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iMac vs MacBook Air, find out which of Apple's Macs is best for you

Martyn Casserly | Jan. 27, 2015
We compare Apple's iMac and MacBook Air so you can judge which is the right for your needs

Choosing a new Mac is both a delightful and terrifying experience. On one hand you have the promise of a sparkling new machine, with all the joy that entails, but conversely you also have to dabble in a spot of clairvoyance as you decide what your next few years of computing will look like.

Deciding on the right machine to meet your needs can be tricky. The Retina iMac is a stunning machine, but if you want to work on a novel in Starbucks it's a bit of a handful. By the same token the 11-inch MacBook Air is supremely portable, but editing a Logic Pro project on it could quite possibly drive you insane due to the tiny screen real estate. It is indeed a challenge. Well, here at Macworld we always have your best interests at heart, so we've put together this guide to the comparative charms and compromises each machine affords a prospective buyer.

Read: Every iMac reviewed & Every MacBook Air reviewed

iMac vs MacBook Air: Which one is right for you?

The first question we pose whenever someone asks us which computer they should buy is this 'what do you want to use it for?' It might seem somewhat basic, but before you start comparing the tech specs and prices of various devices you have to know what it needs to deliver to make you happy.

If you're in the market for a general computer on which you can watch YouTube, Netflix, browse the web, keep up on social media, and write the odd report or two, then any Apple computer from the past few years will happily achieve all of this and more. In fact an iPad would be more than enough for these day-to-day activities, especially if paired with a bluetooth keyboard.

If you want to run more powerful apps, such as Photoshop, Logic, the full Microsoft Office suite, or manage your media collection through iTunes or iPhoto, then the larger storage capacities and power of the Mac range will definitely be your best port of call. Of course while iMacs offer beautiful screens and larger hard drives, MacBook Airs can also run external displays and USB (or Thunderbolt) storage devices when at home, doubling up their versatility. Among the less expensive models the power difference is also minimal, so the comparison between the two isn't as unbalanced as you might first think.

In the end use your judgement to decide how you're going to employ your device for the majority of the time, and the things that are the most important to you, then you'll no doubt be happy with whichever machine you pick.


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