Need advice on replacing my iMac & MacBook

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by drjeffsykes, Sep 27, 2013.

  1. drjeffsykes macrumors newbie

    Jun 23, 2010
    I'm a college mathematics professor looking to update my work computing system in two steps and would like some advice on what the new setup should look like. Here's my current setup:

    13" MacBook bought new in spring 2008
    20" iMac bought new in summer 2008

    25" iMac bought new in summer 2009

    I use SugarSync to keep my documents folder in sync between the two work computers and a work user account on my home iMac. I prefer the larger screen and the full-sized keyboard, so most of my work is done on the two iMacs. I use the MacBook primarily (a) in the classroom to display presentations in keynote and demo web-based software, (b) at home when I don't want to go downstairs to work on the iMac, and (c) very occasionally when I'm on the road for a conference (maybe once a year).

    The bulk of what I do with the machines for work is focused on document preparation and revision, primarily word processing (LaTeX, Word, and Pages) and spreadsheets (Excel and Numbers). There's also a substantial amount of emails and web-browsing.

    The MacBook is very long in the tooth and needs replacing. I have funds for this and can do so at any time. I should also be up for a refresh on my iMac next summer, so I expect to replace it at that time. The home iMac will likely be my only home machine for several more years.

    I'm considering three options:

    1) Get a new iMac when I'm up for refresh next summer. Replace the MacBook with a new iPad as soon as the 5 is released.

    2) Get a new iMac when I'm up for refresh next summer. Replace the MacBook with a new MacBook air asap.

    3) Replace both the MacBook and the iMac with a new MacBook Pro (don't need retina for my work) and external monitor next summer.

    Having never used an iPad (other than playing with them at the store), I'm not completely sure whether it would be a sufficient replacement for how I use my MacBook. I know from toying with a Nexus tablet that I would use the iPad for my textbooks, and I wouldn't with a laptop, so the iPad would mean much less weight moving around with me on a daily basis.

    The iPad option would be cheaper initially, but would an iPad last as long as the MBA or MBP? It'll probably be 4-5 years after next summer's refresh before I get another refresh. Would I end up needing two iPads during that time frame vs only one MBA or MBP, and if so, would that make the iPad option more expensive?

    Any advice?


    I should add that I'm interested in a paperless course setup where students submit their work in PDF format, and I then mark it up and return it electronically. I imagine that an iPad with a capacitive stylus would work very well for that...
  2. talmy macrumors 601


    Oct 26, 2009
    Just my opinion, of course, but an iPad is a poor replacement for a computer for creative activities. So I wouldn't consider choice 1. I currently use an iMac and a MacBook Pro (I need a high performance system for demos in the classes I teach) and sync them. Admittedly it's a PITA. I have considered going the single system route (with the external monitor) and probably would have done so had I not replaced my MacBook last year with my iMac still 100% viable, making the single system route unattractive. But I do feel that when my iMac bites the dust I'll just add a 27" monitor to my MBP.

    For me, the downside of the single system approach is that I want to use my old wired keyboard and a mouse at my desk, and use the MBP as a second display -- it would have to be on a stand to get the correct height. This would be a cluttered mess.
  3. xVeinx macrumors 6502

    Oct 9, 2006
    If your presentations are done in Keynote (or saved as PDF otherwise), the iPad would work pretty well. Granted, my university is very Mac friendly, and all of our equipment is verified to work with Mac (projectors, consoles, etc.). If you need to do any software demos or more interactive presentations, it might be worth borrowing a friends iPad to test as long as it's a cloud-based/web-based software; else, you're back to needing a MacBook if you are talking about programs such as Mathematica, Matlab, R... I successfully used an iPad for all my teaching this past year, so it can be done if you design your lectures around the limitations of the iPad (and exploit it's strengths).

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