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ToomeyND

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Sep 14, 2011
537
344
Okay, my wife and I are due for new laptops and are waiting to see what WWDC holds. I'm going 13" MBP for sure if there is an update. Here's the rub.

My wife is in law school. She used an 11" air the past two years, but I want to get her a computer with a retina screen since she stares at the thing all day. However, we have a Thunderbolt Display at home that she connects to whenever there to make use of a nicer screen and the real estate it provides instead of hunching over the laptop. It's my understanding that the rMB can't connect to the TBD. She doesn't use the computer for anything more than documents, web browsing, and media consumption, so in terms of power the rMB is great. But what about when she gets home to plug into an external monitor?

What do you guys think? Does she "need" a MBP just to use an Apple Thunderbolt Display? Should I be looking at selling the display and going with another brand that won't be nearly as useful as a dock?
 
Last edited:

cruisin

macrumors 6502a
Apr 1, 2014
962
223
Canada
The MacBook only supports 1080p at 60 Hz or UHD at 30 Hz using the adapter. Intermediate display options are a gamble as some report success and some report failure. Unless your new external monitor is 1080p resolution, it might not work. It appears that the MacBook is not meant to replace the Air and I doubt any announcement at WWDC will change that as the MacBook was recently updated. You might need a Pro to use a decently sized external monitor.

Depending on your docking needs you can get monitors with speakers, USB ports, card readers, etc that should cover what the Thunderbolt Display had (aside from the webcam and ethernet jack).
 

Tomorrow

macrumors 604
Mar 2, 2008
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Always a day away
You're focusing on "need."

The retina MBP is comparable in price to a MacBook, and aside from the smaller SSD, is FAR more powerful than the MacBook, at the same price. And it will work just fine with your Thunderbolt display.

The MacBook is clearly not for me - I can't wrap my head around why anyone would want it over a MBP, but to each his own.
 

ToomeyND

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Sep 14, 2011
537
344
You're focusing on "need."

The retina MBP is comparable in price to a MacBook, and aside from the smaller SSD, is FAR more powerful than the MacBook, at the same price. And it will work just fine with your Thunderbolt display.

The MacBook is clearly not for me - I can't wrap my head around why anyone would want it over a MBP, but to each his own.

Good point. I left out the part that, since she is traveling to and from school each day via a bus, the light weight of the rMB is a huge draw to her. That is why I would ideally like to get her the rMB if it wasn't a half computer. :)
 
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Tomorrow

macrumors 604
Mar 2, 2008
7,160
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Always a day away
Good point. I left out the part that, since she is traveling to and from school each day via a bus, the light weight of the rMB is a huge draw to her. That is why I would ideally like to get her the rMB if it wasn't a half computer. :)

I have a 13" MBP and it's quite thin and light. Sure, the MB is lighter, but neither is heavy.

Another real deal breaker for me is the single port on the MB, and it's not even something all that usable (USB-C).
 
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Apple fanboy

macrumors Sandy Bridge
Feb 21, 2012
49,567
44,854
Behind the Lens, UK
Good point. I left out the part that, since she is traveling to and from school each day via a bus, the light weight of the rMB is a huge draw to her. That is why I would ideally like to get her the rMB if it wasn't a half computer. :)
Why not get a MacBook Air if weight is an issue?
 

bluespark

macrumors 68030
Jul 11, 2009
2,896
3,687
Chicago
I'm in the dissent on this one, as I'm a lawyer and remember my law school days well. Thin and light is hugely important -- it's difficult to overstate what an advantage having a lightweight computer is when you're lugging numerous thick and heavy legal texts with it. In professional practice, having a thin computer that can effortlessly slip in a briefcase is also a plus. If she cares about those things, and it sounds like she does, don't assume the MB is a lesser computer for her needs -- she may be right.

Also, the MB is plenty fast enough. I did essentially three things on my laptop in law school: note taking/drafting (very long documents), reviewing lengthy PDFs (including entire thousand-page casebooks reduced to PDF format), and web-based research. The MB seems almost perfectly suited to those tasks. The one thing she should think about is the keyboard, as it is somewhat polarizing, but most people who get used to it report excellent comfort and very high typing speeds. It's probably an acquired taste.

Finally, 1080p on an external monitor seems fine for her purposes. I'd get an USB-C to Thunderbolt adapter and call it a day. Some of those have extra ports for power, additional USB connections, etc., so she'll always have what she needs when connected to the adapter/display. (Note that I have not actually tried connecting the MB to a Thunderbolt Display, so you may want to get an in-store demo before purchasing.)
[doublepost=1465440484][/doublepost]
Why not get a MacBook Air if weight is an issue?

Because the Air doesn't have a Retina display. Retina is a game-changer when viewing tiny text for more than ten hours a day.
[doublepost=1465440824][/doublepost]As it turns out, I may be mistaken about the existence of USB-C to Thunderbolt adapters, so the MB may not work for you after all. I still think the MB is well-suited to legal work, but that may not be enough if you need the ability to use that display. Disregard my prior post as appropriate.
 

theluggage

macrumors 604
Jul 29, 2011
6,668
6,126
I may be mistaken about the existence of USB-C to Thunderbolt adapters

There are Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 1/2 adapters which physically look like USB-C to Thunderbolt, but they only work on computers that support Thunderbolt 3 - and the rMB doesn't.

The idea of using the USB-C connector as a universal connector that supports USB 2/3.0/3.1, Displayport 1.2/1.3, PCIe, Thunderbolt - and possibly more in the future - is great, but knowing which permutation of protocols a particular USB-C port supports is going to be a can of worms...
 

ToomeyND

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Sep 14, 2011
537
344
As it turns out, I may be mistaken about the existence of USB-C to Thunderbolt adapters, so the MB may not work for you after all. I still think the MB is well-suited to legal work, but that may not be enough if you need the ability to use that display. Disregard my prior post as appropriate.

This is EXACTLY why I am so frustrated with the rMB! It's the perfect computer for on the go, but falls flat as soon as you want to hook it up to Apple's only display (and also the only display I currently own).
 

theluggage

macrumors 604
Jul 29, 2011
6,668
6,126
This is EXACTLY why I am so frustrated with the rMB! It's the perfect computer for on the go, but falls flat as soon as you want to hook it up to Apple's only display (and also the only display I currently own).

Frankly, though, that always was a flaw of the Apple TB display - the reason I never got one (when they were younger and not so overpriced) was that although it would have been great on my main MBP, it wouldn't have worked with my older non-thunderbolt work MBP or several other devices that I might occasionally have wanted to connect. That is entirely Apple's minimalism - no earthly reason why even a thunderbolt display can't have multiple inputs.

Is there any display at all that can plug directly into USB-C without an adapter? Serious question, I don't know.

There have been some announced, but I'm not sure if they're in the shops yet:

https://www.macrumors.com/2016/01/04/usb-c-monitors-macbook-acer-lenovo/
...long term, these should be a great solution because they will give you charge, USB hub and display on a single cable.
Short term: "never buy version 1.0 of anything".

Plenty of USB-C to DisplayPort/HDMI adapters out there if you google (and have a displayport or HDMI display) but you really need something like the apple digital A/V adapter if you want to charge and/or connect a USB device at the same time.
 
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