V3 has spent a few weeks with Apple's mid-2011 MacBook Air 11in, and has been so impressed with its power and portability that we decided to test out whether it's a worthy alternative to the iPad 2, and the general tablet craze. We've put the flagship 11in laptop against the top-end iPad 2, and the results will surprise many who may not have considered getting a laptop instead of the tablet.
Design and portability - Both are gorgeous, but iPad shades it on portability
There is little to separate the devices in terms of style and build quality, as both are stunning pieces of kit. If we had to make a choice, the MacBook would get the nod simply because it's so thin.
The iPad 2 measures 241x186x8.8mm, compared to 300x192x17mm for the MacBook Air, but in reality the laptop is not that much bigger than the tablet.
The 3G iPad 2 is extremely light at just 613g. This makes it 400g lighter than the MacBook Air, which isn't exactly a super heavyweight at 1.08kg. Ultimately, the iPad 2 is smaller and lighter, but there isn't a huge gulf as both can be carried around all day without a problem.
WINNER - iPad 2
Hardware - MacBook Air out-muscles iPad 2
The MacBook Air is a beast of a machine that significantly out-muscles not only the iPad 2, but many desktops. Our 11in Air featured a dual-core Intel Core i7 1.8GHz processor, 4GB of DDR3 RAM and 256GB of flash storage. This is all the more impressive when you consider the sleekness of the chassis.
An integrated front-facing camera on the MacBook with a resolution of 2,560x1,600 allows you to get stuck into FaceTime straight away. The MacBook also has an extremely well proportioned 79-key island keyboard, which is one of the best we've seen this year.
The performance of the iPad 2 is exceptionally smooth thanks to the dual-core A5 1GHz processor and 512MB of RAM, but it can't really compete with the MacBook. However, the iPad 2 does have an HD camera on the rear capable of 720p recording and a VGA webcam on the front to allow for video calling.
A maximum of 64GB of storage is available on the tablet but, although this doesn't sound like much, it is likely to become a moot point when Apple launches its iCloud service in September.
WINNER - MacBook Air