gift for mac newbie - need advice

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by xianshell, Aug 3, 2008.

  1. xianshell macrumors member

    Aug 3, 2008
    Hey mac fanatics.

    Need all of your advice. Am buying a gift for my wife who currently has a Dell Latitude D630 PC. Here's a quick outline of her requirements and the options as I see them - feel free to offer me your feedback.

    1. Form factor - must be smaller and lighter than her current machine (13.3x9.3x1.3 inches, 5.1lbs) - the smaller and lighter, the better, as she uses a wheelchair and needs something that's easy to transport

    2. Windows - must be able to run windows in Parallels or VMware (?) because she has a very small, simple application called CORE she uses to track her time for work and as far as I know, it's only a Windows app. She often refers to Excel while she uses it so that means it has to be run in parallel

    3. Performance - her current PC is Intel Core Duo 2 at 2.0GHz w/ 1GB RAM on Windows Vista. It's PAINFULLY slow. Would a MAC with similar specs run faster or slower than a PC? Or about the same?

    4. Price - I can't go north of $2k all-in... the lower, the better of course.


    OK so here are my options and what I like/don't like about each of them.

    1. Macbook Air (non-SSD model) - perfect form factor, but much more expensive, and I'm worried whether it will be faster than her current machine or not. In addition, I'm skeptical as to whether it can run MAC OS and Windows in parallel - can it really do it and does it perform well? Also it's a first generation machine that may come with baggage as most do. Non-upgradability of RAM and non-replaceability of battery bugs me. Don't care much about lack of ports. Wouldn't want to get MBA without Apple Care, which pushes the price too high. Also worried that the moment I buy, the price will drop. Can get it for $1785 (CAD) with my EPP plus free iPod touch which I don't need but would be nice bonus.

    2. Macbook - I'm more confident in performance and Windows parallel due to better tech specs (processor, HD size, etc) and of course the price is much cheaper so I can afford to upgrade RAM and get Applecare. Can get it for $1249 (CAD) on Education store plus free iPod touch which I don't need but would be a nice bonus. But the form factor is only marginally better than her current machine (12.8x8.9x1.1 inches, 5.0lbs) - 22% smaller, but only 0.1lb lighter.

    3. NEW Macbook - I expect the price to be the same or marginally more than the current Macbook, which works great for me, and I expect the tech specs to be sufficient to meet all my needs. But the question is form factor which I have read a lot of speculation about, but nobody seems to know for sure. If the new MB is going to be any smaller or lighter than the current MB, I think we have a winner! Would aluminum vs. plastic housing make it lighter, or heavier? Do we have any insights into the actual form factor? Also, her BDAY is on August 28, so, I might run into some time pressure given that it's August 3 now and we still don't know what Apple has up it's sleeve.

    ALL thoughts, ideas, experiences would be helpful!!!

  2. drewsof07 macrumors 68000


    Oct 30, 2006
    1. Form factor - MacBook is your best bet

    2. Windows - Macbook will run Parallels or boot camp great :)

    3. Performance - YES faster = "Would a MAC with similar specs run faster or slower than a PC? Or about the same?"

    4. Price - I would suggest the mid-range Macbook, for the superdrive and additional HD space.


    OK so here are my options and what I like/don't like about each of them.

    1. Macbook Air (non-SSD model) - Would not suggest for more than email/internet use.

    2. Macbook - Either one of these is an option, I would say wait a couple months and see what comes out, if it's heavier or doesn't appeal to you, buy refurbished and get a discount
    3. NEW Macbook -
  3. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Oct 22, 2007
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    Refurb store

    Look at the refurb store. Often there are better deals there than the education discount.

    Today, there is an Air for $1599 CAD. I have read elsewhere that an Air will run VMWare fine. Do a search on these forums to find that thread. Get AppleCare for it, so if anything does go wrong - even 2 or 3 years from now - you can get it fixed. I would assume in 2 years if there is a major problem, they may just replace it.

    I would, if possible, go to a store and put both a MacBook and an Air into your wife's hands, and ask her which she prefers. Do mention that the performance of one will be noticably better than the other. That may not matter to her.
  4. ditzy macrumors 68000


    Sep 28, 2007
    If weight is a huge concern the best choice is the MBA. Though it is not as powerful as the MacBook. There is a compromise. As a wheelchair user myself I always choose desktops, but if I needed a laptop I would probably choose a MBA though I would be concerned about this choice if it was my only computer.
  5. ipodtouchy333 macrumors 65816

    Nov 15, 2007
    I would say your best bet would be to wait a little longer to see what the new Macbook has in store. It will probably be about the same price as the macbooks right now and even a little lighter/thinner. If you end up not wanting the new Macbook, you could always get the "outdated" one for cheaper in the refurb store when the new one comes out.

    But if you want one right now, I think the MBA would be a dream to transport and she would probably be in heaven having that compared to her old laptop. Even though the Macbook is more powerful, and I usually vote for that over the MBA, I say get a refurb MBA and she'll love it. But on the other hand I just remembered she would need to use Parelles or Fusion and am not sure how the base MBA could handle that sooo............

    My final answer is wait until September.
  6. xianshell thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 3, 2008
    Thanks guys for all your feedback.

    Another question - the MBA 1.8 (non-SSD) - would you have the same concerns re: performance?

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