MBA vs MBP - suggestions?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by Wingnut330, Mar 19, 2008.

  1. Wingnut330 macrumors 6502a

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    Jan 16, 2008
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    Central Ohio - USA
    #1
    Hey Folks,

    The saga continues. As some of you know, I bought an MBA and an iMac. After having the iMac for a couple of weeks and not using it much, I had the bright idea to return the iMac, sell my MBA and get a MBP. Now I'm not sure I want to get rid of my MBA - I like it too much! :D

    Anyway, my plan for the machine is to house my iTunes library, iPhoto library, iMovies, etc. I'm not a power user, but like the idea of a larger screen and larger hard drive and built in drive. I will likely just use the iLife suite with a handful of other apps like MS Office. It will be a home machine, not for business use or gaming. I would like to connect it to a larger monitor - likely a 23" ACD. I'm looking for a machine that can be my main home machine so I can ditch my XP desktop.

    MBP Advantages:
    Larger Screen
    Larger HD
    More ports
    More powerful
    More expandable

    MBA Advantages:
    Lightweight
    Very cool! :D

    To date, I love my Air, but I haven't put anything on it. It's essentially vanilla except for taz prep software. So, I'm not sure how it will perform once it gets loaded down.

    Any other factors I should consider? Any suggestions?

    Also, when you are burning a disk on a Mac, is the system rendered useless like in Windoze or can you continue to work? If it dramatically slows things down, then I may just keep my Mac Mini / MBA combo.
     
  2. iToaster macrumors 68000

    iToaster

    Joined:
    May 3, 2007
    Location:
    In front of my MacBook Pro
    #2
    I say you keep your current set up. It seems to work best for you. The iMac is a good home machine whilst the MBA is the essence of portable. You're good with what you have now.
     
  3. mhnajjar macrumors 6502a

    mhnajjar

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2008
    #3
    We should have exchanged our Macs!!!

    :eek:

    It is so funny that I just sold my top of the line MBP and bought a MBA and still waiting for the new iMacs whenever they are available!!!

    I guess since you are planning to keep the MBP as a home machine then you are better off with what you already have since you got portability (MBA) and big real estate (iMac).

    :apple: :)
     
  4. JCT macrumors 6502

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    Tucson, AZ
    #4
    I have an iMac at work and have ordered an MBA to "couple" with it -- I plan on using the MBA as a mobile extension of my iMac and I think it is ideally suited for that role.

    I would stick with the iMac/MBA combo.

    JT
     
  5. drummerlondonw3 macrumors 6502a

    drummerlondonw3

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2008
    Location:
    London
    #5
    I am not certain that the MBA would be the best bet as a sole machine for you

    I had a similar problem myself - as you can see by my specs I went down the route of the MBP. I really dont think that I have lost by going for the MBP. I didnt think the extra screen would be that much of a bonus but it really is.

    Upon reflection its great to have such a powerful machine that is as versatile as a 'standard' laptop.

    By all means use the MBA as your 90% machine but I wouldnt go back to maxing out a hard drive and be limited on areas of performance.

    Could you not justify running a dual system with the imac and the MBA? I think thats te perfect combo...

    Either way you've got a great machine!
     
  6. Wingnut330 thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #6
    To be clear, I returned my iMac, I don't have it anymore and I'm thinking of getting an MBP as my solo machine. Or I can use my MBA as my solo machine, or MBA plus my Mini
     
  7. JCT macrumors 6502

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    Tucson, AZ
    #7
    MBA + Mini might do the trick, I used the original Mini as my desktop for awhile, no problems.

    I see in your sig that you're about to upgrade your DSLR -- you might want to factor in how you will be handling those files and with what software to help with your decision. It might be limiting to go with 2 machines that both have integrated graphics.

    You know-- maybe a MBP + MBA combo isn't too crazy, the new MBPs are very capable and make a nice desktop, mine stepped into the breach seamlessly when my Dual G5 spit the bit in December. I didn't miss a step.

    Lots of options, but watch out for those big digital files!

    JT
     
  8. bcaslis macrumors 68020

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    Mar 11, 2008
    #8
    Well it certainly depends on how you use it. I will admit that my heart loves the MBA, but my head loves the MBP.

    If you want only one machine it's not the MBA if you have any substantial amount of storage needed. External disks work but their a pain to use day in and day out.

    If you use a desk much, you could do the MBA + mini or an MBP 17"

    If you use it on your lap much, then an MBP 15" is probably the best comprise.

    I'm in a quandry myself, I use an iMac as a server so I can use that but I don't like to work at the desk, I'd rather sit in different parts of the house. I love the MBA look, feel, and weight. It's fine for internet and email. But the storage limitation and the small screen are real compromises for photo editing. The MBP 15" is a real powerhouse for photos and almost as convenient as a laptop, but doesn't have the visceral joy of the MBA. It's also louder and has more vibration than my MBA SSD. Not sure yet which I am going to decide on.
     
  9. PDE macrumors 68020

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    Nov 16, 2005
    #9
    My sentiments exactly. I think the key to figuring this out is to ask yourself some questions and answer them honestly (as opposed to trying to make them the MBA - the way I do!):

    1. What is my REAL normal usage (not what I think I MIGHT need)?

    2. What do I connect to the computer and when do I connect it - at home or when out and about/traveling?

    3. What do I need to use when it's at home on my desk?

    4. What do I need when I'm out and about/traveling?

    5. What features of the MBP do I NEVER use and what features do I only occasionally use?



    Once you've listed the things above, I'm pretty sure you'll arrive at a conclusion about which one is best for you. It really just boils down to what you need and how you use your computer.
     
  10. mtk75 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2008
    #10
    Just a thought. Couldn't you use remote desktop to run the really intensive programs on the iMac when you need to do photo editing, but don't want to sit at the computer? It doesn't give you the screen real estate, but the heat of running the application, and the storage become non-issues, as they are covered by the iMac itself. All the MBA is doing is displaying the screen for you to use. The biggest drawback would be network lag, but I've done VNC over a b/g wireless before, and it wasn't that bad. Surely it would be even better over n, right?

    -Matt
     
  11. Wingnut330 thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    Central Ohio - USA
    #11
    1. Web surfing and email most of the time. Office sometimes. Photo and video editing sometimes but hopefully increasing as I learn more about photography.

    2. Camera's, thumb drives. A 23 ACD would be nice.

    3. Monitor, printer. I would likely be at my desk doing more detailed editing of photos, office docs etc. Things I wouldn't normally do lying on the couch.

    4. It would be nice to have all my files with me but it's not required and to be perfectly honest, it won't leave the house too much.

    5. Dunno - I don't have a MBP yet. I admit that it might be too powerful for my day to day activities, but it's got the power I might need at times as I get more advanced with photography and it's cheaper than 2 machines.
     
  12. Clix Pix macrumors demi-goddess

    Clix Pix

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    #12
    As someone who has run the gamut from the Mac Pro to the MBA and everything in between, and as someone who is also a photographer, my suggestion would be to either go with the combo of the iMac and the MBA OR to go with a MBP and an ACD. Digital image processing is easier on a 20", 23" or 30" ACD (or any freestanding monitor) as opposed to doing it on a 13", 15" or 17" laptop monitor. My preference would be the iMac and the MBA. The iMac has a larger hard drive capacity than the MBP and the MBA provides portability when you need it.

    I'm a Nikon user so don't know anything about the latest Canon Digital Rebel, but chances are that they've increased the file sizes so that you will definitely have to take that into consideration. A larger internal HD on your processing machine plus at least one external HD will be necessary. I use my Mac Pro for the serious heavy lifting of post-processing my images from my D3 and D300 (both are 12 MP cameras), and from time to time I do a quick-and-dirty post-processing in my 17" MBP with 3 GB. I have not yet done anything like that in my MBA and that's not why I bought the machine in the first place. I plan to use this for uploading and temporary storage of my images when I'm traveling, with maybe an occasional post-processing of an image or two here-and-there. For me, as a photographer, the perfect combo would be (if I didn't have a Mac Pro) the iMac and the MBA. The MBP does the job, definitely, but there is the limitation of the HD space available (on mine; I realize that now they've increased HD sizes quite a bit). You'll still need an external HD, though. Photographic images take up a HECKUVA lot of space and can eat up a HD in nothing flat!
     
  13. bcaslis macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2008
    #13
    It's not really a matter of processing power. The MBA takes longer but so what it can do the job just not as fast. The real issue is storage and screen space. My base photo library is currently 43GB. Can't really fit it on the SSD and it's only going to get bigger. Any external drive works, but that's really only a good solution if you need it infrequently rather than constantly. And of course screen space helps alot. The MBA can do these things, but a MBP just does them so much better and of course is 2x the speed at least.

    The MBA just has such a "cute" and enjoyable something about it that I really don't want to let it go. I really can't justify two portables and the iMac works perfectly in it's server role so it's not going anywhere.

    I should also add that the penryn based MBPs do tip the scale more than before. Based on heat and battery I had decided on the MBA against my previous MBP. But the new models are a huge improvement in heat and battery life. The new MBP clearly is cooler and longer battery life than the MBA so that helps tip the scale back towards it in the laptop contest.

    Either is a great system, it all depends on what your priorities are.
     
  14. mtk75 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2008
    #14
    I am not disagreeing with your points, but I wanted to bring up the other upside to my previous suggestion. If you are using the iMac to do the processing, the hard drive and application are both there on the faster machine. You get the processing speed increase, the increased hard disk space (without the slow-down of an external), and the portability of the MBA to do it where ever you want. The problems are, as pointed out above, screen real estate, and network lag. Screen real estate can be partially mitigated by an oversized virtual desktop, but I know that is not ideal. It's always a pain to need to move the screen around to get to other features...

    Oh well, it is just a thought. I don't have another computer to do this with. I was just wondering if it would be a possible solution.

    -Matt
     
  15. bcaslis macrumors 68020

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    Mar 11, 2008
    #15
    Thanks for the suggestion. Using screen sharing for example works well with normal tasks (and I have used it for some things), but really falls apart for something like photo editing. So while it would work for some applications it won't work for me.
     
  16. jjahshik32 macrumors 603

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    Sep 4, 2006
    #16
    Macbook pro for the win for me, I've owned the macbook air for a week, I loved everything about it just the fan was too loud and the bottom back and left side gets pretty damn hot (same hotness as a regular macbook (non penryn). The mba gets pushed way too easily to its limits and cant throw almost everything at it, even the simplest functions of loading up certain webpages got the fan to rev up to 6000+ rpm (and I believe the mba worked exactly as it was supposed to nothing wrong with it). And not to mention the macbook air is terribly slow.
     
  17. Wingnut330 thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #17
    Yea - I think I'm leaning toward the MBP with the 23 ACD at this point. Powerful and portable. The bad thing is that I can't stop thinking about the iMac I returned. I sure do miss her... :(
     
  18. PDE macrumors 68020

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    Nov 16, 2005
    #18


    Based on the above, I don't think it really matters much which one you get. Having said that, if you're not going to be taking out that much, the MBP strikes me as an infinitely better deal and one which will allow you to grow easily without all the limitations of the MBA. I think the coolness factor of the MBA has gotten to you, but try to think practically. As you pointed out, the only real benefit of the MBA compared to the latest MBP is the size/weight and coolness of it. Everything else is better on the MBP, including battery life (it is amazing on the penryn), LCD size, storage, ram expandability, firewire (for your photo transfer and backup), multiple USB, quality of isight camera, sound, digital audio in/out, superdrive etc. If you're not out and about all the time, and would therefore benefit from much less weight it just isn't worth sacrificing all those things. I totally understand the desire to have the MBA because it's the coolest laptop available today, but with MBP you're getting a helluva lot for just $200 more. And it's not like the MBP isn't a gorgeous computer too, just not as cool as the MBA!

    Just my opinion.
     
  19. ncavs10 macrumors member

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    Mar 17, 2008
    Location:
    CT
    #19
    im also trying to decide between the MBP and the MBA. i dont really use that intensive programs...just Office, iTunes, Safari, Mail and thats about it. i am wondering if i could buy an MBA and use it as my primary computer. i am at school now, but have an iMac at home so worst case, i can use that for power if i need it.

    any insight?
     
  20. PDE macrumors 68020

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    #20
    I think the MAIN reason for anybody to get the MBA (besides it being sexy and cool!) is because they will be moving it around a lot and want the lightest possible mac. I don't see any problem of it being a primary computer, but if it's going to be on your desk most of the time anyway, then the MBP is a much better deal and is more flexible in the long run. Not as beautifully designed, not as cool, not as wonderful to grab with a single hand, but it's one of the most powerful laptops on the market today and has everything anybody could possible want from a laptop.
     
  21. ncavs10 macrumors member

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    #21
    this is a true statement and very valid. i agree and i think it will be fine because i do move around a lot and i am hardly at my desk.
     
  22. jjahshik32 macrumors 603

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    #22
    I think unless your out and about 5-6 days a week 6-8 hours a day where work requires you to use a laptop at all times or hopping from airport to airport then yes get the mba, BUT if you just like going over to friends house or just out once in a while or just like to go to your backyard where there is a table get the mbp.
     
  23. ncavs10 macrumors member

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    #23
    good advice. thanks...unfortunately thats not what i wanted to do even though i know its probably the smart decision
     
  24. ScottFitz macrumors 6502a

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    Nov 3, 2007
    #24
    The MBA is a road-warrior dream. But, for me, it could never be my sole machine or a desktop replacement. In my world, my companies customer database manaagmenyt software stuff is about to go to a web-based format and I'll be able to get rid of the WinXP laptop I'm now using. MBA coming my way as soon as that happens.
     
  25. Wingnut330 thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    Central Ohio - USA
    #25
    Ok folks - I have narrowed it down to 2 options:

    1. MBP with an ACD = Approx $2800

    -or-

    2. MB and a 24" iMac = Approx $2800

    Thoughts?
     

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