MBA or iMac as second Mac?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Kan-O-Z, Nov 16, 2008.

  1. Kan-O-Z macrumors 6502

    Aug 3, 2007
    I currently own a 1.5 yr old MBP (SR 2.2GHZ, 160GB). I need a second computer in the house since my wife and I can't use the computer at the same time currently. My question is would you get an iMac or a MBA? MacMall has an incredible deal on the 1st gen MBA with 80GB HD for $1149! Or I could get an iMac for about the same price.

    Since it's my second computer, I don't need it to be very powerful. One thing that is really holding me back with the MBA is the HD which is only 80GB (probably only about 60GB that's really usable). I think my photos and music library add up to about 80-90GB which means all this stuff won't fit. I would like to have the ability to have a full copy of everything on both computers. As a side note, I need to figure out a sync solution between the two macs.

    As far as the iMac, the things holding be back there is that I would like to not be tied down to a desktop and would like the mobility around the house of a portable. The other thing is that I already have a 20" LCD which I connect to my MBP a few times a week and run it in extended desktop mode which is great. I would most likely have to get rid of the 20" LCD because an iMac + another 20" LCD would require too much desk space which I probably don't have.

    The regular macbook might be a compromise between the two but I don't like that it's screen is inferior to MBP and MBA. Also the added benefit of the MBA would be that when we do take trips, it would be superior to the MB.

    Some other concerns about the MBA is that the battery isn't user replaceable. How much does that cost? Is the HD upgradeable on it?

  2. six.four macrumors 6502

    Oct 24, 2008
    It depends on what you value more - power or portability. An iMac and a MBA are on complete opposite ends of the spectrum. By what you've said, it seems like you really value portability. If such is the case, then the MBA or a MB would be ideal for you.

    As for your concerns of the MBA:

    - storage can be solved by purchasing an external hard drive. A 2.5" external is small, portable and USB powered.

    - battery (although not officially user replaceable) is actually very easy to replace and a replacement can be found for about $50-60 shipped to the US via a third party vendor on ebay.

    - hard drive is upgradeable - but not by size - only to a 64gb SSD. The largest 1.8" 5mm PATA hard drive in production right now is 80gb. Larger 1.8" 5mm hard drives are available for the new (Rev B) MBA using the SATA interface.
  3. tcphoto macrumors 6502a


    Feb 23, 2005
    Madison, GA
    If you already own a MBP, I would go with a top of the line refurbished iMac. It's widely known that the iMac is going to be updated in January, so I'd be upset spending money on a new machine when it's going to be updated so quickly. If you can't wait till then the refurbished makes more sense.
  4. Kan-O-Z thread starter macrumors 6502

    Aug 3, 2007
    Any other opinions or personal experiences will be greatly appreciated.
  5. MacGeekDC macrumors 6502

    Mar 6, 2008
    Northern Virginia
    I think the MacBook even with the crappier screen might be a better fit, I think it strikes a good balance between power and portability for a 2nd Mac. Even the base Alu. MB has double the HD space of the MBA, is much more powerful, has a bazillion times better graphics and is only 1.5 lb. more.
    The iMac and the MBA are really at complete opposite end of the spectrum. You don't have to listen to me but I think you should get a MacBook.
  6. paulyras macrumors 6502

    Dec 3, 2006
    I actually have all 3 (much to my fiancee's dismay), and I would strongly suggest the air. I absolutely love my 1st gen air, and I use it all the time if I want to go out for a cup of coffee or even day or 1 night business trips. Anything longer and I take the MBP. I like it FAR better than the previous generation MB (I really haven't used the new one enough), and the screen is really beautiful.

    As for not having everything on both computers, while you're home you can always access everything over your network, and if you have mobile me, you can do the same over the internet. For photos, I would expect things to be reasonably snappy, provided you have an 802.11n network (or probably even g for the most part).

    If the purpose of that would be more as a backup solution than convenience, I would really recommend rethinking the strategy in the 1st place, as it will not automatically mirror on both computers (though if you know how, let me know!), so something like time capsule or a really big external drive connected to a AEBS is a MUCH better solution (though don't get me started on the issues between file vault and time machine).

    I hope this helps.
  7. Kan-O-Z thread starter macrumors 6502

    Aug 3, 2007
    I think ChronoSync might be a good solution to keeping two computers in sync.

  8. jamestemroot macrumors member

    Nov 21, 2007
    I'd get the air, if no intensive work is going to be done on it. :)
  9. Kan-O-Z thread starter macrumors 6502

    Aug 3, 2007
    How slow is the original Air for things like iPhoto? Also do you find your Air overheating and shutting down? I have heard of cases like this.

  10. paulyras macrumors 6502

    Dec 3, 2006
    Hmmm... Hadn't ever seen chronosync before. I might check that out. Thanks.

    As for the question about overheating, I never had a problem with it, but I have the 1.8 and the SSD. I don't know if the hardware difference is the reason, or if I just got lucky. Someone else might be able to comment, but I thought they fixed that problem with a software or firmware update several months back.

    Again, the SSD may make comparisons harder, but I would be really surprised if iPhoto didn't perform up to your expectations. If you were planning to do serious video editing or something, that's a bit different, but for basic kicking around (web, iPhoto, iTunes, etc...). I think you should be good.

    Do you have an apple store around? It might be worth kicking around on one for a few minutes. With the exception of the new video card and drive size, I believe most of the guts are the same between v1 and v2.
  11. Chupa Chupa macrumors G5

    Chupa Chupa

    Jul 16, 2002
    As others have said, if you are going for another laptop I would go for the MB not the MBA. MB is lots more bang for the buck whereas the MBA is mostly flash and dash. Also if this isn't something your wife is going to be schlepping around all the time then weight isn't really a huge issue, especially when we are talking about a 1lb and a half or so.
  12. Kan-O-Z thread starter macrumors 6502

    Aug 3, 2007
    Anybody else who has two macs and would like to comment on their opinions?

  13. Kan-O-Z thread starter macrumors 6502

    Aug 3, 2007
    Can you guys comment on watching rented movies from iTunes or watching youtube videos? I've heard of choppiness and overheating issues.

  14. Kleivonen macrumors member

    Jun 3, 2008
    Well in my household we have the following computers:

    Powermac G5
    iMac G4
    Gen 1 Blackbook
    Powerbook G4
    iBook G4
    Macbook Pro

    So I can kind of talk from experience. The only thing I don't own that you are considering is the MBA. In my personal opinion, I would get the Macbook since your wife will be using it. I'm assuming she doesn't do any video editing or any hardcore photo editing, so it will probably suffice. I am sure the Macbook will out preform her needs, and it is in the same price range as the MBA. I used to carry a Blackbook with me to school everyday, until recently I started bring my new MBP. Carrying it around sin't much of an issue. I'd say the Macbook would be the best decision. If you don't like the Macbook, I would just buy the iMac.

    Honestly though, I don't see why anyone would even consider the MBA when the MB and MBP are in the same price range.

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