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Prizefight: Sony Vaio Pro 13 vs. Apple MacBook Air 13-inch (2013)

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Prizefight: Sony Vaio Pro 13 vs. Apple MacBook Air 13-inch (2013)

5:22 /

It's a heavyweight battle between two of the best ultrabooks on the market! Will Sony's Vaio Pro 13 with its all-new design and touch-screen laptop take down the reigning-champion MacBook Air 13-inch? Let's go!

What's up Prizefight fans? I'm Brian Tong, and this is a battle between 2 of the top 13-inch laptops where slim is in. It's a prizefight punch-out between Sony's Vaio Pro 13 and Apple's MacBook Air 13. Now our judges for this fight, our senior editor Dan "The Man Ackerman", senior associate editor Scott "The Bottom-line Stein" and Brian "Can't Go Wrong Tong". We'll take all three judges' blind scores and average them out to the nearest 10th each round. The final prizefight score will be an average of all rounds using the same system. Let's get it on. Round 1 is design. Sony brings one of the sleekest blade-thin windows laptop designs with its magnesium alloyed body that's light as air and a carbon fiber construction that may not be as sturdy as a MacBook but is more than half-a-pound lighter at only 2.34 pounds. It's 920x1080 resolution screen best in the year and it has a thinner bezel, but a tinge is not as solid and it definitely feels a lot more flimsy. Now the MacBook Air is still a very classic and iconic design with its sturdy aluminum unit body that's rock-solid with zero flex and a smooth superior hinge that allows you to open it with ease. It's still feels very premium but it's getting a little dated with the thicker bezel around its 1440x900 resolution screen. Both designs have their pluses and minuses and we're calling this a tie at 4. Round 2 is, features. These 2 laptops come with different levels of CPU and RAM configurations and they are very closely matched systems with the same USB ports and SD Card reader slots. You'll also find a multi-touch track pad and backlit keyboards on both as well. But what separate Sony's Vaio Pro 13 from the MacBook Air is its 1080p display that's also a touch screen for full Windows 8 support and it feels more and more natural to interact with your screen that way even while web-browsing. There's a native full-sized HDMI port here, NFC capabilities and they include an additional USB port on the power adapter as well. Now, Apple's been very selective about what it includes and [unk] some here with no touch screen. You need to download to get any video out without an Apple TV and yes the faster 802.11 ac Wi-Fi is here, but you'll need a router that supports it. Now, one benefit is that you can install both Windows and the Mac OS on an Apple machine. But Sony questions them here with a 4.3 and Apple gets a 3. So after averaging 2 rounds, the Vaio Pro leads by 7/10th of a point. Round 3 is, Performance. Sony sent us a 1.5 GHz Core i7 CPU with 8 gigs of RAM for our review model and the MacBook Air we're using is loaded with 1.3 GHz Core i5 processor with 4 gigs of RAM. Now we know that's not exactly equal but both bring the latest Intel Haswell processor chipset. Now, in our performance test, you can see that the MacBook Air just tore through our multi-media multitasking test and also perform better in the iTunes encoding test. Well, the Vaio Pro took the Photoshop CS5 image processing test and it was pretty much a push in our hand-break multitasking test. Bottom line, these machines perform pretty similarly between the 2. You won't see any major speed game from last year's ultra books and other 3rd party benchmarks have supported that as well. We're calling this round a tie at 4. Next round is battery life. In our CNET video playback drain test. The Sony Vaio Pro 13 clocked in at an impressive 8 hours and 53 minutes. Now Sony gives you the option for $150 additional battery add-on if you want, compare that to the MacBook Air 13, which clocked in at a mind-boggling 14 hours and 25 minutes of battery juice, which just can't be touched and is the new industry standard. Apple takes this round with a perfect 5 and Sony gets 4. So after averaging 4 rounds, Sony still leads by just a hair-- the final round that decides it all is value. These two machines are really closely matched with Core i7 options but this will ultimately come down to your preference. Sony's Vaio Pro 13 base model with a core i5 processor starts at $1,249 and that include the 1080p touchscreen. Now, Apple's MacBook Air, decided to shave off $100 off the starting price of a 13-inch Air with a core i5 processor at $1,099. Now we know your price can start adding up with customization. But Apple clearly has the value edge right out of the gates for a machine that last over 14 hours. The MacBook Air gets a 4.3 and the Vaio Pro 13 gets a 3.7. So let's average out all 5 rounds and then to throw down, where Sony led almost the entire time. Apple fought back hard in the last 2 rounds and just edges out the Sony Vaio Pro 13 4.1 to 4 and the MacBook Air 13 is your Prizefight winner. This battle ground is still fierce and the real decisions might just come down to which operating system you prefer. I'm Brian Tong. Thanks for watching and we'll catch you guys next time for another Prizefight.

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