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Old Jan 27, 2013, 02:16 AM   #1
abuleban
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Life on the Road with 1 or 2 Laptops...

So, right now I am on an extended trip away from the US, currently heading from one Asian country to another. I left the US with a 2011 11" MBA as my only laptop, and very quickly watched it die before I landed in my first destination. Luckily, it was fixed with AppleCare (not sure what was fixed, hardware or software or both) but is has been working fine since.

That said, this has made me concerned about depending on one machine while traveling. Seriously, I can't do any work or keep track of anything without a laptop, and I refuse to go PC, bleeech!! So, I am considering snagging another Apple laptop and keeping the MBA as a backup. Also, as much as it meets my needs and is super-light, I tend to run it to its limits (can you hear the fan noise? I'd rather not), and I'd like my main machine to have a bit more oomf, ya know? It would add to my travel stuff weight a bit, but I'm looking to secure a one or two year contract within the next few months, and I have some reliable bases of operation in my next destination where I can leave excessive stuff if need be.

So, I have the next month to order a laptop and have a friend ferry it over to me; advice on this plan and/or which model would be very helpful;

First Choice: a refurb 15" rMBP.

Pros: They are a great price right now and a great machine. A base model would be fine, but if I can get a 16 GB RAM model, that would be sweet, been watching them sell out quick!

Cons: The dreaded IR... I'd rather not have to deal with that while abroad, and it seems to be an LG Samsung crap shoot still. Also, finding a decent sleeve is damn hard!!!!

Second Choice: a refurb 13" rMBP.

Pros: Smaller, lighter and can do all I need in style

Cons: For the money I'd pay, it just seems that a base 15" rMBP is still the better deal, despite the slight increase of weight and size. See also IR and sleeve annoyances.

Third Choice: a refurb 13" cMBP.

Pros: It's cheap, its dam good, and will also be plenty powerful. Upgradeable RAM also a plus.

Cons: One thing about the MBA that irks me is the fan noise, and I'd prefer my other laptop to be of the quiet variety. Also, they weigh almost as much as the 15" rMBP I think (I'll check), so if I'm going to lug another laptop with me, I might as well get more bang for the pound and buck

So folks, thanks again for any advice you can give!
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Old Jan 27, 2013, 04:59 AM   #2
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Consider the size of the machine when traveling too. Do you spend a lot of time using your laptop on an airplane? Do you fly coach? Is a 15" notebook going to be workable in that environment?

I don't hear any fan noise with my 13" MBP, even in SILENT rooms, it's fantastic. Unless I'm doing heavy duty stuff of course. Replacing the standard hard disc with an SSD will also help keep it very quiet.

I know a 15" model is a 'better value' because of the added performance, but it's still more expensive, even if it's a 'better value'. The reason I bring that up is, if an 11" MacBook Air handles your workload (you are just concerned about reliability), then I see no reason why a 13" MacBook Pro wouldn't also.

Of course, there are definitely advantages to the 15" as well!

I went with the 13", I don't travel as much as you, but I do travel a couple times a year. Having a 13" is just nice for that. It's a good form factor, it's light, it's portable. I went with the non-retina. The reason I did that, was simply cost. 128 gigs of storage isn't enough, I knew I needed at least 500gigs of internal SSD storage. Getting 512 gigs in the rMBP sends the price through the roof. And then some. Putting a 512 gig SSD in a non-Retina is a bit more reasonable.

So, that's me. You might be different! But those are my thoughts.
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Old Jan 27, 2013, 05:15 AM   #3
abuleban
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thanks for the feedback

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Originally Posted by el-John-o View Post
Consider the size of the machine when traveling too. Do you spend a lot of time using your laptop on an airplane? Do you fly coach? Is a 15" notebook going to be workable in that environment?

I don't hear any fan noise with my 13" MBP, even in SILENT rooms, it's fantastic. Unless I'm doing heavy duty stuff of course. Replacing the standard hard disc with an SSD will also help keep it very quiet.

I know a 15" model is a 'better value' because of the added performance, but it's still more expensive, even if it's a 'better value'. The reason I bring that up is, if an 11" MacBook Air handles your workload (you are just concerned about reliability), then I see no reason why a 13" MacBook Pro wouldn't also.

Of course, there are definitely advantages to the 15" as well!

I went with the 13", I don't travel as much as you, but I do travel a couple times a year. Having a 13" is just nice for that. It's a good form factor, it's light, it's portable. I went with the non-retina. The reason I did that, was simply cost. 128 gigs of storage isn't enough, I knew I needed at least 500gigs of internal SSD storage. Getting 512 gigs in the rMBP sends the price through the roof. And then some. Putting a 512 gig SSD in a non-Retina is a bit more reasonable.

So, that's me. You might be different! But those are my thoughts.
the only reason I'm considering the rMBP and the 15" specifically, is the current deal on the refurbished page. Right now, a base 15" rMBP refurb is sub 2 grand, which is a nice price point. Also, the air meets my needs. but just barely, and I find that I use my laptop for everything, work, fun, movies, etc, so the retina screen would be pretty sweet.

But yes, the 13 would be just fine as well; I've got the next few weeks to mull it over, so we'll see what happens!

thanks again!
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Old Jan 27, 2013, 07:12 AM   #4
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I have the 15" rMBP and I love it, I'd recommend that model. Yeah the IR could be an issue but for general usage I don't think its an issue
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Old Jan 27, 2013, 08:13 AM   #5
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How old is the 11" Air? I have the 2010 Core 2 Duo 11" Air and I've used the current gen 13" Air and the new processors are way faster. Getting the newer Air may just be fast enough for you.

But, because this is the MacBook pro thread, my official recommendation is to get the 13" Retina. That's what i have and love it.

Or maybe an iPad?
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Old Jan 27, 2013, 08:16 AM   #6
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thanks for the recc!

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I have the 15" rMBP and I love it, I'd recommend that model. Yeah the IR could be an issue but for general usage I don't think its an issue
thanks for your input; how is it in terms of mobility? Not too painful to travel around with it?
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Old Jan 27, 2013, 08:47 AM   #7
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How's your back? I think very carefully about adding weight to your luggage, unless you can afford porters and taxis everywhere.

Unless your Air is a lemon, which I highly doubt, it won't break down again.
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Old Jan 27, 2013, 09:09 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by abuleban View Post
thanks for your input; how is it in terms of mobility? Not too painful to travel around with it?
I owned a 13" MBP before this and I'd be lying if I said the 15" is as mobile as that is. The size and weight when traveling isn't bad, but not as good as the 13" The size/weight is offset when you reach your destination and are working on a larger screen. I like the 15" screen with the increased screen real estate - I found the 13" too limiting when using Photoshop and LightRoom
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Old Jan 27, 2013, 09:22 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by maflynn View Post
I owned a 13" MBP before this and I'd be lying if I said the 15" is as mobile as that is. The size and weight when traveling isn't bad, but not as good as the 13" The size/weight is offset when you reach your destination and are working on a larger screen. I like the 15" screen with the increased screen real estate - I found the 13" too limiting when using Photoshop and LightRoom
The weight isn't an issue because the 15" rMBP actually weighs less than the 13" MBP. The difference in footprint, though, is often just past the line between comfortable use while traveling and awkward positioning.
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Old Jan 27, 2013, 09:26 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maflynn View Post
I owned a 13" MBP before this and I'd be lying if I said the 15" is as mobile as that is. The size and weight when traveling isn't bad, but not as good as the 13" The size/weight is offset when you reach your destination and are working on a larger screen. I like the 15" screen with the increased screen real estate - I found the 13" too limiting when using Photoshop and LightRoom
I have both the 13" and the 15" cMBP, the 15" is pretty big compared to the 13" but I like the portability of the 13"

Though I do like the extra real screen estate on the 15" too.
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Old Jan 27, 2013, 11:29 AM   #11
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Third Choice: a refurb 13" cMBP.

Pros: It's cheap, its dam good, and will also be plenty powerful. Upgradeable RAM also a plus.

Cons: One thing about the MBA that irks me is the fan noise, and I'd prefer my other laptop to be of the quiet variety. Also, they weigh almost as much as the 15" rMBP I think (I'll check), so if I'm going to lug another laptop with me, I might as well get more bang for the pound and buck
I have the newest bare bones cMBP 13" and I never hear a thing. I put a decent load on it; I don't know what you'd do, but in my case the machine is super quiet. Maybe you'd want to get the i7 for a little more oomph.
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Old Jan 27, 2013, 01:44 PM   #12
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The weight isn't an issue because the 15" rMBP actually weighs less than the 13" MBP. The difference in footprint, though, is often just past the line between comfortable use while traveling and awkward positioning.
Exactly. My 13" MacBook pro could weight twice as much and still not bother me in my bag or even in my lap, my last laptop WAS twice as heavy and it didn't bother me. It's the amount of space it takes on my lap or on a tray table in a crowded airplane, on a folding desk in a conference room, on a desk in a class, etc. I deal with a lot of places where space is limited. It might seem like the 15" is only 2 inches bigger, but it's MUCH bigger in terms of footprint.

For folks toting around a 'mobile office' the 15" is a dream machine. Apple nailed it. It's desktop class (Perhaps not Mac Pro workstation class, but desktop class) performance in a mobile package with good battery life. If you've got at least a little space, it's perfect. But, for me, I'm often in situations where space is at a premium and a 13" MBP allows me to have room to work while still keeping my machine opened. With my former 15" laptop I just got rid of, I found myself closing the lid to write on a piece of paper on top of the laptop, having to squeeze it in between people, or even having people complain that it was a distraction in front of them. It doesn't seem like there's a big difference between the two, but there is, a HUGE difference. The 13" 'fits' and I no longer have ANY of those issues. Going to a MacBook Pro from a Windows laptop also means I no longer have to fight for an outlet or worry about battery life. I can honestly say, for what I use a notebook for, that is worth every dime I paid alone.

So for me? Life on the road (even if for me that road is only an hour or three away most of the time! :P) means a 13" MacBook Pro is heaven. For others it's different though. I know of a few videographers who can't imagine life on the road without their 17" MacBook Pro's and just don't know what they are going to do when they have to upgrade! Of course, they don't work on the plane or anything else (they have 11" airs or iPads for that!). They set it up in the hotel room as a mobile office. (I know of one who totes a 27" Cinema Display along with him and unpacks that along with his 17" MBP when he travels!)

All of these advantages (footprint, battery life, etc.) are the same with a retina or non retina so no comment there (I went with the non retina purely because of cheaper internal storage and the ability to run 16GB of RAM in the 13"), but obviously, my vote is for a 13" form factor.
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Old Jan 27, 2013, 05:31 PM   #13
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Thanks!

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Exactly. My 13" MacBook pro could weight twice as much and still not bother me in my bag or even in my lap, my last laptop WAS twice as heavy and it didn't bother me. It's the amount of space it takes on my lap or on a tray table in a crowded airplane, on a folding desk in a conference room, on a desk in a class, etc. I deal with a lot of places where space is limited. It might seem like the 15" is only 2 inches bigger, but it's MUCH bigger in terms of footprint.

For folks toting around a 'mobile office' the 15" is a dream machine. Apple nailed it. It's desktop class (Perhaps not Mac Pro workstation class, but desktop class) performance in a mobile package with good battery life. If you've got at least a little space, it's perfect. But, for me, I'm often in situations where space is at a premium and a 13" MBP allows me to have room to work while still keeping my machine opened. With my former 15" laptop I just got rid of, I found myself closing the lid to write on a piece of paper on top of the laptop, having to squeeze it in between people, or even having people complain that it was a distraction in front of them. It doesn't seem like there's a big difference between the two, but there is, a HUGE difference. The 13" 'fits' and I no longer have ANY of those issues. Going to a MacBook Pro from a Windows laptop also means I no longer have to fight for an outlet or worry about battery life. I can honestly say, for what I use a notebook for, that is worth every dime I paid alone.

So for me? Life on the road (even if for me that road is only an hour or three away most of the time! :P) means a 13" MacBook Pro is heaven. For others it's different though. I know of a few videographers who can't imagine life on the road without their 17" MacBook Pro's and just don't know what they are going to do when they have to upgrade! Of course, they don't work on the plane or anything else (they have 11" airs or iPads for that!). They set it up in the hotel room as a mobile office. (I know of one who totes a 27" Cinema Display along with him and unpacks that along with his 17" MBP when he travels!)

All of these advantages (footprint, battery life, etc.) are the same with a retina or non retina so no comment there (I went with the non retina purely because of cheaper internal storage and the ability to run 16GB of RAM in the 13"), but obviously, my vote is for a 13" form factor.
all good advice, but the footprint issue isn't a big concern for two reasons. One is that I'm planning on having both laptops, so for times I need the small footprint I'll use my 11", and two, I really don't need to work on airplanes that much.

The real challenge will be the weight/size when heading from one country to another, and frankly, the fact that my plans are a bit vague at the moment. I'll be heading out soon, & I'll see what happens when I reach my next destination!
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Old Jan 27, 2013, 05:36 PM   #14
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I routinely travel with two laptops, but not because I am afraid of one breaking down. That is just a little weird, I have to say.

Once you decide to go two laptops, you will need a rolling computer bag which can take two systems, and at that point, there is no issue with weight or with footprint. I carry a 17" Clevo and a 13" MBP - I do this internationally and it is not a problem.

If all you are afraid of is your system failing, just save your money now, but get in the habit of using Time Machine with an external drive. Should your main system fail, go out to an Apple store (there are about 400 of them worldwide) and get something that makes sense.

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Old Jan 27, 2013, 05:37 PM   #15
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I have 2 laptops, a Dell for gaming and App development, and a macbook air for web development. I plan on consolidating the 2 into a single retina macbook air and use VM's for everything. even 2 macbook air's is too much - not weight - but rather having to make sure you keep track of 2 of everything seems like twice the hassle for not very high returns.
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Old Jan 27, 2013, 06:05 PM   #16
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weird?

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I routinely travel with two laptops, but not because I am afraid of one breaking down. That is just a little weird, I have to say.

Once you decide to go two laptops, you will need a rolling computer bag which can take two systems, and at that point, there is no issue with weight or with footprint. I carry a 17" Clevo and a 13" MBP - I do this internationally and it is not a problem.

If all you are afraid of is your system failing, just save your money now, but get in the habit of using Time Machine with an external drive. Should your main system fail, go out to an Apple store (there are about 400 of them worldwide) and get something that makes sense.

R
So you travel with 2 laptops, which is normal, but me considering doing the same for different reasons is weird?

and as for time machine, I already use it, thank you very much. And buying a new mac abroad with an English keyboard for a decent price is not always easy nor affordable.

thanks for your advice!
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Old Jan 27, 2013, 08:14 PM   #17
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So you travel with 2 laptops, which is normal, but me considering doing the same for different reasons is weird?

and as for time machine, I already use it, thank you very much. And buying a new mac abroad with an English keyboard for a decent price is not always easy nor affordable.

thanks for your advice!
No - I travel with two laptops because I work for a company that uses medical software that the Mac's can't handle.

So one laptop is for that application (demos, etc.) and the MBP is for MS Office, etc. when I am at the hotel, etc.

I'll just back-out of this thread since you seem to have this well in-control and the tone of your reply suggests that you don't need any input.

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Old Jan 27, 2013, 09:36 PM   #18
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I usually carry my 15" rMBP and another computer. Currently that computer is a Samsung Windows 8 slate. An iPad isn't a computer.
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Old Jan 27, 2013, 11:03 PM   #19
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I carry 2 rMBP for my traveling. The MBA isn't that sturdy with all the traveling I do. It is lighter but I would choose the rMBP for the extra screen size. Why have two 13" ?
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Old Jan 28, 2013, 01:33 PM   #20
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Just change from a 13 MBA to a 15 MBPr and never looked back. Travels frequently from Europe to Asia and back. Not much of a difference in weight with all the electronic goodies in my bag i travel with.

Enjoying watching movies on my MBPr when i am at the lounges during transit.
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Old Jan 28, 2013, 01:56 PM   #21
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The RasFox Cappuccino neoprene/memory foam sleeve carry case on Amazon fits the retina 15" like a glove. I had it for my cMBP and it was a little too small, in fact the seams of the case looked like they might have burst over time. Good thing I kept the case because it is perfect for the size of the new rMBP.

It runs about $23 on Amazon shipped free for Prime members!
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Old Jan 29, 2013, 05:49 AM   #22
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thanks!

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The RasFox Cappuccino neoprene/memory foam sleeve carry case on Amazon fits the retina 15" like a glove. I had it for my cMBP and it was a little too small, in fact the seams of the case looked like they might have burst over time. Good thing I kept the case because it is perfect for the size of the new rMBP.

It runs about $23 on Amazon shipped free for Prime members!
looks like a winner!
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Old Jan 29, 2013, 09:20 AM   #23
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So, I am considering snagging another Apple laptop and keeping the MBA as a backup. Also, as much as it meets my needs and is super-light, I tend to run it to its limits (can you hear the fan noise? I'd rather not), and I'd like my main machine to have a bit more oomf, ya know?
Second Choice: a refurb 13" rMBP.

Pros: Smaller, lighter and can do all I need in style

Cons: For the money I'd pay, it just seems that a base 15" rMBP is still the better deal, despite the slight increase of weight and size. See also IR and sleeve annoyances.
I recently went from an 11.6" MBA to a 13" rMBP. I'd highly recommend it. The base 2.5GHz i5 is about as speedy as the 2.0GHz ULV i7 in the upgraded 2012 Air, and the fans are much quieter than they are in the Air. Although the 15" has the quad core processor and discrete GPU, the extra weight drew me to the 13" model. Even going from 2.4lbs to 3.6lbs was noticeable, so going to 4.5lbs seemed like too much of a stretch, particularly since I often carry my Mac on business trips as a second notebook.
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Old Jan 30, 2013, 07:03 AM   #24
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I recently went from an 11.6" MBA to a 13" rMBP. I'd highly recommend it. The base 2.5GHz i5 is about as speedy as the 2.0GHz ULV i7 in the upgraded 2012 Air, and the fans are much quieter than they are in the Air. Although the 15" has the quad core processor and discrete GPU, the extra weight drew me to the 13" model. Even going from 2.4lbs to 3.6lbs was noticeable, so going to 4.5lbs seemed like too much of a stretch, particularly since I often carry my Mac on business trips as a second notebook.
yeah, the weight is something to consider; then again, my plan is to have a stable job in the middle east in the next few months, so as long as i can get there, the extra weight is no biggie.... but I'll think about it!
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Old Jan 30, 2013, 06:46 PM   #25
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I know of a few videographers who can't imagine life on the road without their 17" MacBook Pro's and just don't know what they are going to do when they have to upgrade! Of course, they don't work on the plane or anything else (they have 11" airs or iPads for that!). They set it up in the hotel room as a mobile office.
I'm not a videographer, but otherwise this is me. My MBP 17 fits very comfortably into my carry-on roller-bag. If I'm flying business class or premium economy, it gets used during the flight; if I'm flying economy, the iPad is used during the flight. The MBP gets used in the lounge, at the hotel and on location.
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