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Old Feb 3, 2013, 06:30 PM   #1
JBHandJr
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What laptop for my needs?

I've been lurking for a month or two. I've read the buyers guides, "which apple laptop should I buy", and many posts. I will post my uses, my thoughts, and let the experts here help me make a determination.

Uses:
Word Processing (Student)
Excel (Make/use a lot of spreadsheets for work[does apple's "Excel" work well?])
Light gaming (SC2, World of Tanks)
Movies (Netflix, DVD but not a necessity)
Pictures
Webcam

Price Range:
$1100-1200 but have a little flexibility

My thoughts:
Mac Book Pro 13"
Mac Book Air 13"
Dell XPS 13 (Just came across this little gem and thought I would add it to the list. I've got no experience with Win8 but the comp looks cool)

Thanks for your help!
-Barry-
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Old Feb 3, 2013, 07:07 PM   #2
yusukeaoki
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For your need, a 13in Air should be enough.
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Old Feb 3, 2013, 07:09 PM   #3
skaertus
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JBHandJr View Post
I've been lurking for a month or two. I've read the buyers guides, "which apple laptop should I buy", and many posts. I will post my uses, my thoughts, and let the experts here help me make a determination.

Uses:
Word Processing (Student)
Excel (Make/use a lot of spreadsheets for work[does apple's "Excel" work well?])
Light gaming (SC2, World of Tanks)
Movies (Netflix, DVD but not a necessity)
Pictures
Webcam

Price Range:
$1100-1200 but have a little flexibility

My thoughts:
Mac Book Pro 13"
Mac Book Air 13"
Dell XPS 13 (Just came across this little gem and thought I would add it to the list. I've got no experience with Win8 but the comp looks cool)

Thanks for your help!
-Barry-
Any of these laptops will do. For your use, I would recommend a laptop with an SSD, as you would likely benefit from its speed and you would probably don't need much storage. However, you should tell us more about what do you expect from your laptop and what you have been using.

Note that Microsoft Office is available for Mac in the 2011 version, which is not as polished as the 2013 version which has just been released for Windows (nor as the 2010 version, which is the previous Windows version). But you can always install Windows on a Mac and run Office 2013 from there (that would require buying a separate Windows license, though).
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Old Feb 3, 2013, 07:12 PM   #4
whitedragon101
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From what you have said and assuming that a 15" is not on the cards due to size or money, the system you want is this a rMBP 13" . It has a fast cpu a good amount of ram and a fast ssd which makes the world of difference for speed you will notice on a daily basis. However, in order to get one you will need to stretch your budget to $1699 ($1529 with 10% student discount).

If I were you I would wait a little longer for Haswell (intels new CPU architecture after Ivy Bridge). Because :
1 - main reason)
The 13" rMBP graphics are on the CPU. Haswell will increase the graphics performance by up to 2x.
2 - probable bonus)
The prices of the rMBP may drop as eventually apple will want to get rid of the non retina MBP. So a slow drop until the prices line up makes sense.
3 - possible bonus)
The prices of SSDs are dropping fast. Apple may offer a 256gb ssd as the base model or reduce the price of the upgrade (don't count on this but it could be a nice bonus if it happens).
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Old Feb 3, 2013, 07:14 PM   #5
tudyniuz
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13" Air is your safest bet.
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Old Feb 3, 2013, 07:30 PM   #6
rrm998
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If you are going to run OS X I agree that the 13" MBA is a good choice for you. If you plan to load Windows via bootcamp then I'd suggest the Dell.
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Old Feb 3, 2013, 08:00 PM   #7
JBHandJr
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Thank you for the quick replies.

I appreciate the response about the rMBP but I don't know if that fits my needs the most.

Also, for those of you that said to wait. Well, I originally wanted the MBP but the Buyer's Guide says not to buy because the new one will be out soon (it looks like June from my research which would be too long to wait).

I am leaning towards the MBA13 but still not 100%.

I do NOT plan to run windows if I get any Mac.
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Old Feb 3, 2013, 08:24 PM   #8
Soulweaponry
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The buyers guide, in your situation, is 100% right. Don't wait. Go out and get yourself an air because that will fit your needs for a solid 4-5 years
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Old Feb 3, 2013, 08:33 PM   #9
KPOM
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If you aren't going to be using Windows primarily, I'd go with the 13" Air. It has a 1440x900 screen (vs the Pro's 1280x800), and with the SSD works pretty good. The extra real estate might come in handy when you are working with your spreadsheets.

Be advised that Excel 2011 doesn't work with a lot of Excel 2010 add-ons, and lacks features such as the Data Analysis ToolPak. Files are fully compatible, though. Word and PowerPoint have feature parity with the Windows versions. The UI is also a little quirky as it's a mix of the OS X menu bar and Office Ribbon.

For your spreadsheets it might be a good idea to run Office 2010 in Windows using Parallels Desktop or VMWare Fusion (I prefer Parallels, having used both).
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Old Feb 3, 2013, 08:38 PM   #10
hkim1983
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I agree with pretty much everything KPOM said.

I recommend the Air, and if you're going to run Excel, I recommend running it in virtualization software like Parallels. While you're at it, you could also just run Word over there too.
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Old Feb 3, 2013, 09:57 PM   #11
TC400
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I agree 13 inch air is your best bet.
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Old Feb 4, 2013, 08:09 AM   #12
theluggage
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JBHandJr View Post
I
Uses:
Word Processing (Student)
Excel (Make/use a lot of spreadsheets for work[does apple's "Excel" work well?])
Quote:
Originally Posted by hkim1983 View Post
I agree with pretty much everything KPOM said.

I recommend the Air, and if you're going to run Excel, I recommend running it in virtualization software like Parallels. While you're at it, you could also just run Word over there too.
Much as I like Macs and want to defend them, let's have a reality check here.

For most people, Office 2011 for Mac will be perfectly acceptable for 'mainstream' WP and spreadsheet use. Do the research and check that it supports the features that you need. Also consider what platforms and Office versions the people you will be exchanging documents with use.

If, however, you need Excel features not supported on Office 2011, and/or will be exchanging complex documents with PC users (i.e. lots of graphics and fiddly page layout) then, seriously, get a PC unless you have some other killer reason for wanting a Mac.

Parallels is great for that occasional Windows-only package that you just can't do without, and does a great job of integrating it with OS X but I would't want to use it for something as basic and everyday as WP and spreadsheet. Its a memory and disc space hog (if you're going down that route you want 8GB RAM and 256GB SSD minimum) and there's also the non-trivial expense of getting Parallels and a Windows license.

Remember the golden rule: decide what software you want to use and then buy the computer that runs it.
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