There's no denying Apple's genius branding, cutting edge technology, and sleek-as-ice packaging has the digital marketplace on lock. But the ever in-flux landscape of gadgets and gear makes for ultra-competitive features and a constant barrage of thinner, faster, smarter designs. Check out the up-to-the-minute devices giving the mega-mogul a run for its money.
Lenovo LaVie Z ($1300)
Wired deemed the ultra-slim La Vie Z MacBook Air's stiffest competition, before the LaVie Z has even hit the market. Available for purchase in May, the 13.3-inch screen features a resolution of 221 ppi against Air's 142 ppi. Weighing in at a slender 1.72 pounds, it boasts an Intel Core i5 processor, 2 USB 3.0 ports, an HDMI port, and built-in SD card reader. The uber-light packaging means less RAM (4GB) and storage (128GB) than a MacBook. But if running lean and mean is your vibe, look no further.
Pebble Time ($199)
The appeal of Pebble's tech timepiece has long lied in its week-long battery life and accessible price point. With Apple's least expensive model coming in twice as expensive as Pebble, it's essentially in a class of its own. The retina display and touch screen of Apple's smartwatch set it apart. Pebble will certainly maintain the upper-hand among consumers debating whether or not to take the plunge into purchasing a timepiece in addition to their smartphone. Voice support, a timeline interface, and intuitive app menu fully compatible with over 6,500 monochrome apps and faces via the app store give it plenty of bang for your buck.
Microsoft Surface Pro 3 ($499 and up)
This might be the ideal choice for those looking for something lighter and thinner than a MacBook with the easy accessibility of a tablet. At 1.76 lbs. and 0.36 inches thick, the Surface Pro 3 the touchscreen device is featherweight class. Features include a 1.5 GHz Intel Core i3 processor, USB 3.0 port, MicroSD, and Mini DisplayPort. The TypeCover is sold separately as an accessory, giving it the feel of a MacBook without an ounce of bulk.
Roku Roku 3 ($79)
Winner of CNET's editors choice award, Roku 3 is the clear victor in terms of overall consumer experience, even taking into consideration Apple TV's new exclusive HBO Now access (thru July). If you're running multiple devices, Roku is a no-brainer. The lighting fast spead and best-in-class search ability allows you to cruise multiple apps for content simultaneously. AirPlay mirroring may be a strong selling point, but iTunes-centric Apple TV offers no game or cross-content search option.
Samsung Galaxy 5S ($579)
Long is the debate of iPhone 6 Plus vs. the whole wide world of smartphones. The biggest competitor for Apple's latest gem is the Samsung Galaxy 5S. Both are terrific phones—the question of which is best for you essentially comes down to personal preference. Apple is new to the bigger-is-better screen game, while Note has been busy cornering the market. Perhaps Galaxy's biggest trump cards are its full HD resolution and dust/water resistant frame. In fact, Galaxy 5S can be left in up to a meter of water for 30 minutes. It's just plain tougher than the rest.
Galaxy Tab S ($500)
Comparing iPad to the Galaxy Tab S in many ways feels apples to, well, Apple. Both ridiculously thin, the iPad comes in a hair lighter and smaller. Samsung offers nearly 10 percent more screen area, so if you're ia stickler for aspect ratios, the Tab will best iPad every time, not to mention the resolution is a crisp 9 percent sharper. iPad features anti glare and an IPS screen, while the Tab features an AMOLED screen. AMOLED lends for blacker blacks, richer color and deeper contrast. A huge leg up is in the Tab's exclusive ultra-powersaving mode, which conserves battery life to the nth degree.
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