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Old Jul 4, 2013, 10:06 AM   #1
Haseo
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Smile Ergonomics: MBA vs. RMBP

Hello MacRumors, first time post!

I was originally intending to purchase a new 2013 MBA with i7/8gb/128GB. However, upon viewing the price, I came to the realization that it is not far off from the price of the 13' RMBP. This leads me to consider which I should get of the two, but I have some hesitations on the decision.

I wanted to get some opinions/experiences on which macbook would be more ergonomical and comfortable when using on your lap. As for my uses, 90% of the time I will be using the computer for writing word documents and programming in XCode while reclined on my couch.

The power difference and cost difference between the two is a non-issue to me, so I need to decide which would be more comfortable to use. The RMBP has a retina display, which is awesome -- but the mba has a slimmer and slanted design and is lighter, which makes it seem like it would be more comfortable to use for typing. Does the design and weight difference make much of a difference?

I know the best thing to do would be to visit an Apple store and compare the two, but I do not have one nearby me and will be ordering online, so I was hoping for some experiences and opinions.

While although I may not be posting replies much as I am a bit busy, I will certainly read all replies, and appreciate any input on this! Thanks!
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Old Jul 4, 2013, 10:52 AM   #2
PDFierro
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Well even going to the Apple store wouldn't help too much, as you couldn't hold it in your lap.

Honestly, I think the 13-inch rMBP is better designed for easier typing/writing. Mainly because of the flat design and all else. But that's just me.

It's only half a pound difference between the MBA and MBP, and you get a far superior screen.
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Old Jul 4, 2013, 03:24 PM   #3
Haseo
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Originally Posted by PDFierro View Post
Well even going to the Apple store wouldn't help too much, as you couldn't hold it in your lap.

Honestly, I think the 13-inch rMBP is better designed for easier typing/writing. Mainly because of the flat design and all else. But that's just me.

It's only half a pound difference between the MBA and MBP, and you get a far superior screen.
Hmm, yeah I didn't think about that! Exactly why I would like some opinions from owners / people that haved used them. Thanks for your input!
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Old Jul 4, 2013, 03:57 PM   #4
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I've had both and both feel pretty good. I will always prefer slimmer and light but I like the screen enough to not care about the .5 pounds and little thickness.
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Old Jul 4, 2013, 04:21 PM   #5
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I used to have a 2011 MBP before I switched to the MBA last year and I prefer the keyboard of the MBP. IMO it was more comfortable to type on. That isn't to say the MBA keyboard is bad (it's still very good), I just prefer the MBP keyboard.
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Old Jul 4, 2013, 04:34 PM   #6
Stealth777
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Minor differences

I've got the 13" rMBP as well as the 2013 13" Air and there are subtle differences in typing on them.

I like the slightly larger desk on the Air, and the tapered edge..makes it's nicer to type on comfort wise.

I do get what others have said about the retina keyboard though. It has a more solid or substantial feel to it, I think mostly because of the extra weight of the laptop itself. It doesn't bounce around on your lap if you are a heavier typer like I am. A test would be to put both of them on your mattress and just start typing. You will see that the Air bounces up and down more which makes the keyboard "feel" a little less substantial although in reality I think they are probably both the same..just the weight of the machines making it a different experience.

Typing on a desktop I prefer the Air. I think the tapered edge is more ergonomic. Typing on my lap, I'm not sure which I prefer..maybe still the Air?

As far as machines though, the retina screen makes a big difference and in my small tests so far the retina runs more smoothly than the Air. The verdict is still out though.

In COD4 on default settings I was surprised that the Air got much warmer and much more quickly than the retina. Fan noise was an issue with the Air immediately. Same session on the retina, the fan cam on much later and ran more quietly..off topic I know..
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Old Jul 4, 2013, 04:37 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Haseo View Post
I wanted to get some opinions/experiences on which macbook would be more ergonomical and comfortable when using on your lap. As for my uses, 90% of the time I will be using the computer for writing word documents and programming in XCode while reclined on my couch.
I had a 13" MBA but I returned it for an 11" MBA. I found the 13" MBA a tad too large (albeit a fantastic PC), but the space below the keyboard was just too large for comfortable couch surfing. The footprint of the MBPr 13" is actually smaller than the 13" MBA. Myself I'd gone for the 13 MBPr.... but if your going for that, why not wait for the new MBPr rumoured in a couple of months?
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Old Jul 4, 2013, 04:42 PM   #8
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I have both. My preference is the MBPr since its more well balanced when using it in your lap. The bottom part of the Air is so light it moves around. On a desk it's down to very minute differences none of which are deal makers or breakers.
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Old Jul 4, 2013, 04:59 PM   #9
Farthen
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I guess it really depends on what you want to do.

I have an 11" Air as a companion to my 27" iMac. It's really great for using it on the lap, in bed and on the go in planes and trains. If you want a device you mainly use on a desk I'd get the 13" rMBP though. It's more powerful and has the retina display.

I wouldn't really consider the 13" Air though, the retina isn't that far off and has so many extra features.

If you want something you want to use on the go a lot though you should consider the 11" Air. It's really great for exactly that. It's so light, I don't even notice it's there when carrying it in my bag. Oh and it's cheaper too! You could spend the extra money on an external display.

No matter what you get, if you use your computer a lot I really recommend at least some sort of external display + keyboard/mouse. Especially ergonomics wise, your back will thank you later.
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Old Jul 4, 2013, 05:21 PM   #10
mattferg
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Haseo View Post
Hello MacRumors, first time post!

I was originally intending to purchase a new 2013 MBA with i7/8gb/128GB. However, upon viewing the price, I came to the realization that it is not far off from the price of the 13' RMBP. This leads me to consider which I should get of the two, but I have some hesitations on the decision.

I wanted to get some opinions/experiences on which macbook would be more ergonomical and comfortable when using on your lap. As for my uses, 90% of the time I will be using the computer for writing word documents and programming in XCode while reclined on my couch.

The power difference and cost difference between the two is a non-issue to me, so I need to decide which would be more comfortable to use. The RMBP has a retina display, which is awesome -- but the mba has a slimmer and slanted design and is lighter, which makes it seem like it would be more comfortable to use for typing. Does the design and weight difference make much of a difference?

I know the best thing to do would be to visit an Apple store and compare the two, but I do not have one nearby me and will be ordering online, so I was hoping for some experiences and opinions.

While although I may not be posting replies much as I am a bit busy, I will certainly read all replies, and appreciate any input on this! Thanks!
Don't get the i7. Money problem solved.
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Old Jul 4, 2013, 05:28 PM   #11
Haseo
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Originally Posted by haaX View Post
I had a 13" MBA but I returned it for an 11" MBA. I found the 13" MBA a tad too large (albeit a fantastic PC), but the space below the keyboard was just too large for comfortable couch surfing. The footprint of the MBPr 13" is actually smaller than the 13" MBA. Myself I'd gone for the 13 MBPr.... but if your going for that, why not wait for the new MBPr rumoured in a couple of months?
Hah, yes if I do decide for the RMBP I will indeed wait for the haswell upgrade -- it would be crazy not to with the substantial battery life upgrade!

As for the rest of the responses -- thanks all for the input! While although subjective, anecdotal experiences do indeed help my decision!
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Old Jul 4, 2013, 06:58 PM   #12
flynz4
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I'll take the contrarian view. IMHO... the MBA is the "deluxe" model in Apple's line of laptops.

Having said that: When asked for advice... my recommendation typically is:

If you will have one computer... buy a MBP
If you have a desktop + laptop... buy a MBA

IMHO... the very best solution is an iMac + MBA combination. Two optimized computers. When you must (or choose) to have one... the MBP is the best single machine to span the entire usage (especially if you get a ATD too).

/Jim
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Old Jul 4, 2013, 07:56 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flynz4 View Post
If you will have one computer... buy a MBP
If you have a desktop + laptop... buy a MBA

IMHO... the very best solution is an iMac + MBA combination. Two optimized computers. When you must (or choose) to have one... the MBP is the best single machine to span the entire usage (especially if you get a ATD too).

/Jim
I would agree with this. My current setup is a MBA and a Windows desktop. Though I'm thinking of switching to an iMac just for better compatibility with my MBA. But the idea behind it of having a more powerful device and more portable device stands.
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Old Jul 4, 2013, 09:55 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by flynz4 View Post
I'll take the contrarian view. IMHO... the MBA is the "deluxe" model in Apple's line of laptops.

Having said that: When asked for advice... my recommendation typically is:

If you will have one computer... buy a MBP
If you have a desktop + laptop... buy a MBA

IMHO... the very best solution is an iMac + MBA combination. Two optimized computers. When you must (or choose) to have one... the MBP is the best single machine to span the entire usage (especially if you get a ATD too).

/Jim
I don't agree with this for one reason only: if you don't need the additional power, the extra computer is meaningless. I'm currently using a cMBP, and I just purchased an Air to replace it because I wanted the extra resolution on the go, and the superior battery life (I suppose the weight difference is nice too) while the computing power that I lose is irrelevant to my needs.

If you don't do "serious" gaming (in which case, you would probably have a Windows PC anyway) or heavy duty media work, the argument for having a dedicated desktop computer is fairly weak IMO, unless you're going strictly for price/performance ratios. For those that do benefit from the additional horsepower, but still need something mobile to carry around with them, then yea, I would agree that's probably the ideal set-up.
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Old Jul 4, 2013, 10:19 PM   #15
PDFierro
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Originally Posted by haaX View Post
I had a 13" MBA but I returned it for an 11" MBA. I found the 13" MBA a tad too large (albeit a fantastic PC), but the space below the keyboard was just too large for comfortable couch surfing. The footprint of the MBPr 13" is actually smaller than the 13" MBA. Myself I'd gone for the 13 MBPr.... but if your going for that, why not wait for the new MBPr rumoured in a couple of months?
And you can comfortably type on the 11-inch Air even with the shortened palm rest area?

----------

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stealth777 View Post
I've got the 13" rMBP as well as the 2013 13" Air and there are subtle differences in typing on them.

I like the slightly larger desk on the Air, and the tapered edge..makes it's nicer to type on comfort wise.

I do get what others have said about the retina keyboard though. It has a more solid or substantial feel to it, I think mostly because of the extra weight of the laptop itself. It doesn't bounce around on your lap if you are a heavier typer like I am. A test would be to put both of them on your mattress and just start typing. You will see that the Air bounces up and down more which makes the keyboard "feel" a little less substantial although in reality I think they are probably both the same..just the weight of the machines making it a different experience.

Typing on a desktop I prefer the Air. I think the tapered edge is more ergonomic. Typing on my lap, I'm not sure which I prefer..maybe still the Air?

As far as machines though, the retina screen makes a big difference and in my small tests so far the retina runs more smoothly than the Air. The verdict is still out though.

In COD4 on default settings I was surprised that the Air got much warmer and much more quickly than the retina. Fan noise was an issue with the Air immediately. Same session on the retina, the fan cam on much later and ran more quietly..off topic I know..
Yeah, that's what I meant. The keyboard feels more solid on the rMBP, like it's made better or something. And I just prefer the design of the rMBP. It seems extremely comfortable to type on due to the perfect combination of design and how the keyboard/trackpad are vs. the Air.
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Old Jul 4, 2013, 10:25 PM   #16
Allan in T.Dot
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Clearly everyone here who has responded is not an ergonomist such as myself. Before I waste my time answering your question, did they answer your question or did you want a valid response related to the ergonomics of these two machines?
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Old Jul 4, 2013, 10:33 PM   #17
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Clearly everyone here who has responded is not an ergonomist such as myself. Before I waste my time answering your question, did they answer your question or did you want a valid response related to the ergonomics of these two machines?
So instead of being a smart-ass, why not voice your actual opinion?
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Old Jul 5, 2013, 01:16 AM   #18
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Oh I can't wait!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Allan in T.Dot View Post
Clearly everyone here who has responded is not an ergonomist such as myself. Before I waste my time answering your question, did they answer your question or did you want a valid response related to the ergonomics of these two machines?
We eagerly await your expert opinion.
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Old Jul 5, 2013, 01:28 AM   #19
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Clearly everyone here who has responded is not an ergonomist such as myself. Before I waste my time answering your question, did they answer your question or did you want a valid response related to the ergonomics of these two machines?
How does one become a ergonomist?
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Old Jul 5, 2013, 01:46 AM   #20
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One thing I think may be problematic- the location of the fan intake for the rMBP is on the bottom, so for me if I am on the couch I have to be careful with positioning it so the laptop doesnt sink in the sofa or a blanket or something (and block the vents).
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Old Jul 5, 2013, 03:18 AM   #21
dljeffery
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My two cents:

I just bought a 2013 13" MBA to replace my mid-2010 15" MPB. I love that I didn't drop in screen real estate to do so; both are 1440x900. Also, I noticed that I don't like 1440x900 on my old 15" MBP any more... it seems way too blown up for no good reason. Kind of like how when there were 12" and 14" iBooks back in the day with no resolution difference between the two.

If I had a 13" rMPB, I would miss the screen real estate from my old 15", unless I ran at non-retina resolutions. Honestly, with the 15" rMPB, I would love the quad cores and the ability for 16GB RAM... if the 13" rMPB offered either one of those, that probably would have swayed me from the Air line. But in the end, I decided that at least this time around, I preferred to go for a much smaller and lighter package, plus of course the amazing battery life. So far, I'm very pleased with my decision.

I also use Xcode a lot, along with the iPhone/iPad simulators. I don't think I'd be happy with either on the 13" rMPB without scaling the screen up. I seriously considered the 11" MBA before tossing it out based on just that factor.
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Old Jul 5, 2013, 04:07 AM   #22
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How does one become a ergonomist?
If he is a typical example you just twist your brain into a self-important position.
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Old Jul 5, 2013, 09:17 AM   #23
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How does one become a ergonomist?
Not sure, but presumably it doesn't take much effort.
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Old Jul 5, 2013, 09:23 AM   #24
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Well even going to the Apple store wouldn't help too much, as you couldn't hold it in your lap.
Come on now, you could bring a few friends along to pick up the macbooks around the macbook you want, get up, lie across the table and test it out. Granted, people WILL look at you funny, and an apple rep might kick you out after a while, you just got to be quick ;D

But to the OP. I personally dont know, because I havent had the MBA or 13" rMBP, but using the 15"rMBP is fine on my lap (in a horizontal position), lyeing down and proping it up on my knees, a bit annoying. While I would recommend the rMBP because of the performance, the tapered-ness of the air seems to be a better fit for lap usage; to me it seems it was designed for the purpose of being used on laps and in weird positions. While the rMBP is still a laptop, it seems more fit for flat surface usage (desk or your lap while sitting up).
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Old Jul 5, 2013, 09:25 AM   #25
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In terms of ergonomics on the 13" level there isn't much difference between the two machines. I would go with the Air if it was going to be on my lap for long periods of time.
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