Surface Pro 3 vs MacBook Air

Max Sandoval

Max is a tech contributor and founder of http://asiangeeksquad.com.

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With the third iteration of the Surface Pro, has Microsoft finally developed an ultraportable to compete with Apple’s MacBook Air?

Design

If you have seen the MacBook Air, it hasn’t changed much since it first came out in 2009. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, considering the form factor of the MacBook Air has set the standard for slim laptops.

The Surface Pro 3 has changed dramatically in comparison to its earlier siblings. It is now bigger, sporting a 12-inch HD display (2160 x 1440), which is stunning in comparison the MacBook Air display (1366 by 768).

The main difference between these two devices is the flatness and thinness of the Surface Pro 3, which is uniform, as opposed to the MacBook Air, which tapers off at the edge. The Surface Pro 3 has a thickness of 0.36 inches (9.1 mm), the MacBook Air at its thinnest point is only 0.11 inches, but its thickest point (0.68 inches), its nearly twice as thick as a Surface Pro 3.

Personally, I like the 3:2 display and the overall flatness of the Surface Pro 3, the MacBook Air, while still the best in its class, has lost some of its allure due to its singular design since its inception.

Ports

With small form factors both of these devices fail to offer ports that are normally found in other laptops.

The Surface Pro 3 supports 1 full size USB 3.0, a microSD card reader, headset jack, mini display port (don’t forget the HDMI adapter) and cover port.

The MacBook Air supports 2 USB 3.0 ports, along with their proprietary Thunderbolt port and a headphone jack. The 11-inch model does not include any SD card support, but the 13-inch model does add full SD card port.

I give a slight edge to Surface Pro 3 due to the microSD card reader and mini display port; Apple cables are normally more expensive than their PC counterparts.

Portability

These two devices were built with portability in mind, weighing significantly less than other computing devices. The 11-inch model of the Apple MacBook Air weighs in at 2.38 pounds (1.08 kg); whereas, the Surface Pro 3 tablet, weighs 1.76 pounds (800 grams). However with the built in keyboard, these two devices are nearly identical in weight, with the Surface Pro 3 clocking in at 2.42 pounds (1.1 kg), slightly heavier (though not noticeable) than the MacBook Air.

The battery life were made to last a working day with these devices with 9 hours of battery life promised for each device.

In this category both deliver productivity on the go. #tied.

Specs

We compare the specs on the base models of the Surface Pro 3 and the Apple MacBook Air.

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From the base model specs alone, I recommend the MacBook Air, the paltry 64GB storage found in the Surface Pro 3 is a deal killer.

Price

The base model of the Surface Pro 3 is available for $799 and the base model of the MacBook Air costs $899.

While the Surface Pro 3 has a price edge based on the basic model, I wouldn’t recommend buying the basic model, with just 64GB of onboard storage, most of which will be taken up by the Windows 8 operating system, the 128GB model will cost $100 more than the MacBook Air at $999. In addition, to take advantage of the Surface Pro 3, you will need the Surface Pro 3 keyboard, which will set you back another $130, which erases any price advantage that the Surface Pro 3 has over the MacBook Air.

Unique Features
The MacBook Air comes installed with OS X Maverick that includes a host of free applications; such as, iPhoto, iMovie, GarageBand, Pages, Numbers and Keynote (the latter three Apple’s version of Word, Excel and Powerpoint).

The Surface Pro is more expensive, but comes with multi-touch screen capability, pen for drawing and writing and taking notes. Running Windows Pro 8.1, the touch friendly OS is surprisingly easy to use once you get over the learning curve.

Conclusion

The added functionality of a multi-touch screen, a new slim form factor, pen support, microSD card slot, and the HD display has made the Surface Pro 3 the new ultraportable to beat.

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