MacBook versus Zenbook
We also awarded the Asus Zenbook UX305 a five-star rating. At an incredibly affordable $699 (£649, around AU$902), the Zenbook provides a solid alternative to the MacBook at almost half the price.
The Zenbook only comes with a full HD display, but it is slightly thinner than the MacBook. Like the XPS 13, the Zenbook weighs 2.6 pounds, so by choosing the Zenbook, you're sacrificing screen quality and heft in order to save a pretty penny. Don't fret: Asus also plans to ship a $999 (about £648, AU$1286) version of the UX305, with a 3,200 x 1,800 resolution display in April.
Like the MacBook, the Zenbook features an Intel Core M processor. However, the MacBook bests the Zenbook in terms of battery life: we were only able to stretch five hours and 26 minutes out of the Zenbook when pushed at a moderate pace. According to Asus, the Zenbook can run for eight hours of video playback, which is two hours less than Apple's projected 10 hours.
Like the XPS 13 and MacBook, the Zenbook comes with a 256GB SSD and 8GB of memory.
MacBook versus Lenovo LaVie Z HZ550
At just 1.72 pounds (0.78kg), the Lenovo LaVie Z HZ550 ($1,299, £852, AU$1,605) is the lightest laptop on the market. The MacBook is slightly heavier at 2.0 pounds, but if weight is your primary concern, you can't beat the LaVie. Slightly thicker than the MacBook, the LaVie measures in at 0.66 inches (15mm).
Internally the Lenovo LaVie features only 4GB of RAM and a 128GB solid-state drive. As for connectivity, you'll get two USB 3.0 ports, an HDMI output, and an SD card reader, which is similar to the MacBook, minus the DisplayPort and the VGA, but doesn't require an adapter to input and output multiple cords at once.
What's really cool about this device is that Intel was somehow able to pack it with a Broadwell Intel Core i5 processor, rather than the less powerful Core M chips you find in lightweight devices.
Unfortunately, the LaVie's battery life only nets up to six hours. When comparing this device to the MacBook it is really an apples to oranges comparison; the Lenovo is built more for its portability, upgradeable touchscreen functionality and processing power, whereas the MacBook is designed to be portable, long-lasting and crazy thin.
What to do. What to do.
You can't go wrong with any of these devices. Neither of them runs the table in terms of specifications, so you'll have to determine what the most important features are for you and then select your device based on that assessment. This has been an excellent year for laptop design, and the new MacBook furthers a category that was already stacked with major players.