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Ultrabooks vs. 13" MacBook Air: Is the Apple Tax Real?

By Jos ยท 35 replies
Jun 14, 2012
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  1. If you're really looking at costs, you should look at total costs which should include OS upgrades too. MS windows 7 was $199, $399, $429 (depending on version) as an upgrade - I guess win 8 & 9 etc will be similar. OSX mountain lion is $21. Break this down over three years and windows notebooks are really expensive.

    Probably should be called Microsoft tax these days...
  2. True, but Windows is offering upgrade to Win 8 for $14.99. It's more than OS X, yes, but it's only $15.... And really you should be buying for the now, worry about updates, etc. later.
  3. OS X upgrades are cheaper than Windows by far, but factoring that in the comparison as suggested by the first commenter would be ridiculous.

    The current Ultrabook offerings are finally on par with the Air, most of last year's offerings were rushed but now you can get comparatively great machines or better for the same amount of money. That said, Macs are not really that much expensive than PCs at stock configs...
  4. So what exactly are you going to do without an operating system then?? With Apple it's a complete package, not just hardware. And a much better user experience. I use both but prefer a Mac anyday.
  5. What I like about the AIR is that I can have both operating systems. (I think, I know you can on a MacBook Pro) which means I don't have to decide between the two.
  6. I think they are not quite on the level of the MBA. Still with multi touch drivers, screen quality etc I think the MBA wins. The un-released asus ux31a is the closest contender, although with such a slow SSD and max 4gb ram it still falls behind. I really wish there were some really good ultrabooks out there already.
  7. gwailo247

    gwailo247 TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,011   +18

    Oh, guest, you think you're paying $21 for an OS? Lay on Macduff....

    Both companies charge for the OS, its just that Apple hides the cost, and as evidenced above, the sheep are happay!
  8. I happen to disagree with the conclusions. There is Apple tax and you can see it in every single retail price form the ethernet adapter to mac pro. MBA is actually the best bet to make a point about Apple tax non existence, but if you do a direct hardware comparison Apple falls every single time and it is the only way we can compare. Why? Simply because its too much variables like when you buy mac you have to add antivirus solution to the price (Microsoft gives one for free), you have to consider compatibility with other devices and surrender your freedom to purchase whenever you want and without Apples store 30% tax on every single app, song etc. If you don't know what I'm talking about you will see very soon.
    On the other hand Microsoft shoves Windows 8 with every other solution, rendering computers unusable due to it's stupid gui. So while every single company wants you just to consume content the winner between two should be a flat screen tv. It's not very easy to take it with you to Starbucks to impress people and boost your avesomeness, but "content consumption" is at it's best ;)
  9. slh28

    slh28 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,706   +172

    I think the Air is one of the pieces of Apple hardware which can actually be considered good value compared to its competitors. The keyboard and trackpad are vastly superior and that's something you have to experience and not just view the spec sheet.
  10. Air wins hands down, each time. Why?


    it's the only touchpad that can replace a mouse for most desktop app usage; no windows touchpad even comes close; I have to use an external mouse with each and every windows laptop I've used these last several years..

    I bought an Air to try it out, and really loved the touchpad; that is what differentiates it.
  11. Actually plenty of new Ultrabooks have better quality screens than Macbooks AIR does. Also...your system comes with Windows 7 pre-installed and unlike Apple Microsoft supports their oses for 15 years, you won't be forced to upgrade. With after three years you will need to buy new computer just to get on the newewst OS version.

    The true advantage of AIR is touchpad. On the other hand though... you can't get Macbook Air with trackpoint and all those nifty touch gestures can't change the fact that if you're doing a lot of writting on notebook trackpoint is absolutely unrivaled. I would never get a notebook without one. Also..there are no touchscreen options for any of the Macbooks. SO while touchpad is advantage, lack of ability to get trackpoint and touchscreen is disadvantage
  12. aspleme

    aspleme TS Enthusiast Posts: 56

    I think there is something getting missed here. When you buy a Mac, you are buying a computer console. The software is made for the hardware. You can't make the hardware a separate issue from the software because they are intrinsically linked. If you are going to make that distinction, I want to see a MacBook Air completely wiped with Windows on it, and see if it still has the same performance.

    We know this with game systems. A far less powerful game system is able to almost compare to a significantly more powerful PC. Look at Mac the same way.

    And don't use one Apple product to try and argue that there is no such thing as Apple Tax. You can see it in MP3 Players, adapters, etc.
  13. gwailo247

    gwailo247 TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,011   +18

    That's actually a great way to call it, "computer console". Pretty much all of the comparisons in terms of optimized experience, lack of upgradability, same arguments between users, apply.
  14. k9182000

    k9182000 TS Rookie Posts: 17

    This is because windows will install on almost any hardware, while IOS doesn't. A lot of people will have a heart attack when they do lol.
  15. Amon2106

    Amon2106 TS Rookie

    What people seem to be forgetting is that the macbook air and pro prevent upgrading... you can buy a Windows PC / Laptop and easily upgrade it with additional ram, storage, CPU without having to worry about it being soldered to the motherboard.
  16. Jos

    Jos TechSpot Staff Topic Starter Posts: 2,940   +94

    Not true. You can upgrade the RAM and storage on the MacBook Pro (not sure about the new Retina model, though). As for the MacBook Air, you could upgrade the SSD on the 2010 and 2011 editions, I imagine it's the same with the 2012 model.

    What you can't upgrade is the RAM, but that's also not possible with the Zenbook Prime UX31A or Samsung Series 5 in this comparison. Remember we're comparing MacBook Air vs. Ultrabooks -- not any laptop. You can upgrade RAM on some other Ultrabooks but many manufacturers are going this route to make their laptops thinner.
  17. I still dont understand the awesomeness thing.... I have both Windows 7 and Mac OS laptops, plus a Win 7 Desktop.
    I prefer my Macbook Pro as a laptop due to it's better design, longer battery life and simple and efficient OS, something that Microsoft is hoping to change with Win 8...

    Yes there probably are some Apple douchebags that want to rub it in your face, but there also are PC douchebags as well that want to do the same and pretend to be much more tech savvy although they dont know much more than how to turn the PC on...

    So stop with the stupid remarks. Buy what you want, it's your money, and enjoy your Laptop/Macbook
  18. Teko03

    Teko03 TS Maniac Posts: 356   +138

    Those are full retail prices, MS offers lower priced "upgrade" installations --- usually around $100. Plus who really has a computer for longer than 2 generation's of an MS OS's (average of 6 years). And if they do, its a average user who wouldn't bother upgrading.
  19. AlanCasseb

    AlanCasseb TS Rookie Posts: 20

    There was an overlook on the Thunderbolt. Big plus, in my opinion.
  20. Ranger1st

    Ranger1st TS Evangelist Posts: 348   +124

    It's apple, they are ethically and morally corrupt, why on earth would anyone with even a base line of ethics and morals want to support them. Their pricing has been stupid High since the IIc..

    TechSpot has simply decided to be epically obtuse in asking this question, I guess they wanted to stoke the fires for some reason.
  21. davimous

    davimous TS Rookie Posts: 55   +9

    It still costs 45 dollars for an ipod charger at the apple store. I'm pretty sure there is an apple tax.
  22. slh28

    slh28 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,706   +172

    Practically everything on the new Retina MBP is soldered to the mainboard.

    Upgradeability is a very overrated feature when it comes to laptops, the only big gain you would see from upgrading an old laptop is replacing a HDD with an SSD but ultrabooks all ship with SSDs anyway. I would take a thin, light and beautiful laptop over a thick and upgradeable one anytime.
  23. Yes, but I was able to skip Vista and go directly to Windows 7. Can you do that on OS X? BTW, MS gives free service packs, does not charge for that. Some of OSX's so called upgrades are nothing more than a service pack.
  24. Apple doesn't always allow you to upgrade to the next version of the OS - I have an G3 iBook and G4 desktop that I was able to upgrade only as far as OS 10.4 (Tiger) - OS versions after that no longer supported non-Intel based systems (or slower processors). Plus each of the updates cost $129 - Apple didn't go to low cost upgrades until they introduced Snow Leopard as an update to OS 10.5. My Beige G3 Macs were only supported thru Mac OS 10.2. So it's not a sure thing that future versions of the Mac OS will support your machine 3 years from now.

    And since Apple limits your ability to upgrade many of their machines (especially their laptops) it's not like you can replace the motherboard, processor, graphics card or even install additional memory in many of their products. Apple is a hardware company and they will likely require you to purchase a new machine (as first generation iPad users will discover when they try to upgrade to the upcoming iOS 6).

    Apple makes terrific products and have introduced a number of innovations to the consumer marketplace - but they have always focused on being a premium brand. Ultrabooks are premium priced laptops that mimic the capabilities of the MacBook Air. For those who would like a comparable product to the Air, but would prefer to stick with the Windows operating system I think a ultrabook isn't a bad choice.

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