APPLE?S NEWEST MACBOOK is a beautiful, polarizing machine. As soon as it was revealed last month, you immediately knew whether you?d buy one. You were either totally enamored with its sleek design and tiny case, or you LOLed at its mid-level specs, weird one-port connectivity solution, and $1,300 price tag.
If you?re looking elsewhere for a slim, fancy wedge of a laptop, you?ll find many choices. Ever since the arrival in 2008 of so-called Ultrabooks, exemplified by the first MacBook Air, we?ve been living in a golden age of laptops. These uber-portable PCs offer solid performance in impossibly slender frames weighing less than 3 pounds. Depending on the machine, prices are low, too?a consumer-friendly side effect of the struggling PC business.
Of course, there are plenty of reasons you may want a new MacBook beyond its fetching design: You want OS X, it has a tack-sharp screen, and its keyboard and trackpad are unique. But there are more capable and affordable ultraportables out there.
Here?s the bird?s eye view. We?ve compared the core components, weight, price, and connectivity options of the best choices within the lean-and-light crowd. And for the hell of it, we added the heavy but high octane 14-inch Razer Blade, as well as the base versions of the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro With Retina Display.
We?ve also rounded up all the specs into this chart. We used the base configurations for each laptop in the list. For things like touchscreen options and different screen resolution, we made a note when those options were available in a higher-priced configuration.
Apple MacBook ($1,300)
You?re paying for the design, the screen resolution, the effortless portability, and the ability to use Mac OS X. Compared to the rest of the pack, it also has above-average battery life and double the base-configuration storage. The 1.1 GHz Core M processor is decent, but you can get much more for the price (or less). And of course, the single USB-C port is a major consideration.
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon ($1,088)
This ThinkPad is a bit thicker and 0.84 pounds heavier than the MacBook, but it?s a nicely priced competitor that brings more horsepower, screen real estate, and a great keyboard. Also, Lenovo still believes in multiple ports! The base configuration has a 2.7GHz Intel Core i5 CPU and 4GB RAM, and there?s a pair of USB 3.0 ports, HDMI-out, and a Mini DisplayPort.
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