iMac or MacBook Pro???

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by D34th, Apr 14, 2006.

  1. D34th macrumors regular

    Apr 14, 2006
    So I will be going to college next September and have had my heart set on a mac for the past three years for the whole college thing. I especially liked the PowerBooks, and of course now the MacBook Pro. My parents would really not like me to get a laptop and I have been against them the entire way until just about now. The iMac and Macbook Pro specs are basically the same thing, so the question is, do I need a laptop? I am attached to my computer, it's a desktop now and I spend almost all the time on it when I am home. My parents "gurantee" that a laptop will be stolen at college. I don't think I "need" a laptop, I would certainly be able to survive. Plus, the price difference between the two is basically 700 bucks, which is a lot, especially when I am buying it myself with money I have saved forever. Now, I'm not necessarily asking for someone to pick, just tell me what you think between the two. Maybe someone who has gone through college and has experienced with a laptop, or someone with a desktop maybe wishing they had a laptop? Thank you...
  2. Gurutech macrumors 6502

    Jan 22, 2006
    It all comes down to "mobility"
    I'm also a college student.. and believe me, a laptop makes huge difference. And I'm really happy with my laptops.

    And yes, laptops can be easily stolen. But as long as you don't do any stupid stuff (like leaving a laptop on library desk unattended or etc), it will not get stolen.

    But I have to admit that you can live with a desktop..
    so a laptop is not like a must thing to get.

    ps. there are many posts on the same subject.
    And you will find many good recommendations / opinions. Good luck
  3. FFTT macrumors 68030


    Apr 17, 2004
    A Stoned Throw From Ground Zero
    You sound like a prime candidate for an iMac/iBook (refurb) combo.

    $1199 for the iMac 17" education and $799 for the 12" iBook refurb.

    Figure in at least 1 GB but preferably 2GB for the iMac and add 1 GB to the iBook.

    The iBook will cover you for notes and reports, file transfers, music, lecture recording and great wireless connections around campus without risking a huge investment,

    The iMac stays in your dorm with all your important data.


    Go for the iMac now and save up for a mid level MacBook later in the year.
  4. Heb1228 macrumors 68020


    Feb 3, 2004
    Virginia Beach, VA
    As a student, I would say the portability is worth the extra money. Being able to take your laptop to class, to the library for research, and to IHOP in the middle of the night to study is great for college.

    Plus if you get tired of your roommate, you can take it out of the room. You can watch movies on it in your bed if you want. If you're gonna be in a dorm, I'd say the MacBook is even more important.
  5. thecheda macrumors 6502

    Apr 9, 2006
    Los Angeles

    MOBILITY is key. I love my roommates, but there is only so much you can take sometimes. Being able to stick my macbook in a tucano and slipping it into my backpack was the greatest convenience I had in terms of tools for school. Buy the macbook. Buy an external or mini. I use my mini as a headless storage drive for all my important school, work documents. :p
  6. devilot Moderator emeritus


    May 1, 2005
    I'm almost always the voice of dissent when it comes to this decision... I love using desktops, I don't think laptops are all that comfortable.

    I agree w/ FFTT w/ the iMac + iBook combo, that's what I have and I love it. At home I can be comfortable on my sleek, powerful iMac, and for those times I'm on the move, the iBook.

    Keep in mind, even if your roommates and you are careful in keeping the door locked, there's no guarantee that your roommates or other invited guests won't attempt to steal a laptop.
  7. j26 macrumors 65832


    Mar 30, 2005
    Another vote for the iBook/iMac combo.

    Even an older iBook for notes and light work would do the job, and then in the evening you can do the heavier work on the iMac.

    Portability is important, but a combo like that lets you have the best of both worlds
  8. merlin_1102 macrumors newbie

    Sep 26, 2005

    I am a third year University student and I have since being in University owned one PC desktop, one horrible Toshiba Laptop, and now one MacBook Pro.

    In my experience the dual combo thing everyone goes on about is worthless. I have never had a mac combo but I did have the PC combo. I found it very tiring and I would often forget to sync my laptop files to my main PC files. It was a huge headache when I was on my laptop and forgot to upload the changes to my essay I made the previous night. Not to mention any time I got new music or anything like that. Large pain.

    Having said that I greatly preferred using my PC when I had it over my laptop. I hated using the laptop for many reasons. I eventually got rid of the PC and was stuck with just the laptop. After awhile I did not miss the PC but would probably still use it over a laptop. When I decided to get rid of my laptop I had the same problem you were having. I could not decide whether to go with the MacBook or the iMac. When I did have both I did not use my laptop all that frequently.... I could count on my hand the number of times I used it so that had me leaning towards the iMac. What in the end changed my mind and made me go with the MacBook Pro was that if I did not have my Laptop durning those handful a times it would have been difficult to do what I needed to do such as group work at someones house. So i figured I could live with the laptop and got that instead.

    In summary:
    The combo, I hate as when I did need the laptop I always forgot to sync it and my music was misisng along with other things. i never did find good syncing software for the PC.
    The plus side is I always had a backup PC for when one broke down.

    The standalone would be good for my needs but 1 time out of the year might be inconvient and that one or two times made all the difference for me.

    Just a laptop, it does not have the feel of a full desktop and the screen on the macbook isnt 17" but I love it and its bright. The only thing that now scares me is it it dies I will be computerless... I will have to dig out my old craptop (Toshiba Laptop).

    Hope that helps
  9. kallaway1 macrumors member

    Apr 24, 2004
    Honestly I would say it depends on your school's facilities. Do they have wireless internet in most locations? Are there easily-accesable computer labs where you can bring a usb drive into? When you give powerpoint presentations, will there already be computers hooked up to projectors, so that all you need is a usb drive with your file on it? For me, at Purdue, this was the situation. Honestly, either choice would be viable. However, as a Junior/almost Senior in college who has used both desktops and laptops, here's what I wish I knew before I arrived as a freshman:

    With regards to the combo, I agree with merlin - it's a little wasteful and not very effecient. Either one of the computers will become your "main" over time while the other is neglected, or you will have to constantly sync your files. If you get a desktop, it's perfectly acceptable (and even better often times) to take notes by hand, and it can be easier to draw up charts and graphs on the fly that your professors may throw up on an overhead. If you spend alot of your free time on the computer surfing the net, chatting, etc as I do, wouldn't you want it to be on a big beautiful screen with great specs? Laptops are kind of nice in that you can watch movies in bed with your girlfriend, though, so that's something to consider.

    I used to have a small form factor Shuttle PC that I built with a big lcd as my main desktop, I loved it. It was pretty powerful and played every game on the market beautifully. Then I started obsessing over laptops, thinking that I *had to have* that lovely portability. Since I was going to study abroad for a year (still am in Japan at the moment), that was my excuse to sell the desktop to my dad and buy a laptop. Here's my thoughts on laptops in general - if you're going to get one, make sure it's small and portable. I have a 6.3 pound, 1.33" inch thick, 15.4" widescreen Asus laptop. This thing is too big and uncomfortable to carry around campus, and it has a huge footprint. This is especially apparent in class, and during the few occasions when I brought it into the class to "take notes" (aka surf the net during boring lectures) it just felt too big and out of place.

    Meanwhile, my friend's 12" powerbook is slim and trim and he carries it everywhere he goes with a protective sleeve in his messenger bag. My next laptop will be no more than an inch thick, and I'm hoping that the Macbooks will meet this requirement more or less when they are released. If not, I might just be stuck getting another PC, like a Sony TX series (13.3" widescreen, extremely thin) and putting linux on it or something. I don't personally like small screens, but the only reason I'm getting another laptop is because I'm planning on more international travel (coming back to Japan again) after graduation. If I wasn't going to be traveling more, I would just buy a Mac Mini with a 20" cinema display and call it quits (I don't like headless computers; but in your case, it would probably be an iMac right?). Hope this helps you out in your decision.
  10. crazycat macrumors 65816


    Dec 5, 2005
    I can do my work on a laptop unless it has an external monitor. Having a laptop in class is not really important, if you are taking notes then its faster to do so with a pen and paper, if you want to be doing something else in class then you should not be there. The best thing i did was to take tons and tons of notes in class and then wirte them up on my desktop or laptop with an external monitor.
  11. joelypolly macrumors 6502

    Sep 14, 2003
    Melbourne & Shanghai
    I have to agree. I had my laptop with me all during uni but i prefered to write everything down on paper with diagrams and stuff. It was much faster than doing it on a laptop. But with that said I think a laptop is more versitile than just a desktop.

    Perhaps you should wait for the Macbook and get an external monitor with it.
  12. QCassidy352 macrumors G4


    Mar 20, 2003
    Bay Area
    if you're faster with a pen and paper, you need to learn to type faster!

    a laptop is all you need for college. 2 computers for a regular college student (typing papers, chatting, sending e mails, doing pictures and music, surfing) is overkill. A MBP would be great and should last you all 4 years.
  13. kallaway1 macrumors member

    Apr 24, 2004
    I would agree with you if straight dictation is all that notes were comprised of. However, remember that there are often complex mathematical formulas, charts, and atypical graphs to draw (especially in economics courses). Certainly for something like a history or english class, word processing notes would be fine.
  14. steve_hill4 macrumors 68000


    May 15, 2005
    NG9, England
    I chose the MBP over the iMac. I had decided my next purchase would be a Mac and also portable. It just means I can use it easily on the move around my house and that I can take it away with me, (when I travel within the UK and abroad, I find a lot of places I end up have wi-fi and so I can continue to work on my computer rather than rely on others').

    My next purchase will probably be a 64-bit, 20" iMac in 12-18 months time. I always think it is important to have a good system at home, but if you can afford it have a portable too. For the time being, I will stick with the MBP as a main computer and occasionally use my PC when needed. When the iMac arrives, the MBP will be relegated to when I want to work away from my desk and/or am away from home.
  15. odedia macrumors 65816

    Nov 24, 2005
    I exchanged my iMac 20" for a MBP. I am glad I did. It just feels more solid built. The iMac is amazing, don't get me wrong. But it feels more like a toy with its gentle plastic casing. The MBP feels right. portability is excellent. It's really a work of art, and performs just as good as the iMac. Personally, I feel laptop technology should go into laptops and desktop technology should go into desktops. That's why I won't buy a mac mini and that's why I replaced my iMac. It just feels like they put a laptop behind the display, but took away the portability :). I might get an iMac in the future if they'll have conroe chips in them, when these come out. And no mobility graphics chip on a desktop for me, please!

    Here's a quick review I just posted on the replacement:


    Oded S.
  16. IEatApples macrumors 6502a


    Jan 26, 2004
    Northern Hemisphere (Norway)
    Hmmm... I'm in college as we speak, and I bought my first private computer this semester. I started the year with buying an eMac, it was ok. Then halfway I sold the eMac to my family. I then had the option between a portable and a desktop, but I found the specs/price difference to be way too big. I ended up with an 20" iMac and it's great. The screen is just amazing and if I was to buy a new computer now, I would need an equally large screen or even larger.
    The need for portability is really limited. You will probably experience times where you curse yourself for not going with a portable (or me for telling you so), but in the end if you only have one computer I would go for a desktop.
    On the other hand.. If you can afford a MacBook Pro with an external 30" screen (or something like that) then........ gaaaaaah!!! I don't know!:D
    Can you manage with a MacBook and an external screen? Could you use the money on something else? If the only portability you need is the few times you visit back home, then the iMac is possible (although cumbersome) to take with you. I take mine on the train, and have done so several times.

    SUMMARY: Each person and student is different. So is our values, and to give a good advise I would have to know a bit more about the subject you're studying and how you "travel".
    For me: I'm happy with the iMac, and I need the large screen. Portability would be nice, but not necessary enough for the price difference.
    (Hope you can make some sense of my rambling).:rolleyes:
  17. Maxiseller macrumors 6502a


    Jan 11, 2005
    Little grey, chilly island.
    I'm another for the "get the macbook"

    Actually, I'm all for getting an iBook too - they are half the price after all - even less with edu discount. I don't really believe in combos as I actually have a Powermac and ibook and I have to say that files reside on the different computers, and I never bother to merge them as there just isn't an easy way of doing it (anyone find this easy?)

    Having said that, the wireless access in the uni is a massive boon, the portability of having all your files wherever you go is a massive bonus...well, you'll have to decide!
  18. jefhatfield Retired


    Jul 9, 2000
    there is something to be said for both a desktop and a laptop for college

    take all the advice in but also see threads here and info on the net on the problematic issues with these first revision intel inc is a good company and hopefully they will have a fix for the new platform soon

    it was a big transition, so much so that no normal r&d department could flush out all the issues before getting such a product out on the market...though the intel macs are not quite ready for primetime, think os x beta some years back, they are fairly fast machines and once the issues, probably of tiger working with the core duo, is figured out completely, these will be the best computers apple has ever made

    btw...i am a tech, pc and mac, and i currently have the 20" inch intel imac...and i am waiting until apple gets a fix on some tough issues i am having with the machine (itunes not working every time iboot up, ms word having trouble saving files, safari unexpectedly quitting, and other software related issues which are intermittent and common in that fashion with a new architecture and os on it)

    anyway, good luck and get that laptop in a few months, and hopefully and most likely, apple will have a fix on the macbook pro issues

    just in case the intel-mac issues are still a big issue, don't buy your mac from an apple store since they won't promptly fix your issue or give you a return, but buy from a place like fry's who will take a return and refund fully no questions asked

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