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SP3 vs Macbook Air - which should I buy (debate/compare but dont fight)


Active Member
I'm going to jump in and offer my opinion here, too.

I've supported both Macs and PC's in an enterprise environment and my experience is the opposite of Kif's. We would get called on to support the Macs maybe once per quarter, but were constantly fiddling with and working out problems on the Windows machines on an almost daily basis. Of course, YMMV.

Since you're dependent on Xcode and a long battery life, that leans very heavily towards the MBA.

You mention the SP3's touchscreen and lots of modern touch apps being available. Here, I must differ with your opinion. The touchscreen does add a little to the functionality of the SP3, but not really as much as I had hoped that it would. For me, I really only use the touchscreen when in tablet mode, and that's not really all that often. I mostly wind up using the SP3 as a notebook, which brings me to the end of your statement about the availability of touch-based apps. The main reason that I use the SP3 in notebook mode/style is because of the lack of touch-based apps. There simply aren't that many good apps available yet, and I find that most of my time is spent in legacy apps, particularly Office, where touch is simply too difficult and unreliable to use effectively. If you do any file management, you'll also find yourself using Windows File Explorer a lot, too, which isn't very touch-friendly.

As for note taking, I'd ask you a couple of questions. First, how good (clear) is your handwriting? Second, how fast is your handwriting? Again, for me, my handwriting is terrible and difficult for even me to interpret sometimes, let alone the computer. So, handwriting notes isn't much of a benefit to me. Also, I tend to write very small characters, and the SP3 seems to prefer larger writing, which, for me is unnatural. Finally, I'm a much faster typist than I am a handwriter, so taking notes on the keyboard is far better for me. You should consider these same things for your writing.

If you ever need to run Windows on a Mac, Parallels Desktop (or VMWare, second choice) are always there for you and do an excellent job of giving you both worlds at once. If you only occasionally need Windows, then you can just Bootcamp for free.

Hopefully this doesn't sound too much like I'm against the SP3. I do like the machine and find it interesting to use, but it is rather a Jack-of-all-trades, master of none type of machine in my book. I think the hardware is pretty great, but Windows 8.x leaves much to be desired. MS should have started over with a ground up new OS for Windows 8.x and touch and kept compatibility with all the former apps by providing VM support for Windows 7 or earlier releases. The way Windows 8.x is now, it's only half an OS and you still wind up in the desktop to complete many operations. With an entirely new OS, we could have lots of great new features, but still have access to all of the legacy stuff, and developers could have focused their efforts on new software rather than trying to straddle both worlds and split their resources or simply not bother with touch support.
Bandito - absolutely phenomenal post. Couldn't have said it better myself.

I can't remember the exact quote but my buddy once told me, apple didn't get to where they are by saying yes a thousand times. They got to where they are by saying no a thousand times. Apple is definitely master of their devices, plain and simple. Argue it all you want. There's a reason to all of their rhymes!


Active Member
So I believe that in terms of iPad vs Surface, the Surface blows the iPad out of the water. At the same time though I wouldn't recommend the Surface to someone like my elderly mother, I'd probably recommend the iPad because although it does far less, it would be easier for her to use and would (hopefully) require less maintenance.

You are probably correct, but I don't think there are too many elderly mothers lurking on this forum to take your advice. :rolleyes:


Active Member
The Air just seems ridiculous to me anyway. I mean, for just a bit more, I'd easily plop down the extra dough and get a rMBP 13. Half a pound more with a whopping 2 hours less battery life and you get much more machine, but hey, to each his/her own. I'll reiterate what most here already have... You've already made your mind up anyway, so even if it's subconsciously done... this thread is just troll bait. Head on down to the Apple Store when they announce the new 12" Air or whatever they're gonna call it, hand em your card, and be done with it. I can honestly say that I've never regretted any Apple purchase I've made, but in the same breath I'll say that I've never regretted the Surface Pro line either. I use the Touchscreen and pen both like crazy, but I can completely understand that there are many that won't/can't/don't.


I had a MBP 15 and it was a good not great. It never replaced my Windows PC even when I ran VM Fusion. It ran very hot to the point where it could not be on my lap.


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Staff member
I had a MBP 15 and it was a good not great. It never replaced my Windows PC even when I ran VM Fusion. It ran very hot to the point where it could not be on my lap.
Agreed and the Air runs hot too at times the fan sounds like a jet engine. Unacceptable for presentations.


Active Member
Ask yourself a simple question, for your day to day use what product would get the job done best and without any headaches for you?

Forget the pros and cons and what is coming out around the corner, I bet in less than a year we will see an SP4. Don't make purchasing decisions on technology based on what is coming out if you don't have a concrete date on product releases.

If you prefer OS X then there is nothing windows can offer that will make you prefer Windows, you already think windows OS is more buggy and OS X is less buggy. The hardware is very comparable, the one thing that isn't in your opinion are the operating systems.

I think you already know the answer.


The one thing the MBA cant do that the SP3 excels at is pen input. The OneNote integration is exceptional. If you are a student, artist or someone who takes a lot of handwritten notes then imo there are no real alternatives to the SP3. If you are primarily doing IOS development then the SP3 doesn't make a lot of sense. Having owned 13, 15 and currently a 17" MBP and Surface 2, SP2 and now an SP3, I can honestly say I don't miss the Mac. I almost never use the MBP anymore and have not found any limitations with the SPs.


Active Member
The MacBook Air doesn't have a retina display now, nor do I expect to any time soon. If it did then the MacBook Pro with Retina would be a pointless device really.

So based on the numbers now:

The highest pixel density you can get on a MBA is 135 which is the 1366 x 768 resolution of the 11" model.

For comparison a MacBook Pro with Retina display has a pixel density of 220 (15") and 227 (13").

The SP3 has a pixel density of 216, putting it on par with the MacBook Pros with retina, but way better than the MacBook Air.


Seeing as how I sold my MacBook Pro after using the SP3, I guess I've made my opinion known. I see no reason to have a MacBook Pro for what I use it for. The SP3 does everything my MB did. Now, if you're doing video editing on your MB, that's a different story. Then, no, you need the MB.


New Member
If you're just using a device for surfing the web, you should maybe look into a chrome book. They are cheap and will do what you need.

Otherwise, the MacBook Air is far superior. I mean, the pen is a gimmick in a sense. I dunno, seems like Microsoft picked up a pad of paper and pen and wrote down everything they could think of and crammed it into the surface the surface. Why do 20 things poorly when you can do 10 things perfectly like the MacBook Air achieves?

I'd say go with the more superior machine. The Air!