Poll: which one’s a better buy – $1,099 iMac or MacBook Air?

Cheaper iMac on online Appl Store (image 001)

Apple is taking some heat over its $200 cheaper baseline iMac, which released this morning. See, in order to bring the price down to an attractive $1.099, the iPhone maker has sadly skimped on the specs.

This $200 saving translates into half the hard drive storage and a slower Intel CPU/integrated graphics.

Specifically, the entry-level 21.5-incher packs basically the same dual-core 1.4GHz Intel Core i5 processor and integrated Intel HD Graphics 5000 as the MacBook Air family. And with recent MacBook Air price drops, choosing between the all-in-one and one of ultra-portable Airs is anything but trivial.

That’s why I’ve created a quick poll, so we could learn from your opinion. Tell us which one, in your opinion, is a better buy: a $1,099 iMac or a $1,099 MacBook Air…

Pictured top of post: the new $1,099 baseline 21.5-inch iMac.

Below: Apple’s MacBook Air lineup, refreshed on April 29, 2014 and a $100 cheaper.

As you can see, the entry-level 21.5-inch iMac literally shares the same hardware as the Airs, down to a low-end 1.4GHz dual-core Intel i5 processor with three megabytes of L3 cache and integrated Intel HD Graphics 5000.

According to supposed Geekbench data, switching to a low-end Intel chip has resulted in a significant performance hit as the refreshed iMac is 40 percent slower in multi-core performance than the model it’s replacing (it’s comparable in single-core benchmarks).

new macbook air prices

So, which one is a better buy: a MacBook Air or this new baseline iMac?

Cast your vote below.

I guess it all comes down to usage scenarios.

Some folks would gladly sacrifice that full HD display for the Air’s unmatched portability. And if you believe our own Jeff Benjamin, even the 11-inch MacBook Air packs in enough punch for heavy web/social media activities, typical productivity tasks and even video editing.

Or, you could have it both ways like this guy.

Others would never trade the comfort of their desktop and the brilliance of that 21.5-inch screen for the Air’s low-quality 11 or 13-inch display, even though the two machines perform nearly identically.

Note that the iMac has twice the memory of the Air and more base storage (500GB). But the more capacious storage notwithstanding, keep in mind the all-in-one is using much slower hard drives as opposed to the Air’s flash-based storage that makes a world of difference.

Anyways, I want to hear your opinion on the iMac vs. MacBook Air dilemma so don’t be shy and sound off in the comments.