Is it right for me? (Teaching English in Japan)

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by Sloshed, Jul 21, 2008.

  1. Sloshed macrumors newbie

    Jul 21, 2008
    In less than two weeks I am heading to Japan to teach English as an Assistant Language Teacher at a Junior High School there.

    I am looking for a good and relatively inexpensive laptop option that is easy to carry with me and that I am able to use media applications on it.

    I would use it for creating documents and worksheets for students. For editing movies from my camcorder to post on youtube. Editing pictures. Using it online to post on blogs, youtube, forums, and keeping in contact with friends using programs like skype, e-mail, and instant messengers.

    I would almost definitely get Final Cut Express 4 with it to edit my movies for youtube. I might edit music a little but not to any great extent, same with pictures so the iLife programs would be good enough for that. But since I want to add animations to my videos and really get into that Final Cut Express 4 seems ideal.

    I do play video games but I have a decent 17" PC laptop that I can use for playing games. It is more of a 'mobile desktop' due to its weight, size, and extreamly short battery life. I would probably leave that at home and travel with my Mac Laptop.

    I am undecided which to get though if the MacBook Air can do what I need it to I would rather it be small. It is also relatively inexpensive.

    What features should I upgrade it to and what do I not need? The solid start drive seems like something I could pass on since it is so expensive.

    I would be carrying the laptop in a backpack as I bike to work everyday.

    Any insight, thoughts, or opinions would be greatly appreciated.
  2. dukebound85 macrumors P6


    Jul 17, 2005
    5045 feet above sea level
    the mba is not "relativley inexpensive. save your money and get a mb. has more features anyway and is cheaper
  3. Sloshed thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 21, 2008
    With applecare, final cut express 4, etc factored in there wasn't much of a difference in the cost between then mb and mba. A few hundred dollars but thats it as long as I stayed away from the solid state drive.
  4. dukebound85 macrumors P6


    Jul 17, 2005
    5045 feet above sea level
    well the base price for each differs by 700 dollars. if that isnt a big deal to you then get what you want:cool:

    just know that the mb is quite a bit faster, has a optical drive, removable batt, firewire, 2 usb vs the mba which is limited in all of the above

    id personally get a mb but that me as i like getting a better computer for less (and a mb is not at all a bad computer lol). if you value weight and a little bit thinner, then get a mba i suppose as that is its ONLY advantage over a mb
  5. Sloshed thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 21, 2008
    Yeah the 700 dollar difference doesn't bother me too much cost wise.

    Lack of an optical drive I can live without that, I would get the external super drive. I would just leave it at home when going to work. Removable battery, usb, firewire, etc aren't bit deals for me either. Most of the time I would use the trackpad so wouldn't need it for a mouse or keyboard. My camera can plug into usb so that would work for that and I wouldn't need both the superdrive and camera plugged in at the same time.

    The 'quite a bit faster' is my main concern. I'm a bit worried how well it will run Final Cut Express 4. I don't intend to do HD videos or such on it... just good quality youtube ones.

    If I didn't have a decent PC laptop I would really lean toward getting the mb or mbpro. But if the mba has decent battery life and can handle running Final Cut Express 4 and doing the media things I need...
  6. dukebound85 macrumors P6


    Jul 17, 2005
    5045 feet above sea level
  7. sushi Moderator emeritus


    Jul 19, 2002
    This is a good point.

    Also, if you want to have a Japanese keyboard, you might want to wait as well and purchase when you get here.

    If you purchase now, I would go with a MBP for the following reasons:
    - It can do everything that you want to do, well.
    - Bigger screen so you have more work area.
    - Can get a matte screen if you want.
    - More connectors which can come in handy.
    - Can connect to an external display.
    - With a USB tuner, could easily serve as a small TV in your small living quarters.
    - Can upgrade to a 500GB HD (third party option), which is nice if you have many pictures and videos and need the storage space.
    - Great keyboard for a touch typer.
  8. Sloshed thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 21, 2008
    HD space, screen size aren't much worry to me and the matte screen isn't as well. I don't need it to do everything since my PC laptop is fine for games and other bits. Just need it to do media bits well and be very portable. USB tuner isn't at all big for me and neither is a huge HD.

    The core shutdown is a concern... and I thought the macbook air could connect to an external display? Was thinking if I wanted a bigger workspace I could buy that later on.

    Core shutdown would be... annoying. I don't intend to stress it much though aside from using Final Cut Express 4 or iLife. No gaming on it, etc.

    As for when I am buying it, it won't be for months yet. I don't intend to pick one up till after a few months in Japan.

    Though thinking on it... which would y'all recommend as far as glossy vs matte screen?
  9. glitch44 macrumors 65816

    Feb 28, 2006
    I recommend you get glossy... as matte is not an option on the MBA.
  10. glitch44 macrumors 65816

    Feb 28, 2006
    I don't think you want to hear these things as it appears you created this thread to justify your purchase, not actually ask for opinions but...

    Final Cut Express 4 may be too taxing for the MBA. In general editing on a 4200 rpm drive isn't a good idea.

    You may want to check prices in Japan. Prices vary greatly overseas. My girlfriend bought an Imac here in the states and carried it to Taiwan as the price was so much more there. Factor in currency exchange rate and the possibility of no "back to school" incentives overseas.
  11. Sloshed thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 21, 2008
    Oh I want to hear the things. I just already knew a lot of them and they weren't much a factor for me. The bit of info on the 4200 rpm drive and Final Cut Express 4 is precisely what I was looking for. May end up with a mb or mbpro in that case.

    The main use for it will just be generic internet usage and most specifically final cut express 4. If it doesn't do the last well.... thats a big negative.

    I suppose I could manage with the bigger/heavier mbpro... just feels like it would be near identical to my pc as far as uses though.
  12. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    If you are editing video with FCP or FPE you are going to want a MBP and a large and fast external fire wire disk drive. Load it up with 4Gb of RAM. Final Cut is a real "screen hog" and needs lots of pixels. I would not want to use the little MB screen with FCP. You are going to want a "real" monitor and as I said a fast disk other then the start up drive to hold the video scratch files. If you read the FCP/FCE user manual there is advice on what kind of disk hardware you are going to need. Download the manual and read it before you buy any hardware. What you need depends on the exact kind of video you will edit. Bottom line, you will want a decently fast external drive

    Don't forget about backups. You have to have some kind of plan for backups in your budget. realistically this means a couple external drives in addition to your scratch drive

    Does the MBA even have Firewire? If not how will you plug in the video camera?
  13. Savagestorm macrumors member

    Jun 12, 2008
    It would be interesting the know how many of the people saying the MBA in this thread own one? Maybe you people have had core shutdowns or alike.
    Now I'm not here to argue with anyone, but before I bought my MBA countless numbers of people told me not to buy it because it is slow, and kept telling me about core shutdowns, and lack of connectivity. I'm not debating that others have had problems, but in my experience, the majority of negative feedback came from those who have never owned the laptop in question, and everyone who owned the laptop was happy with it.

    I generally use my laptop for the same things as you, however I've never used final cut, and everytime I'm home I connect to an external 24". I do use iMovie HD, importing video will take a reasonable amount of time, generally slightly less than run time, but I don't know how that compares to more powerful machines. I'm very satisfied with my choice, and I'm glad I don't have to deal with the added bulk of a macbook/pro. Like I said I'm not here to argue with anyone, I'm just letting you know about my experience.
  14. hkq37 macrumors newbie


    Apr 26, 2008
    Hong Kong
    How much carrying will you be doing

    It seems you are quite decided in your choice of a MBA anyway.
    I am in a similar position to you ( overseas teacher except in Hong Kong) and own an MBA. The most important factor I would consider is the size/weight over the features. I think it is a good choice for you because in Japan I suspect you will have to do a lot of traveling on buses and the subway, in this situation the MBA is the best notebook to carry around. Even my other 12.1" 1.9kg Samsung was a little too bulky (thick) and heavy to carry around after a while. (Assuming you are going to carry it to work and back everyday)
    Work-wise I didn't have much trouble, a few times I would have liked a CD/DVD ROM and had to rely on other computers to get the job done.
    All things considered I would go for an MBA only if you have a daily commute with a computer on your shoulder for 30+ minutes. Stuff sure gets heavy quickly!

    P.S. I also had the core shut down problems and did a bit of maintenance - re-applied AS-5, installed and running Coolbook. It's really well now, no core shut downs and excellent battery life. I bought this MBA in March? ( 1 month after release anyway). and I get about 4 hours on the battery still. But yes, the MBA does need a bit of doctoring to get it running smoothly IMHO!
  15. Sloshed thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 21, 2008
    Actually lately I have been leaning a bit more towards the Macbook Pro. Though your post has shifted me right towards the middle.

    I will be biking to work every day 15min there and 15min back. I also want to take the laptop with me when I travel so I can edit video and other media bits when I stop for the night (If I go backpacking across Japan).

    Really been wanting to hear those using a MBA.

    A 4 hour battery life sounds great. How well does it run Final Cut Elements? And do you recommend the solid state drive or does it do well without it?
  16. windowpain macrumors 6502a

    Apr 19, 2008

    If I were you i'd get a macbook,for all the reasons other people have stated.. Heres the japanese link to the refurb store if you need it.

    The air is great, but its twice the price of a refurb macbook...thats what made me go with the MB.
  17. kingcrowing macrumors 6502a


    May 24, 2004
    Burlington, VT
    Its a great laptop, I love mine and use it for internet, chatting/ video chatting, watching videos (online like or vlc) and it's perfect for me. I'm getting an HD video camera in a couple months, and i may try iMovie on it but if I've got a high end desktop (see sig) and also a back up desktop (Upgraded Dell Optiplex GX270) and a backup laptop (Latitude D600) so I really don't need to be doing any video editing on here. I'd say if it wasn't for the video editing then it'd be good. But since you need a lot of HD space (80GB is enough for my apps, music, documents, and OS and I've still got space to spare) but if you're adding raw video footage it'll eat up space really quick.

    If you're doing a lot of editing I'd say do it on your PC (Adobe Primer Pro etc) and then use your air for everything else...
  18. plumbingandtech macrumors 68000

    Jun 20, 2007
    With your video creation needs and the real need to hook up to an external monitor.

    I would rec a macbook pro.

    I own a MBA but the video turns on the fan, disk space is limited and slow for video needs. You get firewire (faster) HDs on the macbook pro and your fans will not go off as much.

    again, I love my MBA but for your needs I would buy a MBP if i were you.
  19. alphaod macrumors Core


    Feb 9, 2008
    I carry a 17" MBP everyday and no it's not a load at all. Just make sure you use a backpack, not a messenger style bag. Get the MBP and you'll be so much happier. Also the MBP battery is replaceable which means on an extended trip, you can bring a second battery and keep on do everything.

    A MBA is good for general office work, no Final Cut stuff (It's Final Cut Express BTW).
  20. hkq37 macrumors newbie


    Apr 26, 2008
    Hong Kong
    Well it seems the MBP would suit you OK, since A) you are not going to shoulder the load when you commute and B) as the other posters point out the MBP would be better for Final Cut Extreme ( sorry I have never used this program). C) These other Macbooks still have excellent battery life.

    I think many people are in this dilemma- whether to vote with their heart or their head. It's like your heart wants an MBA, your head says MB and they sort of make a compromise and say MBP.

    In answer to your other question about SSD v HD. It's been fairly well established the HD version represents the better investment. There are plenty of articles on this debate if you look around.

    The MBA's strongest feature is it's size and weight and I suggest if you will not be taking advantage of this, then perhaps look at other Macbooks to suit your needs. I agree with the other posters - all you need is the Macbook, save your money for other things e.g. beer. Good luck too!
  21. silverblack macrumors 68030


    Nov 27, 2007
    Don't forget that Japan is the capital of latest (smallest) electronics, from tiny cell phones to tiny cars.

    With an MBP, you'll one day find it too heavy to carry around, thus leaving it on the desk most of the time.

    With an MBA, you'll one day find it too slow to run the heavy apps, thus turning to a desktop.

    Ask yourself which one of this case is worse.

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