MacBook Air (2008) vs. Dell X1 (2005)
If you want a good and thorough review of the MB Air, please go here. This blog post is mostly a load of BS.
In the MWFS ’08 keynote Steve Jobs presented Apples very much anticipated new Ultra-portable, the MacBook Air (MBA). And behold, a sleek, sexy, glossy, aluminium sheet of pure goodness! Or is it really? In 2005 Dell came out with the ultraportable X1, and I was wondering how that three years old machine holds up to the newest and greatest from Cupertino.
Size. Size matters, no matter what they say. MBA is boasting a thickness of 0.4 to 1.94 cm, while X1 is 2.5 cm all over. Since it is a square world I use the thickest measurement when calculating volume. So, the MBA is 1.94×32.5×22.7 = 1431.235 cubic centimetres. X1 clocks in at 2.5×28.6×19.68 = 1407,12 cubic centimetres. Winner: Dell X1.
Weight. Matter has it (yes, a phun). And since the MBA is 1.36 kg and the X1 is 200 grams less at 1.140 kg the winner must be the X1.
Screen resolution. MBA has 1024000 square pixels, while the X1 has only 983040. But, when you measure screen size vs number of pixels you get that the MBA has 1024000/13.3 = 76992.5 pixels/inch, while the X1 has 983040 /12.1 = 81243 pixels/inch. This means the MBA has a big screen with low pixel density, and since I really dislike it when hardware doesn’t fill it’s full potential (also look at the size of the edge around the screen on the MBA – it’s huge!) the winner is the X1 again.
Connecting extra peripherals and such. USB: X1 2, MBA 1. Ethernet: X1 1, MBA 0. Modem: X1 1, MBA 0. VGA: X1 1, MBA 1, DVI: X1 0, MBA 1. Audio jacks: X1 2, MBA 1. Firewire: X1 1, MBA 0 (!). SD and CompactFlash card reader: X1 1, MBA 0. The MBA’s lack of built in ethernet, VGA and only one usb connector plus it’s heavy reliance on extra dongles makes the X1 the winner once more.
Connectivity. X1 has wifi b/g, 1 gigabit ethernet, bluetooth and a modem. The MBA has a/b/g/n wifi and bluetooth. It must be mentioned that the MBA has 802.11n that is now becoming increasingly popular. It also has EDR. But still, lacking a gigabit ethernet port is the reason the X1 is yet again victorious.
Drives. The MBA proudly toutes an optional 64GB SSD, which normally would be a “wow, omg, gimme!” – but as usual with Apple and upgrades I am betting that getting a 64GB SSD for the X1 on the open market is much cheaper than upgrading the MBA to the SSD. And talking about drives, the X1 comes bundled with a optical drive, while the external USB MacBook Air SuperDrive is an option. Because of the bundle and Apples over-pricing of upgrades the X1 come out on top.
Power. Intel core 2 duo 1.6GHz versus a Centrino mobile 1.1GHz? Come oon. MBA totally owns that. But in order to get CPU power you will need battery power. And the MBA battery is not easily replaceable. With the X1 you can bring a few six cell batteries with you and use your laptop all the way to where you are going, while when the MBA is dead it must be plugged into an electrical outlet. Replaceable batteries is a much more on-the-go feature than heavy CPU power, so the ultraportable power price goes to the X1.
Availability. The X1 is no longer manufactured. However, you can pay $535 for it by pressing the “buy it now”-button on ebay and have it shipped to you in less than a week. The MBA has 2-3 weeks delivery time according to Apple, but I would not be surprised if it would take 6 weeks to get it in your frisky little hands. However, as the X1 has reached the end of it’s production life the MBA must be declared the winner by walkover.
Memory. The MBA wins this with it’s 2BG vs 1.25GB maximum capacity. It looks like the memory chips on the MBA is onboard chips that are not replaceable, so when a RAM chip fail you must get the machine to the apple repair shop, while with the X1 you may just get a replacement RAM chip and pop it in. I said the MBA won, but it did not.
Ok. I guess I could go on and on with this. The key points are that the X1 is smaller, lighter and has a wider range of possibilities than the MBA. If I were to leave my 15″ MacBook Pro at home and go ultraportable and had to choose between a three years old design and a brand new super slick designer laptop I would choose the old one. Does not look that good, but is more practical. I am quite disappointed that Apple could not outcompete that three year old heap of silvery plastic, but they will probably sell quite good on their good looks and impressive thin-ness.