Help me decide: iMac or MacBook Pro for family?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by yousifabdullah, Sep 8, 2012.


Which one is it for my family?

  1. iMac 21.5"

    22 vote(s)
  2. MacBook Pro 15"

    5 vote(s)
  1. yousifabdullah macrumors regular

    Jul 19, 2011
    Hey folks,

    I've been on the fence about this for quite some while now, and with all the rumors piling up recently, this decision is becoming more and more current. In my family I have two sisters, 16 and 10 years old. Up until last month, they relied on a PC desktop, which I had built many years ago. I personally switched to Mac in 2010 and the sisters have been envious ever since. :eek:

    So I promised them that I'd buy them a new computer to kick off the new school year, and I sold the PC desktop under one condition: I'm going to wait until the right computer arrives in stores and that's the one I'm going to buy for them. At first I thought that I'd buy the Mac mini to simply replace the PC unit, but I ended up selling the whole package including the LCD screen, mouse and keyboard. This is why I'm considering the iMac, but I'm thinking a MacBook Pro could be a better choice.

    Some problems:

    1. My sisters can be very reckless, which explains why the PC desktop was in such an awful condition, requiring me to thoroughly clean it before I sold it.

    2. I'm afraid that they might fight over a notebook computer since it can be easily carried from place to place.

    3. On occasion, the computer should be available to my mother for crucial tasks such as paying bills, reading emails, and so forth.

    Let me also add that my 16-year-old sister is turning 17 in a month and she has increasing needs for a computer for school, which is why I thought a MacBook Pro could be a better choice: a) she can take it with her to school when necessary, b) she can still give the computer to my mother temporarily, c) the other sister could request a time when she wants to play games on the computer, and everybody would follow this common schedule. The reason why an iMac can't fit this purpose is because we have only so many rooms in our home, and it would be an endless fight over who may use the computer and when.

    Since I am paying for the computer and the additional software, such as Office for Mac, I'm in charge of everything and I have to make a responsible decision. It does sound a bit silly to buy a notebook computer for family use, since that's what the iMac mostly stands for in my opinion, so that's why I'm torn between the two choices. :confused:

    This is an important decision that I have to make and after thinking about it on countless occasions, I still haven't come to a conclusion. It'd be much appreciated if you could help me out!
  2. I AN LEGEND macrumors regular

    Jun 8, 2010
  3. monokakata macrumors 68000


    May 8, 2008
    Hilo, Hawai'i
    Reckless 10 and 16 year olds + Macbook Pro = likely disaster.

    With a desktop, my guess is that a disaster would be much less likely.

    You don't say what kind of MBP you're thinking about, but let's say it's a $1500 one, and the iMac we'll say is $1200.

    Estimate the disaster risk as best you can -- hey, these are your sisters and you know them very well -- and then compare it to what you'll pay.

    Basically you're trying to evaluate the probability that you'll lose your money, by having wasted it on something that was ruined.

    Also, if disaster, such as something spilled on a keyboard strikes, or a tussle and it hits a hard floor -- the consequences of serious down-time for the sisters and your mother.

    To me, this all argues for a low-risk iMac.

    Is there any way to put an iMac in a common area?
  4. minisuds7 macrumors member


    Jul 26, 2012
    The U.P. of Michigan
    iMac is your best bet. You will get more for your money and won't be as easily destroyed:D
  5. A Hebrew macrumors 6502a

    A Hebrew

    Jan 7, 2012
    Obviously iMac for a family computer, just wait till October before buying.
  6. Dark Void macrumors 68030

    Dark Void

    Jun 1, 2011
    I would go for the new iMac once it is released.
  7. Bilalo macrumors 6502

    Aug 17, 2012
    Oxford, England
    For a Family Imac are more suitable and have less problems than notebooks, as a laptop could fall and break from kids or whatever and they both rock so just wait for the new Imac. Imac have huge screens so thats even better :)
  8. rc135tx macrumors member


    Feb 15, 2010
    An iMac if these are your only two choices ... any chance an iPad for each of them could work??
  9. Vashti macrumors member

    Dec 24, 2003
    New York, NY
    I agree that an iMac will meet your family's needs better. If there is absolutely no common area, you may have to choose the laptop - but that's the only reason I can think of. There has been a lot of talk yesterday and today about a new iMac release being imminent. If you can wait a little longer, do.

    You are one great brother and son! They're lucky to have you.
  10. Yebubbleman macrumors 68030


    May 20, 2010
    Los Angeles, CA
    Laptops are fiendishly hard to share; it's not like OS X won't support multiple user accounts that are, for all intents and purposes, distinctly different environments from each other, it's just hard to share something so portable in a "family computer" fashion. So, I'd rule out the 15" MacBook Pro; for one's own machine, there's no better Mac out there, but to share, it's not the most ideal Mac out there.

    I placed a vote for the 21.5" iMac, but really, I'd much more readily vote for a higher-end Mac mini (spec it out with the Core i7, if you feel you'll need the extra cache and other features; spec it out with the solid state drive and/or the 750GB drive if you think they'll take full advantage of the features of such a configuration, or don't...) and either a Thunderbolt display or a nice Samsung monitor. Yes, you don't get as much raw power as you would on the 21.5" iMac, but you do get a Mac that is substantially more reliable and that can have components like the display, the optical drive (which would be external), and the speakers all easily replaced without ever having to send in the computer to Apple. Really, the current design of iMacs are terribly failure-proned, so I'll always recommend either a MacBook Pro, a Mac mini, or a Mac Pro instead depending on the circumstances.
  11. Geekbabe macrumors 6502a


    Nov 20, 2011
    There are other possible solutions..

    A refurbished Mac Mini with a modest but decent monitor for the house

    A refurbished MacBook Air or Pro for your 17 yr old sister .. You can get some great deals now on the 2011 Airs. Get the 10 yr old an iPod touch

    The above mentioned Mac Mini & ipad 2 or ipad mini for Mom & both sisters.

    The key here is that the Mac be kept in a common area of the house so that it is kept neat & Mom can oversee fair sharing. A refurbed Mini will be inexpensive enough that you can also give both sisters a device for personal use.
  12. iamsen47 macrumors regular

    Aug 18, 2012
    Kobe, Japan
    If your sisters can't take care of a PC, I wouldn't let them go near an iMac. What if it topples over?

    Mid range mac mini + cheap dell monitor.
  13. carve macrumors 6502a


    Feb 25, 2006
  14. r0k macrumors 68040


    Mar 3, 2008
    I agree. A Mac mini refurb can be had for around $500 in the refurb store. A 1080p monitor, Apple keyboard and Logitech BT mouse can be had for another $150. You can then pick up a 13 in MBP refurb for under $900 and you no longer have 2 sisters fighting over machines. Just make sure each machine is new enough to run Mountain Lion.

    There is yet another option: a Mac mini plus two iPads. 3 people can be logged in the Mini at one time. The sisters can use it remotely from their iPads while Mom sits at the keyboard. A couple of BT keyboard cases for the sisters and they will be able to type those long papers using remote access software from their iPads. One example is Splashtop. There are many others.
  15. ditzy macrumors 68000


    Sep 28, 2007
    I think that I would have to concur with the consensus here. The iMac or mac mini would be the way to go in you position.
  16. Elijen macrumors 6502


    May 8, 2012

    I think the Mac mini is really the best solution here even if you had to buy the peripherals again. $599 model will IMHO do the job for your sis & mom + you will save some money for future upgrade or another device such as iPad. With 2 devicec there will be much less fights over the computer :)
  17. AT101ET macrumors 6502

    Jun 21, 2012
    UK (London)
    IMAC for sure. If it was a personal computer, I'd say the MBP.
  18. Designer Dale macrumors 68040

    Designer Dale

    Mar 25, 2009
    Folding space
    Go with the iMac and bolt it to a desk. Set up multiple user accounts and lock the "reckless child" out. Make her learn more responsibility before you let her use the expensive electronics you provide in your role as parent, not slave...:cool:

    Dale (retired elementary special ed teacher)
  19. scbrain, Sep 12, 2012
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2012

    scbrain macrumors newbie

    Jan 24, 2011
    Mac Mini

    The iMac is a neat machine, but a large part of the cost is the great monitor that is built into it. When the iMac finally grows too old, you will have to buy that monitor again with your next computer. (Earlier generations of iMacs allowed them to be used as external monitors once the computer inside had grown obsolescent, but the new ones don't allow that.) You'll also get a new keyboard and trackpad with the next iMac, although you might not need them.

    Also true is that all-in-one packages become non-functional when one part stops working, at least until the broken part is replaced or repaired.

    You're better getting off pieces and replacing them as needs dictate. Therefore, it's wise to get a Mac mini and a nice monitor, and then proceed. However, the current minis are at the end of their lifecycles, as are the iMacs.

    (MacBook Pros are nice, too, but the 15" is awfully expensive, especially if you don't intend to actually move it around very much.)

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