The Best Problem Ever: Air+24 imac or 17 MBP

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by redkamel, Aug 7, 2009.

  1. redkamel macrumors 6502

    Aug 29, 2006
    Alright heres my situation. I have a 24 inch imac, 4 gigs ram, 2.4 ghz. I'm a student w/ photography as a serious hobby. The iMac functions great, albeit a little big on my desk.

    But I really need a laptop, as I find myself thinking "I could get that work done...if I had a laptop..." about 7-8 times a month. This thing would be going home, coffee shop, or school for presentations rarely. So here are my options, with some pros and cons.

    1. Sell my imac, get a 17 inch MBP, and thats my main computer. It would free up space on my desk, and I could take everything with me, whenever I needed. Then again, I'll feel a little silly whipping that bad boy out for a 5 minute ppt or a study session at the coffee shop. One thing I am a little bummed on is the 17 inch is really only useful for editing, as since there is no blu ray, the HD screen is really not being used to its full potential

    2. Get a macbook air and keep my imac. The Air is so easy to take around. But while I would save money, there would be the added hassle of two computers, one used semi rarely.

    I have always had a thing for the air AND the 17 inch so no help there. I have no interest in a tablet. The 15 inch has a glossy screen and I am spoiled by the resolution on my imac, so the 15 is kind of low on my list.

    Any thoughts? I am pretty stuck.

    Part of me says get the air and when the imac dies for real get a MBP (blu ray...please...), and the Air will either be dead by then or a second computer. The other part says get the MBP, it'll be just as good/better than the imac and you won't need an upgrade till it dies. Simplicity of one computer vs the cheapness and complexity of two. My last Powerbook lasted me almost 4 years, it was only replaced because the screen broke. Although it sounds like it, I am not an upgrade junkie.

    Also, the cost will be the same to me as an Air is 2000 dollars, and the 17 would 3000 dollars, but I would sell my imac for 1000 (for a net expenditure, again, of 2000 dollars).

    Thanks! I know "what to buy" is the most hashed over topic
  2. liamwillib macrumors member

    Feb 4, 2009
    Don't know if you have considered but my reccomendation would be one of the smaller MBPs (even the air maybe, depending on your usage needs) and the 24" cinema display. You get the portability of the smaller laptop and also the gorgeous screen of the cinema display when at home. It would also mean the convenience of just 1 computer. Also have seen posts about seeing the cinema display in the refurb store lately so would imagine it would fit your budget.

    Just thought I'd put it out there...
  3. dhena81 macrumors newbie

    May 6, 2009
    My boss has a 17" MBP man that thing is a beast I could never see myself carrying something that large around don't get me wrong its a beautiful machine.

    I recently purchased an anti-glare screen protector for my 13" MB called the Moshi iVisor google moshi products you'll find it. They also make one for the 15" something to consider. I haven't received it yet but have heard nothing of good things about it.

    I wouldn't get rid of the iMac I also personally wouldn't buy a MB air why don't you just buy a 2.26GHz or 2.53GHz 13" MB. Its light and thin and has a lot more power and capacity than the air and you could save a few bucks depending on which route your were planning on taking with the air.

    The 13" MB or MBP whatever you want to call it could be your desktop replacement if you are worried about your iMac dying. Anyways don't get the 17" if anything get the 13 or 15 you could buy a nice display down the road if you free up some of your desk.

    Check out this free app called iStat download it on your iMac and you could see in real time just how much of your processor and ram and many other things your using while your doing you editing. Chances are not much the only thing that skyrockets when I'm doing video and photo editing is my processor maybe 70% even then its not pegged or slow. With 4GB of DDR3 I've used about 2.5GB at the most at one time.
  4. Hellhammer Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 10, 2008
    I would keep the iMac and get 13" MBP. 17" is awesome but isn't as portable as 13" is and it isn't 24" desktop either. Air is great too if you want to pay extra for it's size.
  5. yoyo5280 macrumors 68000


    Feb 24, 2007
    Melbourne, Australia & Bay Area
    I would also go for keeping the iMac and getting a 13"MBP or maybe even the unibodyMB 13" (not made anymore, so cheap online).

    Then because of the "hassle" of two computers, get mobile me and keep them in perfect sync all the time.

    I don't really find it hassle to have two computers. You still have the screen real-estate, with portability in a case next to the desk when you need it.

  6. icanboogie macrumors regular


    Nov 12, 2008
    I had the same luxury problem, and I decided to get the 17 MBP.
    didn't regret one single moment.
    (still, I want to have an Air as well, but that's simply greed. I would really use it, I guess...)

    I bought a big 24" display to hook up to the MBP, but just couldn't get used to looking the two displays at different angles.

    Also, working on two different computers was kind of annoying.
    (I had a 13"MP as a portable companion for the big 17", but sold it due to not beeing used)

    The 17" works great as a main machine. The display is fine even for photography (has the same pixels as a 24" !) and it is not really too big to carry around. It's just some inches larger, not a big deal. If you need to take your computer to college or else on a daily basis and by backpack/bike, I would consider a smaller one, though and accompany it with an extra display. I you can get used to working with two displays, that is...

    Oh, and: I would get the matte option for the 17"! Really, it is a very nice display, not that fuzzy as many matte displays used to be.
    Or an old classic MBP with the 'old gloss' which is also very nice (which I have), but NOT the new glossy one. I couln't get along with that shine.
  7. andrewsd macrumors 6502

    Sep 27, 2008

    I have been asking myself the question on either getting an air of a 17 MacBook Pro for my next computer. Of course thats a few down the road but I agree with the others that say look into a 13 mbp with a 24 apple cinema display. I think that would be your best bet. When I used to have my 15" powerbook there where times when that thing felt a lil big for taking with me everywhere. I love the portability of a 13" MacBook as for I do take mine with me out n about on a lot of occasions.
  8. redkamel thread starter macrumors 6502

    Aug 29, 2006
    hmmm ok...I'll check out the 13 inch. I kinda avoided it as a main computer option because I wanted extra oomph for aperture and very large raw files.

    icanboogie, the pixels of the 24 and the matte were other reasons I was looking seriously at the 24. Whats your experience on just grabbing the 17 and using it on the couch etc? My laptops either go for short trips (couch, coffee shop on the corner) or long trips (parents or GF for the weekend).

    Another thing is, i used to have the 15, but I didn't take it around too much because it was too heavy (1-3mi/day walking in college), yet the screen was too small. I think the 17 will be about the same weight, but at least if I take it somewhere, I will have the screen. And I don't walk to "work" anymore.

    I'm looking at my desk and I keep seeing a 17 inch MBP there....

    BTW thanks for the input so far!
  9. icanboogie macrumors regular


    Nov 12, 2008
    Get the 17 inch, you won't regret it. (anti-reflective! display)
    There are so many advantages of the extra workspace as well as the high resolution in general, it's amazing. and if you want to go even bigger, you can still hook up another display to it.

    Portability is totally perfect.
    I use it exactly as you describe, and I don't want to miss this display no matter if I am on my sofa, in my bed, at my desk, on a train or in the coffeeshop.

    I've heard of problems of using it on planes due to the restrictive table place there, but that is a downside I can live with.....
  10. redkamel thread starter macrumors 6502

    Aug 29, 2006
    Ok, so I decided to go with the air and keep my imac. I'll spell out why in detail for others people in the same buying situation.

    The 15 screen is too small for how much it weighs, and I don't like glossy
    The 13 did not fit my need as a primary computer as it was not powerful enough for photo editing (for me) and the screen is too small for daily use. If I wanted it just as a second computer, I'd rather pay the extra for the air.
    So I am buying a refurbed air for about the same as the 13 inch MBP. I knew people have mixed feelings about the air, but for me it is a satellite computer, syncing with my imac using dropbox, and its perfect to grab to take to work/school/coffee place and not think twice. Also to use in bed etc, home for weekend. I really like the lightness, and I AM one of those people who is somewhat of a minimialist.

    Heres what happened with the 17.

    The 17 is not really that much bigger than the 15 and when I travel, its not long distances by foot, so that was ok.
    I would rather deal with the extra pound and have the awesome 17inch screen. Matte, of course. Glossy was an option for about 35 seconds. Please, no one buy glossy. You also won't get the IMO tacky black bezel. Silver bezel will still look good in 20 years. The 24 imac has a small footprint, but its just so big and wide, that the 17 has it beat in every way.
    I would feel goofy using the 17 for short presentations, but thats just how it is. I could have always used someone else's computer and not have to carry mine at all... or maybe the rumored tablet.
    icanboogie, I really appreciate your advice. The 17 inch sounds perfect...if I really needed a new computer. But I really just need a laptop.
    So why didn't I get the 17?

    As I sat with the 17inch in my cart for the 100th time, something just felt wrong. I was honestly about to click it. So i thought about it the whole day and even wrote about it (it took up my whole saturday :) ) My imac meets my needs. Why spend all that money for a computer that didn't even do what I wanted it to do? Sure it was a laptop. But no blu ray, marginal performance increase, and even though I love the 17, I felt a little forced into it since its the only one with the matte screen. The graphics card is great for 2d work, but isn't exactly a huge upgrade from my imac. And Arrandale is on the horizon.

    I felt like I wasn't getting 3000 dollars worth of upgrade from the 17. A blu ray drive would have had me sold.

    So I am getting the Air because the Air will always be the Air and my second computer. A refurbed air is about 1200 dollars. I saved at least 800-1000 dollars (counting my planned imac sale), and will get my money worth from the imac. When my imac dies of old age/breaks/is really old, I will think about a 15 or 17 to replace it, and maybe the Air. Hopefully they have bluray by then. It just wasn't worth 2000 dollars to put my imac into a laptop form when I could pay half as much, keep my awesome imac, and get an ultralight laptop.

    And to anyone who has any desire at all to move and work, avoid my whole fiasco and just buy a laptop in the first place. Don't get me wrong I am VERY happy with my decision and my imac and I am excited about my air!

    Thanks everyone for the advice, I really did take it to heart and researched the 13 inch again, and played with it again, and the 17 inch too.

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