back to article Clash of the compacts: Eee vs Air

The hottest mobile products of the moment? Undoubtedly, Apple's MacBook Air and Asus' Eee PC. So how do these would-be pinnacles of ultra-portability compare? Let's take a look at the features each machine offers: There's no doubt, on the basis of the specs, the Air has the Eee licked on performance, usability, wireless …

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Happy

Air does have Ethernet

It has an adaptor that plugs into the USB port.

But you can buy five Eees for the price of an MacBook Air. No contest.

Oddly enough I think the Time Capsule was the most revolutionary thing yesterday. I does what many laptop owners have wanted, simply.

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Anonymous Coward

This seems a little weird to me...

They fill two very different definitions of portable. One is a pretty, light, laptop; the other is a robust sub-portable. The specs are about what one would expect for the two categories.

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Jobs Horns

They shrank it the wrong way

Who cares if the MacBook Air is so skinny? The Asus EEE wins for me because it's smaller - that's what I want from a subnotebook. Something that can fit in my satchel without poking out of the top.

I don't need a big screen or a full-size keyboard. I just need something quick and dirty to get me on the net to read my email, browse the web, and ignore Zombie invitations on Facebook.

The fact that it only costs 200 quid is a big bonus too. I bought one for my IT-luddite mother-in-law for Christmas at Toys R Us and she's over the moon. I know another senior citizen who has bought an Asus EEE after seeing it too.

I think once people see the Asus EEE in action, and realise it's a powerful and useful bit of kit for a neat price they'll find the price hard to resist.

Yes, the MacBook Air will look sexy as hell - but I wish they'd made it with a smaller screen and keyboard so it would have been a true subnotebook.

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Heart

Which would you clasp to your bosom?

Heheheheheh... nudge nudge, wink wink. But seriously, locked-down vs hackable and upgradeable? Mac OS vs whatever you feel like? Steve Jobs vs beach babe? Is there really a contest here?

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Thumb Up

I would have to go with the

Apple Macair because at least it will run Vista.

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jon

MacBook Air - Letter versus A4

I am assuming that Steve Jobs' showmanship will fall a little flat for the European launch of the MacBook Air - and its inability to squeeze into an A4 envelope rather than the legal standard as used in the US.

Any chance that the Euro ads with come with a small asterisk - stating the actual size of the envelope - just in case someone feels like suing him.

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Stop

Air only has 1 USB port - not 2 as in table

The Air only has a single USB port (just checked the Apple Store to be sure), not the 2 shown in the table - makes the 3 on the Eee look much better in that respect.

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Alert

corrections

The "standard" EeePC 4G does not have an analogue POTS modem. (It's got the connector in the port, but it's closed off with a rubber bung because there's no electronics connected to that). I believe the cheaper "Surf" variants have the modem actually present.

Also, the MacBook Air only has ONE usb2 port, NOT two. The other port next to the usb2 port is their "micro DVI" connector.

Another difference to note is proper wired-Ethernet ports. The Eee has one, the MBA does not. I know it's "all about the wireless", but it still feels notably absent.

Disclaimer: I'm a happy Eee owner.

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Thumb Up

Well...

Unlike many of the people who post here, I'd hate to make an uninformed and ignorant comment, and I haven't used either machine.

So, if El Reg can send me both an Eee and and Air I'll be in a much better situation to knowledgably comment.

Thanks a lot!

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Anonymous Coward

what a stupid comparison

Shameless search engine pimping, do some real fuckin journalism.

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Anonymous Coward

important question

Can I play frisbi with it? It looks like I could.

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Different strokes

These are two very different products aimed, I'd guess at two very different markets.

I mean, you wont want to do a full days work on an Eee, with hectic spreadsheets and corporate type applications - but you could easily do that on an Air.

I'd even hazard a guess that the Eee pitches more squarely at the iphone than at the Air.

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Paris Hilton

Um....

Can we have a picture of the girl on the beach with an Air?

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Anonymous Coward

However, the Eee takes the lead on

Plus being almost 1000 pounds cheaper, or four extra batteries, a well stocked spare parts bin and 100 quid left over for beer.

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Paris Hilton

Cut the mustard

One thing the Air can do that the Eee cannot is slice through flesh and bone. I can envisage the next James Bond film opening with a sequence in which Bond, carrying his Apple Airbook, uses it as a lethal frisbee. I'm sure it could be polished so as to deflect laser beams.

The Eee would not be a good film prop, except on hi-def DVD perhaps, because it is so small it would be invisible.

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Aren't we...

...comparing apples to oranges here? (/coat)

Seriously, the Eee has done well in its target market and I'm sure the Air will do well in its.

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Great comparison table...

Comparing 4GB SSD to 80GB HD seems a mite ridiculous. Granted, it covers the non-volatile storage media on both machines, but it becomes a little more involved when you consider that 1) the Eee's 4GB SSD is pretty much the biggest solid-state device that could conceivably have been issued as of late 2007 while keeping the machine's price impressively low and 2) the question of solid-state storage applies acutely to the Macbook Air, which (for the equivalent price of another TWO Eees) can be bought with 64GB of it. When 64GB SSDs finally do come to the component market in 2008, the price will undoubtedly be battered down over only a few months, whereupon I'll be able to put a 64GB mini-PCI-E SSD unit in the expansion slot on the bottom of my Eee without breaking too much of a financial sweat, while Air-buyers will probably still have to lower their trousers and bend over for a similar, but Apple-orientated privilege.

It would have been equally subjective and unhelpful to have included a row on your table marked "Solid State Storage?" - of course you could have gone a bundle on leading the reader by asking "Moving drive-heads which might dislodge in the event of a bump while the machine is suspended?" and then "How much needs to be paid to avoid this?". But I digress, unnecessarily facetiously.

Finally, and perhaps to show that I'm not unreasonably biased towards Asus' fantastic little machine (despite the Air appearing to be a pointless load of shite marketed exclusively towards coffee-shop-squatting wretches with money to burn), I should remark that the Eee doesn't *really* come with an analogue (or even an 'analog'!) modem in most/all regions. The port hole is there, plugged with rubber, but there's no circuitry behind it.

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Heart

Bla bla bla...

It looks pretty, there's no doubting that.

But I love my eeepc. As it's been said many times before, thin != small, thin == more likely to break.

Or at least thats my conclusion. Sure, maybe it's made of indestructibleness, I guess we'll all find out when someone actually gets their hands on one and can flex it a little without those mac security guards pooping themselves.

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Jobs Horns

surely a joke?

@ Abdul Omar

I would have to go with the Apple Macair because at least it will run Vista.

I pray that you clicked on the wrong picture.

I have to say that for the price they are charging I'd get something a bit thicker, slightly heavier, with a dvd burner.

People are correct when they say they are targeted at different markets. The EEE is targeting those that want a small device for working on the go, kids, old folk, the computer illiterate and schools.

The apple is targeted at tossers with more money than sense.

The differences in target market couldn't be clearer.

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jai

re: what a stupid comparison

there seem to be a lot of these pointless articles on the register today, just because it was macworld yesterday.

i think Dave is right - El Reg is just trawling for hits regardless of actually news content

but for what it is worth - i'll be choosing the Air over the EEE because at least the screen is big enough to play WoW on. sure, it's not going to run Crysis very well, but can anything yet? but a 7" screen is too small - there are portable dvd players with bigger screens than that

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Alert

how about a valid comparison...

Wouldn't it have been better to compare the Air against one of those ultra thin Sony laptops which will probably have similar screen size, processor, storage etc?

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Have done a full days work on an EEE

Granted I had it plugged into a 19" monitor and USB Mouse and keyboard, but I did it, with breaks just using the kit as supplied when in meetings.

Nifty and I could afford it. Couldn't afford the 1200 quid manila envelope.

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Happy

Couple of corrections

The Air comes with VGA and DVI dongles and has an Ethernet dongle available (for $25 I think).

Personally I'm getting an Eee soon. I can't justify the price of an Air, and it doesn't really solve a problem for me, but I wouldn't turn my nose up at one, and I know the kind of people for whom the Air would be perfect. Some people want light-weight and small but need a decent size keyboard and screen, while some of us just need really small, for whom the Eee is ideal.

Oh, and there is nothing to stop Jason Togneri install whatever he wants on the Air, same with the Eee (you can sort of run Mac OS on it if you are masochist).

(Smile icon because people on this site really need to chill out a bit)

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Coat

Both are great i think

I think both are great - at least they look it. But comparing them is just so el reg quality.

Air is for CEO's, sales dudes and rich student kiddies that want something light to road-warrior around with and do the bulk of their work on. I'm already lusting!

Eee is the ultimate casual-use laptop with 7inch screen and tiny keyboard and a UI that discourages installing additional apps. Brilliant for the apps it offers on it's home screen, as that's what it's meant for.

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@Matthew Johns

If it needs a special cable or a dongle to work, it simply isn't there. And in the case of ethernet it is much more so because you have to pay extra. So you might as well write that the Eee has bluetooth because you can plug a cheap dongle in...

As for mini-DVI: required another cable to use. So scrap it from the list...

End result: if you want to connect/use the macair, you need another bag that is much larger and heavier than the macair itself just to put in the extra stuff (read: ethernet dongle, usb hub, mini-DVI cable,...)

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Jobs Horns

typical apple charging us for air....

if steve jobs ever rules mars, we know who to blaim for not pressing the alien button...

but i mean com'on £1200 for a similar spec to what can be got at pc world for < £500, except the battery isnt replaceable and u get the full on non switched phone exchange fly lead look if u want to plug ne thing in....

reckon asus should get on phone to jiffy... that or somone should tell jobs he looks like a nob

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Coat

@Matthew Johns

"But you can buy five Eees for the price of an MacBook Air. No contest."

... and then you could set up a beowulf cluster!

Oh sorry, this isn't Slashdot, is it?

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Form over Function

As with most things Apple, its another case of form over function.

The only people who will be interested in this will be Apple fanbois and fashion victims.

Nobody with any interest is in doing real work will bother with this Apple techno-bling.

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Thumb Up

Pathetic

This is nothing but a blatant excuse to put that picture of the bird on the beach up again!

Keep it up El Reggers... :-D

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@ Abdul Omar

Apparently you *can* run Vista on a EEE, though why you'd want to do that is beyond me....

http://www.modaco.com/content/Asus-Eee-PC-http-www-EeEasy-com/261965/Installing-Vista-on-the-Eee-ive-done-it-and-it-works/

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Happy

Brain dead

Who'd bring out a laptop with only *one* USB port?

Give me a eeePC.

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No modem on the EEE

The EEE has a space for a modem, but it doesn't appear in the item as sold.

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An Apples to eeePears comparison

5x faster, 3x better screen resolution, 4x screen size, 4x the RAM and built-in bluetooth for 5.5x the price. Thus far, it is more or less balanced.

The RAM and bluetooth advantage can be voided by spending 100€ in RAM and a BT dongle, reducing the price ratio to only 4.5x for a similar speed and screen advantage.

but then...

no Ethernet, only 1 USB (eee has 3), no modem, no expandable RAM, no mini-PCI, no card reader, 1.5x the weight (though similar volume), and no preinstalled apps, and the fact that the price is not only higher, but really far out of any sensible budget.

Adding apples to pears and dividing by oranges, the winner is...

the eeePC!

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eeePC too small for me

I have a Vaio T1XP and for a small 'proper' laptop, it's ideal. I wish I'd got the memory upgrade for it whilst it was still available but otherwise it suits my needs nicely.

If I was going for a 13" screen (the T1XP has a 10.6" screen/1.38kg) I'd go for a slimline Vaio or HP (having seen my mates) as they cost around £700 ~ £800, have a built in optical drive and various other things and are much easier to upgrade and still only way around 2kg.

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The Air seems to be in one of the reusable envelopes

used by HMRC.

Has it been checked for the two missing CDs?

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Stop

Comment? No comment...

I look at the MBA, and realise that it's definitely not for me. However, there's no point me (or any of you, for that matter) spewing vitriolic Mac-hate bile all over it, because, if your first reaction is a sort of baffled and offended rage, then you're clearly not the target audience.

The target audience don't particularly care what you think, either, because they think you're just you're a lonely, passive-agressive geek, with 'social issues'/a drink problem/probably both'. You're the sort of person who sees someone driving a big BMW or Mercades and declares (in a very loud voice) that your Lada is just as good. Alright, sado: it's a car. Why not get your mother to do a lapdance routine for you? After all, she's a woman?

The very fact that you can dedicate your time to vomiting hate all over a product that you've no intention of buying simply shows that you're not someone that this thing's target audience would want to even share a town with. get over it, I have.

You did all this over the bloody phone, remember? The phone sold a quarter of a million units in its first quarter. This will probably do the same. There's absolutely nothing wrong with products that sell a quarter of a million units a quarter. If you think there is, then it's just further evidence that you're better off staying in your basement, hacking the registry on your Vista box to get it to boot faster, or rewriting the XFConfig file on your Linux machine.

That girl on the beach? She's really a Mac Book Air user. that's why she's on the beach, and you're in your basement.

Personally, I predict many happy grannies, with Asus EEEs, and gorgeous blondes suddenly expressing an interest in multi-function USB hubs.

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Anonymous Coward

Battle of the 'A's

The real cons for the Air is the battery issue and the price, you got a USB port for everything else. However, on the plus side you're not stuck with some w*nk OS and a laptop that looks like a GCSE project ...

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Jobs Horns

Eee for me

I was going to buy a Mac Book Pro, so I could have a decent lappy with a different OS to learn. ultimately I felt that £2k was just too much for something that wouldn't really be used to its full potential - so I bought an EEE and don't think I could have done better. 8Gb SDHC card fitted with the second series of the IT crowd on it (downloaded from my Humax PVR) - check. Bluetooth added for connection to Mobe and GPS - check. WINE installed to support Windows programs when I need them - check. Does everything I want, simple interface and complicated at the click of a button, small, light, cute, expandable and - get this - realtively easy to type on (can't touch type). My Wife (definite non-geek) wants one - nuff said.

Vs the Apple which is quite a bit bigger (not a sub-notebook IMHO), has one USB port (huh?), needs a dongle to connect to any monitor (I just need a VGA cable) and has a sealed in battery (my Ipod battery has just failed again so I wouldn't want a PC with a non replaceable one.) This isn't innovative, isn't clever and is massively overpriced!! I like Apple's stuff, but this one's a pup. Go EEE go!

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Ian

Is the spec difference even relevant?

At the end of the day what are you going to do with the Air's additional power that you can't do with the Eee PC?

The Air isn't well specced enough for games and whilst you could do photoshop and such fairly okay on it the screen is too small for anything serious.

You're left with the usual suspects, movies, music, internet, office, development - all of with the Eee PC can do as well as the Air.

I think ASUS has cottoned onto the fact that if you aint gonna do graphical stuff - which you're not on a notebook unless you go high end like Dell's XPS series then you really don't need a high spec machine. Apple however is still ignoring this reality and has end up with a laptop that doesn't really do anything well - it's still too big (and honestly looks to flimsy) to carry around in a bag, it's still too low spec for graphical stuff but overkill in spec for the day to day stuff it is capable of.

As has been said if you're going to pay that much for the air, you're going to instead get a proper laptop that includes a DVD burner, better hardware all round and still costs less. If however you want an ultra-portal computer you're going to get either an Eee PC, a PDA or a Smart phone all for 1/5th the price of the Air.

The Air is arguably the most pointless product brought to the market in a fair while, however I wont write it off just yet as much in the way the iPod was an extremely cut down MP3 player compared to others at the time it still managed to become extremely successful. Luckily for Apple, gullibility is apparently rife in the human population.

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Missing the point ...

The element that doesn't figure in the comparison is the software. I sure as hell wouldn't want to use the EEE's ropey OS on a daily basis, although someone has managed to port Tiger to the EEE so I suppose you could run with that as an alternative. Generally speaking any hardware comparison is, by definition, not going to tell the whole story. The added benefit of having an intelligent, mature and flexible OS at your disposal easily accounts for 75% of the justification of spending £1200. (The other 25% is that it looks better than any other laptop I've seen.)

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:( boo!

i want a new 12" powerbook-like machine :-(

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Jobs Horns

Eee for mee

So, if Mr Jobs posts that to himself, in an unpadded envelope, what chance of it being usable when it's put through his letterbox?

A few years back Compaq made a nice little sub-notebook with flash memory called the Aero. Wonder if they could sue...?

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Dead Vulture

Give me a break

The MacBook Air could be the primary and sole computer for most computer users. The EEE could not, no matter how many ports it's got. When someone is at home or the office and needs all those USB ports, they can have a hub on their desk with everything connected, but when on the road, the average mobile PC user doesn't connect more than one USB device at any given time. If you are one of those VERY few who actually needs to, then a) don't get a MacBook Air, or b) buy yourself one of those portable USB hubs.

I think the EEE PC is 'neat', but I certainly wouldn't cherish using it all the time for anything more than web surfing, email and IM. Forget managing your photos, or a decent music library, or running any REAL applications at full speed.

Frankly, I think the whole comparison is a joke and if you can't understand why the MacBook Air costs more than the EEE, then you really don't have a strong grasp of technology.

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Unhappy

this has me stumped

What does Apple have against replaceable batteries? I find it really hard to believe that it is an engineering hassle to design a system where the battery can be removed and swapped by the user, since Apple have overcome so many other problems. It can't be a cost issue, given the huge margins on Apple products. So what is it, then? Are they loath to add new items to inventory rolls? Is it an aesthetic eyesore they would rather not live with? My money is on the aesthetics, because we have seen before how they prefer to limit useability rather than cut corners (literally) with aesthetics, as in the case of the headphone jack on the iPhone.

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Jobs Horns

@ This has me stumped

No replaceable battery? Because it builds in planned obsolescence, that's why. You're much more likely to upgrade to Steve's new machine in a couple of years when your Air is only getting 45 minutes of battery life.

Bugs the crap out of me too.

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Happy

EEEPC wins

I own an eeepc (white) and a Sony TZ (with Ubuntu!). The Sony is fantastic--I think better than the Air (smaller overall, includes a built-in DVD). However, on the road, I still take the eee 90% of the time.

Why? It's very small and light, and very tough. And if it's lost or stolen, I'm only out 400 bucks. By the way, my eee pc runs the CPU dynamically from 125MHz up to 900MHz, not a fixed 650 as reported in the article.

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Air

With the SSD option, the MacBook Air is now a geek lust object. Too bad you can't afford it, but oh if you could, you'd be the envy of every geek. But you can just afford the sucky iPod-style drive. Oh well.

This is what makes products lust objects. Jobs and Ives know it.

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Silver badge
Boffin

Happy EEE owner

I was an early eee adopter and nabbed one in December last year (701a model for you eee fanatics out there - eat your hearts out - haha) . I love it. Its by no means perfect, but you can't beat the price to usability ratio. Granted, I am an IT type, and immediately went to advanced desktop mode and ultimately to Ubuntu. and the 2GB RAM upgrade only cost $70 US.

The air does look pretty cool in its thinness, but I bought the eee for ultimate portability as I ride a motorcycle or bicycle to and from work daily. I can stuff the eee, its wall wart, a USB laptop drive enclosure, a USB key, extra network cable and a USB/SD card reader all into a portable dvd bag. Good luck doing that with the air... oh, and I can have an extra battery on hand in case I have a long day around the office and can't get to the charger. WTF Apple? built in battery in a laptop? Who in their right mind is going to want to give up their laptop for 2 weeks while it goes through the queue for battery replacements. And heaven forbid if there is ever a flaming battery issue....

I agree that the air would be more suitable as a full time PC than the EEE, but I have a desktop at home and a dual monitor setup at work, so who cares....:)

And then there is the price....

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Not a real subnotebook

For two reasons:

1. The screen is too big and the form factor ain't exactly smaller than the MacBook (it's thinner, yes, but not smaller).

2. For what a subnotebook is supposed to do, only the Asus Eee PC gets the pricing right. Who would want to pay more than $800 for something that is inherently crippled?

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Silver badge

The other comparision...

You can buy 10 Eees for the price of 1 Air.

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