Is the MacBook Air overpriced or just plain expensive?


Is the MacBook Air overpriced at $2,499 fully loaded? Seventy percent of us here at CrunchGear think so—Apple worshiper Biggs calls it a “great machine,” however—but what do we know? Nothing, apparently, if we’re to believe CNet, which comes to the conclusion that the MacBook Air, compared to other ultraportables, isn’t overpriced at all.

The argument goes: ultraportables writ large are expensive, so to single out the MacBook Air is unfair. The similarly spec’d Dell Latitude E4200, for example, costs $2,495. Same thing with the Toshiba Portege R600, which is even more expensive at $2,999.

That’s pretty much it. Because all these ultraportables, when more or less similarly spec’d, are $2,500 or more, to call the MacBook Air overpriced is dishonest.

But maybe there’s more to it than that. What I think is happening is that we’re confusing the words “overpriced” with “expensive,” using them interchangeably when they have wholly separate meanings.

To some people, say, people with money, the MacBook Air isn’t expensive, but it could still be overpriced. No, $2,500, in and of itself, may not be a lot of money—that is, it’s inexpensive—but you’re still paying a lot for what you’re getting. Plainly, you’re getting a slighter lighter laptop than the less expensive MacBook, but you’re getting less for more money. That makes it overpriced. You’re paying more money for less computer.

That, of course, assumes you put any sort of premium on the portability of your laptop. Let’s say you’re a desktop replacement kind of guy—there’s no way you’d pay $2,500 for a MacBook Air when you can buy, say, an Alienware for that amount of money. Or maybe you’re like me and hate laptops of all shapes and sizes. In that case, not only is the MacBook Air overpriced but it’s also expensive.