11" Macbook Air VS iPad

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Gwaihir86, Dec 25, 2012.

  1. Gwaihir86 macrumors newbie

    Dec 25, 2012

    I was wondering whether you could help me with some little advice. I've got about 850 pounds to spend, which is basically the price of the 11" Macbook Air. I'm basically wondering whether I should go for it or whether I should buy myself an iPad and spend the rest of the money on something else.

    Here is some background. I'm a student. I already have a 2010 21.5" iMac which I love (I also have an iPhone). While it's rather mobile, I found it quite difficult taking it with me on my breaks. I would much prefer also having something much smaller that can keep me company while I'm away. I will be mostly using it to browse on the internet and do other standard multimedia tasks, but I would probably also use it more occassianaly use it for typing (such is student life).

    - Not great for typing but it is possible to use it that way with an external keyboard
    - Can be limiting but of course the question is whether I will ever feel it. But it's good to think about the future
    - Difficult to print with
    + more mobile than MBA because of a smaller size and weight so I would probably be more willing to take it with me even on day trips to entertain be on a train etc
    + Correct me if I'm wrong but it seems better for watching film etc. when traveling on a plane
    + 1/2 the price

    Thank you!
  2. Dominus Mortem macrumors regular

    Aug 3, 2011
    It's just too hard to take notes or to write papers using an Ipad. There's no real word processor yet available for the Ipad either. I've seen a couple people trying to use Ipads in class for notes and what-have-you but most people are using small laptops of all varieties. I would recommend the 11" Air. I used it for a whole year and it worked very well for everything, except battery life. I just upgraded from a 11" Air for school work to a 13" rMBP. Ipad software isn't quite sophisticated enough yet to cover all the things you will need for school. The Ipad is not more mobile than a 11" Air. I'd say they are roughly equal in this regard.
  3. alembic macrumors regular

    Oct 13, 2005
    I think if you're going to be using it for note-taking or multimedia content creation then the 11" MBA with Mountain Lion OS would provide a better platform. I bought one in November for a trip to Southeast Asia. It essentially became my guidebook and travel agency as I was able to make arrangements online from the comfort of my hotel rooms. I'm not saying you can't do that with an iPad but whenever I had to compose a lengthy email or post-process some images, I knew I had made the right choice in the MBA with its full-sized keyboard.

    Also, at my workplace, all managers in IT were issued iPads. Those who often take notes during meetings have also ordered sturdy aluminum covers with a built-in keyboard. That combo essentially mimics a laptop. I think they would've been better off with an 11" MBA as well.
  4. Obi Wan Kenobi macrumors 6502

    Obi Wan Kenobi

    Mar 9, 2011
    London, UK
    If you are going to do anything productive with your new device, you are going to need a keyboard.

    If you have an ipad, you can get an external keyboard, but by the time you do that:
    - you are carrying around two things,
    - recharging two things (or buying batteries for your keyboard)

    By this time you are carrying the same weight as an MBA.

    Go for the 11" MBA.

    iPads are fun. MBAs are far more productive.
  5. throAU macrumors 603


    Feb 13, 2012
    Perth, Western Australia
    For your uses (browsing and multimedia mostly) i would get the ipad.

    You can do light duty typing on it - but for the primary uses you describe it will be way better than an MBA.

    You can use it without needing somewhere to sit with it on your lap, you can get integrated 3g on it which is great for mobile maps, and the battery life is at least double what you'll get on the MBA in real life.

    Yes, an MBA would be better for "work" type stuff, but from the sounds of your first post, that will be a secondary use for the device.

    For everything else while on the move, the iPad is just so much better (and we had both an MBA 11" and iPad in the household for some time). Mostly due to the battery life, instant-on, and ability to use it standing up.
  6. Artful Dodger macrumors 68020

    Artful Dodger

    May 28, 2004
    In a false sense of reality...My Mind!
    As it stands right now I would go with the Air. I'm doing some simple compiling of information using my iPad2 and what takes about 30 minutes has taken about 7-10 on my MBP because switching from one program to another is faster. Not to mention the copy and paste is much better for certain things on the MBP right now. Once MS or another company comes out with a "good" word processor then maybe the iPad, right now Pages doesn't cut it on the iPad nor does the working from one program to another.

    I bought the iPad for travel, taking notes while shooting video but I have been regretting the purchase over the 11" MBA after a few weeks using the iPad. For me it just doesn't cut it. The only great thing for my iPad use is sitting down watching YouTube when traveling or having it setup next to my iMac at home to use as my email alert and track things on the net while I work on my iMac.

    Everyone is different and I was really hoping the iPad would fill my needs but fell short so far.

    Good luck and enjoy either :)
  7. rovitotv macrumors member

    Dec 17, 2009
    Go iPad

    I am in a similar situation and I have had all the devices you are asking about iPhone, iPad, Mac Book Air, and other Mac Books. Personally I think you need all of them! iPhone for really portable communications with friends and social. Then I often use my iPad for writing papers, taking notes, reading books/research papers, surfing the web, and multimedia. I often start my papers on my iPad in Pages then finish up on my Mac Book Pro. Lately I have been using my iPad more and more. The portability of an iPad can't be matched in terms of weight and battery life. So my recommendation would be the iPad with an external keyboard.
  8. DollaTwentyFive macrumors 6502a

    Nov 11, 2010
    Parts Unknown
    I agree that the MBA is a great machine all around, especially for content production. I have had one for the past few years and have just upgraded to a MBP.

    I also have had an ipad since the original came out. I disagree with the implication that it is a novelty and that you can't do "real work" with it.

    In fact, one of the driving factors in me upgrading the the MBP and losing the portability of the MBA is because I CAN do so much with the iPad.

    I have a Zagg Keyboard for the iPad and I take the combo with me everywhere. I do writing and word processing with Pages, spreadsheets with Numbers and use a ton of other apps. In fact, for a lot of what I do, the dedicated iOS apps are better than using safari on the MBA.

    Weather Apps for example. It is much easier to get the information I need from a dedicated iOS weather app than to go digging around a website.

    I know everybody has a different workflow, but about 80% of what I need to do can be done on the iPad.

    I only bring this up because I see a lot of blanket statements that say the iPad is a toy or a novelty and one can't do real work on it. I just want the OP to hear a different opinion because this "novelty" that I am typing on right now has made me quite a bit of money over the past few years. Particularly using Square to swipe my clients' credit cards. Something I haven't figured out how to do on my MBA yet.

    Anyway, my .02 - YMMV
  9. sagnier macrumors regular

    Sep 19, 2007
    the ipad is obviously much cheaper, so maybe it depends on how much you want those other things...

    how enamoured are you with apps? i have an iphone, but i know from my typical use of it (browsing, emailing, voice memos, garageband) that i wouldnt get all that much from an ipad that i dont already get on my phone. (thats not to say i dont want one!). Of course, once you have it you might think differently. The app ecosystem is pretty much half the reason to get one at all, i think.

    in three years time the air will probably still hold half its new value. i doubt the ipad would. And look at iPad 1 now - it wont even take iOS6. I would guess this sort of thing matters to a lot of potential 2nd hand purchasers. Also, with regards to price. As a student you may get 15% off the air + free applecare. No such discount applies to iPads however.

    Weightwise, yes its twice the weight of a retina iPad... but its still only just over a kilo. Thats practically nothing.
  10. spazza macrumors newbie

    Dec 26, 2012

    I have both of them. 70% of my time is Ipad and 30% Air. If you need serious applications Air for all the other staff you need only Ipad. You can write with Ipad, and you could buy a Logitech Keyboard in alluminiun, six months of battery life and totally integrated as a cover with Ipad design. To type notes you do not need a serious word processor, Evernote is fine and then from your mac you could easily integrate your notes in Word. About the price, Ipad is not cheap, the 64GB with 3G is around 700 add 100 for the Keyboard. So in my opinion both are necessary, but if you have at home, when you come back, an Imac I should go for an Ipad.
  11. MacSignal macrumors regular

    May 8, 2010
    Until you get very very accustomed to keyboarding with the iPad, you will get that kind of work done a lot easier and faster on a MBA. Even after you get used to it, you will probably still get keyboarding tasks done faster and easier on a MBA.

    IMO, iPad is excellent for content consumption. It has far superior battery life and easier portability than the MBA. Without the need for typing, it is easy to choose the iPad.

    Good luck with your decision!
  12. Weerez935 macrumors regular

    Dec 13, 2012
    I just got my air a few weeks ago. My wife has a 2010 mbp and I have an older hp.
    It kind of depends how big the school is that you go to. In lecture halls I had no issues with my 3" think hp but in smaller setting I wouldn't want any of the above.

    Personally the air would be my pick. The iPad is nice for around the house browsing etc but for word processing reports, or making power points I much prefer the air. The keyboard is fantastic.

    Also to note if you carry any books at all to class you will probably not notice the difference in iPad/ MBA weight. At least I don't.
  13. Abazigal macrumors G3


    Jul 18, 2011
    It's not an easy decision.

    The ipad (or ipad mini) will be better for casual usage like watching videos, reviewing documents and surfing the net because of its form factor. In fact, it can be better for annotating on documents / pdfs via apps like goodreader.

    The macbook air will be undeniably better for times when you need to do heavy-duty word processing, but would be more inconvenient to use for everything else. It is also more expensive.

    Since you already have an imac at home, I think you might be better served with an ipad (or ipad mini). Just enjoy it, and resign yourself to the fact that you will unlikely do little more than basic word processing on it. Even then, it will likely involve point forms in an app like pages, evernote or notes, then retrieving the sync'ed version on your imac and reformatting it. Don't bother with a bluetooth keyboard either because it will just defeat the portability plus of the ipad.
  14. paolol61 macrumors newbie


    Jun 29, 2012
    Tuscany, Italy
    I got similar experience as other expressed here, I got my iPad and is working fine ( my wife love it ;) ) but for me changing a word doc or change some numbers on an excel is a nightmare :( I think is best to have small MBA more productive for works that need keyboard and interaction, ipad for me works OK only with email :(.
    Hope to have some spare money next year and get a MBA for me and leave the iPad at home ( with wife :D )

    So go for the MBA best buy
  15. glenthompson macrumors 68000


    Apr 27, 2011
    It's been a long, long time since I was in school but I think I would find the iPad limiting. I love mine but any significant typing on it is a pain. Fine for the occasional e-mail or posting to forums like this but not great for typing notes or papers.

    Since I got my iPad I find I use my MBP less but it's still necessary for a lot of things I do. It's less portable now, left sitting on the desk while I use the iPad around the house. I only undock it when going out of town.
  16. OnceYouGoMac macrumors 6502

    Aug 14, 2012
    In front of my Mac
    Go for the Macbook Air. It has USB and of course can run desktop software like MS Office and even Windows if you needed it. That was one of the reasons why I went for it over the iPad. I played with my dad's iPad and found it limiting. The 11" Air is not that much bigger or heavier than the iPad so that's not an issue.
  17. J&JPolangin macrumors 68030

    Jul 5, 2008
    Thule GL @ the TOW
    I have an iPad3 and MBP and carry them both...eventually I will get an 11.6" MBA when the battery life increases to the current level of my 13" MBP (7+ hrs).

    At that point my nVidia Whitebook will get gifted to a family member and the MBP will go to my wife and I'll be carrying the iPad3/MBA combo = win/win for everyone:D
  18. jrasero macrumors regular

    Feb 26, 2011
    Will the iPad be 4G

    I used to have the same setup of a iMac (2011) MBA 11" (2011) and iPhone 4. I used the iMac as my hub storing photos, videos, and other files. I mainly used my MBA though because I could carry it anywhere, but in the end I used my iPhone the most since I could use it anywhere.

    Having a internet connection is a huge deal. Without a internet connection the MBA is useful but no iPad 4G or iPhone.

    In the end I sold my iMac because I never used and gave my 11" MBA to my girlfriend and bought a new maxed out MBA 13" and got an iPhone 5.

    Now I have the hard drive space of a iMac. Portability of a MBA.

    The iPad is a hard sell in my opinion if you have an iPhone. I never have found uses for tablets unless they have a cellular connection and even then I pushed myself to find ways to use it. I would go with a MBA but at that price point you have limited storage and will not have a cellular connection.
  19. Gwaihir86 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 25, 2012
    Thank you all for you replies. It seems that so far most people are recommending MBA. To be honest I'm kinda leaning towards it as well especially since I've got money to spend anyway and it will probably last longer than an iPad. Just to clarify my student situation. To be honest traveling to and between classes isn't that much of a problem since I live so near - though I suppose that, if I were to bring one of the two to lectures, iPad would be less conspicious.

    iPad with 4G was mentioned here. If I got an iPad I would only get the basic wifi version as I'm already paying for internet on my iPhone. It's 4S, but 4G isn't yet really properly available in UK anyway. If I needed internet and there was no wifi I can make my phone into a hotspot. It's not great but better than paying for internet on two devices IMO. :p

    I really appreciate your imput and if you have anything more to add I will gladly take it into consideration as well.
  20. Hamburger macrumors regular

    Oct 31, 2011
    OP: you say you love it, but how about this:
    sell iMac, buy MBA 11" and monitor/keyboard/mousetrackpad, and an iPad mini. this will give you a desktop solution and two ways of portability.
  21. flottenheimer macrumors 65816


    Jan 8, 2008
    Up north
    I'd go for the 11" Air.
    (Yes, I own an iPad — and I love it. For you I'd still go for the Air, though).
  22. Gwaihir86 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 25, 2012
    Now, this is a very interesting idea, which, frackly, never crossed my mind. Now, considering I would go for something like this my question would be, how long is a MBA supposed to last compared to an iMac? I mean, the machine is great ATM for somebody like me who doesn't do anything too advanced on it, but technology advances and there is no way you can upgrade MBA. Its HDD is also fairly small and while I could get an external one, it's just another thing connected to the computer which I would have to carry around (I would have to buy an external DVD drive as well).

    Happy New Year by the way!
  23. dkersten macrumors 6502a

    Nov 5, 2010
    I'd have to side with the MBA. I have an iPad Mini and MBA. I only use the iPad for light gaming, internet surfing, and flipboard. But any real work that I have done for school has been done on my MBA. Its just more productive than iPads or any tablets
  24. Hamburger macrumors regular

    Oct 31, 2011
    Happy New Year.

    I have never had an iMac, but I would assume that if you don't throw it all over the place, the MBA can last a few years. You could upgrade the SSD to 128 or 256 in this scenario. Remember, you are selling the iMac and getting a few bucks for it.
    I have also made sure that the desk remains quite minimalistic, thanks to the backback (its around middle of page).

    I like this solution. I got the 24" ACD via ebay for around 500 euros.
    So I have a laptop when I need one, and a desktop. Plus the iPad Mini.
    For my needs 128GB is fine. My RAM is 2GB which could be more, but (after toying with all sorts of upgrade ideas including iMac and Mac Mini) I am sticking to this setup. If I upgrade, it would be a MBA 11" with 8GB RAM.
  25. Little E macrumors newbie

    Jun 21, 2012
    I've had a similar dilemma myself - went with an iPad based on already having a late 09 MB that is still working great for the 'heavy' lifting tasks not accomplished on the iPad. My decision was based on a friend's experience who solely used an iPad for a post-grad program - including 15000 word essays. One word - Goodreader.

    He used a combination of Goodreader and Pages for content creation work. I'm going with Goodreader and Polaris Office myself. Having just recently finished a Masters degree before buying the iPad (it was a graduation gift to myself), I got to say -- wish I bought it earlier while in the throws of an intense student phase of my career.

    Goodreader for managing documents, reading, highlighting, etc is awesome. It then allows you to summarize all your markups/highlights for ease of essay writing or review prior to a test. Something I used to do via copy/paste into word. Goodreader also will summarize all mark ups/notes that you can then email to yourself for work on a laptop/desk word processor as required.

    As someone already mentioned - everyone's work flow is different - I'm still learning a new one with the iPad - but the portability and bridge between actual laptop/desktop and smart phone is perfect for my current needs. If I had bought an MBA I suspect I wouldn't ever touch the MB I already own...

    You will love whatever choice you go with - my next laptop is definitely an Air when the MB finally kicks the bucket!

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