I own neither and own both Apple and Android products, so I think it’s time for a side-by-side factual comparison of these recently launched tablets…
In a nutshell, the facts show the following “pros”…
Apple iPad Mini
Larger display dimensions
Smaller overall dimensions
Dual band WiFi
Google Nexus 7
Higher screen resolution (and, as a result, PPI)
This excludes what facts don’t show. Everyone, without exception, will talk about the quality of the iPad Mini. The Nexus 7 isn’t bad, but just not to the same level as the Apple (as is usually the case with their products).
I also note that the smaller size of the iPad means a small bezel. This isn’t necessarily a good thing as tablets are held by hand, not by fingertip was with a phone. A small bezel may mean often launching apps or flipping through a page of a book by mistake1.
The iPad Mini lacking a retina screen is odd, but probably just a marketing ploy to get you to buy the “New iPad Mini” next year. However, it is difficult to avoid those prices. Yes, you pay for the quality of the product. But you also need to take buy cialis online into account what you don’t get too – a high resolution screen and GPS for a start.
Yes, the Nexus 7 lacks a rear camera but, personally, people taking pictures with tablets really do look stupid. Stick to your phone. Or a camera. It’s a little heavier, but not by a great deal.
If I had the money now to buy either, it would be the Nexus 7.
Although published mid-December the above was actually written a month previous. I have now purchased a Nexus 7 – I guess I found the benefits too beneficial
Apple say they’ve accomdated this with software that will take this into account – none-the-less I’ve ready many reports of people having such a problem anyway [↩]
a retina version was probably due imminently but decided, based upon the 15″ retina version, that the additional changes made as well wouldn’t suit me.
Now the retina version has been announced I thought it worth re-visiting.
Below is a comparison of the non-retina and retina base models. The 2nd non-retina version is based upon the base model but with an SSD and extra memory, bringing it more inline with the retina version and giving a better price comparison.
Other than the retina display, the new model doubles the base memory (although I haven’t had a any problems with the 4GB that came with mine), replaces the solid state drive with an SSD (although only 128GB, so I hope you’re not intending to store too much on it), removes the optical drive and modifies which ports are available (removes Firewire but adds HDMI and an extra Thunderbolt). Battery life is the same.
The big issue, for me, with this new model is the fact that Apple have made it thinner and lighter – down from 2.06 to 1.62 kg (a 22% reduction). Why an issue? Because, by making these changes they’ve had to make changes internally which means the battery is glued in place and the memory inaccessible – no upgrading for you! And bear in mind this is the Pro model. For professionals. The kind of people who’d probably want to upgrade their memory or change the battery.
And it blurs the lines with the Air model – that’s supposed to be the slim and lithe model.
Once upgraded with a similar specification the retina version isn’t too bad, price wise. However, you then only really have the screen as an advantage and that’s still costing you an extra £210. Is it worth it? And don’t forget to achieve this you’ve had to upgrade memory which you may not actually need and change to a SSD with limited space.
No, I’m happy with what I bought. Now, if they’d left the Pro as it was but gave it a retina screen for a little more, I may been tempted but at 44% more for the base model, it’s way too costly.
Benchmark results for the Retina and non-Retina versions are now available and they show… not much difference. On the base 13″ models, the Retina version scores 0.4% higher than the non-Retina equivalent.
Which is odd because although they have the same processor the Retina has twice as much memory and an SSD drive.
Maybe that higher resolution screen is slowing things down
A few months ago Apple released updated versions of its MacBook Pro range. The 17″ model was scrapped and the remaining models received USB 3, faster memory and new, quicker Ivy Bridge processors with improved GPUs. They also introduced a retina version (a so-called “Third Generation” MacBook Pro) of the 15″ model, and this was the one that the press concentrated on.
The one model that was retained but hasn’t yet had a retina version created is the 13″, although it’s rumoured that one may be announced in the next month.
Why buy the “standard” model over a retina version (or in the case of the 13″, why not wait)? Unfortunately, the retina model isn’t just a screen resolution change. Yes, it also gets a solid state drive but it also loses its optical drive, a number of ports and the battery and memory are no longer upgradable. And these are the things I wanted. The new retina models are, for some reason, more like the MacBook Air, rather than being a very distinctive model.
So, I bought a 13″ MacBook Pro. Even this, though, isn’t the only decision as there are 2 versions available – Core i5 and Core i7, the former with 4GB of memory and the latter with double this. I bought the former – the Ivy Bridge, turbo-boosting i5 is more than enough for what I need it for and I can upgrade the memory later if I feel I need to. Finally, buying it from Apple allowed me to make further configuration changes – I had a 128GB SSD installed installed of the standard 500GB hard drive.
The specifications for the 13″ are a 1440×900 resolution screen, 4GB 1600 MHz RAM, 2.5GHz Intel Core i5, Intel HD Graphics 4000 graphics, 802.11a/b/g/n WiFi and Bluetooth 4. The 128GB SSD runs via a 6 Gbit/s SATA interface and a “Superdrive” provides slot-in CD and DVD reading and writing duties.
Connections are an SD card slot, 2 x USB 3 ports, Thunderbolt port, Gigabit Ethernet, Firewire 800 and an audio line out (the line in port is only on the 15″ model).
The whole thing is 325×227x240mm (WxDxH) and weighs just 2kg. This compares to my Lenovo Edge 11 at 1.3kg – but this was an 11″ plastic build without
an optical drive. The MacBook, in comparison, has a metal “unibody” construction. And that construction really is superb – it feels incredibly solid and looks fantastic. The keyboard is a joy to use – I’ve found it easier to use than any other keyboard before and the screen is bright and sharp. Above it, embedded in the bezel, is an HD camera.
The touchpad too, something I never really warmed to on Windows laptops, comes into its own on the Macbook – I quickly found myself scrolling and flicking my way around applications using various multi-touch gestures. The sheer size of the touchpad is an advantage, although the lack of a physical mouse button (let alone two) takes a while to get used to. Now, when using my wife’s Samsung laptop, I have to stop myself from attempting to 2-finger scroll through web-pages.
Battery life is fantastic – I’m regularly being shown a 7 hour battery life, although it does never appears to last that long (I suspect that’s due to my over-use of the fantastically quick “sleep” option, rather than shutting it down).
What I really like about the MacBook,though, are the little touches that, on their own, aren’t of any importance but together show a lot of though has gone into it. On one side, for instance, is a metal button – press this and the current battery level is briefly shown via a series of LEDs next to it. There’s also the backlit keyboard, the brightness of which can be controlled by a series of keys.
The MagSafe power connector, held in place by magnetism, is designed to come straight out if pulled (rather than drag your MacBook onto the floor). A charge light, indicating status, is also integrated into the tiny connector. All of this is connected to a white, plastic “brick” power connector. Ingeniously a mains plug can be connected to this allowing you to plug this directly into the wall or a separate cable can be added so that it’s part way along the cable, as with traditional laptop chargers. If you use the former method the cable is shorter but it can be wrapped around 2 arms that can be pulled out of the charger (see gallery image).
Packaging, this is as you’d expect from Apple – all about presentation with the MacBook on display as soon as you open the top of the box. A foam insert on the lid holds it in place. Other than some small leaflets, including a quick start guide, the MacBook and charger are all you get.
Environmentally, the use of cardboard is not too bad and plastic has been kept to a minimum But that foam insert is not very good. Other manufacturers would use card to hold the laptop in place – however, for Apple that would obscure that first glance at the MacBook as you open the box up. There’s also a plastic insert in which the Mac sits too – when a cardboard solution could have been used, this is disappointing.
Other annoyances include the magnetic catch which holds the MacBook closed – a great idea but having to prise it apart with my nails is silly. Also, the rubber feet underneath are large but not “grippy” enough – I found my MacBook slipping around desktops far too often.
However, these are minor and I really have nothing else to criticise it for. Well, other than the price. At the time of this review the model I bought, with SSD is £1159 (inc. VAT). With a standard 500GB HDD this drops to £999 but that’s still very expensive for what is, after all, just a modestly sized and powered laptop.
Summary of Apple MacBook Pro 13"
Fast, fantastic looking and, for the moment, upgradable I’d recommend this MacBook over even the Retina version. As hard as other laptops try to compete, they’re going to struggle against this. But that premium price that Apple charges is always going to make people look elsewhere, no matter how good it is.