I'm planning on getting a new 13'' MBA...but have my doubts

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by mariotr87, Aug 12, 2011.

  1. mariotr87 macrumors regular

    Aug 12, 2011
    Hi everyone!

    I've always been a Windows user (well, and Linux for a few years). I've no problem at all with them, but now that my PC is about to reach its fourth year and I've just finished my studies, I feel like trying something else.

    Things that I'd use it for (and I expect it to run these tasks smoothly):
    -Productivity, browsing, email, etc...typical basic use.
    -Music, movies (HD, often 1080p with high bitrate)
    -Light games, I won't use it to play the latest ones (I'll probably hardly ever play though)
    -Professional tasks: I'm a telecom engineer. Even though I haven't got a job yet I expect to use it for programming tasks, basically, and different engineering applications (nothing that would require a powerful GPU though, but maybe a good CPU).

    Why an air?
    -Very powerful
    -Very portable

    -Not sure if I'll miss those extra 2''
    -Not sure if I'll miss the ethernet port, maybe a couple more USB ports and the DVD drive.
    -I really do not need so much portability since I use mine mostly (99%) at home, although I like to move around (bed, on my lap, desk...) plus, my needs may change in the near future since I'm about to start my first job, so who knows.

    Well, as you can notice, I'm looking for a primary computer; as a matter of fact, my only computer. I want it to deal with any kind of tasks, except games and video editing, and I'm not sure whether go with this one or (maybe) a pro. My budget is about $1500, and I expect it to last about 3 years.

    My last concern is that I've read many times that the MBP's screen is better than the air's one. Is it that true? Why? Is it really noticeable?

    Thanks in advance, to whoever is able to read the whole post:cool:
  2. kilonet macrumors member

    Jul 21, 2011
    Id go 11", i7, 128GB + good external screen + mac superdrive + network hard drive. If aint enough id buy later also Mac mini for more commanding tasks.

  3. urkel macrumors 68030

    Nov 3, 2008
    Why not buy a 13" MacBook Pro. This idea that the Air is for everyone or that the future of computers is dongles and compromises is silly. The MBP has better value, better performance, better features and isn't nearly as heavy as some Air fanatics would lead you to believe.

    I went from a MacBook Pro to the Air but that's because after a decade on 13-15" MacBooks then I knew exactly what I wanted. You seem unsure so op over to the Apple Store to give it a try but make sure you don't get suckered by this "thin" gimmick and you give the MBP 13 a serious look.
  4. clyde2801 macrumors 601


    Mar 6, 2008
    In the land of no hills and red dirt.
    That's a lot of switching...OS, size, hardware specs and peripherals, etc, at once. Have you tried or used Macs before, and are you halfway familiar with the OS or iOS?

    The Air should handle your stated needs just fine. You may also be apple to cobble together a desktop docking station out of parts you already have (external monitor, usb hub, external hard drive) and some adapters.

    And while you may not need the extreme portability and battery life of the Air, I suspect that you will quickly like it. Especially hauling it around the house with you without a second thought.

    I've had the opportunity to compare the 13's screen against my 08 aluminum macbook (predecessor to the 13" mbp) and my wife's '08 unibody 15" mbp. It holds up well against either, though I'd have to put it between the two in user experience.

    Where the Air gets faulted is for it's narrower viewing angle as a result of it's TN display. In that respect, it's not as good as the 15". But I could argue the air is a true laptop, so it's supposed to sit on your lap and have the display titled at just the right angle. I think the same goes for the screen size versus the 15" pro.

    And let's be honest, a lot of this is going to be subjective as to which screen is better. I may as well attempt to convince you why peaches are better than apples. But at your stated budget, you're going to be looking at the 13" mbp unless you're willing to consider the 2010 i5 MBP on the apple refurbished store. I'd suggest heading down your closest apple store to try and compare the two notebooks (may be a bit easier at a Best Buy, since the display models may be sitting closer to each other).

    Good on you for taking the time to do your research. Figure out what features of the two machines are most important to you before you make a final decision. Good luck!
  5. Leon88 macrumors regular

    Aug 18, 2008
    Melbourne, Australia
    Well the only difference between the 13" MBP and 13" MBA is a lack of a physical optical drive on the latter. However, i believe the MBA is on par if not better than the MBP in processing power. It also has all the ports and an SD slot. Yes, i agree that the screen on the MBP is slightly better compared to the Air's. The colours are more vibrant but that doesn't mean the display on the MBA is bad at all. Also, MB Pro's have a glass screen but the MBA's don't (a little more prone to scratches).

    I've switched from my MB 13" (alum, late 2008) to the MBA 13" i7 and i must say i am very very pleased with my purchase. The difference in weight is a huge plus for me because i travel a lot with my MacBook. Also, the SSD really speeds things up. Boot up times, launching programs and daily tasks are blazingly fast :)
  6. Lord Appleseed macrumors 6502a

    Lord Appleseed

    Nov 7, 2010
    Apple Manor
    1)-You wont, not at the resolution the MBA provides. At least from my point of view.
    2)-Ethernet Adapter is 29,90$, two USB are mostly enough, CD drive is 79$ or you could use Disk Sharing.
    3)-Since you do like to move around at home a lot you reming me of myself. The MBA is more or less my every day Living-Room computer, that I take with me wherever i can. So i think it would be a good investment.
  7. Sounds Good macrumors 68000

    Jul 8, 2007
    Can a USB hub be used for all 3 of these together? Or do they need extra power, or whatever?
  8. Lord Appleseed macrumors 6502a

    Lord Appleseed

    Nov 7, 2010
    Apple Manor
    They are both USB only, no additional power needed. Disk Sharing runs over WiFi.
  9. Sounds Good macrumors 68000

    Jul 8, 2007
    Okay, thanks. I wasn't sure if the Ethernet thing needed a dedicated USB port (vs using a hub with other USB connections).
  10. Wolfpup, Aug 12, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2011

    Wolfpup macrumors 68030

    Sep 7, 2006
    COMPLETELY agree.

    You can't even GET an Air configured decently for your $1500 budget anyway...I mean you're stuck with only 128GB for less than that.

    I've got a 13" one decked out, but only because I don't plan on using it as my main system, and am also carrying a 17" high end Asus. My 13" Air's size and everything are virtually identical to my 14" Asus. I wanted to have OS X around to play with again, and just thought the Air would work best for slipping in a second system...although really I probably should have gone for the Pro too...it's less than 1/3 of an inch thicker.

    Even being limited to 4GB may end up problematic. On my Windows machine I use about 60% max of 4GB, but on this Air I've gotten down to only 600MB remaining, and I don't even have as many programs running as I normally do...the ability to easily upgrade to 8GB, easily upgrade storage, etc. can be a big deal.

    On the cheap, a good upgrade for the Pro may be Seagate's 500GB Momentus XT, though you can throw in an SSD too and still come out ahead.

    IMO most people are better off with a Pro if they want a Mac. They're basically the same size, and have better hardware and user accessible parts...often for less money.

    Really in your situation if you want a Mac I'd say go with a 17" Pro, but otherwise the entry level 15" Pro should do the job. It's GPU is 4x worse than the other 15 and 17" models, but that may not matter for you. Or if you've got to stay below $1500...yeah, I'd say go with the Pro.

    The USB Ethernet does work through a switch, although it seems to take my system longer than I'm used to to realize it has a network connection.

    The USB Superdrive though I've been told HAS to be plugged in directly to the system-so on the Air you've basically got just one USB port, to use for a hub.

    The Pros are just as portable, and the 13" Pro has better battery life than the 13" Air, if that's a consideration (and the 11" one is worse still).

    The Macbooks all use TN panels, though the Air ones are worse, I guess.
  11. Wolfpup macrumors 68030

    Sep 7, 2006
  12. Wolfpup macrumors 68030

    Sep 7, 2006
  13. urkel macrumors 68030

    Nov 3, 2008
    The "only" difference?

    Pro 2.3ghz i5 vs Air 1.7ghz i5
    Pro 320GB HDD vs 128GB SSD
    Pro has built in ethernet
    Pro has Firewire
    Pro has HD Facetime camera
    Pro has higher memory upgrade limit
    Pro HDD is easier and cheaper to upgrade
    Pro is cheaper

    Granted, the gap has definitely closed between the 13" Pro and 13" Air (which is why I switched to an Air) but lets not pretend there arent still big compromises for those who don't feel "thin" should be the biggest feature. The OP is new to Macs and doesnt plan on travelling much with it so while the Air is a good solution, its not necessarily a great idea to get a machine thats so drastically different than what hes used to.
  14. Wolfpup macrumors 68030

    Sep 7, 2006
    Yeah, I paid $1810 for my Air just to get it back up to close-to-parity with the entry level 13" Pro (and the Air is in a less portable form at that).

    Even the 1.8GHz chip isn't quite as fast as the cheapest Pro (on paper it can turbo as fast, in reality it's unsurprisingly not as good).

    And I didn't even realize until reading that list that I didn't have Firewire...
  15. Travisimo macrumors 6502a

    Dec 22, 2009
    I think this is the main question you need to answer for yourself. Portability is the Air's chief attribute, so if you don't need that, then the Macbook Pro is probably better suited to your needs. The Air is "sexier" but a Pro is still more capable. On the other hand, the Air is perfect when you want something small and light to carry around with you.
  16. noisycats macrumors 6502a


    Jun 1, 2010
    The 'ham. Alabama.
    Listen to urkel

    He has got this arguement wrapped up.

    I also am a macpro to air converter but ONLY after using the pro for several years and knowing exactly what I needed. That, and I had/have an iMac sitting on the desk.

    Do not get an Air as your first Mac and only computer.
  17. Wolfpup macrumors 68030

    Sep 7, 2006
    It's virtually identical to the 13" Pro though...and the 15 and even 17" ones aren't much bigger.

    I can't even tell a difference between my 13" Air and 14" Asus, aside from sure, the Air is sexier. No more portable though, and it doesn't even take up less desk space.
  18. Queen6 macrumors 603


    Dec 11, 2008
    Putting out the fire with gasoline...
    Apart from portability the Air offers the same work space as the 15 inch Pro`s thanks to it`s higher resolution display over the 13 in Pro which for many is desirable ;)
  19. Sounds Good macrumors 68000

    Jul 8, 2007
    This is why I'm considering an 11.6" laptop over the 13.3" even though I work from home (hooked up to a 24" monitor) and don't travel much.

    The fact that the 11" is so small and light would make it VERY easy to move about the house (from kitchen table to coffee table to whatever)... and the smaller footprint makes it much easier to place down almost anywhere. When I need to do "serious" work I just plug in to the external monitor.
  20. mariotr87, Aug 12, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2011

    mariotr87 thread starter macrumors regular

    Aug 12, 2011
    I really appreciate your replies! They are very helpful to make up my mind ;)

    Good combo, no doubt, but it doesn't exactly fit my budget...it's too expensive!
    I should've mentioned it, but I'm not planning on using any external screen with whichever my final decision is, at least not for the next year.

    That's the point...I would not like to choose with the heart, but with the mind or, at least, with a combination of both of them :D. The new air looks awesome, the thing is being sure about whether I'd need the extra power that MBP would provide me. It also has downsides though (worse resolution and HD instead of SSD, for instance) so it's tricky.

    :D you're right, too much switching. The main reason for wanting that change (other than I just like this device...) is because I need a reliable and well built computer. I'll be living in another country for the next few months, so I might have to take a couple of planes from time to time. I don't want to rely on a common HD for that...And Windows' laptops are usually made of plastic, I got mine broken a couple of times already. I have an iPod Touch 4G, and I love iOS, but that's all. All I know about OS X is how it looks like, and that It provides both the usability of windows and the power of an UNIX system such as Linux. At least that's what I think.

    Thank you! Unfortunately we do not have Apple stores here where I live. I was at another chain store and I took a look at the previous Air version (they don't have the new one yet). I wonder if they share the same screen specs. I also played a little bit with a 2011 MBP, both 13'' 15''. Tough decision...they all look pretty good.

    Wolfpup, I could get the 256GB version because I'll get a 8% discount. But I appreciate your point. My problem is that I'm on both sides, I think an air is a good option, but so is the pro. I also think that I might get more for my money if I buy a pro, BUT I may not need the extra features, what would be a waste.

    Yeah, I know that I'll have to answer myself a couple of questions. But after thinking and reading this whole thread and many others for the last 4-5 days, this is what I'm 100% sure about:

    -I want a reliable and fast device --> SSD
    -I like high resolutions --> The 13'' MBP does not meet this requirement, I think.
    -Even though it'll be mostly used at home, I want something lighter (not necessarily smaller, but it could work) than my current 15'' 6.87 lbs HP laptop.
    -I could go without the DVD drive, because I already have an external drive.
    -I want it to be new, not refurbished.

    I think that these options would meet those requeriments:
    -A 15'' MBP, with the high resolution display, and an SSD instead of the HD (>> my budget)
    -A 13'' Macbook air (pretty risky, but still a good option)
    -Waiting for the future 13''/15'' MBP, or maybe the rumored 15'' Air. They may offer a good resolution, SSD, 3 USB, ethernet port (not mandatory) and an air-like form factor. I'd get time to extend my budget a couple of hundreds also. Best option ever, except for the fact that I could be waiting forever.

    I'll keep thinking about these options, THANK YOU very much for your help.
  21. h00ligan macrumors 68030

    Apr 10, 2003
    A hot desert
    I'm still trying to decide between a base 15" mbp and a 13" air. The footprint and weight is nice --- but I also already have 8 gigs of ram and a moments xt that could go in the pro - and an iPad.. :/
  22. njsa04playa macrumors 6502

    Apr 5, 2010
    new joisey
    Then go for the base mbp!!!!
  23. Wolfpup macrumors 68030

    Sep 7, 2006
    Yeah, it's got 2x+ the CPU, 900,000x the GPU (even if it is a low end part that's only 1/4 the mid range GPU used in the higher end Pros), larger screen, DVD, more expansion/user accessible stuff...

    There's just no comparison.

    And all that for a whopping 1.5" wider, and 0.88 inches deeper.
  24. kilonet macrumors member

    Jul 21, 2011


  25. Azathoth macrumors 6502a

    Sep 16, 2009
    The MBP has a much better color gamut (I think the anandtech review shows the graphs) due to different screen or backlight.

    But for basic work it should be fine - color critical stuff needs an MVA/PVA/IPS external monitor anyway.

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