11" MacBook Air or Mac Mini + Chromebook?

11" MacBook Air or Mac Mini + Chromebook?

  • 11" MacBook Air

    Votes: 28 82.4%
  • Mac Mini + Chromebook

    Votes: 6 17.6%

  • Total voters
    34

dmk1974

macrumors 68020
Original poster
Sep 16, 2008
2,153
103
I am comparing the overall cost and capability of having one of the following options. Please note, that my usage is primarily web browsing, email, some office apps (word and excel) and very limited photo/video editing. I also do use cloud storage via Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive. I also have an iPad Mini Retina that I use once in a while at home as well (bed, couch).

Option A:
2014 MacBook Air MD711LL/B
~$708 Best Buy with student discount after tax and rewards

Option B:
c720 Chromebook
~$175 Best Buy with student discount after tax and rewards
2012 Mac Mini
~$540 with self-upgraded RAM

These two particular options come out to be just about the same cost. I do have a desktop monitor/keyboard/trackpad that I use to connect my current laptop. But like the portability of these smaller 11" machines too.

The benefit of Option A is that it's just one machine and can work in either desktop or portable setting. The benefit of Option B is that it gives me more power at my desktop and I don't risk breaking a much more expensive machine when carrying around the laptop. I would also plan to use Chrome Remote desktop if needed to connect the Chromebook to the Mac in case there is something that the Chromebook can't do (though, most would be web based usage). My daughter has this particular c720 Chromebook and it's a pretty decent budget machine (I was a bit surprised).

What would you rather have based on this usage and choices of these two? Thanks!
 

Crosscreek

macrumors 68030
Nov 19, 2013
2,862
5,713
Margarittaville
If you need portability get the MBA. For what your doing it would be fine and it is up to date tech.
The Mini tech is 2 years old and not worth the current price.
 

oneMadRssn

macrumors 601
Sep 8, 2011
4,739
11,030
New England
I would go with option B personally.

However, if you already have an iPad, I think the chromebook would be superfluous. There is not a whole lot the chromebook can do that an iPad cannot.
 

dmk1974

macrumors 68020
Original poster
Sep 16, 2008
2,153
103
I would go with option B personally.

However, if you already have an iPad, I think the chromebook would be superfluous. There is not a whole lot the chromebook can do that an iPad cannot.
I agree that there is some overlap. But when typing anything longer than a few lines, I can't stand the iPad. I know I can get a keyboard to carry around as well for it. But there are times that I very much prefer the laptop format...like for my upcoming fantasy football draft :).
 

MarvinHC

macrumors 6502a
Jan 9, 2014
756
221
Belgium
I agree that there is some overlap. But when typing anything longer than a few lines, I can't stand the iPad. I know I can get a keyboard to carry around as well for it. But there are times that I very much prefer the laptop format...like for my upcoming fantasy football draft :).
Get the 11" Air - in no time you will throw your iPad away :)
 

yosemit

macrumors regular
Jul 19, 2013
167
0
The benefit of Option B is that it gives me more power at my desktop
Probably not for most jobs, if it's a 2012 Mac mini with HDD. The Macbook Air 2014 will have better performance for most jobs, much better for some jobs.
 

0983275

Suspended
Mar 15, 2013
472
56
Can't agree with that. I use my IPad as much as my Mini. The Mini is the work truck and the IPad is the cruiser.
It depends on the person's needs.

iPad used to be my most used device until I got my 13" MacBook Air, now the iPad is just lying there, gathering dust.
 

Dweez

macrumors 65816
Jun 13, 2011
1,246
9
Down by the river
I test drove an HP Chromebook for a couple months and didn't find it very compelling. Ended up donating it to a charity auction.

My personal preference is to have a "real" O/S on a machine with full functionality not relying on network connectivity.
 

bjet767

macrumors 6502a
Oct 2, 2010
961
307
If you are any sort of MAC user the Chrome's lack of standard Apps will drive you nuts. Spend the money and get just a MBA.
 

dmk1974

macrumors 68020
Original poster
Sep 16, 2008
2,153
103
Thanks for all the feedback. Sounds like the MBA is the way to go. I also saw that at BB with the student coupon, the 13" is only $25 more...may be the best bang for the buck to get the larger one.
 

Altemose

macrumors G3
Mar 26, 2013
9,089
444
Elkton, Maryland
If you are any sort of MAC user the Chrome's lack of standard Apps will drive you nuts. Spend the money and get just a MBA.
I politely disagree... The Chromebook is a good device for documents, Google Drive work, etc. If you can live in the cloud you will find the Chromebook to be money well spent. You get 115 GB of storage off the bat with the Chromebook so you can work essentially remotely off the Mini. For me at least, all my files go to Dropbox so it isn't hard for me to work in Drive.

One word of advice, stay as far away from Acer as possible though...
 

MarvinHC

macrumors 6502a
Jan 9, 2014
756
221
Belgium
Can't agree with that. I use my IPad as much as my Mini. The Mini is the work truck and the IPad is the cruiser.
??? Obviously if you have a Mac Mini it won't be much good on the road. What I was saying is that once you have a 11" Air you won't need an iPad anymore. The 11" is almost as small as a regular iPad (just a bit longer) but is so much more useful if you want to do some proper work (i.e. typing)
 

Crosscreek

macrumors 68030
Nov 19, 2013
2,862
5,713
Margarittaville
??? Obviously if you have a Mac Mini it won't be much good on the road. What I was saying is that once you have a 11" Air you won't need an iPad anymore. The 11" is almost as small as a regular iPad (just a bit longer) but is so much more useful if you want to do some proper work (i.e. typing)
Yes, but what about all my fun IPad apps. Surfing the web is much more comfortable and reading. It's more of an entertainment item than a work device. A lot of great apps in IOS that OSX does not have.
 

MarvinHC

macrumors 6502a
Jan 9, 2014
756
221
Belgium
Yes, but what about all my fun IPad apps. Surfing the web is much more comfortable and reading. It's more of an entertainment item than a work device. A lot of great apps in IOS that OSX does not have.
Depends of course what you use either device for. Surfing the web the way I do it (many tabs, jumping back and forth) a lot more comfortable on my MBA than on an iPad. There are indeed some useful ios apps but those I use on my iPhone (weather forecast, exchange rates, flight tracking etc.)

A bit off topic but any good ios apps that you miss on the mac that you can recommend?
 

Altemose

macrumors G3
Mar 26, 2013
9,089
444
Elkton, Maryland
Depends of course what you use either device for. Surfing the web the way I do it (many tabs, jumping back and forth) a lot more comfortable on my MBA than on an iPad. There are indeed some useful ios apps but those I use on my iPhone (weather forecast, exchange rates, flight tracking etc.)



A bit off topic but any good ios apps that you miss on the mac that you can recommend?

I wish there was Tapatalk for Mac.
 

MarvinHC

macrumors 6502a
Jan 9, 2014
756
221
Belgium
Ok, I am showing my age here..... but what exactly is tapatalk? I heard about it something about writing in forums but what is actually the advantage?

(and wouldn't all benefits be killed by the fact that you have to type on the dreadful touch-screen of the iPad) (maybe to clarify: I am not criticizing the touch screen of the iPad as such but touch screens in general. Give me a good old keyboard any day!)
 

iDogPoo

macrumors newbie
Aug 22, 2014
2
0
ChromeBooK? Really?

I have had my Macbook Air 3, 2 since 2011. Recently, I bought two ChromeBooks, as sort of a his-and-her thing for me and my wife.

After two hours on the ChromeBook, I boxed it back up, wrapped it, and set it aside to give to my sister-in-law for her birthday.

Let me give you a little important information here...

I hear a lot of people on, say, Yahoo Answers, asking if they should get a Macbook Air or a Macbook Pro. The first thing you need to do is determine what you are looking for. In the example of a MBA and MBP, we are talking about two different devices classes. The Macbook Air is a Notebook devise, whereas the Macbook Pro is a Laptop. A notebook device is above a Tablet but below a Laptop. But in the case of Apple, things are a bit different because Apple has such powerful devices.

I realize you are considering two different Notebook devices, but because one of them is an Apple, things are a bit different. The two devices are not equal. The Apple positively destroys the ChromeBook in every conceivable way. But the main difference is in the operation system. My Macbook Air uses OS X 9.4 - the same as its Desktop counterparts would use. The ChromeBook uses some Google OS that has partial compatibility with ... well, nothing I'm too concerned with. I was hoping for something that I could play Windows games on, but didn't get it. The ChromeBook was slower, heated up fast, and had a screen that was just ugly in comparison to the Macbook Air. Even my wife uses my Macbook Air instead of her new ChromeBook when I am not using it. And all she does is watch NexFlix. She plays HO games on the Macbook Air, too but not the ChromeBook. All the other games she plays are word game that she plays on her iPhone.

In arguing against the Macbook Air, I hear that it does not have an optical drive often. Well, it does have one. It's called the Superdrive. It's USB, has no buttons and is controlled entirely from the computer. It's a DVD/CD writer/reader. I very rarely use mine. I like that it will still work if there's damage to the disk. I tested some old DVD movies with it, and it merely skipped over the damaged areas once it detects them.

I play many of the same game on the Macbook Air as I did on my Xbox 360. It even uses the same controller as the Xbox 360.

So the Macbook Air is more than just a solid piece of coffee house envy - it has a lot of power and goes a very long way in replacing every other computer device you have ever used or needed.
 

js81

macrumors 65816
Dec 31, 2008
1,199
16
KY
A notebook device is above a Tablet but below a Laptop.
Don't think I've EVER heard it put that way... but I get what you saying. However, the real difference is that Air uses low-power parts, while the Pro uses standard mobile parts. Standard parts use more power (need a bigger battery, so a bigger computer) and generate more heat; low-power parts don't, but aren't as powerful. Think of it this way; it'd be near-impossible* to jam a large V8 or V10 engine into a Mini Cooper. :)

IMHO, a better description would be to refer to the Air as an ultrabook-style machine.

That said, to the OP, I don't know if I agree with what most people are telling you. I have a Mac Mini - I use it as my permanent computer. It has nearly 5TB of storage... and a huge monitor... and big-honkin' speakers... and a printer... and.... well, you get the idea. I'm a fan of desktops for that very reason. That said, I think I'd look seriously into the Mini and Chromebook option. Now, ideally Mini and a Macbook-whatever would be better... but money is money; for that very reason my Mini is relatively decent (though it's showing its age now) and my laptop is an old hand-me-down Dell that is primarily used for couch-surfing and front porch usage. :)

Maybe consider a used unibody white plastic Macbook from eBay or the like? Should run $350-ish... more than a Chromebook, sure, but it's more than a Chromebook. :D
 

Altemose

macrumors G3
Mar 26, 2013
9,089
444
Elkton, Maryland
Ok, I am showing my age here..... but what exactly is tapatalk? I heard about it something about writing in forums but what is actually the advantage?

(and wouldn't all benefits be killed by the fact that you have to type on the dreadful touch-screen of the iPad) (maybe to clarify: I am not criticizing the touch screen of the iPad as such but touch screens in general. Give me a good old keyboard any day!)
Tapatalk is an application available for iPhones, iPads, Android phones, and Android tablets. It integrates into these forums and it quite a good end to end solution. Check it out!

I have had my Macbook Air 3, 2 since 2011. Recently, I bought two ChromeBooks, as sort of a his-and-her thing for me and my wife.

After two hours on the ChromeBook, I boxed it back up, wrapped it, and set it aside to give to my sister-in-law for her birthday.

Let me give you a little important information here...

I hear a lot of people on, say, Yahoo Answers, asking if they should get a Macbook Air or a Macbook Pro. The first thing you need to do is determine what you are looking for. In the example of a MBA and MBP, we are talking about two different devices classes. The Macbook Air is a Notebook devise, whereas the Macbook Pro is a Laptop. A notebook device is above a Tablet but below a Laptop. But in the case of Apple, things are a bit different because Apple has such powerful devices.

I realize you are considering two different Notebook devices, but because one of them is an Apple, things are a bit different. The two devices are not equal. The Apple positively destroys the ChromeBook in every conceivable way. But the main difference is in the operation system. My Macbook Air uses OS X 9.4 - the same as its Desktop counterparts would use. The ChromeBook uses some Google OS that has partial compatibility with ... well, nothing I'm too concerned with. I was hoping for something that I could play Windows games on, but didn't get it. The ChromeBook was slower, heated up fast, and had a screen that was just ugly in comparison to the Macbook Air. Even my wife uses my Macbook Air instead of her new ChromeBook when I am not using it. And all she does is watch NexFlix. She plays HO games on the Macbook Air, too but not the ChromeBook. All the other games she plays are word game that she plays on her iPhone.

In arguing against the Macbook Air, I hear that it does not have an optical drive often. Well, it does have one. It's called the Superdrive. It's USB, has no buttons and is controlled entirely from the computer. It's a DVD/CD writer/reader. I very rarely use mine. I like that it will still work if there's damage to the disk. I tested some old DVD movies with it, and it merely skipped over the damaged areas once it detects them.

I play many of the same game on the Macbook Air as I did on my Xbox 360. It even uses the same controller as the Xbox 360.

So the Macbook Air is more than just a solid piece of coffee house envy - it has a lot of power and goes a very long way in replacing every other computer device you have ever used or needed.
The biggest question here is what Chromebook did you buy? Google I think is going to hit a problem where they do not regulate Chromebook makers enough and they ship low end machines. Look at the Samsung Series 3, HP Chromebook 11, and the Samsung Chromebook 2. None of those machines hold a candle to the Intel equipped ones like from Dell, Toshiba, ASUS, and the HP 14.

I am not saying that all Chromebooks are equal despite Google's claims or that they are good for you at all. I think though, that you got a bad model and it soiled Google's time to shine in your mind. Google must be doing something right as I saw a figure where they shipped 35% of laptops with Chrome OS.
 

sracer

macrumors G3
Apr 9, 2010
8,355
8,712
Prescott Valley, AZ
Why in gods name would you want a Chromebook?
I recently purchased an HP Chromebook 14 with free lifetime mobile data for $200 (even though I have a stack of netbooks, notebooks, and ultrabooks). Why? A few reasons:

First, to have a new environment to tinker around with.

Second, to have some firsthand experiences so that I can correctly discern when a Chromebook would be a good choice for friends and family who are looking for a new computer.

I'm pleasantly impressed with it. Out of the box it acts and looks like nothing more than a notebook running the Chrome browser. But after a few adjustments, it starts to act like a more traditional notebook with multiple application windows. There's quite a few apps available now that work when the chromebook is offline.

Obvious a Chromebook is not for everybody.
 

Altemose

macrumors G3
Mar 26, 2013
9,089
444
Elkton, Maryland
I recently purchased an HP Chromebook 14 with free lifetime mobile data for $200 (even though I have a stack of netbooks, notebooks, and ultrabooks). Why? A few reasons:

First, to have a new environment to tinker around with.

Second, to have some firsthand experiences so that I can correctly discern when a Chromebook would be a good choice for friends and family who are looking for a new computer.

I'm pleasantly impressed with it. Out of the box it acts and looks like nothing more than a notebook running the Chrome browser. But after a few adjustments, it starts to act like a more traditional notebook with multiple application windows. There's quite a few apps available now that work when the chromebook is offline.

Obvious a Chromebook is not for everybody.
Where did you get it for $200?