MacBook Air, Pro or other. Advice needed

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by TrenchcoatJedi, Jan 1, 2011.

  1. TrenchcoatJedi macrumors member


    Jun 17, 2004
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_2_1 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/533.17.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0.2 Mobile/8C148a Safari/6533.18.5)

    My "daily driver" if you will is a 14" iBook G4. It's almost 7 years old and it's had a great run. I've thought about replacing it a lot but it was always juuust functional enough to keep me going. Alas, it's time has come as I find myself spending more time using my work computer than my home computer since it's just too slow. However, my situation is a bit more complicated than simply replacing it.

    The scenario:

    I dropped hints that I wanted a new laptop this holiday season. I received a very generous gift card to the Apple store (side note: the gift card was in lieu of cash since the giver knew that I'd just make a student loan payment with cash and not actually get myself anything).

    I'm quite fond of the 11" MacBook Air. The size is fabulous and I have a large exam looming next year. Having that computer around with me at all times would enable me to take hundreds of thousands of pages of electronic exam revision materials (yes, hundreds of thousands) and do my revision whenever I have a free moment. The gift card I have would cover a maxed-out 11" MBA after the university discount which I qualify for.

    However, I recently went to an Apple store and put the stock 11" MBA through it's paces and was kind of unimpressed with the battery life and performance. It cannot do HD video well and Chrome performance is mediocre. Flash is a death sentence for the battery and slows down the system. That got me thinking about getting a 15" MacBook Pro instead. While it's not as portable, it's a much better powered machine. The other thing that makes me hesitate about the MBA is the possibility of a refresh with Sandy Bridge. Despite Intel's January delivery timeline, some Sandy Bridge laptops are beginning to trickle out. From reading the buyers guide here, I know that MBA refreshes occur about annually however, I don't want to be left out in the cold if they release a new MBA with better specs in a few months.

    The other confounder is this. I have a mid 2007 Mac mini (specs here: that I have hooked up to my TV currently in use as a media center using Plex and Boxee as frontends. I have contemplated getting a set top streamer but they all seem incomplete now (Boxee box is unfinished, pop box/popcorn hour has a horrible UI, vudu and roku involve recurring charges, AppleTV can't do 1080p or play MKV). The Mac mini is maxed out in specs, devours flash, Chrome and renders 1080p MKV files like butter (even over USB). This got me thinking that I should instead get a better set top box and a monitor for the mini in the process making it my daily use computer.

    This is the dilemma. 11" MBA or 15" MBP now, get a set top and convert the mini to a desktop and hold onto the gift card in hopes of a refresh soon or another as yet unelucidated option. I've discussed this with my equally obsessed Mac dork girlfriend who empathises with my dilemma but has (probably smartly) washed her hands of the decision-making process.

    The things I use the computer for are primarily browser based like Gmail, google reader, docs and calendar, yahoo mail, kayak, facebook and online flash video. My browser of choice is Chrome with the notscripts and adblock extensions as de rigeur. Powerpoint, PDF reading and the bloatware that has become itunes performance is also important. I also would like acceptable HD video performance. I do the occasional Photoshop project. Video editing is an extreme rarity.

    I await your comments and advice. If there's anything I've left out, feel free to ask. Also, please don't turn this into a flame war and bash others' suggestions. Let's keep it constructive.


  2. shyam09 macrumors 68020


    Oct 31, 2010
    would the 15" be worth it, then..
    i know the screen real estate is better (way better) but still. i personally would go with the 13" MacBook Pro.
    Here are my Reasons:
    1. portable [whereas the 15" is also portable to an extent, the uses you have seem fit for 13"
    2. although the C2D is now outdated, its still a fabulous CPU and well its suits all ur needs. it can even handle the "LITTLE" photoshop and Video Editing
    3. its a way cheaper price and if you have the extra cash you can max out the RAM for $80, which means you will still save more than the 15"
    4. if screen estate is away too much for you to be disregarded, get a lovely external display and your total will STILL be cheaper. the problem i see is you are a university student, so im not very sure where you would keep the external display...(unless you have one!)

    as you are a university student, you want the best for the least. the C2D MBP does all your needs and can manage to do those "rarities" you mentioned. between the 11" and 15", both haves pros and cons, b but why not settle for the "in-between sibling" the 13" MBP (or MBA)
  3. Vantage Point macrumors 65816

    Mar 1, 2010
    New Jersey
    Split the difference and get a 13". Either the Air or MBP. The MBP will have backlit keys which is a very nice feature and should have the best battery life. The MBP can also take 8gb of ram and bigger, faster hard drives up to 1Tb. Also, there's no reason you can't put a SSD in it. Adding ram or a better hard drive does not void warranty.

    In about 2 month or so the new MBP will be out but the MBA might be nicer. It really depends on what you need and what you are willing to live without
  4. sk4prez2020 macrumors member


    Sep 27, 2009
    Don't set yourself short.

    Get the Macbook Pro. The air is just a souped up Netbook.
  5. TrenchcoatJedi thread starter macrumors member


    Jun 17, 2004
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_2_1 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/533.17.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0.2 Mobile/8C148a Safari/6533.18.5)

    I'm not a university student. I am a resident at a university hospital so I get the discount through my employer. This also means that I'm looking for value but can spend the extra money if need be. I live in a fairly large apartment with a desk workspace so that an external monitor if needed is not a problem. And as for the video editing, I probably only undertake one project a year so I'm willing to sacrifice some screen.

    Another thing I really like about the 11" is that it's small enough to fit in the pocket of my white lab coat that I wear all day at work allowing it to literally be on me at all times.
  6. toxic macrumors 68000

    Nov 9, 2008
    if the 11" doesn't have enough juice, then don't consider it. there won't be a refresh anytime soon.

    I think the 13" form factor is for you.

Share This Page