Is the MBA a good choice for this specific use ?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by FrenchPB, Aug 9, 2011.

  1. FrenchPB, Aug 9, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 10, 2011

    FrenchPB macrumors 6502

    Sep 15, 2005
    Hey all,

    I love Apple, but I can't figure out my needs for my use. I hope you guys can help me out on choosing the right setup for me.

    My needs are :
    - a video output to display HD videos on my HDTV (1080p)
    - a big screen for photo editing
    - good performance for video encoding and watching videos with a very high bitrate
    - to have my files on the go as I travel a little bit

    I currently have a 2008 20" iMac which is connected to my HDTV, and my work windows laptop. The thing I don't like in the current situation is that I don't have my personal files when I'm on the go, and that my work laptop is very heavy (15" IBM lenovo).

    Based on that, I don't know what I should do. A couple of solutions could be :
    - MBA + iMac at home
    - MBA + ATD (but how to display video on my HDTV)
    - MBP

    Also, I dont know whether I should go for 11 or 13 inches, and what CPU to choose. Since I'm more often at home than on the road, I was thinking that I could for the high-end 11-inch MBA for my needs on the go (+ displaying video on my parents' HDTV as well), and keep an iMac at home for my more intensive work (maybe go for the 27" iMac in a year or two).

    Hope you guys can give me some advices, cause my needs ask for different machines.
  2. PaulWog Suspended

    Jun 28, 2011
    The Macbook Air would only be a piece to the whole picture for you. It could not be used as your primary computer. However, a 13-inch Pro isn't going to offer you much more either. So I'd say stick with an iMac at home and use the Macbook Air, if anything.

    You may want to stick with a Macbook Pro 13-in and an iMac possibly since you're doing photo editing and whatnot.

    Don't get suckered into the whole thin fun-factorness. It's great and all (it's part of why I bought my 11-inch Air), but really you shouldn't be sacrificing functionality for that extra bit of easy-to-carry factor. Don't get me wrong though, the Air is definitely very capable computer.
  3. Consultant macrumors G5


    Jun 27, 2007
    2011 MacBook Air is faster than your 2008 iMac.

    You might want an external harddrive to store files though.
  4. MRU Suspended


    Aug 23, 2005
    An iMac Quad + iPad would prob suit you better.

    The MBA could accomplish those tasks but you are going to have to make sacrifices/compromises.

    The iMac + iPad combo has possibly less compromises is screen real estate and encoding performance are of most importance. The iPad perfect tool for carrying your media around and can be connected to any HDTV via hdmi.
  5. nebulos, Aug 9, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2011

    nebulos macrumors 6502a


    Aug 27, 2010
    exactly what functionality will the OP miss with the Air?

    also, easy-to-carry = functionality! commonly missed point.

    OP, we don't all buy Airs assuming they're just fun toys that don't really get the job done. read the reviews and look through the forums. the Air is, indeed, quite capable.

    you're obviously not going to get a big screen with an Air, but you can use external monitors for that. why get rid of your iMac? add an Air to your setup if you want something very portable that can actually compute. (video playback shouldn't be a problem, but i don't know about super high bitrate HD stuff.) not sure how well you can edit photos on an ipad.
  6. PaulWog Suspended

    Jun 28, 2011
    Graphics horsepower, screen-size, and colour accuracy. One of his primary concerns is photo editing, so uhhh... yes... that stuff is important.

    Of course anything can serve as functionality. I'm talking about functionality as a computer on a whole, rather than functionality as a laptop.
  7. nebulos macrumors 6502a


    Aug 27, 2010
    okay. keep in mind that portability is also one of the priorities OP stated.

    my guess is we're talking about non-pro photo editing, so horsepower shouldn't be an issue. the color accuracy of the Pros would be nice, but if we're talking about the 13, we're talking bad resolution, and if we're talking 15 or 17, we're talking a whole different ball game and not super portable.
  8. Sounds Good macrumors 68000

    Jul 8, 2007
    With the new (more powerful) Macbook Airs, couldn't he get along with a maxed out MBA and an external monitor?
  9. marsmissions macrumors 6502


    Jan 5, 2010
    Washington, US
    I would go with a MBA and an iMac. You can get an adapter to connect to HDMI.

    The 27 inch will be great for photo editing, though I would opt for the 21 inch because it isn't as huge. I like my desk space :)
  10. LeakedDave macrumors regular

    Jun 26, 2011
    ^^ Ignore this guy.

    The MacBook Air is perfect for all of that. I watch tons of 1080p video on my 1080p projector using mini display port to HDMI cables and it works great. Also works on my 42" Philips HDTV really well too.

    As for photo editing and color accuracy, it's good as well. Unless you make tons of cash from professionals and do hardcore photo editing then you might want something picture perfect but I haven't noticed anything "bad" about the MacBook Air's screen. Only good. It's an amazing screen.
  11. PaulWog Suspended

    Jun 28, 2011
    You obviously don't do any photo editing, so why are you giving him advice on colour accuracy?

    Try checking out the colour bars on a colour test. On the higher-end you'll see a lot of blending colours that shouldn't blend.

    For a casual user the screen is awesome though. But for photo editing, definitely no.

    You also seem to be ignoring me on a few points. I said it's not great when it comes to graphics horsepower for photoshop and the like. It will function perfectly fine for that, but it's not exactly a workhorse when it comes to those things. Sure, it can output 1080p video just fine: I never said it couldn't. Point is, though, that the Macbook Pro 13-inch may be better suited to him (not that it's really a workhorse for graphics either).
  12. LeakedDave macrumors regular

    Jun 26, 2011
    Oh I don't do any photo editing. Why the hell did I buy Photoshop.
  13. nebulos macrumors 6502a


    Aug 27, 2010
    the thing is, we're most likely talking more casual than professional photo editing here. OP?
  14. Sounds Good macrumors 68000

    Jul 8, 2007
    For serious (aka: pro) photo editing I would think you'd want a color calibrated external monitor.
  15. neo-cd macrumors newbie


    May 25, 2010
    The 27 inch looks always great in any desk :D.
  16. FrenchPB thread starter macrumors 6502

    Sep 15, 2005
    My 2008 iMac is a Core 2 duo 2,66 Ghz with 4 GB RAM and a 500 Go harddrive. Would the 2011 MBA be better than that, taking into account that they have a worse graphic chipset ?

    I don't know much about CPU performances. I guess the new architecture is much better and that I shouldn't put too much in the CPU speed ?

    This is quite an interesting solution since it would compliment my iMac better as a device to allow me to do basic stuff on the go and still have access to my media.

    However, I'm not sure that the ipad would be adequate to display video on my HDTV and on my parents' HDTV when I visit them. As a big sports fan, I download a lot of games on the internet. Those files are quite big (around 4 GB) and in .mkv or .avi format usually. As a consequence, I'd have to encode all of the videos I want to watch on an HDTV, and that can be quite time consuming, especially since those files are so big.

    If I could watch any video format on the ipad, that would definitely be a solution to consider. I'm pretty sure that it is not possible though, and that all video files must be encoded in an itunes format beforehand. I dream of a Finder on the iPad whenere I could drop files from my iMac and watch them with VLC on the iPad...

    I basically need a Mac device "on the go", but I don't need that device to do photo editing when I travel. I do non-pro photo editing, but I like to do it at home on a bigger screen. So basically, I don't expect my portable Mac device (MBP, MBA, iPad or iphone) to do photo editing or video encoding. I want that device to allow me to do basic stuff (internet, email, MS Office document editing, watching videos, etc.).

    That is something I was wondering about. Would a MBA + ATD work for my needs. I'd do photo editing on the big screen at home, and have my files everywhere I go. But that would make the MBA my primary computer, and it sounds like it won't be powerful enough to do everything I want. As a consequence, it looks like I need two devices : one at home, on on the go.

    Yes, casual photo editing on Aperture and Photoshop.
  17. misterneums macrumors 6502

    Nov 2, 2009

    The processing power of the i5/i7 will by far outstrip what you currently have. You will be able to process and batch photos just fine. Serious amateurs and professionals obviously will be want to be working on a hardware color calibrated screen. That being said, for us normal people, the screen is just fine. I see you said you want to have your files with you at all times. You can go about this two ways--a usb 2.0 external hard drive. They're quite small these days. Otherwise you could upgrade into the 256 GB SSD, but that is also a costly 300+ upgrade.

    Ignore the processer speed. The way the Sandy Bridge CPU's handle processing threads is much more efficient.

    I'd suggest that you purchase the 13" Air. I don't believe you would be disappointed.

    If you were really serious about your photo work, I would maybe suggest that you look into the 13" pro, as you can user upgrade (if you are comfortable doing such things) the hard drive with an SSD, and max your ram out at 8 GB versus the 4GB in the air. It has a better screen, but an inferior screen resolution to the air.

    I still stand by my first statement--go with the 13. Just make sure that if you go with the 128 GB drive, you might want to pick up an external. Otherwise get the 256 if you really feel you need the space.

    Oh, I guess one last thing, in case you were wondering. Reviews have shown the 1.8 GHz i7 processer upgrade to be roughly an 8-10% upgrade in processing power from the 1.7 GHz i5. Unless you really need the speed, I think it's worth it to stick with the i5 in the 13" model
  18. MRU Suspended


    Aug 23, 2005
    Can you not simply use VLC or Movist, CineplayerX, OPlayer etc.. or any other the myriad of other movie players on the iPad that do support MKV to do that. Simply add the file (drag and drop from your downloaded folder) in iTunes App sync list, that you want on your iPad and sync.

    Should do what you want it to do. I have run many ripped 720p MKV files on my iPad out to the HDMI - TV without any issues. :) :) :)
  19. FrenchPB thread starter macrumors 6502

    Sep 15, 2005

    What ? You're telling me it's possible to add .mkv, .avi, or other video files to your ipad and then watch them with an app for the ipad without having to encode it to the itunes format using handbrake ?

    Where does it go on your ipad then ? Where can you find it since it won't be in 'ipod / videos' ?

    I'm confused, and very intrigued by that solution ^^
  20. MRU Suspended


    Aug 23, 2005
    It goes within the App's playlist that you use to playback those files. Open the app, see the list of movie files you have transferred to play - select a movie and play.... simples... :)

    There are a lot of Apps to offer that solution. Take your pick ;)
  21. FrenchPB thread starter macrumors 6502

    Sep 15, 2005
    Well, if I can easily watch my sports videos on an ipad, read web articles that I would have opened at home before going to work (with an app like Read It Later), that would solve many things I wanted to do.

    Since I'll have a blackberry at work, I won't need an other phone to call or exchange text messages. And since my iphone 3G's battery is dead, I'd rather stop my subsciption (I pay around 35 euros a month for that thing) and not buy a new one.

    If I buy a 32 GB iPad in the US with a leather cover, it would cost me around 500 euros.

    If I buy a 13-inch MBA i5 in the US, that would cost me around 1000 euros.

    So the solution is basically between iMac at home + iPad on the go, or iMac at home and MBA when I travel.

    I probably would be able to use my iPad for reading articles and watching videos in the subway everyday, whereas I'd only be able to use a MBA in the train or when I'm not at home...

    Tough choice :(
  22. FrenchPB thread starter macrumors 6502

    Sep 15, 2005
    I'm now thinking that an ipod touch would be even more convenient than the ipad in the subway to read offline articles or watch sports videos "on the go". The phone / text message would be done with my pro blackberry, so an ipod touch would be enough for my needs on the go.

    That would be the cheapest option of them all also, but that would offer the smallest screen and the least convenient keyboard to answer to emails.

    Actually, I'd just hope my iphone's battery was not so bad now, because I could have kept it a little bit longer without my phone subscription :(
  23. MRU Suspended


    Aug 23, 2005
    Wait and see if the september announcement of new iPhones also includes new iPod touch models with the A5 processor. :)
  24. FrenchPB thread starter macrumors 6502

    Sep 15, 2005
    Yup, a new ipod touch or mini ipad would just be perfect I guess.

    I'll be in the US from September 2nd to 9th. With a little bit of luck, new products will be out by the end of my trip.

    I guess I need a replacement for my iphone more than I need a second computer.
  25. Sounds Good macrumors 68000

    Jul 8, 2007
    Sounds to me like he'd be fine with even the 11" MBA plus an external monitor.

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