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I can see that the 13" version of MacBook Pro and MacBook Air is same $1199, but the Pro is more feature-loaded than Macbook Air. Why would anyone buy MacBook Air? What's the catch in this?

I was thinking of buying a MacBook for development purposes, and worried if there's any problem in the Pro version, because it comes with more features (like more storage).

Edit:

Thanks for the answer guys, I bought a MacBook Pro a week ago and already loving it.

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closed as off topic by bmike May 3 '13 at 17:56

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With solid state storage comes and overall speed increase so the Air can get by with a slower, less costly processor which uses less battery power and still keep its speed up. There are no problems with either of these computers or concepts, it's all in what you plan to use it for and how you like to work. Some will find lighter/faster more appealing, others will want a more "traditional" computer with a hard disk, all the ports, and an optical drive. There is no right or wrong, only what's right for you. –  Richard Aug 16 '12 at 11:07
    
Hardware shopping questions are off-topic. Join us on Ask Different Meta to discuss what makes a good "requirements" question for the site that you could then learn and take with you when you shop. –  bmike May 3 '13 at 17:56
    
1+year and I am still proud of my decision :-D –  noob Nov 24 '13 at 19:44

8 Answers 8

up vote 18 down vote accepted

The primary cons for the MacBook Pro are:

  • heavier and more bulky compared to the Air
  • noticeably slower HDD versus SSD at the same price point
  • only has a 1280x800 screen resolution

Note: but is confirmed to be a better quality display than the one in the Air, with a more accurate color gamut.

Things that sold me on the MacBook Pro over the 13" MacBook Air: the MacBook Pro is more future-proof and upgradeable and offers more value for the money in my opinion.

  • Primarily Upgradeable RAM, the Pro Comes with 4 GB and so does the MacBook Air, but the key point is that I can just order it with the 4 GB for the Pro, knowing that I will be able to upgrade to 8 GB or even 16 GB at market rate for RAM whenever I want to. I cannot do that with an Air, you either order the 4 GB and shorten the usable life of your computer or pay upfront to upgrade to at most 8 GB at a premium price (thats shoddy and I would like to avoid that).

  • Secondly the MacBook Pro as of Mid-2012 version still has a standard form factor drive bay where you can purchase and install 3rd party 2.5" SATA Laptop Drives of your choice in SSD or standard hard disk drives.

And then the bonus features in order of importance to me, all of which without the need for external dongles and adapters:

  • Gigabit Ethernet

  • Firewire 800 port

  • SuperDrive (optical drive)

  • Standard Audio headphone jack that can do both output or input over analog or digital cables

  • Hasn't moved to the new MagSafe 2 adapter format

So the flexibility and value of the MacBook Pro sold me on it, its really sad to note that all MacBooks will probably be Airs (like the MacBook Pro Retina) soon enough and this value option will be nothing but a thing of the past, so enjoy it while it lasts.

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Nicely explained thanx :) –  noob Aug 16 '12 at 13:22
    
Not sure why you have the fourth bullet point, MacBook Air has a headphone jack that supports microphone input. –  ghoppe Aug 16 '12 at 16:20
    
Also: I recognize it's largely a matter of personal preference, but I am not sad to note that future MacBook Pro models will be like the MacBook Pro Retina. :) –  ghoppe Aug 16 '12 at 16:22
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My largest gripe with the Air style is soldiered in RAM, that's very crippling and limiting [no more upgrading RAM to more than Apple officially supports apple.stackexchange.com/questions/51758/… ] unless you buy a new computer every year. –  MrDaniel Aug 16 '12 at 17:54
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I just made the switch from a 15" MBP (2011) to a 13" MBA (2012), and I find the difference in the display quality quite significant! The display on the Macbook Air is less reflective due to the lack of a glass panel. However, the color representation on the MBP was significantly better if I may say so. Colors on the MBP were more vibrant and the black was more black. The Macbook Air's display is in general a bit more whitish which I can not fix using a custom color profile. Both of the display panels are made by LG. –  gentmatt Dec 6 '12 at 18:43

The MacBook Air is much smaller and therefore lighter. Less space means smaller components and therefore either less power or more expensive parts.

If you're going to travel a lot with your MacBook buy a Air, if you don't and need power buy a Pro.

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MacBook Air

  • Solid state storage (faster read/write)
  • Lighter frame
  • No optical drive (optional external superdrive available)

MacBook Pro

  • Superdrive optical bay
  • More storage for less money
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The MacBook Air runs at a higher resolution (1440 x 900) vs the Pro (1280 x 800).

For development the higher resolution could be nice if you are only using the laptop screen, if you are running connected to an external screen, this doesn't really matter.

Having looked and worked on both (pre 2012 models), the Pro screen seems to be a better quality with better viewing angles and colours - this is subjective as Apple's website describe them as the same.

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I've owned both and personally found the pro to be FAR FAR FAR superior to the air.

As stated in the other answers the air has the advantage of being a lot lighter and solid state drive is also reliable and faster. However, the air is essentially a netbook competitor. I found mine to be not up to the task for most of the things I wanted to do. As a designer and web developer I quite often have illustrator, photoshop, dreamweaver and bridge all running at the same time as well as a web browser or two and and FTP program, the macbook air always struggled with even one or two of these applications and the fan would be running virtually constantly if I wanted to do more than surf the web.

With the macbook pro on the other hand, I have Transmit, Illustrator, Photoshop, inDesign, Dreamweaver, Bridge, TextMate, Microsoft Outlook, Telephone, Chrome and Safari all open as I write this post... and the fan hasn't even started.

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Also, although this isn't generally accepted by Apple users, MS Windows doesn't run well on the MacBook Air, whereas it does on the MacBook Pro.

A small thing to keep in mind.

EDIT: As stated below, this appears to be untrue for newer MacBook Air models, as from version 11 and up they are using Sandy Bridge, which I did not know about - since i've never put my hands on one of the newer models. In short; this makes my original point moot.

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Can you elaborate on Windows not running well on Air? What went wrong? –  i.am.noob Aug 16 '12 at 20:20
    
Actually, I have an 11" Air and Windows runs very nicely on it. –  IT Dude Aug 16 '12 at 20:25
    
I also would disagree that any Air 2011 or later is underpowered for Windows. Unless you move to an 15 inch pro to get a beefy GPU it's hard to do anything but benchmark an isolated system to find the Air as slow compared to the 13 inch Pro. –  bmike Aug 16 '12 at 21:09

At the price point you're talking about, the Air comes with an SSD drive, whereas the Pro comes with a 5400 rpm hard drive (and a slightly faster CPU). Depending on the type of development work you do, the SSD drive may give you a more noticeable advantage than the small CPU bump.

For what it's worth, I went with the Air, for the SSD and higher resolution (plus it looks awesome) - but I'll retire it from dev use next year when Retina displays are cheaper and in a smaller form factor.

Edit - in the latest 2012 models, both the Air and the Pro have similar i5 processors and matching memory speed, so the differences in speed people are talking about aren't quite fair.

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If your requirement includes physical security, you might want to know that the Air doesn't come with Kensington lock. There are locks made for Air but they seem a bit hackish — eg: putting a metal in the gap between the screen & body, or covering the whole Air with plastic that is screwed to the body.

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