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View Full Version : RESOLVED--2011 MBA 13" i7 vs 2011 MBP 13" i5 vs MBP+iPad 2




GeilerMann
Jul 24, 2011, 02:51 AM
First, a little background: I'm in university studying something in the humanities (therefore, notes, notes, notes) and will [finally] be dumping my old HP Pavilion bought in '07. My budget's around 1800 USD. Pocketing some money would be nice but that's not a priority. I plan to use my Mac as my primary computer and like any other typical consumer; for music, internet browsing, and producing work in MS Office. Multitasking will involve six to nine web pages open (some with Flash), iTunes, and a Word Document, so nothing that I think is too intensive. But there are occasions (say twice a month) that I use Adobe Photoshop CS4 and/or iMovie. I'm still not sure yet how I'll use my Mac in class (if I even do--I might stick to pen and paper) but know that I do travel by air quite a bit (about once a month) and want something that is at least somewhat portable: so I have my heart set on a 13-incher.

But as far as which Mac to go with is where I can't make up my mind, so I thought I'd ask the experts :) My three ideas are listed below with price estimates according to my state and education discounts:

1) New Mid-2011 Macbook Air 13" i7 4 GB RAM 256 flash storage w/Superdrive: ~$1850 The ultraportability is a major plus. Also, after seeing recent, glowing reviews, I'm not concerned about performance--the new update is ironically part of the problem (I never would've thought I'd compare an Air to even a lower-end Pro). I guess what I may be iffy about is...performance...hear me out: my question is, can it be an issue down the road if more OS X updates were to come?

2) Early-2011 Macbook Pro 13" i5 4 GB RAM 320 GB HDD + an iPad 2 16 GB WiFi-Only: ~$1730
I guess this is more of an indulgence. I like the idea of leaving my MBP at home unless I need to do actual work on-the-go and instead taking my iPad around. I really like the iPad as a casual device for consuming information and "couch-surfing." It's just plain--well, for lack of a better word--fun. That's appealing to me.
Possible concern--if I end up needing to be productive more on-the-go than at home (say I end up using the Mac for notes instead of pen and paper after all--I don't want to take notes on an iPad btw), will my mobile lifestyle be tasking on the HDD? I know laptops have always had HDDs, but how does that durability compare to my first option with the MBA?
Also, I already have an iOS device (iPhone). Is an iPad redundant? (I'm almost answering that question myself and saying no...but I'd like to hear someone tell me yes and why).

3) Early-2011 MBP 13" i5 4 GB RAM 256 SSD: ~$1780
This option, to me, is close to the shredder. The MBA's pretty enticing. However, I'd like to hear what those who are better informed might think.

Ultimately, though, I'm torn between options 1 and 2. Option 1 would get me a great computer that I can take anywhere and use for everything. But there's no iPad. Option 2 gets me a great computer and a pretty nice toy--er, I mean tablet. But if I end up needing to take the laptop around campus more often than thought, I don't have as durable a Mac as Option 1 or 3...but still, there's an iPad. Option 2, at the moment, is what I'm leaning toward...but honestly (seriously) that's no indication of what I'll think tomorrow. I can't tell you how many times I've been changing my mind.

If you've read this far, you're already a hero. I just need your take on this admittedly trivial, yet strangely important, "dilemma." Help a stranger spend his money foolishly, yet wisely. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!



iNeedToDoHw
Jul 24, 2011, 03:49 AM
had an ipad2, but sold it to get the macbook air.

I really think macbook air is all you'll ever need.

i0Nic
Jul 24, 2011, 04:23 AM
I would leave the iPad out of consideration for what computer you want to get, simply because I view the iPad as a consumption device mainly.

The iPad is awesome. I have one and I would never give it up. In saying that, don't let it cloud your judgment about what type of computer you want. Look at it as an peripheral, or extension of your computing needs.

If you need the power of a dedicated graphics card and a faster processor (you'll know if you do), get the MBP.

If you value portability and the MBA is powerful enough for your needs, get the MBA.

Then decide if you can afford or want to spend the money on an iPad as a secondary device.

i0Nic
Jul 24, 2011, 04:27 AM
If I were in your shoes, I would get:
- Macbook Air 11"
- 1TB external hard drive
- Cheap 20-24" external display
- iPad 16gb

That should be a bit over 1800 USD, though I'm Australian and so not sure of the exact prices but I'm sure you can work it out. However this set up would be ideal for a student as it let's you be as portable as possible in classes, gives you ample screen real estate to work at home, decent storage, and an iPad to play with. It might be worth spending a little bit more and getting a setup that truly caters to your needs than cheapening out and not having something that is right.

Pogopuschel
Jul 24, 2011, 05:18 AM
I also sold my iPad 2 to buy an MBA. You're totally right, the iPad IS a lot of fun but the actual value of it in terms of productivity is pretty low. On top of that the "newness" wears off after a while and you'll be using it less and less.

I was an university student until a few weeks ago and had a MBP + iPad2. Once I got the iPad2 I started taking it with me every day and left the MBP at home. It was fun, but like I said, I couldn't accomplish much with it so that after a while I started taking both with me. Once the iPad coolness factor wore off I went back to my old habit and started leaving the iPad at home and just took the MBP with me :) I would've been much happier if I had had an MBA instead.

I would say that option 1 will make you happiest in the long run.

KohPhiPhi
Jul 24, 2011, 07:00 AM
Having all your files in one single machine without having to sync all your devices is a blessing. If I was you, I would by a 11" MBA and an external 24" monitor ($200) to hook it up while at home.

Probably the best mobile setup in today's computing world.

GeilerMann
Aug 6, 2011, 12:47 AM
I've decided on the Air 13"! If I do want an iPad I'll have that option down the road.

Thanks!