Decisions, Decisions......Which Would You Choose in My Situation? (rMB vs SP4 vs etc.)

Discussion in 'MacBook' started by Maukey, Dec 1, 2015.


Which Would You Choose?

  1. 128GB iPad Pro with LTE

    3 vote(s)
  2. 12" Retina Macbook

    35 vote(s)
  3. Mac Mini Core i5 - 8GB Ram - 1TB HD) + 64GB Ipad Air 2 w/ LTE

    2 vote(s)
  4. Surface Pro 4 - Core i5 - 8GB Ram - 256GB SSD

    9 vote(s)
  5. Other

    0 vote(s)
  1. Maukey macrumors member

    Apr 26, 2010
    Okay, here's my scenario. I currently have an old original White MB that just died on me. I had the iPad 3 but sold it months back. I have been basically using my iPhone 5s and a Chromebook for my computer needs; which I haven't been fully meeting by the way. I am ready to take the plunge on a new personal device for myself. I am looking at one device that will meet all my needs. I could purchase 2 devices if I could keep both around $1500. Here's what I need in my device(s):

    1) Portability. I currently travel internationally with my job and I have to carry my 14.1 in Lenovo Laptop in a book bag with me when I travel. I need something light enough to go in the book bag with the Lenovo and not add considerable weight. If it makes any difference, I'm a 35 year old, 185 pound man so it doesn't have to be the size of my phone lol, just light in general.

    2) My usage needs. I basically will use this device for Media Consumption (Moves/Streaming to my Apple TV, Music, and Light Gaming/Emulating my current catalog of Retro games), Web Browsing/Downloading, Creating/Editing Office Documents/Spreadsheets occasionally, and Video Encoding using Handbrake (ex. M4V to MP4).

    3) Some form of LTE (Built in or USB) for when I'm at the office

    4) Excellent Battery Life for when I'm traveling.

    Here's the thing, I have been having trouble finding one device that meets all of my above criteria. I have considered:

    1) The 128GB iPad Pro with LTE. Portability is good, Battery Life is great, Media Consumption is great, BUT, it can't do video encoding with Handbrake.

    2) The 12" Retina Macbook. Portability is good, Battery Life is good, Media Consumption is good, did I mention it looks spectacular, BUT, although it can do video encoding, I'm not sure how well it can handle it. Will the system get too bogged down? Will it be too slow?

    3) Mac Mini Core i5 (2.6GHz) - 8GB Memory - 1TB Hard Drive) + 64GB Ipad Air 2 w/ LTE. This actually would cover all of my needs great. I guess the only negatives would be I really prefer a single device to do it all, and I wouldn't be able to do Video Encoding or Emulating on the road because the iPad would be my road warrior obviously.

    and Last but not least......holds breath and puts on armor:

    4) The Surface Pro 4 - Core i5 - 8GB Memory - 256GB SSD. This actually is the only single device I've found, THAT I LIKE, that meets all of my needs somewhat comfortably, BUT, it runs Windows LOL. I honestly prefer OSX and iOS to Windows for personal use because they're just easier to maintain in my opinion. I'm an IT guy so I don't worry about viruses, but I do hate having to be a System Admin to my own personal device considering the fact that I do that all day every day at work. OSX/iOS just has that pick up and play/work appeal

    So, what is your opinion? Which would you choose in my case and why? Do you have an alternate recommendation?

    Thanks in Advance for the Help!
  2. boltjames macrumors 601


    May 2, 2010
    Clarify for me why you need a 14" Lenovo and a second notebook like the 12" MacBook both in your backpack in your travels at the same time please. Me no gets it.

  3. Maukey thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 26, 2010
    No problem. The Lenovo is my company issued laptop. It's not for personal use like browsing, personal email, movies, music, etc. I spend weeks at a time in other countries and want to be able to take a personal device with me for entertainment/personal use when in the air and in my hotel room. I hope this clarifies things
  4. fanta88 macrumors 6502

    Apr 10, 2015
    I haven't tried to encode using handbrake on the rMB, but that's because the processor would have difficulties with the sustained load. I have no doubt that it'll finish the job, it will just take longer than usual.

    By not going for the Air, which would handle the encoding more expeditiously, I'm going to assume you want a "retina" screen. So the only missing option as far as I can tell is a 13" rMBP, but that would be 3.5lbs.

    The real problem with your use case scenario is the video encoding. If that's something you know you will do a lot on the road, I have to say the SP4 would probably be the optimal choice.
  5. boltjames macrumors 601


    May 2, 2010
    I'm in the exact same situation, I'm in Asia and Europe 12 weeks a year on average, but I just leave the work computer in the office where it belongs.

    On my personal 12" MacBook I use Outlook for email, Dropbox for file sharing, Powerpoint for preso's, Excel for data, and that's really all I need to get my work done. I don't need to VPN, and my company provided the Office suite for me.

    What is it about your heavy Lenovo that you can't accomplish on a personally-purchased Retina MacBook? Based on your earlier use-case description, it sounds to me like you can leave that heavy beast in the office and carry the feather light RMB and call it a day.*


    * I use the iPad Air II LTE for all my movie watching on international flights, the RMB stays in the backpack until I land. When in the hotel, the iPad goes in the room safe and I use the RMB for everything including movies and Slingbox to my hotel HDTV via a slim HDMI cable.
  6. SteveJUAE macrumors 68020


    Aug 14, 2015
    Land of Smiles
    Although I'd like to say rMB (even with bootcamp) the SP4 is going to tick all your boxes other than being able to play with OSX occasionally :)

    I'm sure unless there is some really big security restriction that even on the odd occasion you may not need the Lenovo and the SP4 will adapt easier to cover your work requirements in those cases as the temptation to fly with just one laptop is very appealing, although you may need to consider a larger drive or a good external SDD eg Samsung T1

    I never travelled with my work laptop as they were always a lump, I just got IT to transfer my files to a DVD or thumb drive and loaded them up on my laptop.

    One of the main reasons I never had an IPhone for years is the number of times in meetings I wanted a copy of a presentation or other documents and I used my Android phone as a thumb drive or direct BT transfer so I could then load to my laptop or send straight away back to the office was much more reliable than waiting or reminding someone to send copies after the meeting from your hotel room.

    Of course there is a chance of something new from Apple next year but 4-6 months on a maybe opposed to now is not worth it IMO

    Alternatively you could get a SP3 with new KB and an Ipad as there are some great deals out there now.
  7. leedy macrumors newbie

    Nov 9, 2015
    Do read the user reviews of the Surface Pro 4 before making your decision (I suggest the Surface sub-reddit). There are so many hardware and software issues with the device (ironically more than third-party manufacturers), and after personally experiencing the headache of making 4 exchanges, I wouldn't recommend it to anyone but the most die-hard masochists.

    For me, it's an easy decision. I'm planning on waiting for either a more powerful rMB or lighter rMBP.
  8. Maukey thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 26, 2010
    I really wish I could, unfortunately with my job, using anything other than the company issued laptop for work is a security risk. The laptop they issue us is extremely locked down and when I travel I have to take it as I use it at Client sites. Thanks for the suggestion though.
  9. Maukey thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 26, 2010
    Something new is always a concern for a techie :). The SP3 w/ SP4 Type Cover and Ipad is definitely an interesting alternative. Thanks!
  10. boltjames macrumors 601


    May 2, 2010
    Well, in that case, I suggest you keep your Lenovo as your workhorse notebook and go for an iPad Air II 128GB LTE with all the bells and whistles for media. It doesn't makes sense to drag around two laptops or one laptop and a tablet with a keyboard, the battery isn't as good as the iPad nor is the weight. So embrace the Lenovo and get the very best portable for watching movies on flights on a crisp screen with amazing battery life that's so slim it doesn't even feel like it's there.

    If you simply must have two notebooks because you simply can't mix work and play on either device then the 12" Retina MacBook makes the most sense from your list of choices. Retro games and light gaming will be fine, Handbrake will take an extra 60 seconds to encode, the rest fits the bill to a tee.

  11. Maukey thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 26, 2010
  12. Queen6, Dec 2, 2015
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2015

    Queen6 macrumors 603


    Dec 11, 2008
    Putting out the fire with gasoline...
    I vote for the SP4; iPad is consumption only, Mac Mini is not a portable, 12" Retina will be glacially slow for video transcoding, other than that it`s a good option, capable of running OS X & Windows, which may be a consideration.

    I would give MS some time to work out the initial software bugs, as this is by far the most flexible device of all listed. I work & travel internationally up to 7 months a year, often based in a location for up to 6 weeks. So being comfortable and having the right gear is very high on the list for me. I also travel with a B&O A2 as I like decent quality audio on the road.

    I fully understand your need as when I was in corporate the provided systems were also heavily restricted, with personal use all but banned. Currently I travel with a 13" Retina & 12" Retina, for 2016 the 13" will likely be depreciated for a Windows system. Thankfully I work for myself these days, therefore choose my own hardware, equally it has to meet specific contractual obligations as required.

    I would also opt for the i7 on the SP4, as the GPU is IRIS and will handle gaming better. If the 12' Retina is your choice, I would wait for the next model, for the same reason as the Skylake iGPU will be up to 40% faster. If you have the budget the VAIO Canvas is another very interesting system with it`s Quad Core 17 CPU & IRIS Pro iGPU in an amazingly small form factor of a 12" tablet, downside is 6 hours battery life and $2,600 US for the 512 PCI SSD model, although they start cheaper. Certainly a device that very much has my interest, however the battery life may be a deal breaker.

  13. zhenya macrumors 603


    Jan 6, 2005
    I travel a lot like you and have a SP3, a rMB, and an iPad Air 2. They all have their pluses and minuses as you well know. If the tablet form factor doesn't mean much to you, I think the retina MacBook is the best choice for everything but the video encoding - but - if your trips are anything like mine - it might not matter that much if an encode takes a couple of extra hours. Just let it go overnight.

    As of the recent Windows updates, the Surface has gotten a lot better, especially with the new type cover. The battery life is still less consistent than the MacBooks, let alone the iPads, but it is decent. The biggest thing I'd be worried about traveling with the Surface as my only device is that it might well eat up 1/3 of your battery life in your bag leaving you in a pinch when you go to use it.

    I used the iPad for years as my 'personal' device, and it was pretty good. Certainly the most portable.
  14. SteveJUAE macrumors 68020


    Aug 14, 2015
    Land of Smiles
    Very tough point to decide on whilst the rMB is very sexy and the SP4 is the current swiss army knife the OP still has a few holes to fill with either device

    On the battery front this is new out for both:
  15. Maukey thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 26, 2010
    **Update** I actually decided to take the plunge on the Surface Pro 4. I got the i5 model with 8gigs Ram and 256GB SSD. I figured if I don't like it I can take it back to Best Buy. I'm an Elite member so since it's the Holidays I have until January 31 to return it.

    I picked it up on Tuesday Evening shortly after making this thread. So far I have spent a few hours on Tuesday and all day yesterday with the device. In short, I Love It. Couple of thoughts after a day and a half with the device:

    1) After I got it all set-up and updated on Tuesday night, I did receive that display driver error a couple of times everyone talks about while browsing in Edge. Wasn't a big deal for me though. Screen froze for about 2 seconds and then displayed the error. It didn't cause the system to freeze/lock up. They did release a fix for it yesterday and I haven't got the error since.

    2) I have had to reboot 1 time because the system froze while in Edge with no error message. I believe it was again caused by the Display driver. But again, hasn't happened since the update yesterday

    3) I did have an issue with Wifi slowing to a crawl after the system would go to sleep and would not speed back up until I rebooted the system. A quick update to the Registry solved this problem.

    3) No issues with system not waking from sleep or the Type cover not responding

    4) No issues with the touch screen not responding which leads me to my next point,

    5) I see NO problem with this as a Tablet and have used it both nights as a tablet while lying in bed. Being able to toggle Tablet and Desktop Mode is awesome. The touch screen is just as responsive as I remember with my iPad 3. Scrolling is fluid. Yes, the Microsoft App Store is no where near as expansive as the iOS store, but I have found most Apps that I use as well as Apps that wouldn't be allowed in the iOS store LOL. I will say that the iPad in general is the better tablet, mainly because more/higher quality apps, and a practical portrait mode . The gap's just not as big as many will lead you to believe.

    6) The hype on the built in Kick Stand is real! This is one of the most convenient creations ever added to any device I've used. Whether using it as a Laptop with the Type Cover, or a Tablet, to be able to adjust the viewing angle of the Surface to multiple positions without a case involved is awesome.

    7) Battery Life is no where near as bad as I thought it would be based on reviews I read. My first cycle I got about 7hrs 56mins of actual usage. In this time I watched 1080p Video, Downloaded files, and Browsed using Edge and Chrome. Screen Brightness was at around 75% most of the time

    8) Putting the Surface in Desktop Mode, attaching the Type Cover, and flipping out the kick stand = Bye Bye Laptop. If I decide to keep this I definitely won't need a separate laptop; or tablet for that matter. This thing is fast. It boots from a hard shutdown in less than 10 seconds and instantly wakes from sleep. Everything runs instantly and it has not bogged down yet. I encoded an 8GB Movie in about 3 hours which of course kills my 2007 Macbook lol. Also the fan has only kicked in while encoding the movie, other than that it has been silent. Did I mention that Windows Hello is awesome? Being able to logon with just facial recognition is cool. I had my wife and kids try to fool it and they couldn't.

    Now I didn't post this to troll or start a Mac vs Windows war; I mean I've only owned Apple Products for the last 7+ years. I just wanted to post my initial experiences with the Surface because I know there are others who are in a similar situation to myself.

    In summary, the Surface Pro 4 is an engineering marvel with some software issues that are hopefully gone with yesterday's update. My only issue, or should I say concerns with the device, is Maintenance and Quality Control. It's fast/powerful, portable, has an excellent design, great screen, great speakers, good battery life, can operate as a tablet or laptop, and comes with Windows 10, which in my opinion is the best version of Windows since XP. I can however see why some will prefer a Mac over the Surface. I mean I've owned it a day and a half and have already installed several updates, made a registry change, and was forced to reboot once. It's not that big a deal to me as the updates were automatic and it took me all of 30 secs to make the registry change and do the reboots. But to someone who is less technical or just wants something that works, Macs in general are usually more stable machines. Owning the Surface Pro 4 has definitely made me rule out the iPad Pro as the Surface is just much better at being a 2 in 1 as of today. I'm still not ruling out the rMB or the iMini + iPad Air 2 Combo. I want to spend more time with the Surface before making a final decision. I may even pick up the rMB and compare the two.
  16. zhenya macrumors 603


    Jan 6, 2005
    That's great battery life. I'd be interested to see if it continues for you. I'm ok with my SP3 at this point which generally gets about 6 or a bit better, but I have never once gotten over 7 and I'm quite careful in how I manage the battery.
  17. brentsg macrumors 68040

    Oct 15, 2008
    Yeah it's better battery life than I saw with my SP4.. by a couple of hours, easy. I'll be curious to see if it holds up in general, not just battery. I loved mine at first, but all the issues piled up and wore on me. It's good to see that they might have fixed the irritating display driver issue. It wasn't a deal breaker, but after having the screen periodically freeze for 2 seconds over the course of a month.. pretty bothersome.

    The question for me wouldn't be whether you'd want another notebook around alongside the SP4, but whether you'd want another tablet. The SP4 was pretty lacking as a tablet IMO.
  18. Maukey thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 26, 2010
    Yea, I share those thoughts. It's not as good a tablet as the iPads, I just didn't think it was as bad as others have said on these forums. I've seen words like "horrible", "no apps", etc. That's just not true in my opinion. It is definitely better as a tablet than any Android Tablet I've seen. It has most of the popular apps that people use. It is however a much better laptop than the iPad is at the moment. But in saying all of that, I'm leaning toward returning it and getting the Mac Mini + iPad Air 2 LTE Combo. It would give me the best of both worlds. I could hook the Mac Mini up to my 65in TV and get a bluetooth keyboard. When I think about it I don't really need a full desktop when I travel. The only thing I need a Laptop/Desktop for is video encoding. I could easily remote into my Mac Mini if needed from my iPad Air 2.
  19. David58117 macrumors 65816

    Jan 24, 2013
    Windows 10 by default (atleast when it was first released) had every app allowed to be running in background..this killed battery life, pretty severely.

    Unless it's been changed since with updates - you need to go into the settings and turn (probably the majority) off. I don't remember how, but google it.

    It will greatly increase your battery life..I was getting 7+ hours with mine (I also use low screen brightness mostly though).
  20. KPOM macrumors G5

    Oct 23, 2010
    I'd also consider getting the 12" rMB and an iPad mini 2 with LTE. With the holiday promotions, you can get the combination for around $1500. The rMB is smaller than the iPad Pro (though it is a little heavier than the iPad Pro sans keyboard), and the iPad mini 2 could serve as a personal hotspot.
  21. Maukey thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 26, 2010
    Good Idea. Thanks!
  22. SteveJUAE, Dec 4, 2015
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2015

    SteveJUAE macrumors 68020


    Aug 14, 2015
    Land of Smiles
    Many thanks for you comments on the SP4, very interesting

    The only thing I can see you leaving out in your thought process of options is potential and I presume you already own a smart phone (IPhone ?) which is already covering most functionality of an Ipad and giving you a partial Apple fix :)

    Once your in the <2lb category I think there little argument on portability difference other than the iPad Air 2 LTE will be much easier as a couch reading device than the rMB, IPP,SP4 etc

    As already noted if you have an IPhone an Ipad is duplicating a lot of functionality you already have and the LTE iPad Air 2 carried other costs etc for the data plan and just adds to the headache on sims if you travel internationally.

    The full OS rMB or SP4 give you the greatest flexibility when away from home be it plugging in to your hotel TV or friends with files/movies on a thumb drive, synching with cameras etc etc, let alone the bigger SDD drive as your UL/DL speeds wont be the same as when at home

    Your SP4 mirrors very easy to your TV and it is also possible on the rMB with Airplay and setting up the IP addresses so you still have the functionality of the Mac Mini but with more options including iTunes/IMovies etc on both OS's

    I think the flexibility, connectivity, superior software and a multitude of options open to you by having your smart phone and a rMB or a SP4 is a negligible compromise compared to a Mac Mini + iPad Air 2 LTE Combo + smart phone and especially as it seems your not a collector or major fanatic of 100's of apps
  23. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    You have your answer, and while it runs windows (not a bad thing really), you state yourself its the only one that meets all your needs.

    Congrats, and enjoy your new baby. I have the SP3, and the SP4 has some nice improvements on the older generation. I think overall you have a nice machine.
  24. Steve121178 macrumors 601


    Apr 13, 2010
    Bedfordshire, UK
    12" MacBook but I'd wait for the Skylake refresh in Q1 2016. If you can't wait, then Amazon are selling the current 12" heavily discounted (savings of a few 100).
  25. GDF macrumors regular

    Jun 7, 2010
    I also recently purchased a SP4 I5 4gm Ram and there a lot of things I really like about it. It is very fast, great screen, keyboard is really good, like how it can be a tablet or laptop and like the face biometrics to sign one.

    However, the worst thing about it is the battery life. I only get about 3 to 4 hours max with screen brightness about 75%. For a device, that is supposed to be portable and is expensive, that is horrible battery life. I see these being used at NFL games and not sure how they make the whole game without charging them.

    I admit, I am an Apple fanboy, as our family has two MacBook Airs, iPad Air 2, 27 iMac and 3 iPhones. I have never had any battery problems and never lower the screen brightness. Also, although Windows 10 does not seem bad, Apple's iOS systems are much better with fewer bugs out of the gate.

    I would like to keep it, but will not if there is not a fix coming out for the battery life soon.

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