Oct 31, 2018 — by: Mark Reschke


Steve Jobs had a simple notion. Build out a four quadrant computer offering. A pro level desktop and notebook, and a consumer level desktop and notebook. It worked like magic compared to the dozens of Mac models Apple had floating around (most of which no one wanted, or highly desired models Apple couldn't supply). Today is Tim Cook's Apple. Rather than simplify the product lineup, Cook has widely expanded Apple's options, providing choice over simplicity. The shift in direction seems to have literally paid off – but the jury is still out when it comes to Apple's notebook lineup.

The MacBook Air was a marvel of engineering when released in 2008. But over time the model languished, as did most of Apple's entire Mac line – the company seemingly distracted with other programs. In 2015, with the MacBook Air beginning to show its age, Apple launched an all-new 12-inch MacBook. It leaped over the MacBook Air in terms of thin and light, making the wedged wonder seem dated and bulky. Surely this was the replacement for the MacBook Air. Only it wasn't...

The MacBook, being everything the MacBook Air wishes it were, never branched out into a 13" or 14" model to fully replace the MacBook Air. Over the next few years the MacBook Air continued to stagnate and became the price conscious buyer's Mac notebook.

What was Apple doing?

What is Apple doing today? 

With the arrival of the all-new MacBook Air, state-of-the-art roles between it and the MacBook have now been flipped. It also raises an obvious question as to why there still a MacBook in Apple's lineup? When compared to the new MacBook Air, the 12-inch MacBook is only slightly thinner and smaller, weighs only .75lbs less than the Air, yet starts at $100 more. Oh, and the MacBook is also slower and comes with only one connectivity port, while the Air has two USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 ports. The MacBook has no Touch ID or Apple T2 security co-processor, which the MacBook Air boasts loudly about. The differences between the two models begin to add up and should have everyone wondering why an aging 12-inch MacBook costs more than the new MacBook Air?! Truly bizarre.

Just for fun, Apple's also lobbed in a little more confusion, and also offers a 13-inch MacBook Pro for $1,299. It has a bit more dual-core processing power and superior graphics compared when compared to the entry level MacBook or MacBook Air, but its battery life has been documented to be – at best – poor, and it's a decently bulky notebook in today's world.

Apple has three models, all starting at $1,199 or $1,299, with slightly different form factors and specifications that make little to no rhyme or reason when looking at them side-by-side. One of them has Touch ID and the latest Intel processor and Pro-level 13-inch display, but it isn't the Pro model, these technologies arrive in the entry-level MacBook Air. The Pro model is this one without Touch ID and has older specifications. Meanwhile, there is the more costly MacBook that doesn't really have anything the other two MacBooks offer other than being slightly smaller with fewer ports... Confused? You should be. It's a strange world in the land of Apple's notebook offerings.

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