Buying macbook for wife

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Mendeli, Oct 16, 2013.

  1. Mendeli macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2013
    #1
    Okay so our old Acer laptop finally broke totally and Im not going to fix it. For now my wife only has an ipad for tumblr/facebook/browsing the web and listening to music. Oh and also she likes to watch tv series (downloaded/streamed/ripped from discs etc). She would like to have a laptop of some kind.
    here are some things that I´ve considered:


    Non apple, Chromebook. It would be cheap but no itunes. Questionable power.
    Non apple, another laptop pc. I think now that she has an ipad and an ipod, going for mac would be maybe a nice idea so that everything is nice and uniform.

    Apple macbook air. Would fit the bill nicely except there is no optical drive.
    She cant easily rip her cds to her mp3 collection.

    Apple Macbook pro with retina screen. Expensive, and is the resolution too high? How do these retina screens scale web pages? Last time she tried to browse the web on my cinema hd 2560x1600 screen she was complaining that everything is too small (I have a cinema hd for my windows pc so I dont know how things are on the mac side of things). How is scaling to lower res working in mac?

    Apple Macbook pro without Retina screen. I guess this would be okay but would we be missing out without having the higher res as an option?

    I guess what I´m thinking is... which one looks better:
    mac book air or non retina mac book pro at their native res vs retina macbook pro scaled to similar "low" resolution?

    Alternatively, does macos / safari do something special to websites that are designed for something like 1280x800 and lower resolutions to make them enjoyable to use on a very high res retina screen?

    How does full hd video look like on each of these models?
     
  2. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

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    Boston
    #2
    Why not get a USB Superdrive?
    usb_superdrive.JPG

    I recommend the MBA, its a great computer and while it does not have the power of the retina MBP, it's battery life and form factor make it a great computer.

    The retina MBP resolution effective resolution s 1440x900. That means its very readable and you don't see any pixels. You can alter the resolution (via utilities) to get the native 2560x1600 resolution but you are correct everything is too small to be useful.
     
  3. Mendeli thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Oct 16, 2013
    #3
    One more consideration, which model has the lowest and least annoying fan noise? I suppose this would be most evident, most important when watching videos. Are all these things pretty much quiet? If I buy the macbook air, there´s the option to upgrade cpu from i5 to i7. Would the i7 make it more noisy? Is the SSD drive user serviceable, possible to upgrade? (I´m thinking should I get 128, 256 or 512 to start with)
     
  4. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

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    #4
    I'd check out the computers at your apple store, run some youtube videos or something. The i7 won't increase the noise, its just a different CPU, and an option that is not needed for most people. You'll not really see any real world performance increases with the i7 over the i5 imo
     
  5. Mendeli thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Oct 16, 2013
    #5
    Ok, so that would leave me with options to upgrade either the ram and/or the ssd. I reckon going for 8GB ram instead of default 4 is a good idea to make this thing last for a couple years? :)

    I´ll certainly take a visit to a local mac reseller to try them out.
     
  6. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

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    #6
    Definitely go with 8 on the MBA because the ram is soldered onto the logic board and you'll not have any opportunity to upgrade after purchase.
     
  7. balamw Moderator

    balamw

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    #7
    Compared with equivalent PCs, Macs are really quite silent. I only hear the fans when my boys are playing Minecraft on them, which is very different from my similarly specced Lenovo T431s.

    Both of our MBAs (2011 13" and 2012 11") have 4GB and are fine machines.

    Note also that the 2012 or older machines have third party SSDs available, while the 2013 models with PCIe drives do not yet, so get the storage you need.

    Personally, I find that I get by with a small drive making use of iTunes Match and storing other files on the NAS. On the 13" using a 64 GB SDXC card is also a great/cheap approach to expanding nearline storage.

    B
     
  8. NewbieCanada macrumors 68030

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    Oct 9, 2007
    #8
    I recommend any decent USB drive that will cost less than half as much as the Superdrive.

    And 2013 MBAs are AWESOME. More than powerful enough for anything your wife does, super light, battery that runs for hours and hours and always stays cool and silent.
     
  9. gnasher729 macrumors P6

    gnasher729

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    Nov 25, 2005
    #9
    MacBook Air is perfect to carry around. 11" even more so than 13". Take her to the store to try them out, because the 11" is tiny and she has to decide if it is too tiny.

    Ripping CDs would presumably be done at home, so for £20 you get a cheap USB device for that. Works absolutely fine for me (on a MacBook with broken CD drive).

    If the mp3 collection is big, check out that the SSD drive is big enough. If you have hundreds of gigabytes, a MacBook Pro will work just fine.

    ----------

    MacOS X 10.9 (Mavericks) should handle RAM much better and should be a lot happier with 4 GB. I say "should", because it is supposed to be released next week, and in a month or so we will have heard about it.
     
  10. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

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    #10
    While that may be true, I still recommend the OP upgrade to 8. He'll be locked into 4gb for the life of the laptop and its smart to max out the ram in this situation imo.
     
  11. gnasher729 macrumors P6

    gnasher729

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    Nov 25, 2005
    #11
    It depends.

    If you do things that don't need a powerful processor, i5 and i7 will be equally quiet.

    If you do things that need a powerful processor, i7 will be noisier and empty the battery quicker, but it will also get the job done quicker. So you get the same work done with the battery, just faster. And that only happens when the i5 isn't really powerful enough.
     
  12. Mendeli, Oct 16, 2013
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2013

    Mendeli thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Oct 16, 2013
    #12
    I´m thinking maybe it would be a good solution to get 256GB SSD, and use the 300 euros (that a 512GB drive upgrade would otherwise cost) towards some external storage.

    I´m a bit confused between this airport time capsule thing and some thunderbolt storage.

    Optimally, I would like a device that not only works as an external storage but can help me share files between my pc and her mac.

    Obviously, a thunderbolt storage solution wouldnt work on my thunderboltless pc.

    Im not sure if I would be able to share files with a time capsule or if that would only work for backing up the files on mac (ie can I copy files from pc to time capsule and then from time capsule to mac.) I guess what I´m asking is, Can / Does time capsule work like a NAS that is accessible to both pcs and macs or just as a automatic backup thingie for mac?

    This might make things a lot more painless to me as for now Im suffering with a tricky home network solution where lots of things are wirelessly connected to an airport that only has one ethernet plug (for the internet connection) and I cant plug my pc into it (desktop pc which has no wireless), instead my pc is plugged to my modem and therefore all the devices are not in the same ip range. (I cant get ip from the airport through the modem, it´s complicated) So at least from connectivity standpoint a time capsule would probably solve this since it has more ethernet plugs... and it also has storage so it seems interesting to me!
     
  13. balamw Moderator

    balamw

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    #13
    Yes, it functions as a pretty barebones cross-platform NAS. A dedicated NAS, e.g. even something like a US$100 WD MyBook Live would perform better and have more features.

    Sounds like you should figure out your network issues first though.

    It almost sounds like you are running a double NAT network (one router behind another), which is generally a bad idea.

    B
     
  14. Mendeli thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Oct 16, 2013
    #14
    yes, I kind of have to pick my poison at the moment, either bridge the modem and nat with airport, which results in public ip for my pc and nat addresses for wireless devices,

    or

    use nat with modem and bridge the airport, which for some reason I cant seem to get to work correctly :rolleyes:

    Now then, getting rid of my current airport, getting time capsule, bridging the modem and then natting with the time capsule would seem like a solution to me cause I could connect my pc to the time capsule with ethernet cable.

    But I digress... I guess I´ll have to read about various nas solutions to get one that is optimal :)
     
  15. Tfb macrumors member

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    Jul 9, 2012
    #15
    I heartily second the Macbook Air, in her choice of size after trying them out at an Apple Store (then order it refurbished and save a few bucks which you can use to buy an external optical drive). It's absolutely not worth the extra cost and extra weight to always be carrying around when she could just rip them once and be done. I bet she'll love the Air.
     
  16. Mendeli thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Oct 16, 2013
    #16
    Is it likely that macbook airs ordered after 10/22 will get maverics os?

    Should I wait for that? Would save me from one os update adventure :) (of course I´m going to have to be the "technical support" for this machine :) )
     
  17. iPhil macrumors 68040

    iPhil

    #17


    If 10.9 launches on 10/22 then probable the "grace" period will be a month for macs bought around that period will get 10.9 for free* or discounted by serial number of said computer via Mac app store resubmission etc …


    If you got a desktop PC and MBA (MacBook Air) then you could link the PC dvd drive to the MBA and use as wireless dvd drive to rip/import tunes etc ..


    DVD or CD sharing: Using Remote Disc
     
  18. jpine macrumors 6502

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    Jun 15, 2007
    #18
    +1 I'd also consider buying a USB drive housing and installing your own drive. Most of the commercial usb portable drives suck and are over priced.
     
  19. NewbieCanada macrumors 68030

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    Oct 9, 2007
    #19
    Probably - at least wait until they announce upgrade eligibility. Upgrading from Mountain Lion to Mavericks is easy, but there's no sense in paying an extra $20 or so if you can wait.
     
  20. brentsg macrumors 68040

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    Oct 15, 2008
    #20
    Regarding your current network setup, a $10 switch would fix everything.
     
  21. szw-mapple fan, Oct 18, 2013
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2013

    szw-mapple fan macrumors 65816

    szw-mapple fan

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    Jul 28, 2012
    #21
    Most macs now rarely have fans kick in unless you are doing heavy video editing or gaming. I have a Macbook air and it's truly a zen computer.

    EDIT: In the case of Macbook Air and the retina Macbook Pro, they are not supposed to be upgraded by the user but the SSD is upgradable at an Apple store and you can do it yourself if you buy necessary components for Amazon or ebay but there's a chance you might do it wrong (it will expire the warranty). The regular Macbook Pro is user upgradable but If you are just using it around the house for movies, music, and web browsing (even things like photoshop or light movie editing) you might want the Macbook Air for its 12 hour battery and lightness.

    ----------

    Definitely. If you can wait you might as well save yourself the extra $20 although I must say OS upgrading is very, very easy on a mac compared to windows. No hassle at all.;)
     
  22. Sushisamurai macrumors newbie

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    Oct 18, 2013
    #22
    1) don't get a chrome book. The CPU isn't up to par - sure it's good for emailing, web/typing, but the fact that running HD youtube videos while multi tasking actually lags the computer, you won't have a nice experience (for ARM based chrome books, intel bay trail CPU's will be marginally better).

    2) rMBP's have resolution scaling innate to ML, so even at super high res, it just looks as if the resolutions @720p/1080p / regular monitor. Sorta like ipad2 vs iPad 4, just cause resolution doubled doesn't mean UI elements are now half the size compared the ipad2. External monitors are different, as you were porting it at max resolution instead of scaling, hence smaller icons.

    3) i recommend MBA, with 8GB RAM for mavericks and future OS's. If you decide on i5, then u may be better off with last years i5 or i7, as you actually have a performance regression compared to last years i5 model. i7 runs hotter by a few degrees, less batt life by 30 mins, but has slight performance upgrade compared to last yrs MBA, and cost is close to market cost differences. If battery/graphics are important, then I'd get this years model, @128GB SSD, 8GB RAM, i7. 128 GB is fine, as u can add SD cards for storage RE: nifty minidrive, or portable HDD /w USB3, 1TB is cheap now.

    4) time capsules are terrible, not cost effective (more $/GB, not repairable/data not recoverable in hardware failure). If you're going to wireless backup with time capsule, then I recommend apple's AirPort Extreme (I think that's what it's called) due to the 3 wifi antennas and ergo 3x3 .ac stream, giving u good wireless transfer rates @close range to router. I instead recommend ASUS's Dark knight AC router, due to its 3x3 and VPN server abilities, and automatic download/torrent function, as well as integration with iOS devices. You can download (not elegant, but I like how I can do it remotely versus plug in a storage device) to a router connected disk drive, stream to iOS or computers. Synology makes good NAS servers, if u want a real dedicated torrent machine, with PC/Mac compatibility
     
  23. Mendeli thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Oct 16, 2013
    #23
    Okay I´m taking a bit of a gamble here now.

    I found on a local auctioning site a MD761K/A for sale for 500 euros, which is less than half the price of a new machine. Seller has good feedback and claims that the machine is like new, used only a little bit before he found that he is not satisfied with a mac machine (for whatever reason).

    While there´s a chance that someone might have hacked into a respected sellers account and that this is some kind of scam... I think I´m falling for it this time. Even if it is a total scam, this still would leave me with just enough budget to buy another machine as new. (I was thinking I would need 2000 or so euros.).

    If it is not a scam, then I get to buy a very cheap macbook for wife and I´m left with money enough to get a big time capsule, upgrade the desktop pc and still be left with some money for next generation console or whatever :) Only downside is it has only 4 gigs of ram but that ought to be enough for itunes, videos and facebook. There´s not going to be any highly demanding use any time soon.

    Ah... I guess what I´m saying is, wish me luck!
     
  24. Mendeli thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Oct 16, 2013
    #24
    Wow, that took less than 10 hours to turn out to be a total scam. Someone had indeed hijacked an account of a good seller. The real account owner contacted me, the account was closed before any money was sent fortunately.

    Close one!

    I think I´ll be buying a new one direct from apple after this experience.
     
  25. Mendeli thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Oct 16, 2013
    #25
    So I ordered the macbook air 13" with 128GB SSD and 8GB ram.
    Also ordered the 3TB time capsule.
    Superdrive as well. (because it looks so sexy) :)

    It all arrived today and I´ve started downloading the new Maverics os.

    I´m also copying video files to the time capsule from my desktop pc so they can be easily accessed later on. (the setup for that was quite straightforward too). I´m only getting something like 200megabit/s transfer rates to it so it isnt that great performance but reading video files from it seems to at least be plenty fast enough to stream 1080p videos from it so thats the most important thing. Also all my network ip problems are now solved as I was able to get my pc working through ethernet cable to the time capsule and I have bridged the modem and connected it to the time capsule. So now the time capsule does all the nat and routing stuff too.

    First impression of the laptop is very good indeed. It is light and very portable, yet the screen doesnt feel as small as I had feared. Also it looks sharp even though its no retina. Actually, I just realized it has more pixels per inch than my 30" cinema display so no wonder it looks sharp to me :)

    Those retina displays must look ridiculously good because this non-retina one looks top notch to me!

    Also, wife said initially that it looks very fancy. I think she will like it a lot once I let her actually use it after all the initial setup stuff :)
     

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