MacBook Air zoom in next to MacBook

MacBook vs. MacBook Air: Which should you buy?

I am so happy with my new 12-inch MacBook. I wanted to share my buying experience comparing it to the 13-inch MacBook Air to help you decide between the two.
Macbook Air next to Macbook
13-inch MacBook Air and 12-inch MacBook
This review focuses on the MacBook.
Friends love their 2011 MacBook Airs, so I initially thought I would go with that. However, a trip to the Apple Store and seeing the Air next to the small, sleek, space gray MacBook changed my mind.

How to pay for your new Mac: earn credit card points

I purchased: Refurbished 12-inch MacBook 1.1GHz Dual-core Intel Core m3- Space Gray MacBook from Apple.com for $1099 before tax (business deductible).
A new 12-inch Macbook costs $1299 for 1.2GHz Processor 256GB Storage or $1599 for 1.3GHz Processor 512GB Storage.
Note: Refurbished means you’ll have to wait 3 to 5 days for free shipping.
Credit card point tip: use your Chase Ink and get 2-5% cash on Apple.com through the Chase Ultimate Rewards – Shop with Chase shopping portal. Seasonal awards vary but check for the current cash back or point amount.
Chase Ink Business Cash credit card
Get 5x points on Apple.com through the Ultimate Rewards portal
Apple is not considered an office supply store (a 5x bonus point category on the Ink). As of today, you can get 2% cash back with Ink Cash through the UR portal, which beats 1.5% cash back on the Chase Freedom Unlimited.

MacBook Size and Butterfly Keyboard

One handing holding Macbook
At 2lbs the MacBook is super light

Size:

The MacBook is only a 12-inch screen, so it’s practically a large tablet. It fits perfectly in my big ‘ol saddlebag, which is ideal for moving between meetings, coffee shops, and airports.
Keyboard:
The butterfly keyboard took some getting used to. (In fact, I had buyer’s remorse for the first few days to the point where I even ordered a refurbished MacBook Air so I could compare both side by side during Apple’s 14 day no questions asked return period.)
zoom on butterfly keyboard
Butterfly keyboard: 40% thinner than scissor keyboard
Compare to the thick, spaced out MacBook Air keys:
MacBook Air keyboard zoom
MacBook Air scissor keyboard (traditional, familiar, preferred by some)
In order to make this laptop as thin as possible, Apple reinvented the keyboard. They created a “butterfly” mechanism, which more evenly distributes the pressure on a key than the traditional “scissor” mechanism. This is supposed to provide a more precise typing experience and fewer errors.  Butterfly is 40% thinner than a scissor keyboard, and four times more stable. It feels like you’re typing on a tablet.
zoom corner keys on Macbook butterfly keyboard
All areas of the butterfly keys are equally sensitive
For larger man hands, this might feel too compact and on a 12-inch. For my hands, I got used to it within a few days and now I can type somewhat physically inaccurately, relying on the butterfly mechanism to “know” which key I meant, much like I fly across my iPhone screen with little accuracy and let autocorrect do the work.

MacBook vs. MacBook Air – Display

After five days on the crisp MacBook Retina Display, switching over to the Air screen felt like going to a clunky, much older and blurry low resolution screen. Retina Displays make text and images extremely crisp, so pixels are not visible to the naked eye. It rivals the sharpness of crisply printed text. I just couldn’t get over the clarity on the MacBook.

Limited Ports – USB-C Only

One MacBook drawback is the lack of ports and jacks. It has just one USB-C port and one audio jack for earbuds. No built-in USB.
USB-C port on Macbook
Single USB-C port – you’ll need an adapter
The easy fix is to buy a connecting port. I recommend this one by Dodocool:
At just $45.99 on Amazon Prime, it’s much cheaper than Apple’s $79 version which is overpriced and has poor reviews. All my USB equipment like my wireless mouse and Sennheiser PC 8 USB Headset can connect simultaneously while the laptop also charges.

Podcasting Equipment

By the way: if you’re podcasting with Skype or Google Hangouts, I highly recommend the Sennheiser PC 8 USB – Stereo USB Headset for PC and MAC with In-line Volume and Mute Control:

Do NOT podcast with Apple’s earbuds/mic or a Bluetooth headset. The quality is just not the same as USB. You can hear how clear I sound on the BeanCast.

Bottom Line

Overall I would recommend a MacBook if you travel and want an ultra clear display with maximum portability. MacBook is small and light, it feels fantastic in your lap, and the screen is gentle on the eyes. It just depends on what you plan to do with it. The MacBook Air has a lower resolution screen but the extra inch adds quite a bit more area, which is nice for watching a movie, however it really just looks blurry once your eyes get spoiled on the Retina display.
Verdict: buy the MacBook unless you really prefer the traditional raised keys and a larger screen is important to you. Buy refurbished because the one year warranty is the same as a new machine and I can’t tell any difference, so why pay more?
Here’s the case I bought. At $13.99 on Prime, it’s a good value for MacBook case. The graphics aren’t super crisp on the stained glass version I bought, but it is protective and the snaps and rubber feet are still intact, unlike the Dowswin case I first bought. If you get a solid color, this would look nice and get the job done.