Need advice on 21.5" imac or 13" macbook

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by glasscity, Feb 11, 2010.

  1. glasscity macrumors member

    Feb 11, 2010
    Hi, new to the forums, new to mac in general. I'd really appreciate some input, as I've been thinking this through now for a few weeks, eating up all the information I can (even taking into account the screen problems of the imac) and... yeah, I'm at a loss. So, I thought I would ask here..

    I'm in the market for a new computer, the laptop I'm on now, while it still works and does ... most things I would like it to, it's starting to show it's age. It's about 3 1/2 years old, an HP, decent specs for when I bought it.

    Anyway, my budget is about $1300 total before taxes, and before any sort of protection plan (I'll be buying from either futureshop or bestbuy since I'm in toronto, but way out and nowhere near an apple store, unfortunately). I don't do a whole lot of work on my computer, it's mostly for multimedia, watching movies, listening to music, web browsing, the occasional work, but mostly it's an entertainment machine minus the gaming. Budget constraints being what they are, I've narrowed it down to either the 13" macbook upgraded to 4gb of ram, or the 21.5" imac.

    While the mobility of the 13" macbook is nice, as that's originally what I was looking for in a new computer, along with something that was powerful enough to do everything I wanted to do and then some, the screen size for my budget seemed a little small.

    And while the 21.5" imac will, probably, have all the power I'd need for a long time to come, the lack of mobility is a bother, but the screen size, faster ram, faster processor seem like it would go further as an entertainment/multimedia machine than the macbook.

    But at the same time I have to take into account potential future uses, and I wouldn't want to be left behind because I decided for mobility over power when I needed power, or if I decided on power over mobility, when I needed mobility.

    So, if it's just going to be used as an entertainment machine, more or less, which would you prefer? All pros and cons are welcome, even personal biases, anything that would help me make a decision.
  2. kyzen macrumors regular

    Feb 8, 2010
    Macbook would be my vote. I have a PC that's a real powerhouse, but I still find myself chilling on the couch with my crappy Gateway laptop with integrated Intel graphics. Occasionally I wish I could do something more intense on it, like light gaming, but despite that I still use it more than my desktop.

    Can't wait to get my Macbook tomorrow.
  3. Cboss macrumors 6502

    Dec 11, 2008
    If you're happy enough with your current laptop to use it for a few more years then I might recommend getting an iMac. That way you have the best of both worlds, a powerful desktop machine that can do whatever you throw at it and a laptop for those times when you want to be mobile.

    However for the basic things that you need to use a computer for, a MacBook should be able to do everything you want for the next 5 or so years. The only real downside being the screen size. The two computers use the same graphics card and you likely wouldn't notice the difference in processor speed for a few years.

    (I don't know the BestBuy or Futureshop prices, but often times has the lowest prices that don't include mail-in rebates. Of course, the Canadian store might be different.)
  4. chrislaw macrumors 6502a


    Apr 11, 2009
    central ohio
    i have a mid 2009 mbp with 4gb of ram and 500gb HD. I also have a 21.5" iMac with 8gb ram and 1tb HD. If i was in your situation i would go with the iMac. You have the laptop already and you could use it for awhile. Both would be great choices but watching movies on the iMac is going to be much nicer:) Im very impressed with mine as it is much faster then i even anticipated and the screen is very nice. So far there hasn't been any problems with the issues that some are having.

    personally i would go with the iMac now and look maybe for a refurbished MBP up the road when you cant stand the current laptop any longer.
  5. glasscity thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 11, 2010
    Thanks for all your input so far. The laptop I have is a 17" HP dv9000, a few years old, a little big for me to sit on the couch with for the most part :).

    For the longest time I was a PC kind of guy, and a desktop PC kind of guy at that. I liked to tinker around in my teens, so having the desktop allowed me to do that, but I'm in my mid/late 20s now, and I just don't do that anymore. My needs changed significantly, so I went with this laptop a few years back.

    The only reason I got the larger screen laptop was because I was accustomed to desktop monitors.

    Ideally I would LIKE to have something portable that could handle what I do now, because this machine is getting slower. It's lagging, it crashes randomly, it doesn't handle multi-tasking as well as it used to, even youtube videos sometimes lag the computer if I have a few firefox tabs open.

    But I'm also thinking, like some have mentioned, that sitting in front of an imac watching dvds would be an awesome experience. Especially considering how well I've heard the screen is, and I know with the specs on an imac, even in a few years time, I'd probably not need to upgrade, except maybe ram (and I've seen on how simple that is)

    I'm still thinking things over, and I thank you all for replying so far. It's nice to hear other people's inputs :)
  6. Icaras macrumors 603


    Mar 18, 2008
    California, United States
    Brother. Is that you?? :D

    Thats really how I was too in my teens and I moved to Macs in my mid 20s for that very reason you mentioned. I found out I spent too much time tinkering with PCs with no real constructive production in the end. It was fun before, but now I really don't see the point.
  7. glasscity thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 11, 2010
    That's exactly what I found out :). I spent a lot of time tinkering, I built my first PC when I was 16, and kept tinkering and building and in the end I realized that I didn't do anything with the end result that warranted the kind of effort/time I would put into it. Outside of just knowledge that is, so I moved on.

    I loved this laptop when I first got it, it did everything I wanted it to and more, but it's just time to move on now. I like windows, I like PCs in general, but I also don't have the time and patience anymore to tinker to ensure I get all I can out of my computer, at all times.
  8. kenobe23 macrumors member

    Dec 1, 2004
    I just sold my 13" MB pro in order to buy an iMac. For me, the iMac makes a lot more sense.

    Even at home, I found I used my ipod touch a lot for email and browsing. Although the screen is tiny, the device is more comfortable to use than a laptop.

    I also bought a DVI connector to hook the macbook up to my LCD, but the experience wasn't quite right. Others may disagree, but I never found it quite as nice as using a real desktop.

    It helps that my wife has a macbook, so I know if I NEED a laptop we have one, but even if that weren't the case I would choose the iMac. My desk is the most comfortable place for extended computer sessions, so a desktop makes sense. I've got my touch for when I'm on the couch and I want to check my email, update fb, or browse a bit. Seriously, once you get used to the convenience of the ultra-portable, instant on ipod, the mb feels a bit clunky (IMO.)

    You can't go wrong, either way, though. My wife loves her MB and would never trade it for an iMac.
  9. iMacThere4Iam macrumors regular

    Dec 28, 2009
    If you think you can keep the HP running awhile longer, I'd say go with the iMac. Try setting the HP on the table or desk you're going to use, and spend an hour or so sitting in that room while you're on it. If you're okay with that, then the iMac's gonna be the right choice. If you absolutely can't stand staying in one place, or you need to watch TV while you're at the computer, then the 13" MBP would suit you better. Both are great.
  10. glasscity thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 11, 2010
    I definitely could keep it running, but then this machine would be a little too big for something to casually pull out while sitting on the couch. Though I just wouldn't know what to do with this machine if I got either an imac or a macbook. Right now it's hooked up to two external HDs which are full of music and tv shows, but other than what it's currently used for, I can't see myself re-purposing it for anything else.

    I need to travel downtown to the big apple store there, just to play around with the macbook and the imac to try and get a better feel for either. It might help me decide if I value the mobility of the macbook over the entertainment value of the imac, or vice versa. I've heard that they're generally okay with letting you fiddle around on the machines there for awhile.

    I've generally avoided getting a lot of unnecessary technology lately, settling for things that are just "good enough", which is why I was originally thinking of replacing this laptop with a netbook, before I figured that would be pretty foolish, so I don't have an ipod touch or anything like that for casual, fast web browsing.

    I really do like the idea of mobility though, instead of being tied down to a desk, but my needs are pretty simple and basic. I use gmail for my e-mail, I don't do any heavy computing or graphics work or editing of any kind, and if I feel the need to game, I've got a ps3. The computer to me is simply an entertainment thing.. tv, music, movies, web browsing, the occasional casual game (who could resist plants vs. zombies? :) ).

    I just never realized that this decision would be as hard as it is. You've been very helpful though, as has everyone else.

    I'm leaning towards the imac at this point, but, I think I'll make a trip to an apple store just to play around before making a final decision.
  11. scottness macrumors 65816


    Mar 18, 2009
    Room 101
    I'd go with the MacBook.

    Desktops are nice (I've got one, too), but they're very uncomfortable to use when I'm on the couch, the toilet, on the plane, in the coffee shop, at the office conference table, hooking up to a projector for a presentation, and just about most of what I do. My desktop does most of the heavy lifting, but if I had to choose, I'd go with a portable.
  12. glasscity thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 11, 2010
    hmm, you make some good points :p

    That's one thing I've been trying to consider, what I may potentially use it for in the future.

    This laptop still functions, albeit.. a little sluggishly, but not to the point where I couldn't use it for basic purposes if I've got to be tied down to a desk. A macbook, for what I do now, may not be the perfect fit, but it may come in handy in the future.

    I talked to my father about it, he does graphic work for a living, of course they use macs, and he said something similar to what you said, but also added that most people are moving away from desktops as a whole, because they simply don't need it.

    An imac may be lovely, but it may be more computing power than I'd ever need. I'm still leaning towards an imac, but now less than ever as you outlined pretty well why I was originally looking for portability over anything else :).

    Thanks for your input :)
  13. alcaholic macrumors newbie


    Feb 8, 2010

    Go with a refurbished mb or mbp and get a monitor for 200 bucks. Best of bot worlds
  14. scottness macrumors 65816


    Mar 18, 2009
    Room 101
    It'll give you better screen real estate for sure, and it's not a bad idea. BUT... I wouldn't say it's the best of both worlds... The laptop won't have the muscle of a desktop.

    I'd still go with a laptop, though. Much more convenient.
  15. scottness macrumors 65816


    Mar 18, 2009
    Room 101
  16. glasscity thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 11, 2010
    My budget, unfortunately, doesn't allow for the MBP to be a consideration. The specs, to me, are better on the macbook in my price range than the macbook pro 13" model. I know the rumours of a new MBP line coming out are listed as "imminent", but until there's any real evidence that they'll be out shortly, I'm not going to wait just for the current line to drop in price.

    For all I know, I could be waiting a few months. The imac or the macbook upgraded to 4gb of ram would be enough to do what I wanted for a long while.. I'm still stuck on whether I want portability over power, or vice versa.
  17. glasscity thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 11, 2010
    I spent a good hour today in the apple store, trying to get familiar with both the macbook and the 21.5" imac.

    It is so hard not to fall in love with that imac display, isn't it? It was beautiful. The colours, I've been a pc user my entire life, but that display alone is incredibly enticing. Even the macbook display was, compared to this laptop and other computers I've used, incredibly beautiful.

    I just thought I would let you all know. It's a hard decision, but I've fallen in love with that imac display.
  18. motherly macrumors newbie

    Nov 26, 2009
    i had the same dilemma as you, the awesome display-iMac, or the everything win-MBP. just that my budget was higher than yours, either the 21.5 ATI radeon or the 15inchMBP. i needed raw power cause i love video editing and occasional photo editing. before this i used a 3 years old white macbook. i too love this 21.5 display, it was a beauty and a beast. only thing it's not portable. in the end, i went for the 15mbp 2.66 from ebay for a good price. it's everything i need. enough power, extra portability. lovin' it every moment.
  19. XxEjGxX macrumors regular

    Dec 18, 2009
    I was in the same state as you, i had a laptop and so thought, i'll get a mbp... But then i realised, my laptop very rarely came off my desk, so what was the point of it being portable, so i bought an iMac 21.5 and i LOVE it. What i suggest you do, is actually see how rarely you will move your laptop, it will surprise you how unportable you will have it [​IMG]
  20. glasscity thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 11, 2010
    Hmm, that's a good suggestion. I know I'd move it once daily, because I'd like something to use to play music while I worked out, and to use occasionally to try out new exercises (to find videos online so I know I'm doing them properly), but aside from that, I don't know how portable it would be. Especially considering that it's not a necessity, but it's just something I'd really like to have in my next computer.

    I hadn't really thought about it. This laptop is too big to be portable, it doesn't move at all, but even if it were portable I'm not sure how much I'd use that.

    Plus, playing with that imac for a good half an hour at least, that screen really is hard to beat :).

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