What's the Point of A 15" Ultrabook?

OS X Dude

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jun 30, 2007
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UK
Hi all :)

Firstly, this isn't a flame-bait question, I genuinely am wondering what is the point of a 15" ultrabook, as the 15" 'AirPro' Mac would be. I work in a studio as a session musician and producer whilst I also work through my university course (music and music technology), and currently have a 2011 i7 15" Pro, to give an idea of my computer needs.

At the end of the day, it's portability would be somewhat compromised by it's still-15" footprint, even if it is very thin and light. And it's not like the existing 15" Pro is particularly thick or heavy.

The only benefit I can see is longer battery life (although again, the latest Pro has class-leading battery life). They're most probably going to be less powerful, given they will use low voltage processors, and cost as much as/more than the current 15" Pro for the sake of being maybe a centimetre thinner and lighter.

Again, I'm not a jealous Pro owner looking to hate, I'm just curious. I genuinely think that, unlike the 11/13" Air that have portability in their favour, there's no real advantage to having a 15" ultrabook. You can even put an SSD in any old laptop, so battery life and boot speeds aren't an advantage either.

If someone can give any insights (even if it's personal to you and your life/work) that'd be good :) I like thinner computers as much as anyone, but not at the expense of power.


Thanks in advance \m/
 

Hellhammer

Moderator emeritus
Dec 10, 2008
22,166
580
Finland
Screen estate. You can only fit a certain amount of pixels in 13.3" screen before it becomes unusable (without proper scaling but even then, you have less physical space). 15" might also allow a low-power discrete GPU to be used, although I doubt Apple would do that.

Basically, it allows the same as what 13" allows over 11".
 

Sirolway

macrumors 6502
Jun 13, 2009
420
21
London
Thin, light, hi res screen, all-day battery.

Sounds good to me.

If you have a document wallet or similar then 15" should fit fine, but you don't want it to be too thick or heavy.
 

maflynn

Moderator
Staff member
May 3, 2009
65,496
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Boston
How thin is too thin? I think the MBA is a great form factor but for a 15" form factor? I'll have to wait and see before I make any final judgements.
 

vitzr

macrumors 68030
Jul 28, 2011
2,766
3
California
Since it's not the only thing I carry in my bag, for those times when I'm not using my fully maxed out 2011 MBP, I'll be the first to buy a 15" MBA if Apple decides to build one.

After all I've already got both the 11" & 13"'MBA's. They're terrific, why not complete the set ... :)
 

mdjasrie

macrumors regular
Dec 26, 2009
115
53
Singapore
When it was rumored that a 15 inch macbook air could in the pipeline for release, i was pretty excited myself. I have been holding off my purchase till they refresh the entire macbook air line.

But then im starting to hear doubts about the practicality of owning a 15 inch macbook air. Sure, screen real estate is bonus, and a longer battery life, but im also concerned about the overall durability and strength of the ultrabook. With such a large and thin notebook, would it reach a point where the overall durability of the notebook be compromised?

And will they offer the ultra hi-res screen that is rumored to come out as well on the macbook air line?

If battery life far extends to double digit hours, this would certainly be something worth considering for me personally.

This discussion is certainly worth a debate.
 

OS X Dude

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jun 30, 2007
981
224
UK
Thanks for your replies :)

If people wanted the bigger screen, why not just get the current 15" Pro? As I said, it's not like it's thick or heavy, and the new Air won't be any/much cheaper I wouldn't think.

Since it's not the only thing I carry in my bag, for those times when I'm not using my fully maxed out 2011 MBP, I'll be the first to buy a 15" MBA if Apple decides to build one.

After all I've already got both the 11" & 13"'MBA's. They're terrific, why not complete the set ... :)
That's quite the collection! Why so many?? :p

----------

When it was rumored that a 15 inch macbook air could in the pipeline for release, i was pretty excited myself. I have been holding off my purchase till they refresh the entire macbook air line.

But then im starting to hear doubts about the practicality of owning a 15 inch macbook air. Sure, screen real estate is bonus, and a longer battery life, but im also concerned about the overall durability and strength of the ultrabook. With such a large and thin notebook, would it reach a point where the overall durability of the notebook be compromised?

And will they offer the ultra hi-res screen that is rumored to come out as well on the macbook air line?

If battery life far extends to double digit hours, this would certainly be something worth considering for me personally.

This discussion is certainly worth a debate.
I looked and couldn't see any threads so I thought I'd start one. A magazine I get here had a big feature on ultrabooks, which is what got me thinking. I like your points, by the way :)
 

mdjasrie

macrumors regular
Dec 26, 2009
115
53
Singapore
Im actually split evenly between getting a macbook air and macbook pro. I forsee myself needing a notebook in the coming months, with school stuff, projects, and possibly internship. So portability would definitely be high up in the list when deciding between those two.

At the same time, i would have to wait and see how much would the 15 inch cost and overall performance. If its too expensive, then I would really have to weight my options carefully. Do i sacrifice portability for cost effectiveness and performance and vice versa? And how about that rumor regarding a redesign of the macbook pro? I guess we all have to wait and see. :eek:
 

Neodym

macrumors 68000
Jul 5, 2002
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If battery life far extends to double digit hours, this would certainly be something worth considering for me personally.
The MBP form factor would be favorable for a longer battery life over the MBA form factor. But if Apple would make use of the space in the MBP solely for a bigger battery, sacrificing some electronics (dedicated graphic card, additional ports), quite some people would complain. Within the Air series customer are more willing to accept compromises - unfortunately space for a bigger battery is far more constrained in the Air housings.

Some rumors hinted that the new device maybe a new 15" MBP. Maybe Apple will make a compromise and complement the 15" MBP with a device that's thinner than the MBP (to get acceptance for missing/lower power components), but thicker than the Air series to consider sturdiness and bigger battery.
 

onthecouchagain

macrumors 604
Mar 29, 2011
7,382
1
Wasn't there a story reportedly saying that Apple was prototyping a 15" Air for the 2011 release, but couldn't get it to work right, or something to that affect?

Maybe they're working out the kinks of durability, etc. now for 2012.

I personally don't think a 15" would suit me, but I'm curious to see what Apple comes up with.
 

Chipg

macrumors regular
Aug 17, 2010
191
1
If they kept the 13" the same size and extend the screen out further to the bezel edge they could turn the 13" into a 14" Air, that would be cool.
 

SuperCachetes

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Nov 28, 2010
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Away from you
If people wanted the bigger screen, why not just get the current 15" Pro? As I said, it's not like it's thick or heavy, and the new Air won't be any/much cheaper I wouldn't think.
Well, besides the fact that "thick and heavy" is relative (and subjective), I don't understand this argument. Your statement seems to imply that 1) everything a 15" MBP has is essential, and also 2) that the point of the Airs is a cost reduction over their Pro counterparts.

In the case of implication 1, I think it depends on priorities. If I had a 15" MBP and someone told me I could drop a pound and 1/2 of thickness (both just SWAGs) merely by giving up an optical drive and maybe a port or two, I would do it in a heartbeat. Those things don't matter to me as much as lightness and eliminating moving parts.

As for implication 2, Apple hasn't ever claimed the Airs were a value proposition, at least other than the $999 entry-level 11". Portability costs money, particularly if it comes with new technology or implementation such as the current SSDs.

A 15" Air wouldn't be your cup of tea. That's cool. I don't need one, either, since my 13" MBP is already heavier than I like and has features I don't see as critical. But plenty of people have been clamoring for a lighter, more minimalist machine that still has more screen real estate than a 13" portable.
 

jmgregory1

macrumors 68000
If you ever make the switch from MBP to MBA - you'll understand why people are willing to accept deficiencies of the Air - although I'll say that screen real-estate is probably the only thing that I sort of miss.

I'm not doing graphic-intense things, so dedicated graphics are not an issue for me. For general work, like email, spreadsheets, docs, etc, I could never go back to a Pro again - unless it was thin and light and had the ssd drives that the Air does.

A 15" would just make having multiple spreadsheet or doc pages open, something I do now - although the 13" just doesn't have quite enough room to do so.
 

OS X Dude

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jun 30, 2007
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I'm interested to see what Apple come up with, but I just think if people by the Air for portability - which they do - then a 15" variant somewhat undermines that, yet still at the expense of power. If these ultrabooks were just the way EVERY 15" laptop were to be made from now on and there was no alternative, then I'd get it. But since you can get a more powerful, still damn thin and light laptop alongside the ultrabooks - most likely cheaper -, I don't understand their purpose.

I like the Asus Zenbook though - that's a pretty cool one :)

----------

Well, besides the fact that "thick and heavy" is relative (and subjective)
True, of course. But even my 74-year old arthritic granddad can pick up my Pro :p compared to a LOT of other laptops out there, it isn't thick or bulky.


Portability costs money, particularly if it comes with new technology or implementation such as the current SSDs.
My point is that, no matter how thin it is, 15" is beginning to get away from the level of portability of previous Airs - you still need a fairly large bag to house the bigger footprint of the device. To me, that undermines its purpose somewhat.
 

driftless

macrumors 65816
Sep 2, 2011
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I am going to take a long, hard look at the 15" Airs/Pros when they are redone later this year. I use programs like Dreamweaver, Photoshop, etc., and the extra screen size adds functionality. I love the 13" MBA form factor but it is not a true work machine for everyone. Not only do the Pro models have more robust CPU/GPU's they also have the option for 8GB of RAM. For me to make the jump to a 15" Air/Pro in '12 it will have to have the minimum functionality of today's 15" Pro. Like everyone else, I am very interested in seeing the '12 releases.
 

johnhurley

macrumors 6502a
Aug 29, 2011
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And it's not like the existing 15" Pro is particularly thick or heavy.
Yup ... ain't much wrong with the current macbook pro 15 is there?

Nothing much wrong with my current mba 13 either though.

One can only guess what a macbook air 15 might be like exactly until it is available!
 

gentlefury

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Jul 21, 2011
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The biggest advantage would be 2x the battery....so you at a low brightness it could probably last 9-10 hours. Other than that...thin with a big screen.
 

Neolithium

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Jun 4, 2010
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Wherever the army needs me.
Some people just want the real estate. Oddly enough I don't care anymore due to my usage changing, the next MBA upgrade I'll probably be moving to an 11" since I'm basically doing some word processing, light coding, emails, and browsing. If you'd have mentioned a 15" ultra book last year I'd have been drooling and all over that.
 

pgiguere1

macrumors 68020
May 28, 2009
2,157
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The 13" MBA is 66% lighter than the 13" MBP. Given that the 15 wouldn't be to scale (it would be wider and longer but not thicker), a 15" MBA would be at least 66% lighter as well, maybe around 75%.

Of course what is a light/heavy laptop is very subjective but having a laptop that has the same workspace yet is almost half the weight does a big difference for transport IMO.
 

gentlefury

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Jul 21, 2011
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Some people just want the real estate. Oddly enough I don't care anymore due to my usage changing, the next MBA upgrade I'll probably be moving to an 11" since I'm basically doing some word processing, light coding, emails, and browsing. If you'd have mentioned a 15" ultra book last year I'd have been drooling and all over that.
I have an 11" and it is the perfect size!
 

yourmother

macrumors regular
Jun 23, 2009
131
0
Japan
Screen real-estate while still being lighter than a full sized 15 in notebook.

For myself its more about the difference between the potential 15 Air and the 15 MBP. I hate the glossy MBP screens and while the Air screens are glossy they aren't nearly as glossy. Also the Air SSD prices are reasonable but price in a 256 SSD on the pro and youre going to add in a grand. I don't need discrete graphics or an optical drive but would prefer a larger screen while still being light.
 

neilpryde23

macrumors regular
Nov 28, 2011
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0
I personally am waiting for a 15" MBA or thinner MBP. I don't need one right away but I wanna eventually replace my HP so i'm willing to wait n see how Apple plays this one out. I'm a college student (bio major) and there isn't anything I do that a MBA couldn't handle but I find the 13" screen too small so I'm actually really hoping for a 15" MBA. Like other people have said, I do want 8 gb of RAM. That with a SSD (hopefully option for > 256 gb) and I will be first in line (on line? which one is right???:confused:) at the apple store.
 

DeepIn2U

macrumors 603
May 30, 2002
6,267
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I'm curious as to why there are concerns over a 15" MBA product's durability?

1. It's made of Aluminum - most laptops would crack if dropped from a 6' man's waist height.
2. It would weigh considerably less: about 1.5lbs without the SuperDrive.
3. The front bezel, or front of the laptop facing the user when closed doesn't have to be tapered like the current 11/13" MBA; I doubt opening a slightly heavier lid would be as easy as those for a 15" MBA, but who knows.

Also since when did Apple make their laptops with "Sturdy" in the design or product theme?! Their never to be tough books and to be honest with all the "setup" threads on these boards, considering this site is the LARGEST worldwide Apple product fan forums, I highly doubt any user here would/has EVER risked their PowerBook, MacBook (Air/Pro/etc) to Any construction site, let alone a small kids playground with 15+ under 10 kids running around like they rule the world ... waiting for an accident to happen.

I'd also wouldn't be surprise if AppleCare raises in price and the structure of support is adjusted to meet such concerns: very similar to what the latest iPhone 4S AppleCare terms recently have been changed to. Pay a deductible and the case is replaced.

Either way it just fits the design element.
- 11/13" MBA's are thinner when closed than the iP4/IP4S,
- MacMini no longer has a SuperDrive/DVD drive as standard,
- MBA also don't have SuperDrive/DVD drives as standard,
- Laptops are mobile by design, 17" being the exclusive desktop replacement really - my opinion here.
- USB sticks/iCloud/TimeCapsule solutions are becoming relatively cheap and storage concerns usually are alleviated for the trendy/techy. (PS: I still cannot get over 256GB storage on my 13" Ultimate, I'm going insane - I need 400GB minimum with my music library and soon to go full out with Logic Express).

It all depends on what Apple's view on their Professional laptop markets uses/needs are in 2012 for the 15" lineup. I'm sure Apple has a few mock-ups in limited prototype production already as they've heard the wanting crys, but do pro's STILL require DVD's for work distribution, on site collaboration or is AirDrop becoming ubiquitous enough? (along with DropBox, Box.net, similar solutions)