My MBA purchase scenarios and experiment

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by Obsidiank, Aug 4, 2011.

  1. Obsidiank macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2011
    #1
    So like many of you I can’t decide if I should get a MBA. I have serious OCD so I can’t ever make decisions like this without going through 8 million scenarios. If I don’t buy the best machine for the price I want to pay and feel like I got a deal out of it, I freak the f out. So I decided to break this down into an experiment and do my best to figure out the best choice. I went out and bought everything. Here's my impressions. Feel free to follow along on my journey or stop reading now. It’s up to you but I would love to hear feedback, positive and negative.

    What I do and what I have
    I am a semi-pro photographer (weekend job) and a technology consultant (week day job) and I travel 95% of the time. I’m all about efficiency so I’m not the type who will spend 3K on a Mac Pro when a 1k MBP can do everything I need. My current setup is a 2010 MBP with 8GB ram hooked up to an ACD when I’m at home. I also have a HP Elitebook that’s my work laptop.

    Why it works
    • ACD is gorgeous, no direct window light so no reflection problems.
    • MBP screen is perfectly calibrated to ACD and runs all my progs with memory to spare.
    Why it doesn’t work
    • MBP is heavy and when added to my bag with HP and accessories turns my bag into a 15lb shoulder strain.
    • MBP 2010 is slow. Lightroom extract of 100 pictures takes approximately 5 minutes. CPU completely taxed and ram completely used up.
    Thought process and 3 process scenarios
    • 11inch MBA replaces 13inch MBP
    • 13inch MBA replaces 13 inch MBP
    • 11inch or 13inch MBA and mac mini replaces 13inch MBP

    Goal: Get everything that works, fix everything that doesn’t work, spend the least amount of money possible.

    Scenario 1: 11inch MBA replaces 13 inch MBP
    Total net cost is $400, $1200 (11inch MBA) - $800 (sold 13inch MBP)

    Why it works
    • Lighter
    • Fast, lightroom extracts in 1 minute. CPU max, ram usage does not go above 1GB.
    Why it doesn’t work
    • Keyboard and trackpad slightly cramped
    • 128GB of hard disk may not be enough
    • Ram not upgradable
    Scenario 2: 13inch MBA replaces 13 inch MBP
    Total net cost is $450, $1250 (13inch MBA) - $800 (sold 13inch MBP)

    Why it works
    • Lighter on the shoulder
    • Fast, lightroom extracts in 1 minute. CPU max, ram usage does not go above 1GB.
    • Bigger screen than 11inch makes for a much nicer editing experience on the road
    Why it doesn’t work
    • Takes up the same amount of space in the bag
    • LCD is washed out
    • 128GB of hard disk may not be enough

    Scenario 3: 11inch or 13 inch MBA and mac mini replaces 13 inch MBP

    Total net cost is $1340 or $1390, $1250 (11inch MBA) + $570 (mac mini) + $40 (ram upgrade) + (330 SSD upgrade) - $800 (sold 13inch MBP)

    Why it works
    • Travel laptop can handle all tasks and editing
    • Mac Mini can handle all tasks at home
    • Speed and room to spare
    Why it doesn’t work
    • Expensive
    • Way too much power. MBA will be relegated to netbook level of usage.

    At the end of the day, I haven't decided which scenario to keep but at least I have everything laid out. I am leaning towards 11inch MBA as total replacement. It's the least expensive option and the only sacrifice I make is a less than ideal on the road editing experience. Thoughts? If anyone else is a photographer and have additional suggestions, please let me know.
     
  2. sweatygorilla macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2011
    #2
    I am pretty sure the 11" and 13" have the same keyboard and trackpad (with the exception of 11" having shorter function keys). So, you can scratch that off the con list.
     
  3. AlvinNguyen macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2010
    #3
    Are you just using lightroom? No CS5? The MBA's screen really blows for editing so thats no go. You will also need as much RAM as possible - depending on what you do 4GB might or might not be enough.

    I'm a pro photographer and I was debating of going from my 17" 2011 MBP to the 13" MBA which I ended up buying. I've been testing it out for the last couple days but to be honest I'm not sure if I'm going to keep it. I feel like the screen is its weakest point.
     
  4. seepel macrumors 6502

    seepel

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2009
    #4
    Why not consider...

    Scenario 4: 11inch MBA + ACD replaces 13 inch MBP
    Total net cost is $1399, $1200 (11inch MBA) + $999 (27" ACD) - $800 (sold 13inch MBP)

    Why it works
    Lighter
    Fast, lightroom extracts in 1 minute. CPU max, ram usage does not go above 1GB.
    Why it doesn’t work
    128GB of hard disk may not be enough
    Ram not upgradable

    And of course there's no reason you need the ACD unless you want the super high resolution, you could get a 1920x1200 display for a lot cheaper.
     
  5. ProwlingTiger macrumors 65816

    ProwlingTiger

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2008
    #5
    He stated that he has a Cinema Display. I'm guessing that since he currently works on the ACD, he will continue to do so, almost making the screen quality of the Air a non-factor.

    Did you not read the original post? He already has an ACD.
     
  6. Obsidiank thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2011
    #6
    are the keyboards really the same. Why does my hand cramp a bit on the air. Weird.
     
  7. jvmxtra macrumors 65816

    jvmxtra

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2010
    #7
    For what you do and since you are out on the road 95% time, 11 inch is not an option. And since you complain of quality of screen, any MBA is NOT an option.

    IF 13 mbp screen res is fine for you, get that and get SSD. That is the only solution you have.
     
  8. Obsidiank thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2011
    #8
    ok, let me rephrase the 95% on the road part. I'm on the road Mon-Thurs and am home Friday, Sat, Sun. This means that most of my editing and shooting happens on the weekends when I have access to my ACD. Editing on the road is what happens when I don't finish editing on weekends.
     
  9. Obsidiank thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2011
    #9
    The screens are the weakest point. I do use CS5 as well. I did a test last night and exported 200 images full res and ram usage in lightroom never went above 1GB. On my MBP running SL, almost 4GB gets used. I don't know if it's because more CPU is used or if Lion architecture is more efficient.
     
  10. ProwlingTiger macrumors 65816

    ProwlingTiger

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2008
    #10
    That was what I was hoping was the case. Sounds a bit like my routine to be honest, except I'm the reverse, shooting on the weekend and editing during the week.

    I personally would go with the Scenario #2. If you're worried about hard drive space, just carry a small external. I would choose 13" over 11" because you will be using it quite a bit on the road.
     
  11. jvmxtra macrumors 65816

    jvmxtra

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2010
    #11
    Let me rephrase my statement.

    And since you complain of quality of screen AND both 11 and 13 mba has same screen, any MBA is NOT an option.
     
  12. Dominus Mortem macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2011
    #12
    I had that problem at first too and here's my theory:

    The Air's key travel is minutely shallower than on the Pros so if you are coming from a Macbook pro (or a PC) with that deeper travel I think muscle memory is telling you to hit that key a tad bit harder or maybe just further, BUT in doing so the keys are impacting the bottom and causing a bit of feedback/shockwave and your hard is working harder because instead of a cushy end to each keystroke it feels like you're pushing the key down into a cement floor.

    I've gotten more used to it and my hand doesn't cramp as much. I just don't hit the keys quite as hard and the feedback isn't harsh any more.
     
  13. Dominus Mortem macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2011
    #13
    You are concerned about weight and reducing it. Moving from a 13 pro to 13 air is only going to lessen your kit by 1.6 lbs. You're starting with 15 lbs, is 1.6 lbs of reduction going to be even be noticeable to you?

    I used to do photography so I know about screens. The gamut on the Air is not acceptable, especially if you are going to work in the Adobe RGB space like most people do. It's only around 45% of the Adobe RGB gamut. i've also noticed that they calibrate cooly, meaning the colors are cool and not warm and certainly not neutral either. The Air screen is no good for photo editing, you will have trouble with calibration and output.
     

Share This Page