I own a 15" MBP and am thinking about MBA for travel. Curious on your thoughts?

Nrwrit3r

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
May 25, 2010
646
47
I'm a doctoral student and use the 15" MBP for statistical analysis, Unity, etc...but also a huge amount for writing papers/grants.

When I travel I always bring my 12.9" iPad for reading/annotating documents, but also like to have a laptop with me to do word processing/use Slack/etc. The new air is quite appealing because it seem like it has great battery life, works with an external battery, and is much lighter than my 15". I originally liked the 13" MBP more than the 15", but unfortunately the battery was too poor (I've heard the new 13" MBP is now better on that front).

Curious what y'all think? Maybe it's too redundant but have been thinking about it for quite awhile.
 

Macdctr

macrumors 6502a
Nov 25, 2009
662
329
Ocean State
I have both the 15inch MBP and MBA. I use my MBA for travel as it does everything I need while traveling. I say go for it! You won't regret it.
 

mtneer

macrumors 68030
Sep 15, 2012
2,892
2,054
If you're blessed enough to contemplate buying a MacBook Air in addition to your MBP, as a student, then I say, go for it. They sure do satisfy the niches you are looking into.
 

AustinIllini

macrumors demi-goddess
Oct 20, 2011
12,009
9,143
Austin, TX
I'd consider an iPad Pro with one of the good keyboard cases, but that's a personal thing as I only have one laptop and one tablet.

But yeah, the Air is an awesome machine and mine is wicked fast.
 

cambookpro

Contributor
Feb 3, 2010
6,759
2,353
United Kingdom
Have you considered a refurb 12" MacBook? Only reason I say is because I had to use one whilst my 13" MBP was in for repair (keyboard...), and I just loved the size. It was too slow to be my only laptop as I'm a developer in my spare time, but it felt so much more portable than my 13" MBP and was a delight to use.

I think there's a bit more differentiation between the MB and the 15" MBP than the MBA. Though of course you may want a brand new machine, in which case there isn't a lot of choice. As other posters have said, if you can afford it, it will probably do what you're looking for.

The other option, of course, is replacing your 15" with a newer 13" MBP. You don't lose a lot of power (assuming your 15" is not 2018 or newer and thus quad core), but gain a computer which is almost as portable as the MBA without having to worry about keeping things in sync or having to upgrade two laptops in a few years' time. This does depend on whether you bought the 15" based on its screen size or its power.
 

Elwe

macrumors regular
Dec 30, 2006
145
65
The other option, of course, is replacing your 15" with a newer 13" MBP. You don't lose a lot of power (assuming your 15" is not 2018 or newer and thus quad core), but gain a computer which is almost as portable as the MBA without having to worry about keeping things in sync or having to upgrade two laptops in a few years' time. This does depend on whether you bought the 15" based on its screen size or its power.
Here here; you make a great point I love the cpu power you can get in today’s slim 13” laptops. That said, Intel’s integrated graphics still cannot compare to even several-year-old AMD discreet laptop GPUs. Intel’s Quicksync and Apple’s T2 chip have certainly helped with particular tasks a lot, but there is still quite a bit you can only get done (several times as fast/smoothly) with the bigger laptop at this point in time.
 

Steve121178

macrumors 603
Apr 13, 2010
5,232
4,409
Bedfordshire, UK
I'm a doctoral student and use the 15" MBP for statistical analysis, Unity, etc...but also a huge amount for writing papers/grants.

When I travel I always bring my 12.9" iPad for reading/annotating documents, but also like to have a laptop with me to do word processing/use Slack/etc. The new air is quite appealing because it seem like it has great battery life, works with an external battery, and is much lighter than my 15". I originally liked the 13" MBP more than the 15", but unfortunately the battery was too poor (I've heard the new 13" MBP is now better on that front).

Curious what y'all think? Maybe it's too redundant but have been thinking about it for quite awhile.
Don't bother. Use your iPad for light tasks. And your iPad will be getting a nice boost when iOS 13 is released which makes the need for a thin & light Mac even less viable.

But it's your money, so buy what works for you.
 

RegularGuy09

macrumors regular
Feb 20, 2015
161
69
I'd consider an iPad Pro with one of the good keyboard cases, but that's a personal thing as I only have one laptop and one tablet.

But yeah, the Air is an awesome machine and mine is wicked fast.
Many have complained about the speed in the latest MBAs. Whats your workflow like and is it fast?
 

AustinIllini

macrumors demi-goddess
Oct 20, 2011
12,009
9,143
Austin, TX
Many have complained about the speed in the latest MBAs. Whats your workflow like and is it fast?
I do a lot of different things simultaneously and spend a lot of time with a number of open tabs.
I do light video editing
more serious audio editing
a bazillion chrome tabs
photo editing with lightroom and/or pixelmator
Webex Conferences

I have literally no problem, but I do have the 16 GB of RAM upgrade so the thing is a trooper. Literally love everything about the computer other than the keyboard which I tolerate.
 

smallcoffee

macrumors 68000
Oct 15, 2014
1,597
2,002
North America
I'm a doctoral student and use the 15" MBP for statistical analysis, Unity, etc...but also a huge amount for writing papers/grants.

When I travel I always bring my 12.9" iPad for reading/annotating documents, but also like to have a laptop with me to do word processing/use Slack/etc. The new air is quite appealing because it seem like it has great battery life, works with an external battery, and is much lighter than my 15". I originally liked the 13" MBP more than the 15", but unfortunately the battery was too poor (I've heard the new 13" MBP is now better on that front).

Curious what y'all think? Maybe it's too redundant but have been thinking about it for quite awhile.
This is way too redundant. Just take the 15" with you. You're a grad student talking about buying a second laptop that's smaller, but not that much smaller and you already have a 12.9" iPad. You're just bored and want to buy stuff. Don't do that.

:confused::confused::confused::confused::confused::confused::confused::confused::confused::confused::confused::confused::confused::confused::confused::confused::confused::confused::confused::confused::confused::confused::confused:
 

kp98077

macrumors 65816
Oct 26, 2010
1,121
309
Honestly, I think you need to do what I did and consolidate, sell your 15" and buy a new 13" makes your life easier... use external monitor if needed but I don't even need that! once machine and a 11" iPad Pro... simple, easy... but I definitely feel your pain traveling with the 15", if you must keep it yeah, I'd get the cheapest air possible... I had the 12.9 iPad Pro and found it really hard to write papers or do meaningful work....
 

Nrwrit3r

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
May 25, 2010
646
47
Have you considered a refurb 12" MacBook? Only reason I say is because I had to use one whilst my 13" MBP was in for repair (keyboard...), and I just loved the size. It was too slow to be my only laptop as I'm a developer in my spare time, but it felt so much more portable than my 13" MBP and was a delight to use.

I think there's a bit more differentiation between the MB and the 15" MBP than the MBA. Though of course you may want a brand new machine, in which case there isn't a lot of choice. As other posters have said, if you can afford it, it will probably do what you're looking for.

The other option, of course, is replacing your 15" with a newer 13" MBP. You don't lose a lot of power (assuming your 15" is not 2018 or newer and thus quad core), but gain a computer which is almost as portable as the MBA without having to worry about keeping things in sync or having to upgrade two laptops in a few years' time. This does depend on whether you bought the 15" based on its screen size or its power.
Interesting! I actually like the 13" MBP more than the 15", but the battery life was absolutely horrible. I wonder if the update to the 13" MBP makes the battery life better than it used to be?
 

kp98077

macrumors 65816
Oct 26, 2010
1,121
309
Interesting! I actually like the 13" MBP more than the 15", but the battery life was absolutely horrible. I wonder if the update to the 13" MBP makes the battery life better than it used to be?
which year 13 were you trying LOL! I travel all over the world, no issues... invfact the 15 I thought was horrible!! I ave a 2019..
 

Nrwrit3r

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
May 25, 2010
646
47
which year 13 were you trying LOL! I travel all over the world, no issues... invfact the 15 I thought was horrible!! I ave a 2019..
I had tried the 2018 13" MBP. It was about half the battery life of the 15"
 

kp98077

macrumors 65816
Oct 26, 2010
1,121
309
Hmmmm, I think that is a bit odd, don't think you would find that the case with the 2019! mine last all day for sure.... under heavy use... I like the idea of the air for you but just wonder about the power?
 

auxbuss

macrumors regular
Feb 18, 2014
226
158
UK
I'm a doctoral student and use the 15" MBP for statistical analysis, Unity, etc...but also a huge amount for writing papers/grants.

When I travel I always bring my 12.9" iPad for reading/annotating documents, but also like to have a laptop with me to do word processing/use Slack/etc. The new air is quite appealing because it seem like it has great battery life, works with an external battery, and is much lighter than my 15". I originally liked the 13" MBP more than the 15", but unfortunately the battery was too poor (I've heard the new 13" MBP is now better on that front).
I have the 15" MBP + MBA set-up, and I'm very happy with it – mostly for the reasons you state.

I considered an iPad Pro + keyboard, but then it meant buying iOS apps, ensuring there was iCloud sync, and so on. In the end, I've found the MBA ideal. (I do have an iPad; used mainly for reading.)
 

msp3

macrumors 6502
May 9, 2015
320
205
As a former surface pro user, the MacBook is actually the perfect size for all you’re describing and more. I also only do stats programs, writing, and office tasks, and have found my MacBook Air spacious but slightly too large. Am very envious of spouses MacBook...

For me 13 is as big as you can go for real portability 15 is a stretch and only if you need the size and power
 

vaugha

macrumors 6502a
Nov 3, 2011
597
195
If you want, why not? I have a 2019 mbp 15” and an ipp 12.9”. Also ordered 2019 mba which should be here next week. I live in apple’s ecosystem day in, day out. Syncing everything across all my devices is just a charm and something windows cannot offer. Go for it.
 

ptimickey59

macrumors member
Jul 10, 2019
52
6
France, Valenciennes
Hi doctor.

I think you should sell the iPad, keep the pro for big charger works. And order a Air in place of iPad.

Regarding your studying level it is better from my point of view to only use laptops instead of tablet.
 

profH

macrumors member
Jun 16, 2017
55
66
Pasadena, CA
OP, what did you do and are you happy with your decision? In a similar boat. (And yes, I also like to waste money. But the 15" is indeed too cumbersome for air travel, and the iPad Pro is indeed too neutered to do any real work except annotation, at which it excels).
 

Bending Pixels

macrumors 65816
Jul 22, 2010
1,274
334
I'm actually looking at replacing my 1st gen iPad Pro with the 13" MBA. For me, the iPad is simply a content consumption device - not the best for RAW image editing vs a real computer, etc.

My 2 cents - get the MBA
 
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ziyuel

macrumors member
May 14, 2019
31
7
#1
I'm a doctoral student and use the 15" MBP for statistical analysis, Unity, etc...but also a huge amount for writing papers/grants.

you can just use your iPad Pro with keyboard and mouse
make sure it is with IpadOS
 
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