Marvel At The Shamelessness Of These MacBook Air Knockoffs At CES [Gallery]

Marvel At The Shamelessness Of These MacBook Air Knockoffs At CES [Gallery]

Marvel At The Shamelessness Of These MacBook Air Knockoffs At CES [Gallery] LAS VEGAS, CES 2012 – If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Apple must be feeling very flattered. Also ripped off.

Many of the new Ultrabooks here on display at the Consumer Electronics Show are so similar to the MacBook Air, they can only be described as knockoffs.

Not only do the they rip off the basic design premise — lightweight, portable laptops with long battery life — they copy the same wedge aluminum casing, wedge shape, chiclet keyboard, large, button-less trackpad, and the selection and placement of ports.

See for yourself. Here are just a few of the MacBook Air knockoffs on display at Intel’s massive booth.

Marvel At The Shamelessness Of These MacBook Air Knockoffs At CES [Gallery]

Here’s the MacBook Air. Apple’s machine has become a symbol of sleek, mobile computing. It’s light, portable, and boasts great battery life. It’s the industry’s best-selling laptop, which has forced Apple’s competitors to scramble to catch up. At CES, they’re attempting this, releasing 75+ new Ultrabook models to the market. As you can see, many are shameless ripoffs of Apple’s original.

Marvel At The Shamelessness Of These MacBook Air Knockoffs At CES [Gallery]

Here’s an Asus Ultrabook. Note the matte-aluminum chassis and distinctive wedge shape. Where have we seen that before?

Marvel At The Shamelessness Of These MacBook Air Knockoffs At CES [Gallery]

The Asus also borrows the MacBook Air’s large, button-less trackpad and chiclet keyboard. The stickers would never fly on a Macbook though.

Marvel At The Shamelessness Of These MacBook Air Knockoffs At CES [Gallery]

The keyboard is almost exactly the same as the MacBook Air’s, including the on/off button in the upper right.

Marvel At The Shamelessness Of These MacBook Air Knockoffs At CES [Gallery]

This LG Ultrabook also borrows the MacBook’s aluminum chassis, wedge profile and chiclet keyboard.

Marvel At The Shamelessness Of These MacBook Air Knockoffs At CES [Gallery]

Another wedge-shaped Ultrabook from Samsung. The color is different, but the keyboard and trackpad are the same.

Marvel At The Shamelessness Of These MacBook Air Knockoffs At CES [Gallery]

Here’s another aluminum UltraMacBook from Asus. If the keyboard were black instead of silver, it would be hard to tell the difference between it and a MacBook Air.

Marvel At The Shamelessness Of These MacBook Air Knockoffs At CES [Gallery]

The Asus sports an SD Card slot, just like the MBA. One big difference: the Asus slot is on the left instead of the right. Evolution!

Marvel At The Shamelessness Of These MacBook Air Knockoffs At CES [Gallery]

Different color, but like the others, this Samsung Ultrabook shares many of the same design cues.

Marvel At The Shamelessness Of These MacBook Air Knockoffs At CES [Gallery]

Aluminum case? Check. Wedge profile? Check. Chiclet keys? Check.

Marvel At The Shamelessness Of These MacBook Air Knockoffs At CES [Gallery]

This Acer has a different color scheme (ugly), but is cut from MBA cloth.

Marvel At The Shamelessness Of These MacBook Air Knockoffs At CES [Gallery]

This Ultrabook may be the most original of the bunch: the ports are on the back.

Marvel At The Shamelessness Of These MacBook Air Knockoffs At CES [Gallery]

Another Asus Ultrabook with the familiar sharp wedge.

Marvel At The Shamelessness Of These MacBook Air Knockoffs At CES [Gallery]

And another. Note this is a different machine; not the same as the one above.

Of course, Intel doesn’t call these “MacBook Air clones” or “ripoffs.” These are ultrabooks, an exciting new form factor of laptop that will take the world by storm, of which the MacBook Air is just one solitary example. The others are way different! Some of their keyboards are silver instead of black! Some come with 15-inch displays! Some even have gyroscopes in them! Gyroscopes! Watch out, MacBook Air! There’s an army of bullshit doppelgangers in town, and they’re all ready to suck.

  • MichaelMuc

    Wow – they all look like notebooks. Shameless!

  • Howard Li

    While I am an admitted PC enthusiast and have only tread down the Apple road in the years since iPhone 3G came out, i come to sites like these (cultofmac, 9to5mac, etc) to get the latest Apple news, but really don’t understand the sense of haughtiness/eliteness that are always in these articles.  The Macbook Air is a beautiful product.  I own the 13″ mac air from 2011 and I really think Apple was miles ahead of the competition and not only kicked everyone’s butt in design/performance/form factor, but in price as well, which is outstanding for Apple.  What I don’t get is why, when PC manufacturers are trying to catch up and make competition (to inspire Apple to make even better products), there is such a snide attitude towards it?  I don’t remember seeing this kind of attitude when everyone made netbooks after Asus’ eee PC, but now that Apple was the one leading the way, we have to hear about how great Apple is.  Not that I disagree, i’m just commenting on the general tone of these articles. I don’t see a need for it.

  • The-King Brian Cloughie

    Why re-invent the wheel… Personally I don’t care whether both entities look exactly the same. It’s what’s inside that matters more to me… 

  • Allen Rhodes

    No comment……

  • Bob Whipple

    I agree that the imitation of a successful design is inevitable. What is particularly irritating to admirers of Apple’s design prowess is that other manufacturers don’t seem to be able to contribute to the design process… and the evolution of the product… and literally copy almost screw for screw. It is like that are saying “This design is so perfect we cannot improve on it”. It is quite sad.

    They did the same with the iPhone. Only Microsoft (who would’a thunk it!) has finally showed some real originality regarding the smartphone genre.

  • pepesmith

    chiclet keys originated from SONY VAIO, not MBP!

  • JT_CHITOWN

    Where can I get some of those cool stickers adorning the wrist pads?  I know that, whenever I spend $1K on a laptop, I want companies’ PITA-to-remove marketing material festooned all over it.

  • supertino

    Apple should offer a deal: “Copy all our shit you want. But you have to stop badmouthing us while you are launching the very product you copied from us!” 

  • Deranger86

    First off, the netbook is in nowhere near the same league as the MacBook Air. Scaled-down with an underpowered processor, uninpressive low-res screen, gimmicky keyboards and a crappy finish is nothing to write home about, much less, proclaiming how great ASUS is for producing and designing something which is a downgrade from a regular notebook but just more portable. (All notebooks are portable to begin with anyway)

    The cause of this is simple though. Manufacturers have been copying Apple’s products for years now. From the iPod to the iPhone to the iPad and now the MacBook Air. So much so, that it’s getting really predictable now. There’s a thin line between playing catch-up and ripping off. Wanna design a thin notebook? Cool! Designing it to look similar, if not, almost the same as a MacBook Air? Not cool!

  • Deranger86

    First off, the netbook is in nowhere near the same league as the MacBook Air. Scaled-down with an underpowered processor, uninpressive low-res screen, gimmicky keyboards and a crappy finish is nothing to write home about, much less, proclaiming how great ASUS is for producing and designing something which is a downgrade from a regular notebook but just more portable. (All notebooks are portable to begin with anyway)

    The cause of this is simple though. Manufacturers have been copying Apple’s products for years now. From the iPod to the iPhone to the iPad and now the MacBook Air. So much so, that it’s getting really predictable now. There’s a thin line between playing catch-up and ripping off. Wanna design a thin notebook? Cool! Designing it to look similar, if not, almost the same as a MacBook Air? Not cool!

  • cassandralite

    Given that Apple would have gone the way of Kaypro if not for Steve’s brilliant knocking off of Xerox PARC’s innovations, shouldn’t we refrain, now and forever, from scoffing in high dudgeon at the copycats?

  • Alfiejr

    well, be fair. the ultrabook concept – “lightweight, portable laptops with long battery life” – is generic. that’s not a “ripoff.” even using aluminum bodies instead of plastic is not “cloning,” it’s the only workable alternative. at most you could say these OEM’s were “emulating” Apple’s products in their basic design.

    but then yes we get to the “trade dress,” the style and detailing. that’s where we get to “knock offs (if they are cheaper) and clones. and yeah, some of these definitely fall into that category. 

  • MacRat

    Apple paid Xerox a lot of stock shares to use their intellectual property.

    Apple did not “knock off” Xerox PARC.

  • Al

    It really saddens me to see all this copying – especially the ASUS one. It’s beyond satire. I’m sure there are some great designers and engineers at those manufacturers with neat ideas, all of whom are being overruled by suits who command them “Make it look like Apple”.

    What a missed opportunity!

  • Len Williams

    I’m getting tired of hearing this viewpoint that Apple’s designs are somehow “generic” and therefore OK to copy. Horsehockey! Apple comes up with classic designs for the Air, iPhone and iPad, then nearly every other manufacturer’s products look nearly identical. Let’s call it for what it is: theft. These designs only became “the only way they could be manufactured” after Apple figured it out. There are an infinite number of ways to design any product. The fact that Apple’s engineers have taste and class is terrific, but Apple should be allowed to call “foul” when other companies steal their hard work and effort.

  • Len Williams

    Steve PAID Xerox $10,000 for the privilege of touring the PARC facilities. There was never any theft, and the ideas on display there were freely given by Xerox. Steve and team used some of the rough concepts developed by Xerox and came up with the famous GUI–but again, no theft was involved. Apple paid for the ideas it got, then went on to make a huge success with them. 

  • Len Williams

    The answer is simple Howard. Take a look at the netbooks. Their designs were similar in size but not in appearance. I’ve seen many different designs from different companies, and they all had their own unique looks. It’s not hard to understand why the upset exists.

  • Brittp2

    Right On!!! Even if they copy down to the last screw… they are still only polishing the turd OS inside. You can’t “Getter Done” with a windows anything like you can on a Apple thingie. The cloners only attract by reflection. The wanna be’s can only do that, they are not the light but ONLY the reflection. 

  • volodoscope

    It’s not generic. Apple already made two totally different designs for Macbook Air. If it was generic Apple would have kept the “floating” shape design from the first generation. These companies just have no imagination.

  • ImTrollButHonest

    Wow! We all look like humans!!! Shameless!

  • volodoscope

    We just like to point out how many times PC makers laughed at Apple and now  they are crying trying to compete. The competition gets ugly right after Apple enters the market, and phone makers and pc makers act like they own the market and Apple has no right to disturb them. It’s just envy. Ask HP, they even made a notebook called Envy.

  • volodoscope

    They can copy and copy, but they will never match the experience. Consumers know that, companies don’t.

  • ImTrollButHonest

    Really tired of the copies… Someone said some time before that if there is no competition, then we will have a monopoly… But in the tech world, the competition is only creating a monopoly… The Apple monopoly of design and innovation…. I’m really sad… I really hope there always be people who avoid copy… And the day Apple make a rip off, I will abandon it… Hope this will never happens..

  • 5imo

    The new SamBook Pro! 

  • tazh89

    let me ask this,chances are if apple releases a tv it will probably be a thin and very simple looking tv like whats already out there but the dfifference will be in the experience but does that mean that apple copied because it looks same like any other tv.same with phones and tablets and laptops etc they may look the same but the experience is what makes them difference.

  • tazh89

    when a certain form and design becomes popular,chances are it will be copied.its the same with tvs,they dont all need to be thin and sleek looking but everyone is going for them designs because thats what customers want i mean lol nearly all tvs look the same and just as how all tvs look the same but hardware is what makes them difference, the macbook air has become the ideal design and the diffrences will be whats inside.

  • cassandralite

    This is all very nice and protective of you, but the story isn’t quite as simple.  But even if it were, Apple was clearly “inspired” by what the Xerox scientists had done.  It goes without saying that if any of these new knockoffs infringes on an Apple patent, there will be hell to pay.

  • iDaBoss

    why do you people attack anything? fear, jealous, anxiety, insecurity, take your pick.

  • Len Williams

    Exactly right! There should be hell to pay–licensing rights. If you developed a product, spending millions of dollars and months/years of research and effort, you’d be very upset if I came along and copied what you’d done without A) giving you credit, and B) paying you something for all the work you put into it in the form of licensing fees. This is not some strange idea or concept. Licensing has been going on for centuries. It’s considered ethical conduct. To simply copy a design without any reimbursement to the original designer is copyright infringement, also known as theft.

  • Shen Nanzhen

    it is a fantastic thing that apple is doing – improving the entire mobile computing industry by making the form factor that is desirable to all consumers. i wouldn’t consider them as ripoffs but i won’t get caught dead with one either… 

  • Gromit1704

    Apple famously will not license its OS to OEMs to bash out nasty plastic boxes. In light of all the iPhone, iPad and Air design stealing, perhaps Apple should license its hardware designs. Samsung, Asus etal could close their R&D departments and save a fortune. Pay Apple a fee for the blueprints to the latest hardware and Apple gets a royalty for every Winjunk contraption that spews out.

  • Shane Quinn

    Ahem…before you go and get your foot wedged too far in your own mouth talking about all of these Apple ripoffs, I’d like to introduce you to the Intel Metro concept design. Here’s a 2007 Business Week article about it. http://www.businessweek.com/te

    Maybe Apple didn’t do as much of the heavy lifting on the Macbook Air as you thought…
    For someone whose written for so many prominent magazines you don’t know much about doing research before publishing an article. You should work on that.

  • twitter-35134545

    Their words say “Apple are nothing special” and “They haven’t beaten us”, but their actions scream otherwise!

  • twitter-35134545

    TV’s are screens. There’s hardly anywhere else to go with the hardware, but you can bet if there was, Apple would take care of it. What Apple will do is change the interaction by integrating Siri, instead of the traditional remote.Then watch all TV manufacturers – to a man – copy.

  • twitter-35134545

    Sure look like chic let keys here. Long time before the Vaio! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F

About the author

Leander KahneyLeander Kahney is the editor and publisher of Cult of Mac. He is the NYT bestselling author of Jony Ive: The Genius Behind Apple's Greatest Products; Inside Steve’s Brain; Cult of Mac; and Cult of iPod. Leander has written for Wired, MacWeek, Scientific American, and The Guardian in London. Follow Leander on Twitter @lkahney and Facebook.

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