Please help me choose my first Apple computer(s)!

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by docjay, Dec 15, 2012.

  1. macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2012
    #1
    Hi everybody,

    Thanks for the great posts. I am considering making the switch after 20 years of PC use to Apple. I run an online business through my laptop. The daily routine is having about 20 tabs open in Google Chrome consisting of about 6 GMail accounts, bank, Google Docs, and websites.

    At the office, I quickly snap in my 24" monitor's cable, internet cord, printer USB and laptop power cords, and monitor's speakers and I'm ready to work. My wireless keyboard/mouse are logitech and use a really miniature USB that stays in the laptop 24/7. At the end of the day, I unplug, throw my laptop in my briefcase and off I go. This is convenient since my work follows me wherever I go and I may need access to a document that was worked on at work.

    I'm ready to spend $4k on a more robust system that makes more sense and is more reliable. I'm personally scared of this $400 laptop crashing any day and I'm not sure I want to carry it with me everywhere. It has a large "footprint".

    What would you recommend setting up for my office and/or on-the-go portable device? One macbook that I treat the same way (with me always)? Two Apple devices that are synced always? I have no idea where to even start having never owned an Apple product.

    I don't deal with graphic design but do enjoy a larger screen. I can continue using my ViewSonic monitor if that's possible with Apple.

    FWIW, I use and enjoy an Android phone.

    Thanks!!!
     
  2. macrumors 65816

    aerok

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2011
    #2
    Well any Macbook would work well with you, you'll need an adapter for your Viewsonic monitor (VGA or DVI).

    I would suggest the 13inch Air for you but since you need a bigger screen, a 15in Macbook Pro can also be an option. And it seems that you can also afford the Retina version which is lighter.

    One Macbook should be enough for you, keep the rest of your money for a nice vacation :)
     
  3. macrumors 68030

    Spink10

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2011
    #3
    Grab a 15 rMBP - if your financially well off :)
     
  4. docjay, Dec 15, 2012
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2012

    thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2012
    #4
    Thank you! I know this question probably could use a thread of its own, but is the main difference between the 13 inch Air vs 15 inch Pro a bigger screen (and nicer one)?

    I was thinking I should buy an iMac + Macbook + something that syncs them (mini server?). It sounds like plugging and unplugging my laptop is the way to go, since some days I work from home. Hmm.

    ----------

    How would this solve the problem of having my work synced all the time in case I'm on the go and need to work (or at my home office)? Edit: I see that is the Mac Book Pro w/ Retina. So you recommend carrying that around with me and plugging into my external stuff when I'm at my office? Looks big and heavy online.
     
  5. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2012
    #5
    Isn't it a waste to buy retina display if I'm usually on an external monitor (90% of the time)?
     
  6. macrumors demi-god

    ChristianJapan

    Joined:
    May 10, 2010
    Location:
    日本
    #6
    Something out of the box:
    Get a Mac Mini connected to an AirPort Extreme to the Internet and keep it running; working as server.
    Get an iPad and use a software called TeamViewer to connect to the Mini. Kind of remote terminal. This way you dot risk loosing the laptop & data while on the go.
     
  7. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2012
    #7
    Thanks for the input. I have an iPad (came with my car) and I don't use it for work purposes because I type a lot and need something sturdy. Should I use your suggested setup with a light laptop like the Macbook Air? Also, is the speed the same when you're working in the office or remotely via TeamViewer? I know on the PC, when using remote log in, it's very slow. I need a solution that is just as efficient as being in the office with no lag-time.
     
  8. macrumors 68040

    McGiord

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2003
    Location:
    Dark Castle
    #8
    Any Mac will work for you. Get a 13" MacBook + the cable adapter for the monitor+ enough external HDD for backups. Also a Mac Mini could work fine, and to keep them in sync you have several alternatives, depending on what exactly is what you want to keep in sync. Mac OS have many features for this.
     
  9. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2012
    #9
    I went to the Apple store today and absolutely fell in love with the 27" iMac - but the salesman said that if I want to keep the data on my laptop, I'd have to work from a thumb drive (keep my files there so I'd plug that in each day at work and then have it on my keychain to plug into my laptop when I want to work outside of the office). Is this really the best scenario? They said connecting to my office via internet, a la TeamViewer type services, would be choppy and too slow for regular use.
     
  10. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2012
    #10
    If ur willing to spend the money, a MacBook Pro with a Thunderbolt Display is a really nice and convienient setup. Most everything at work plugs into the back of the monitor so when u get there u only need to plug in the thunderbolt cord and power. If ur just doing email and web browsing, a MacBook Air would also do fine if u prefer the even greater portability when u are not in the office (u can still hook it to the TB display) Or u could get two devices and sync via the Internet, but if ur on the go and don't have access to Internet that would obviously be a problem. The single device solution is nice because u can pick up exactly where u left off
     
  11. macrumors demi-god

    ChristianJapan

    Joined:
    May 10, 2010
    Location:
    日本
    #11
    Yes, TeamViewer can be laggy,it's easy to use but similar to other desktop sharing apps limited in speed. You still could give it a try; there is a free trial.

    I read your OP one more time. You said you use GoogleDocs. Do you store your documents also locally or on Google Server ? If the later you just connect with two devices on the same account and share.
    You can also utilize DropBox to sync files between office and laptop. Or iCloud.

    Key question is: What's your connectivity while on the road. Do you have stable online access or do you need offline mode ?

    Here is what I would do (actually have for private stuff):
    Setup a VPN connection into my office/home and have a server (Mac Mini, NAS or Linux) running providing the data as file server. Then you can use the iMac and and MacBook Air (MBA) to access those files; organize a centralized backup etc.
     
  12. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2012
    #12
    That would be great. I just read some concerning reviews from people who tried this set up, though: http://store.apple.com/us/reviews/MC914LL/B/apple-thunderbolt-display-27-inch
     
  13. macrumors demi-god

    ChristianJapan

    Joined:
    May 10, 2010
    Location:
    日本
    #13
    ... But for business a bit risky ... What if you loose your laptop or it get stolen. Some redundancy and backup is still required to keep business running (I assume).
     
  14. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2012
    #14
    Work purpose documents are stored locally - Google Docs are used to collaborate with some contractors. Connectivity on the road is not stable. Just depends on where I am (coffee shop with wireless vs. literally on the road without wifi but needing to do some work). I guess a DropBox account for my work folder and two machines may be the answer? It seems silly though because I suspect I'll be carrying my laptop in my briefcase anyway. Hmm.:confused:

    ----------

    Backup is quite important and should be factored into the equation.
     
  15. macrumors demi-god

    ChristianJapan

    Joined:
    May 10, 2010
    Location:
    日本
    #15
    Ok, if the connectivity is not stable and you need offline access to files I think a laptop serves you best. Still keep backup in mind.
    MBP or MBA for the road; store data on DropBox and if you like get an iMac for office for convenience. It should sync to the same DB and can do the additional backup tasks of it.
     
  16. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2012
    #16
    Yeah the reviews are either great or horrible, but thats pretty typical for a lot of products

    I didnt check the apple reviews prior to posting but I checked the reviews on amazon - 4/5 overall - and they seem to be more promising, with most negative reviews from people doing something that you shouldn't (hooking up to Mac Pro or Apple TV) and blaming the product. If there is an apple store near, u could always try one and return if issues arise.

    Or if u are content with your current setup u can plug everything in as u do currently. Keep in mind the MacBook Air has fewer ports than the pro if u need to plug in lots of separate things

    Someone also suggested a data backup which is a good idea. Time machine which comes with the operating system is a really good and automatic backup tool whenever the external hard drive is connected. A cloud based service such as Dropbox or google drive can also be useful in case something happens to the desktop components.
     
  17. macrumors 604

    SnowLeopard2008

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2008
    Location:
    Silicon Valley
    #17
    I'd recommend getting the 15" MBP (or rMBP). You mentioned that you enjoy a large screen. I'd recommend the 15" rMBP simply because it's a better laptop with a drop-dead gorgeous screen. It's also relatively light and very powerful. As for your work situation, I'd recommend VMware Fusion to virtualize Windows so you can replace your work laptop. This software basically runs Windows in a window under Mac OS X. You launch it just like any other app and close it when your done. All without rebooting or switching computers or syncing or any of that. It's Windows but in a window. That way you can have all your Windows programs with you in a single computer. It will work exactly like your current work laptop, except it will have virtually no footprint of its own. You can transfer all your programs and files on your work laptop to the Windows VM. Maybe keep the VM image on an external and plug that into your Mac for work. Backing up your work files will be as simple as drag and drop. Just drag the VM image (it's a single file) onto an external hard drive and keep that offsite or something.
     
  18. macsmurf, Dec 30, 2012
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2012

    macrumors 65816

    macsmurf

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2007
    #18
    I think that using a laptop coupled with one or more 24"-inch external monitors is a great way to work. If fact I do it myself in my work (software development) even though I don't work that much outside of the office. It's a very simple and flexible setup. I suggest you stick with it. My laptop of choice would be the 13" Macbook Air.

    Robustness is an important part of a good setup, especially when running a business. Downtime can be extremely expensive even if you don't lose any work. I've heard good things about CrashPlan, which is a commercial online backup solution that works for all major platforms. In the event of your laptop failing you should be able to get at your files from any other computer including your current one. You might want to combine this with a Time Capsule at the office which makes it easy to restore your entire computer and not just the documents.

    So to summarise: Take a look at CrashPlan. If you decide this is a good solution start using it now. Then go out and buy a new laptop. Keep your old laptop as a backup and make sure you can switch back to this fairly quickly in case of your primary laptop failing.
     
  19. macrumors 603

    thekev

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2010
    #19
    I don't see where the imac fits in. The mini could ensure a working backup machine. Make sure to bump ram to 8GB or so for a bit of a comfort zone there. 4 cuts it too close. You can do this on your own quite cheap as long as you test it upon installation. Remember that any computer can experience problems. Any hard drive can crash. It's not limited to cheap notebooks. Apple has a loaner program when your computer is in for repairs if you sign up for it prior to purchasing the machine. I'm not sure about cost. The old one was $100/year for up to 3 machines, but my experience with it wasn't very consistent. You could even go with just the macbook pro. Backups are the important thing. A 13" macbook pro would work just fine. An Air would be slightly more irritating, as it doesn't have an ethernet port and your thunderbolt port would be populated by the display. You can obtain a DVI or whatever to mini displayport cable. Don't use the Apple thunderbolt cable on the viewsonic. If it's DVI, make sure it's the correct DVI type.

    Yes although if you were going with a 15" mbp + ssd anyway I could see it. The price would be similar.

    I know a couple people that use them successfully. I don't know if they use speakers. It's nice being able to plug in a single cable at your desk. Make sure the reflectivity won't bother you if you go this route.
     
  20. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2012
    #20
    I got a 13" rMBP and a 13" MBA (for wife) yesterday. Gonna be quite the learning curve. I plan on continuing to just plug in each day and take the macbook with me when I leave the office. I may upgrade to a Thunderbolt display in the future. This seemed like the most reasonable set up.

    If my work documents are just Excel, Word, and PPT - I was told that I can use Pages and it will always keep those docs on the cloud so that I can get a iMac for work and then a little 11" MBA for on the go and home office to access those docs. Is that true? My MS Word docs are full of comments and track changes though and I'm not sure if Pages can handle that very well.
     
  21. macrumors 6502a

    LeandrodaFL

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2011
    #21
    Welcome to the Mac world. Now, let me give you some personal input:

    Thunderbolt display is a complete waste of money. For the same price, you are better getting an iMac. BTW, I would sugest you iMac 27" and keep your windows laptop for some time because.....you have to backup no matter what computer you are in. I have no fear of my windows PC crashing cause I have backups, and it did crashed 3 times in 2012...but Im safe.

    Regarding Microsoft Office douments, there is an Apple program called TextEdit (comes with your mac) that opens all and every Word file. So dont worry about word documents anymore. Moreover, there is a free suite called OpenOffice wich has all the Office/iWork programs for free. And yes, they have one for Excel.. Another option is LibreOffice. I prefer the former but both are popular
     
  22. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2012
    #22
    Thanks - would those TextEdit, OpenOffice, LibreOffice programs allow for the rich editing that I need to do on MS Word (commenting & track changes, primarily)? I'm not liking how this macbook pairs up with my Viewsonic display or logitech keyboard and mouse, so I may just opt for an iMac + an 11" macbook (or PC) for on the go stuff. I can keep work materials on, and work from, a thumb drive. I'll just back that thumb drive up once a week or so in case I lose it or it becomes corrupt. I figure buying an external magic track pad and keyboard (and not to mention thunderbolt) make this solution considerable.
     
  23. macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2012
    #23
    Congrats on the choice, the learning curve may not be as bad as you think. If you REALLY think you'll have some trouble learning new keyboard shortcuts and processes, check out http://www.amazon.com/Switching-Mac...70655&sr=1-3&keywords=o'reilly+computer+books

    Regarding Pages and the Cloud. Be VERY careful about assuming that it's happening. If you transferred the document to your Documents folder in Finder it's stored locally on the Mac.
     
  24. macrumors 65816

    macsmurf

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2007
    #24
    Using a non-Apple keyboard is going to suck, but what's wrong with the monitor and the mouse?
     
  25. macrumors member

    nightmars

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2010
    Location:
    Germany
    #25
    I definitely recommend a 13" Macbook Air + the Thunderbolt Display.

    It'll absolutely fly for your required tasks and you'll only need one adapter cable when hooking it to the display at work since you can connect your printer, network and more things to the display constantly. You'll roughly looking at costs of 2,5-3K and save 1000 bucks.

    When on the move you'll absolutely love the MB Air. I have been using the 11" since 2010 and I still love my (old) machine.

    cheers
     

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