View Full Version : Swap Macbook Pro/iPad for Macbook air?

2011-01-28, 15:12
Hey guys, I'm looking for ya'll's input here regarding an idea I have as to my computing situation. Right now I have a 27" iMac, 15" Macbook Pro, and iPad, stats here:

27" iMac
2.8 GHz Intel Core i7
1 TB Hard Drive
ATI Radeon HD 4850 512 MB
whatever else is standard

15" Macbook Pro Unibody
2.66 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
320 GB HD 5400 RPM
NVIDIA GeForce 9400M (GT) 256 MB
last model with removable battery & express card slot

64 GB Wi-Fi iPad

To be completely honest, it's overkill. My original plan was to get the iMac and iPad last spring then sell off my Macbook Pro. Unfortunately it was just too darn useful. I worked on too many programming assignments with groups where we'd meet up in the library and having the laptop was crazy useful. The iMac was still my primary computer at my apartment and I loved having it for Photoshop, programming on my own, watching movies, playing starcraft, and general browsing. Anyway, with all the action the laptop was getting the iPad has pretty much become a glorified iPod - it holds all my music for long car trips and it pretty much only got used to its full potential when I'd take shorter weekend trips to see my girlfriend and I knew I didn't have to do any real work. I love the iPad, I think it's a beautiful device... I just don't think it's for me. It kills me to say it because I've been a huge supporter from the beginning but I just don't think it's worth it for me.

Anyway I'm looking into some solution simplifying my gadget collection and making everything a bit simpler, and I'm definitely open to alternative opinions. My thoughts right now are to craigslist my Macbook Pro and iPad (probably getting 800-1000 for the macbook and ~600 for the iPad) and get a Macbook Air. I guess my questions to you guys are as follows:

1. Am I crazy?

2. Which Macbook Air should I get? I need it for programming, some garageband (I'm taking a digital music class this semester), maybe some photoshop, and then the usual web browsing / chatting / itunes / movie watching. I LOVE the 11" form factor, but I'm worried that it might not be able to handle too much in garageband, the screen would be too small for a good programming workflow (I like to have 2-3 files open and some documentation handy for C++, or eclipse+documentation, or XCode + documentation), and I like the 13" having an SD card slot for when I'm traveling and taking tons of pictures (but the 11" would be better to travel with because it's smaller... but it also has less battery life...). So I guess people who have used the Airs... is the 11" capable or should I bump up to the 13"?

3. I realize I don't use the full potential of my Core i7 beast of a machine, but unless things go horribly wrong it'll last me awhile and I enjoy having a desktop to come home to that I don't have to worry about overfilling with media or burdening with some games or other intense tasks (although rare). I don't think I could do this with the 11" macbook air, but could the 13" fully decked out (or even just with the RAM upgrade) be my only machine? I'd sell all 3 of my current computers and get an external display to dock into so I would still get the desktop experience. After just browsing the internet, my computer gets used most for programming, photo organizing/manipulation, homework (reading PDFs and writing papers) some starcraft, and this semester garageband. I realize this is probably the most ambitious plan but I think if the Macbook Air could handle everything it would probably be the best for me.

4. How crazy am I, really?

5. should I just suck it up for another few years?

edit: I realize I'm an incredibly fickle computer user -- I've accepted it. I just think that if the ipad is mostly collecting dust then what's the point of having it... and if I can sell the macbook pro as well then I could easily afford a new macbook air. Awhile back I traded an original black macbook for a 12" powerbook (plus cash considerations) and I loved that trade... but the powerbook only lasted about a year before it was unbearably slow with all this newfangled hulu and crap on the internet and apple started dropping support for PPC so I went for the macbook pro. Anyway, until it showed it's age I loved it. The macbook air is like a more awesome, more capable 12" powerbook and rational or not, I LOVE that computer and if it's in my power to get it (while downsizing what I have / don't use now) then I don't feel too bad about doing it.

2011-01-28, 17:00
This is why to keep the iPad: http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2011/01/icade-game-cabinet-ces/


2011-01-29, 09:26
1. Am I crazy?

Absolutely not. (Well, at least not based on this evidence.) There is a lot to be said for keeping things simple. Just do what will work best for you and don't worry about it.

I went through a similar thing last year. I had an iPad that I wasn't using all that much. It was a nice device, but it just wasn't fitting in for me. Browsing the web with safari was painful because of the lack of tabs and it having to reload pages. The keyboard was great for typing emails and such, but it was painful for doing anything that involved arrows or tabs. I do a lot of SSH and I couldn't see doing that on the iPad. Putting pdf files on it was also a pain, although dropbox helped with that.

The size was also a bit of an issue. It was great for keeping in my backpack, but I generally wouldn't have it with me throughout the day. I decided an iPhone would be a lot more useful for me, so I sold the iPad and got an iPhone.

I'm keeping my eye on the iPad 2, and if it fixes the issues I had with the first iPad and seems like something I can use for most of my web browsing, I'll seriously consider getting one.

2011-01-29, 13:33
I don't think an iPad is a full computer replacement in its current format, and may never be. I think that a reasonable combination is an iPad + a desktop, but for those who absolutely have to have a full computer in a portable format, the iPad is not going to do the trick. Another combination is an iPad + a laptop, but for those who are going to be carrying the laptop around all the time anyways, that might not make a lot of sense. An iPad is a device in its own special category, and certainly will not fit everyone's needs, so I don't think that you are crazy to consider dropping yours. That said, I am thinking of getting an iPad for myself (already got one for my wife, which she loves), primarily as a replacement for my iPod Touch and as an e-reader.

2011-01-30, 06:00
We just got to the end of our lease and got some new kit. After not very much thinking, it was obvious that I really didn't need the full power of a MBP (15") - So I opted for the 13" Air, and the company designer stuck with an upgraded Pro - he wanted the extra screen size and CPU for Photoshop.

Since the RAM in the air is not upgradable I would make sure you get the 4GB. I opted for the faster CPU too.

We are about 3 weeks in, and I can say I love it and have made the right choice. The 13" is perfectly useable when you are out and about and need to throw out a few hours worth of coding, meetings, etc. And when I am in the office it has absolutely no problems running a nice new 27" LED display. :) (I am not a fan of dual screens, so I leave the Air closed).

I do a lot of web programming, so normal applications are Safari, Chrome, TextMate and a few terminal Windows (Sometimes Firefox - but 3.6 feels like wading through mud and 4 beta is not much better). Oh and Apache & MySQL servers.

I tend not to bother with the "heavy weight" IDE's like eclipse, netbeans etc - so I can't really comment. But the SSD is FAAAASSSTT! :) So unless you are already using an SSD in your i7, you'll be quietly impressed. I'd be as bold as to say 90% of the stuff I was using the old 15" MBP for is actually faster on the Air. It's quite surprising how much time your computer is spent waiting for HD activity. I recently put a SSD in my old black MacBook, and gave it to my sister. The machine has a whole new life! Admittedly, the fans run a lot more because the CPU gets no "rest" waiting on the HD anymore. :)

The thing I enjoy most about the 13" Air is that it weighs almost nothing! Unless I know I am going out and about for more than a day, I don't even take a power supply with me (obviously, the display charges it when I am in the office).

Dorian Gray
2011-01-30, 08:30
I'd be as bold as to say 90% of the stuff I was using the old 15" MBP for is actually faster on the Air.
My girlfriend's 11-inch MacBook Air is faster than my 13-inch MacBook Pro for most things too, even with its supposedly pokey 1.4 GHz Core 2 Duo (though the graphics are about twice as fast: 320M versus 9400M). It boots quicker, launches apps far quicker, closes things quicker, switches from one open app to another quicker, etc. It does this while weighing half as much and costing the same. Sheesh.

People who describe the MacBook Air as only a writer's machine don't realise how capable this little Mac is.

It's quite surprising how much time your computer is spent waiting for HD activity. I recently put a SSD in my old black MacBook, and gave it to my sister. The machine has a whole new life! Admittedly, the fans run a lot more because the CPU gets no "rest" waiting on the HD anymore. :)
I noticed a similar thing when I upgraded the RAM in my MacBook Pro from 2 GB to 8 GB. Aperture now runs far faster since it's not waiting on the disk, but because the app can now push the CPU hard, the computer gets much warmer and noisier. Of course I also get more done in a given amount of time (though not as much as you'd expect: I use some of the new speed to be sloppy with edits, using mindless trial and error instead of careful prediction, etc.).

2011-01-30, 22:49
how convenient :)


I think I'll put the laptop and iPad on craigslist shortly, and give it a few weeks before making a decision on the iMac. If I end up not really using it that much then it'll get the chop as well. Sad to say, but live and learn I suppose.