Let’s be clear from the start: Apple makes the best smartphone money can buy. It also makes the best tablet and the best ultraportable laptop. Beautiful to look at, a delight to use and fashioned with precision from nothing but premium materials, the iPhone, iPad and MacBook Air triumvirate represents the very pinnacle of mobile computing.
So why look any further? Well, truth be told, most people shouldn’t. But we’re guessing that our readers, with a gnawing urge for individuality, may share our growing frustration with Apple: the ubiquity of its products.
Look around any London tube carriage, any boardroom, any branch of Starbucks and you’d be forgiven for thinking that Apple (until relatively recently the underdog) was the only game in town. Everyone, it seems, is carrying a gadget designed in Cupertino – prompting us to recall the words of General Patton: “If everyone’s thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.”
So, what is a thinking man to do?
There are probably only two devices capable of putting up a credible fight against the MacBook Air. The first, is the Samsung Series 9.
The Korean company has been bold with the looks of its ultraportable. The Series 9 has a deep black case and sharp angled edges that give it a strong identity. To look at it is to want one. It’s well-built (using a very solid-feeling material used in aircraft called duralumin), has a backlit keyboard, and an incredibly high quality 400 nit LCD screen.
But this gorgeous, 0.64 inch thin, device’s appeal isn’t just skin deep. It packs quite a bit of horsepower under the hood too – with a Core i5-2537M processor, 128GB solid-state memory and 4GB of RAM.
Desirable though the Series 9 is, we think it’s narrowly beaten by another product from the resurgent Sony: the Vaio Z.
At .66 inches thin, the Vaio cuts a dashing figure next to its Samsung or Apple peers. And yet it also crams in a top-of-the-range Intel i7 processor and 512 GB of solid-state memory. The result? It’s very fast indeed. And the Sony also has the ability to transform, via an optional dock, into a more powerful workstation. You won’t see Apple offering that any time soon.
In all honesty, we can’t say that we’re ready to give up our iPhone, iPad and MacBook Air just yet. But if the day comes when we can stand being sheep no more, the options above are the only way to go.
This article originally appeared in Magnificent Man, December 2011
Beyond Cupertino: Venturing off the well-trodden path to Apple’s door – Part III
We’re guessing that our readers, with a gnawing urge for individuality, may share our growing frustration with Apple: the ubiquity of its products. So, here’s are guide to the best alternatives. In Part III, we look at ultraportable laptops.
Our founder and editor-in-chief, the self-proclaimed "greatest wit, raconteur and bon vivant of our age", borders on delusional. Over the years, the fool has squandered more money on fast cars, Swiss watches and electronic gadgetry of all kinds than he – or Mrs Fool – cares to remember. Come nightfall, he can invariably be found stumbling out of Dukes mumbling “just one more Martini; I could have handled just one mmmmm… [thud!]”
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