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The laptop is no longer a luxury item but a necessary tool to conduct day-to-day business. Yes, they can also play games, but more importantly, it carries your livelihood and is a way to present your ideas to the world. Basically, the laptop is the bicycle for your mind.
Yes, there are powerful, bulky gaming laptops that can rival desktops in terms of performance, power consumption, and features, but the real workhorse that moves the planet around are the smallish, light portable laptops that basically we call business laptops. We explore the best sub $1,200 laptops that run Windows and macOS: Apple’s MacBook Air with M2 and Lenovo’s ThinkPad T14.
Main article: MacBook Air M2
The MacBook Air is Apple’s best-selling laptop and perhaps the best laptop in the world, with good reason: It is very portable, has high build quality, and the specs are quite impressive for the price point. And for the most part, the laptop has almost no comparison: For the base price of $1,200, you have an aluminum body laptop with a Retina display and best-in-class performance.
When Apple introduced the M1, it took the world by storm by even besting the top Intel chip at the time. Of course, Intel has stuck back with even more powerful (and power-hungry) chips, but for a 10-watt chip, the newer M2 remains unbeatable.
With Apple’s tight integration between software and hardware, the MacBook Pro offers a unique experience: TouchID to unlock your Mac, MagSafe to safely charge the laptop, Retina display so a picture will pop out, and colorful aluminum bodies to match your expressive nature.
The IBM line of ThinkPad laptops (which was later acquired by Lenovo) is basically the business laptop for corporate and road warriors alike. The design is so ahead of its time that many elements of the original ThinkPad 700 has been carried over and can be seen even after four decades of iterations: the black block high-quality plastic design, the yellow power input port, the red dot on the keyboard (officially named TrackPoint, but later have many derogatory names), and durability that it can survive the office environment like a coffee spill, being dropped (or smashed).
There are many versions of the ThinkPad line, but the one that is a staple for business warriors is the ThinkPad T14 generation 3 laptop which is powered by a 12th-generation Intel Core. Yes, an update is coming soon, but that’s where we are now.
The T14 base spec looks very basic, but unlike Apple, there’s a lot of headroom to upgrade the laptop. You can spec almost everything in the laptop, from the base 256GB solid-state storage to 2TB, 48GB of memory, retina-like display, infrared camera, and two types of battery. The possibilities are endless…
- Durability: While the MacBook Air has an edge in build quality with the aluminum chassis, the Lenovo is far more durable. The high-quality plastic might look cheap, but if you bump something, aluminum will stay bent while plastic will rebound.
- Customizable: The MacBook Air has a sleek profile, but good luck trying to upgrade anything internal on the MacBook Air. Yes, the MacBook Air with the M2 is sufficiently powerful to run anything, but even upgrading the storage is impossible. You can basically change anything with the ThinkPad.
- Repairability: Apple has committed to making their Macs more repair friendly but it is basically in Apple’s own restrictive terms. Lenovo on the other hand, gives out the repair manual right out the gate.
For MacBook Air
- Ecosystem: The strongest reason to use the MacBook Air is Apple’s ecosystem which is second to none. MacBook Air by itself is a great product, but if you have the iPhone, AirPods, and Apple Watch, the experience is unlike any other. Unlock with your Apple Watch, audio goes straight to AirPods the moment you put them on your ears, iMessage seemly synchronize, and the ecosystem experience is nothing like on Windows.
- Low Power performance: Apple’s own design, with its tight integration between hardware and software, makes the MacBook Air a miracle. It’s the only ultralight laptop that uses passive cooling, but is powerful enough to edit RAW 4K video files. Performance that even Lenovo would dream of.
- High-quality input/output: The Lenovo might have a 4k screen, but that configuration is higher priced. The Lenovo might have the TrackPoint red button mouse thing, but the Magic TrackPad on the MacBook Air is superior. Despite the smaller size, the speakers on the MacBook Air are uncanny. And you get all these high-quality inputs and output devices even at the base price.
So which is the better laptop? It depends on your use case. If you value durability, need to work on a Windows platform, or would like to customize the internals in a few years of using the laptop, then the Lenovo is the way to go
If you value performance, and portability would like a nicer keyboard, mouse, and screen combo, and love doing some light video editing on the go, then the MacBook Air is the way to go.
The most important thing in deciding on the right laptop is to examine your workflow and try to match your workflow with the right device. Both are excellent tools that enhance your life, but choosing the right tool for the job is essential.
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