard at all and both devices are a delight to carry. I award the weight category to both devices.
The only iPad 2 now available has 16 GB. The MacBook Air has quadruple that at 64 GB. However, even though the iPad has less space, it will actually get you further. Applications on an iPad take up a lot less space than a Mac does since the apps on iOS are designed with less code, therefore less space being used. Consider this for example, on my iPad I have 150 apps, (mostly free, but with a few paid, more storage space taking apps) about a thousand songs and about a thousand pictures, it takes up about 22 GB. I know this is more than 16 but with 16 GB you could probably fit 100 apps with the same music and pictures. Consider this, I have fewer apps (70 apps) with the same music and photos and I’ve used 30 GB so it’s a bit more than an iPad. 64 GB on a laptop would not be enough for me. However, if you use it for web surfing only it would be okay. But if you are to use it for web browsing, you’re better off getting an iPad (unless you are an elderly person, a MacBook Air would be better for you). So with that, I give the storage point to the iPad.
This one will be a harder one to judge. The amount of games available for the MacBook doesn’t even come close to the amount of games available on the iOS App Store. However, since the processing power on the MacBook is a lot better than that of the iPad, you can play better games that require more power. I can not judge this category since it all depends on what you want, so I will actually give the point to both.
The batteries on both devices are strong. The MacBook Air comes with a state of the art charger called MagSafe and it will fall right out if you happen to trip over it so you wont send your MacBook (or your face) falling to the ground. The charger on the iPad doesn’t do that. However, the charge that those two chargers give are different. The iPad 2’s charger gives it a full day of charge while the 11 inch MacBook Air only gives five hours (FYI my MBA, the low-end 13 inch gives 7-8 hours, sometimes more). Because of its inability to keep a charge in the 11 inch, the charger will become your best friend, reducing its easy mobility. The battery point goes to the iPad.
The ability to be productive on the iPad, if you have a lot of games on it, is close to zero. I have similar games on my Mac that I play from time to time (yes, adults can have fun too) and the games are a lot less in your face than in the iPad so, I tend to get things done more than on the iPad. Yes, the iPad is productive, but all the notifications, and just the fact that there are games there make you get distracted. The iPad can be very distracting while the MacBook has a reduced distraction environment. The Mac also has many productivity apps that are very useful that the iPad either doesn’t have at all or is in reduced form. So in terms of productivity, I give the point to the MacBook Air.
Okay, so this one might not be that fair since you know the MacBook Air will probably win but the iPad does put up a fair fight. The iPad is very fast in switching applications, the ability to search (of course that depends on internet connection, mostly) and fast graphics. But of course, the MacBook Air is better with all of these things. It has faster graphics, it has a faster connection, it can reach a wifi connection from a further location from the hot spot and it can switch and open applications very fast as well, so with that, I award it to the MacBook Air.
The iPad was awarded 4 points and the MacBook was awarded… 5 points so the 11 inch MacBook Air wins the match, but not by a long shot. The screen size factor would change if I were judging a 13 inch MacBook Air as would a few other things. But I did not. I am also sure that if I reviewed the iPad 3 instead of the iPad 2 it would have been different. This slight victory shows that the iPad has really caught hold in the market in a short two years and it really is quite impressive that it can compete with laptops. Choosing between the iPad 3 and a 11 inch MacBook Air, I would get the iPad 3. It truly has come to be accepted and embraced. Allow me to make suggestions for consumers in different categories. The elderly that are taking an interest in computers or want one just because everyone else has one and wants to be in the times would want a $999 MacBook Air, a light computer without the newer touch screen technology that the elderly don’t seem to grasp well. Adults who want a traveling device may want to consider any MacBook Air of any configuration. Children who love to play games will love to play them on an iPad. An iPad is used for people in specific professions such as doctors, teachers and even pilots so an iPad may work for them as well. In the end, both the iPad 2 and the 11 inch MacBook Air (and all of Apple’s devices for that matter) are insanely great devices that are great for masses. The iPad 3 took it a step further that would win it categories the iPad 2 didn’t and of course a higher specs and larger screen-sized 13 inch Air would also get more categories. There is an Apple device for everyone out there to enjoy, you just have to find which one is right for you.
Thanks for reading,