Apple’s popular MacBook Air set the bar for years for what you could expect from a $1,000 laptop and gave you a great entry point into MacOS without having to shell out for an iMac or MacBook Pro. However, PC makers have caught up to the Apple laptop and, in some cases, surpassed what’s possible for an ultraportable laptop.
Despite having what’s arguably the best computer operating system around, MacOS, Apple rarely delivers the best value on major components (processor, RAM and hard drive capacity), battery life, ports and connections. And the Apple MacBook Air doesn’t offer a touchscreen option — a useful feature found on an increasing number of competitive models, as well as Apple’s own wildly popular iPad and iPad Pro.
All six laptops highlighted below as MacBook Air alternative options cost roughly as much as Apple’s MacBook Air, have a 13.3-inch or slightly larger screen, weigh less than 3 pounds (1.4 kg), and are reasonably streamlined and stylish. Each will make a worthy alternative to a new MacBook. Check them out.
A superb Windows laptop
Dell XPS 13
If you’re a Windows person and want a balance of portability, power and price, it’s hard to find a better laptop than the XPS 13. Starting at $1,000, this lightweight laptop is attractive, easy to use, incomparably slim and offers a ton of configuration (and price) flexibility. In 2020, Dell put in a taller 13.4-inch display screen giving you a little more room to see your spreadsheets, but still managed to make the body overall smaller. That said, that taller display also improves users’ web browsing and streaming experiences on this Dell laptop. Dell also makes a 15-inch version, which starts at $1,000.
Read our Dell XPS 13 (2020) review.
Strong battery, great keyboard
HP Spectre x360 13
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Regularly available for less than $750, this thin, 3-pound convertible is a solid choice for anyone who needs a laptop for office or schoolwork. The all-metal chassis gives it a premium look and feel and it has a comfortable keyboard and responsive, smooth precision touchpad. Though the device is light on extra features compared to its premium linemate, the C940, it does have one of Lenovo’s sliding shutters for its webcam that gives you privacy when you want it. And it has a long battery life to boot.
Read our Lenovo Yoga C740 (14-inch) review.
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Josh Goldman / CNET
Featuring AMD’s Ryzen 4000 series mobile processors, the Swift 3 is a remarkable bargain for anyone in need of a low-cost, lightweight laptop for work or school. This 14-inch laptop weighs only 2.7 pounds (1.2 kg), costs around $600 and has processor performance that bests laptops twice its price. As you might expect, a couple of corners were cut to keep the price down on the Acer Swift, but if price, performance and weight are your main concerns, this device will have you covered.
Read our Acer Swift 3 (14-inch, 2020) review.
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