Vern with Two Apple MacBooks

Which MacBook is better for writers?

That’s what I set out to answer as I compared these two computers.

The MacBook Pro retina 13-inch and the MacBook Air 11-inch are obviously different machines, but if you are ready to choose between MacBook notebook computers, you should watch this review.

Now that I own both of these MacBooks, there is no reason I’d ever buy the 13-inch Air, and I’m glad I didn’t do so before I had the retina 13. The Air 13 doesn’t offer anything better than either of these machines. If you’re considering the 13-inch Air – just get the retina 13 Pro. If your eyes are good and you want the ultralight style – get the 11-inch Air. You won’t be unhappy.

Now, if you NEED great resolution to see your photography as you edit, or need the power of a decent processor to render your photo or video edits – get the Pro 13 Retina.

I decided to do a video about twenty-five key differences between these machines that are significant, and that may affect your purchase decision.

I had the Air 11-inch for over a year, and the retina 13 for just about 40 days now. I have used both extensively. There are some obvious differences between them and not just the size and weight.

Here are the 25 Key Differences between MacBook Air and Retina computers:

1. Size and shape of screens. 1 1/8″ difference on width. 1 3/8 difference on height. 1 3/4 diff on diagonal.

2. Brightness of screen – the Pro is brighter, considerably brighter.

3. Glare of screen – black background and lighter. Seems same to me. I don’t see any difference at all. You’ll catch a little more glare just because the size of the screen is bigger, but that’s the only reason. The strength of the glare in my office seems same on both – very little. While using both screens outside in the daylight – not bright sun, I found no difference between them.

4. Colors of screen – miraculous for photo and video editing. You wouldn’t want anything less. Using retina resolution at default and others. The best is the default – which looks awesome. Not much different than 11-inch Air.

5. Contrast of screens, straight out of the box, the Retina has black blacks and blue whites. The Air has grey blacks and white whites.

6. Clarity of text on both screens – no big difference. But the contrast of the Retina makes text easier to read. The sharpness of the Retina makes very small font much easier to read.

7. Keyboard key travel is more on Pro. Nicer to type on the Air.

8. Speed of typing on each – 74 on retina. 85 on air. Spacing a little different. Can get used to either one. I find I’m more accurate on the Air’s keyboard, it might be because I’ve only had a month on the Pro. I think the difference is due to the key travel differences.

9. Pro keys are slightly harder to press down. More effort needed. Air keys are lighter and yet you know when you pressed a key.

10. Weight is very different – picking up, traveling, Pro is not magic… Air feels like magic. Amazing. MacBook Pro after having Air is like having a regular heavy computer.

11. Trackpad differences? Size of Pro is larger (deeper) same width. Neither has any palm rest problems when typing at all.

12. Heat – retina does get warmer. Do full screen Youtube video 1080p. Pro is warmer on top and bottom, Not uncomfortably warm.

13. Size and weight of A/C power cords. Pro is heavier and bigger. Same cord length.

14. A/C plug magnets much stronger on Pro, annoyingly loose on the Air – but not much effect in real world use.

15. Sharpness of palm rest area. raised up height at end of palm rest – some say on the Pro it is a problem.

16. The angled keyboard of the Air feels nicer.

17, The shallower height on the Air feels nicer for typing.

18. Air charges significantly faster. That is one thing I definitely noticed. I don’t have data on it. Probably takes another hour.

19. Speed between the two on typical applications – no big difference. Browser speeds are very close. Everything is very close, except photo and video editing.

20. Sound quality – Significant difference. Pro is so much better,  especially the deeper tones.

21. Sound volume – 10-15db more on the Pro (my guess) through speakers and again, another 10 or so using headphones – same headphones.

22. Seeing the bottom of my writing – the last line – is blocked on Pro Just when typing at desk and I’m slouching like I sometimes do!

23. The SD card slot is nice. All the extra ports are nice on the Pro.

24. Using the Air on your lap – it’s too damn light and slippery. Using the Pro – it sits on there better.

25. It’s too easy to feel like I’m jarring the Pro every time I set it down on something solid. It just feels – sounds – less solid. Wife dropped the Air from 5-6 feet and it was fine. The Pro – I’m sure it would be quite a bit more damaged. Air is more solid feeling.

Freebie – the Pro screen opens up 2-3 degrees more than the Air. I notice this when I put the computer on the floor and sit with it.

Another freebie tip – DON’T get the TUCANO grey/silver neoprene MacBook second-skin sleeve – looks like been through  war.

Here is the MacBook I currently recommend (7/2015) for writers – nothing beats it IMHO:


DO get the black one with the charge-up slot.

Subscribe if you like this sort of stuff. I’ll also be continuing with the living in Thailand series and I have a number of great videos coming up shot with the GlideCam and Nikon D610. It just takes hours to edit them together to get something decent.

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