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Best Apple Macbook Air Clones: Buying Apple Beauty Without Buying an Apple

written by: M.S. Smith•edited by: Simon Hill•updated: 9/18/2009

The Apple Macbook Air is one of the more iconic laptops around today. Its thin shape is well known and stands for the cutting edge of aesthetics meshed with high-end computer electronics but are there cheaper alternatives with the same sexy frame?

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    Sexy Cloned

    The debut of the Macbook Air was greeted with many ohs and ahs by the media, as is often the case with Apple products. Its slim frame was far more attractive than any other computer out at the time, be it a Mac or a PC. It is no surprise, then, that there have been many attempts by notebook manufacturers to clone the Air's eye-catching frame.

    Ironically, the clones listed below are in some ways more capable than the Macbook Air. The Air caught criticism over time because it was extremely lacking in ports and because it had a battery that the user could not replace. These Macbook Air clones solve most or all of those problems. Of course these clones are all PCs, and so are unable to fully replace the Macbook Air because they are not supported by OSX.

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    MSI X340

    The MSI X340 replicates the Apple Macbook Air's frame very well MSI, known for its motherboards more than anything else, has been trying hard to make a name for itself in the notebook world. The MSI Wind has become a popular netbook because of its low price and because some versions of the Wind are capable of running OSX well, making them a popular choice for those wanting a hackintosh. The X340, while not capable of running OSX well, does a stunning Macbook Air impression. It is nearly as slim, has a screen of similar size, and some models even include an MSI logo on the lid which lights up when the notebook is on.

    The MSI X340 is a good ultra-portable in its own right thanks to a ultra-low voltage Core 2 Solo processor, wonderful display, light weight and solid battery life. The MSI X340's keyboard and trackpad, however, are quite a bit less impressive than those on the real Macbook Air. The MSI X340 is probably the best clone from a distance, but those who spend hours writing on their notebook will find the MSI X340's keyboard frustrating.

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    Shanzhai Macbook Air Clone

    The Shanzai Macbook Air isn't exactly on the level, but if you can find one it is the cheapest way to get the slim Macbook Air look No, Shanzhai is not a company. Shanzhai is the name used to refer to cheap knock-off products made by various Chinese Vendors who do not necessarily follow the regular rules and regulations which generally govern business. In other words, the Shanzhai vendors would lose no sleep over making a good knock-off, so its no surprise that they're debuting a Macbook Air clone.

    At first glance, the Shanzhai Macbook Air looks like a very precise knock-off. There are some big differences, however, as the Shanzhai Macbook Air is actually more of a netbook. It has an 11.1 inch screen, 1GB of ram, and a 1.6Ghz Intel Atom processor.

    It is anyone's guess how this product, which is to be released this month, will stack up to the original. Chances are it will not stack up well. Rumor has it that the retail price will be around $290, however, so it is priced right. As this product is in all likelihood in violation of various copyright laws, no normal vendor will be selling this. The best place to find it will probably be Ebay.

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    Voodoo/HP Envy

    The Voodoo Envy's technical specs are very similar to the Macbook Air It is debatable if the Voodoo Envy is a Macbook Air Clone. It came out around the same time as the Macbook Air. The Voodoo Envy's specs are extremely similar, as well, as it boasts a 13.3 inch screen, a thickness of .7 inches, and a 64GB solid state drive. If placed on a spec sheet with the Macbook Air it would look very similar indeed. The Voodoo Envy even has a mostly aluminum chassis.

    Its style is more angular than the Macbook Air, however. In silver in looks less like a Macbook Air and more like a very thin Macbook Pro. Even so, the Voodoo Envy clearly fills the same niche as the Macbook Air, and it will likely perform in a very similar fashion. The only downside is that the Voodoo Envy, with a base price of $1,699, is just as expensive as the real deal.