6 Replies Latest reply: Apr 4, 2012 7:52 AM by chrise2004
chrise2004 Level 1 (0 points)

Hello Friends,


I know this gets beat to death time after time and feel free to flog me in the comments, but nonetheless here is my scenario. I'm just finishing up grad school and am looking for a new laptop. My previous laptop is a HP DV5000 that I've had all through my undergrad and grad school (I think I should frame it), it's almost 6 or 7 years old this fall. I'm ready for a new laptop and am wanting to take the mac plunge.


I'm debating between the 13" macbook air and the 15" macbook pro. I primarily use the laptop for writing, surfing the net and editing photos/video (amateur for sure). I like to run music, multiple web tabs surfing the net and pop in and out of video/photo editing software. I figure either of these notebooks will be fine for the limited traveling that I do (anything is going to be light compared to a DV5000 with extended battery, it feels like it’s 40 lbs).


Traditionally when I have bought a laptop I try to go for the higher end with the most powerful processor, ram, HDD etc. But after doing some research and seeing the specs/benchmarks of the SSD and the speed of the MBA I’m lost on where to go. On one hand I can see myself getting a 15” MBP with a 256 SSD, glossy screen and upgrading the ram myself and spending $2500ish or I can see myself going with the 13” MBA with the 1.8ghz procs and 256 SSD for $1800ish.


I’m just not sure which direction to turn and if I should wait right now until the new macbook/macbook airs come out. I plan on using either Adobe Elements or Apple Aperture to do light editing (recommendations on this also welcome). Any opinions/recommendations are surely welcome on which direction I should go 13” MBA or 15” MPB.


Thank you in advance for your help!



MacBook Pro
  • AbsoluteComputers Level 2 (215 points)

    I used a number of 15" MB's until I tried an air a year or so back. And apart from missing the lack of Ethernet and Firewire it did everything as well as the Pro.


    I've now moved to the newer Thunderbolt 13" air, and having the backlit keyboard back with a bit extra speed it's perfect.


    Picked up my old MB pro the other day to use an old bit of non Lion software and couldn't believe how heavy it felt.


    Go for the air you won't regret it!


    Regarding Elements vs Aperture, they are quite diffent approaches to image editing, with Aperture more of a digital asset mamnagement program as against  image manipulation in Elements. It's worth checking out some of the photo review sites that have compareed both Aperture it's rival Lightroom and Elements.


    p.s. It's unlikely for Apple to release another air until late this year.

  • chrise2004 Level 1 (0 points)

    Thanks AbsoluteComputers. So you think to run a photo editing software and a few programs the Air would be able to slay through that?


    My only other concern is the lack up upgradeability with the Air, but the Air already comes with a SSD whereas with the MBP i would probably get a non-SSD and upgrade it down the road.


    I'm hoping to get my hands on a few different models this weekend.


    Thanks again,


  • Al Q Level 1 (105 points)

    It may be a while before the Air is upgraded, but there are strong rumours that the Pro line will be upgraded this month, and is already in production to build up stock for release. Supporting this, there have been recent sales at major chains (Staples, Best Buy) with better prices and bonus items than I have seen for a long time.


    The other feature of some of the rumours is that the new Macbook Pro models will be slim and light like the Air, with no optical drive but faster graphics and processors than the Air (Intel's latest, just out). Maybe also higher resolution screens. If this is true you might be able to get the best of both worlds (for a price, of course).


    One other factor for you to consider in making your choice. The Air is limited to 4 GB of RAM. More would really help for serious photo or video editing. In the past it was always smarter to buy the least RAM that Apple would sell you, because you could buy guaranteed upgrades from a quality source like Kingston for much less than Apple's price to max out the RAM. But Apple's RAM prices seem a little less outrageous lately.


    .. Al ..

  • AbsoluteComputers Level 2 (215 points)

    There are several rumours re the new MacBook Pro, and it looks like they will do away with the optical drive to get the size down. The problem I've always found with upcoming model chasing is it's never ending. There is always a new version just around the corner. We used to have a customer that never bought anything because " I'm waiting for the new Blah Blah Blah model" so as soon as a new one came out he'd then say "I'll wait until it's been proven before I buy" and the circle would go round again until next time.


    My advice for what it's worth is as you've already done, decide what you need re capacity, weight speed etc. then stick to your guns and buy the one that feels right for you.


    I've had countless PowerBooks through MacBook Pro's etc. Moving to an air 18 months ago when I felt they were close enough to the Pro to be useful. Do I miss the weight, definitely not, do I miss the extra RAM, not really as I can run most of my prgrams at once (including XP via Parallels), larger HD, yes would be nice but you learn not to take your entire music and photo library with you all the time.

    After all there are tons of cheap USB external drive to offload the less important stuff, and my first PowerBook had less than a quarter of the air's drive space and considerably less RAM.

  • Al Q Level 1 (105 points)

    I agree with you that chasing new models is a hopeless task. My usual pattern is to pick the most appropriate new model shortly after the 3 year Applecare warranty on my current laptop runs out, so I will probably be buying a new computer within the next few months.


    For my particular needs, the 13" size has proved to be ideal. I really like being able to fit it into an airline seat pocket, and into a compact briefcase that will not hold a 15" model.


    The current 13" models, both Air and Pro, would be a step down for me because they use integrated Intel graphics that provides less support for video and graphic processing (OpenCL etc) than the Nvidia graphics in my 2009 Macbook Pro. Next generation Intel integrated graphics is apparently a big step up, and may be better than what I have now. Who knows, with the optical drive removed there may be room to provide graphics options in the 13" Pro similar to those now available in the larger ones.


    (Once I have a Thunderbolt equipped laptop, I will be in the market for a power supply / hub that would give me essentially the same connectivity as Apple's Thunderbolt display. I want to be able to hook up just 2 cables (magsafe and thunderbolt) when I bring my laptop home, and to continue to use my DVI 24" display and my USB and FIrewire 800 drives. But such devices have been slow to appear.)

  • chrise2004 Level 1 (0 points)

    Thanks everyone for the help. I completely agree Absolute, I don't want to chase tails waiting for the latest and greatest model, but if I'm only a month or so away (which is what you mentioned and what I'm reading in the rumor mills) I'll definitely be waiting to see what is coming out. If the macbook pro doesn't have the optical drive, like you mentioned it might be the design I'm looking for, plenty of ram/processor power while slimmer.


    Thanks again Al Q and AbsoluteComputers you've given me some great thinking points.