Are Two Macs Better than One?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by colgate13, Jul 10, 2006.

  1. colgate13 macrumors newbie

    colgate13

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2006
    #1
    First post, so forgive me for missing any topics that might have covered this. I looked, and nothing seemed to be similar. Here's my situation:

    I'm happily making the move to Mac from Windows. I've done my homework and test drives and can't wait. I have read the advice to wait until WWDC to buy, which works out fine for me since I will be purchasing in late August at the earliest but it could be into September as well. Without knowing what WWDC will bring, would I be better served getting a loaded 17" MacBook Pro for about $2,600 (edu discount) or a 17" iMac AND a MacBook for about the same price give or take $100 or so?

    Portability ranks pretty high for me as I'm a faculty member at a school and have about 4 1/2 months off a year to travel and see friends. The uses of my computer are the usual suspects of internet, email, chat, word processing, etc. The most intense stuff would be iPhoto (maybe Aperture one day!), iMovie and iDVD as I take a lot of video of the kids, dog, etc. That said, could I get by with an iMac to do that stuff at 'home' and have the MacBook to take around with me? Will the MacBook still be able to handle iMovie, iDVD at a lesser basis or will I wish I had the MacBook Pro when I'm away for a few weeks?

    Is there anything anticipated on the horizon that will take me a new direction than any of these?

    My gut tells me to get the loaded MacBook Pro, but my head says that the flexibility of two computers has a huge upside to having almost the best of both worlds.

    Any thoughts? Thanks.
     
  2. Eidorian macrumors Penryn

    Eidorian

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    #2
    It depends on how much 3D power you need on the portable. Honestly, I'd like two Macs to abuse Xgrid.
     
  3. Queso macrumors G4

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    Mar 4, 2006
    #3
    I would say it depends on how portable you want the laptop to be. A MacBook is perfect for just sliding into a rucksack and taking wherever you go. A MacBook Pro is obviously heavier and bulkier.

    With two you also get the ability to back up your data between them and if God forbid you dropped the portable, you would still have the second computer to work on. But, two take up more space, and maybe you like the idea of not having to dedicate furniture to a computer.

    Personally, I'd go for two.
     
  4. Eidorian macrumors Penryn

    Eidorian

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    #4
    Yeah, the only big problem I can think of is synchronizing data between the two machines. Always, make backups too.
     
  5. Steven1621 macrumors 6502a

    Steven1621

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    #5
    i personally don't like working from two different computers. i find it annoying having my files in two different places. it is difficult to keep everything in sync perfectly.
     
  6. stonyc macrumors 65816

    stonyc

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    #6
    If it were my choice, I'd go for the iMac + Macbook combination... iMac gets the heavier stuff (video editing, burning) and the Macbook gets the lighter stuff (travel, photos, music) with both of them sharing the workload in terms word processing, spreadsheets, etc. wherever needed. Though, I'm used to larger screens now so I'd probably go for the 20" iMac instead of the 17"... but that would defeat the purpose of keeping the prices comparable between your two options.
     
  7. ITASOR macrumors 601

    ITASOR

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    Oneida, NY
    #7
    I would go for just 1 computer. I have tried doing the combo of desktop+laptop and it just didn't work for me. I was always using one or the other for months at a time making it pointless having 2. When I was using both, the file I needed was always on the computer I wasn't. It just wasn't worth it....I sold them and bought a 12" iBook and have been very happy with my choice.
     
  8. QCassidy352 macrumors G3

    QCassidy352

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    #8
    well, in theory, I like the idea of two macs. The macbook is lighter and smaller than the pro, so it would be nicer to carry around. And it's nice to have a desktop to work at when you're at home - you can have it connected to a mouse, keyboard, speakers, printer, scanner, ipod dock, etc. and not have to always be plugging and unplugging all that from your laptop.

    But in practice, for the short time that I had two macs, I didn't really like it. I was forever worrying about having the right files and most updated versions of said files on the machine I was on at the time. And sometimes I'd add bookmarks or programs, or change settings on one and then realize that I hadn't done it on the other machine.

    So in short, two computers was more hassle than it was worth for me. I like simplicity. :) But if there were a really elegant way of syncing everything (not a limited sync like .mac does) then I would probably go for the two.

    my vote: 17" macbook pro. :cool:
     
  9. colgate13 thread starter macrumors newbie

    colgate13

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    Jul 10, 2006
    #9
    Great stuff - thanks!

    Let me throw this curveball in for consideration as well:

    Through work I will get this fall some sort of small Dell laptop for work and travel. Does that change anyone's thoughts?

    Also, on a scale of 1-10 if I'm purchasing in September would it be wise to wait to see what happens with the MacBook Pro and Merom (sp?)?
     
  10. colgate13 thread starter macrumors newbie

    colgate13

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    #10
    This aspect concerns me as well. I plan to stream music wirelessly throughout my house and out on the deck. Does the iMac house the music or the laptop? How do you keep them in sync? Do they even need to be in sync?
     
  11. nadyne macrumors 6502a

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    #11
    I've got multiple Macs. At work, I've got a PowerBook G4 and a Mac Mini (Intel). The PB is my main work computer. I use the Mini for testing out current builds of our software. I occasionally copy files across the two, or connect to one from the other via Apple Remote Desktop. But for the most part, the two machines live separate lives.

    At home, I've got a MacBook, a Mac Mini (PPC), and an old iMac G4. The Mini has a slew of hard drives hooked up to it, and functions as the server. The MacBook is my primary personal machine. There's more copying going on between the two. I use the MB for pretty much everything, and rarely wish that it had more horsepower.

    Personally, I didn't get a 17-inch MBP because it's not portable enough. I travel extensively, and want to be able to work anywhere. The 17-inch MBP is too big to use on an airplane (for me, anyway; YMMV). The 17-inch MBP doesn't fit into my usual carry-on bag, so I'd have to get something else for that, too. The weight is too much for me to want to lug around all the time.

    Another option that you might want to consider is the MB + a big external display. I think that you're going to find the available screen real estate more limiting than the MB's horsepower. I do that with my 15-inch PB at work, and it's really fantastic. My external monitor sits directly in front of me and has whatever I'm working on. My PB sits to the right of the monitor, and has extra stuff on it: Messenger, other stuff that I might consult while I'm working on whatever's on my main monitor, that kind of thing. For example, if I'm working on a presentation, I'll have PowerPoint on my main monitor and a couple of Word documents or webpages on the PB's screen.
     
  12. BlizzardBomb macrumors 68030

    BlizzardBomb

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    #12
    Have you considered a loaded 15" MacBook Pro + External Monitor. If you want power anywhere and portability this may be an option worth considering.
     
  13. Applespider macrumors G4

    Applespider

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    looking through rose-tinted spectacles...
    #13
    I'm pondering the same thing.

    I currently have a Powerbook which has been brilliant (and the iBook/PB performance when I got it, seriously swayed me to the PB). This time round, I think I might get an iMac for the house... and then replace the PB with a Macbook when it dies.

    Why? I want a bigger HD than the portables currently offer. The bigger screen will make it easier to work on photos/movies at home (where I'd use it most of the time) and I'd leave the media files on the bigger hard drive and share the Libraries so I still have access to them on the laptop while at home.

    I might keep a subset of my iTunes/iPhoto libraries on the portable while seriously out and about but not all.
     
  14. QCassidy352 macrumors G3

    QCassidy352

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    #14
    well, I like to keep them in sync because I'm forever buying music, making/altering playlists, and playing things based on changing ratings/last played... so yeah, that's something that was annoying for me.

    hmm. Well, not really, because either way you're going to be buying a mac laptop, right? It's not like a mac desktop/dell laptop is even on the table (from what you said before). If anything, that info makes me lean even more strongly towards the MBP option because otherwise you're keeping things updated on 3 computers. :eek: (unless the dell just does work stuff and its tasks do not overlap with the mac(s) at all)
     
  15. colgate13 thread starter macrumors newbie

    colgate13

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    #15
    Doesn't this mean giving up the dual layer superdrive and a 800 firewire port? Looking down the road, I could see this being useful to have... or am I wrong?
     
  16. DevilsRejection macrumors regular

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    Apr 13, 2006
    #16
    I love my current setup.

    My iMac 20 inch core duo at home, and my Thinkpad X40 ultraportable that gets 8 hours of battery life and weighs 3.4 pounds

    I won't get an Apple laptop until they make them smaller and weigh less and have longer battery life :mad:
     
  17. nadyne macrumors 6502a

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    Mountain View, CA USA
    #17
    For my various machines, the server at home is my primary music device. (I subscribe to various podcasts on my Mac Mini in my office, which I listen to while I'm working.) I synch my iPod with the server. I don't have any music on either of my laptops, or on my iMac G4.
     
  18. eji macrumors 6502

    eji

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    Location:
    Inland Empire
    #18
    dotMac is killer for keeping Macs in sync. It's an extra $99 per year (though you can find it a various times for $69 on sites like dealmac.com and renew that way), but I find it invaluable. Right now I'm freelancing several hours away from home, and I've taken my wife's iBook with me. Before I left, I synced everything with one click via dotMac and all my settings are in place, all my contacts and calendars are up to date, all my passwords in my keychain are current, and so on. It was just like sitting down to a smaller version of my iMac. When I get back, I'll sync again, and all the changes will be updated on my iMac at home.

    If you're not content with keeping duplicate music on your MacBook, you can upload up to 2GB of music to your iDisk on dotMac, depending on how much else you've got stored there, and access it via your MacBook when you're away. At home, I've got about 1TB of music that I keep stored on external drives attached to my iMac, and my wife can access it all when she's working downstairs on the iBook. If you've used iTunes, you'll know how easy it is to share music at home through a wireless router.

    Personally, I'd go with the iMac/MacBook combo. Unless you're using the portable for gaming and 3D design, the MacBook will be more than powerful enough, and it'll likely be smaller than any Dell you might get through work. Plus, as I said, it'll be easier to keep things in sync if you've got two Macs and dotMac.
     
  19. colgate13 thread starter macrumors newbie

    colgate13

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    Jul 10, 2006
    #19
    this is good advice! Thanks.


    Dell just does work stuff. No plans for personal stuff whatsoever, but I *could* use it for such if I wanted to. But you're right - now I've got 3 computers to keep track of.

    One nice upside though that I just thought of with two computers is that in a married family (or a couple/whatever your tastes), you could use the two macs to video iChat if one person had to be away. I travel away from home about 10 days a year, but I don't think those 10 days would be enough to sway me.

    I guess what it comes down to for me is I think I'd rather have one amazing computer than just two really good ones. Is this wrong? If I'm not a professional do I really *need* the amazing computer, or is that just $800 more profit for Apple based on good marketing and my fears? :)
     
  20. BlizzardBomb macrumors 68030

    BlizzardBomb

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    #20
    Well would you find any of these features particularly useful? If you create DVDs bigger than 4.7GBs and use a FW800 port (which very few people do), then this may not be an option. Of course, you could buy an external DVD drive but then you could counter that by saying its more hassle (albeit about 30 seconds more hassle + cost).

    Also, remember the new MBPs which are due any time soon, could have DL drives.
     
  21. Eidorian macrumors Penryn

    Eidorian

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    #21
    You can get a FireWire 800 port using the ExpressCard slot and do you really plan on burning a dual layer DVD in the field? An external FireWire burner would be a good option.
     
  22. dextertangocci macrumors 68000

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    Apr 2, 2006
    #22
    .mac?
     
  23. colgate13 thread starter macrumors newbie

    colgate13

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    Jul 10, 2006
    #23
    You've all got me spinning in circles! :)

    I'm sitting at about 60GB of music and growing daily. Some sort of external hard drive is already in my budget for this purpose. Your point about accessing the drives via a share in iTunes is an attractive consideration. So basically, the iMac has all the goods (backed up/supplemented by an external hard drive) and the MacBook is for around the house/across at the library, etc. I could then have the option of just using the iPod for music or just having some music on the MacBook. Interesting proposition!

    And when on the road/vacation, I have to remember the iPod will still house my music (and a second one if I buy when the rebate is good - another topic). I'm all over the place right now - I apologize.
     
  24. Eidorian macrumors Penryn

    Eidorian

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    #24
    I'm not one to spend money. There's probably a free or cheaper shareware solution that I don't know of.
     
  25. QCassidy352 macrumors G3

    QCassidy352

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    Mar 20, 2003
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    Bay Area
    #25
    no, you certainly don't need the amazing computer (macbook pro). You could definitely get by with a macbook as your only computer, if you were so inclined. I do, and it's not exactly a struggle. ;)

    Yeah, the MBP is more computer than you need, but that never hurt anyone. The only downside is that it's expensive, but you sounded like you were going to spend $2700 on either one set up or the other. If the decision is just between a 1-computer $2700 set up and a 2-computer $2700 set up then I'd go for the one computer set up. If spending much less and getting only a macbook were on the table as an option, I might advise that. :)
     

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