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You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Mac Notebooks > MacBook vs. MacBook Pro: Questions about sturdiness and other issues

MacBook vs. MacBook Pro: Questions about sturdiness and other issues
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damiensmunki
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Jan 23, 2008, 11:47 PM
 
Hey, guys... I'm sure this has been covered before, but for the life of me, I can't figure out how to get search to pull up the threads. I'm a student, and this semester, I'm going to need to get a new laptop for class and a kick-ass internship I got. I have a Mac Pro for my main computer, so I'm not terribly concerned about power. Portability, however, is a huge concern. That said, I can't justify the sacrifices required to be a MacBook Air user.

My initial plan was to wait for the MBP refresh with crossed fingers, hoping for blu-ray support. However, as the wait grows, I'm looking hungrily at the black MacBook. I really want the illuminated keyboard and impending multi-touch in the MBP, but the smaller form-factor of the MB is tremendously appealing. What do you guys think about each line's construction? Which is sturdier? What's the likelihood of either of the models surviving a crash to the floor? How scratch resistant is the black case, compared to the aluminum case of the MBP line? Which one is better equipped to survive cross-campus treks in a loaded book-bag (in some form of padded sleeve, of course)?

Please advise me. Is my interest in the MB due only to my lack of patience in waiting for the MBP refresh? Forgive me if I'm rambling. I'm brain-dead from learning to be a political researcher and consultant while staring at the office's flickering, migraine-inducing, 15" CRT monitor connected to a PoS Dell with 224MB of RAM, on which I have to do virtual desktop work --> read: biggest reason for new laptop.

Thanks for any guidance and help with sorting out my thoughts on these computers.

Rob
     
damiensmunki  (op)
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Jan 24, 2008, 12:04 AM
 
...Now that I've typed all that out, I'm thinking maybe I could make the sacrifices required by the MacBook Air. While I'm leery of buying a first gen Apple product, it has the illuminated keyboard and multi-touch trackpad I want, along with the small form-factor, and I don't think the hit in performance compared to the MacBook would affect the type of work I'd be doing. However...it seems like the MBA would snap like a potato chip if dropped.

God...I really don't need to do this kind of thinking when my cognitive reserves are so severely depleted. Forgive me.
     
0157988944
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Jan 24, 2008, 12:10 AM
 
Don't get a MacBook Air as your only Mac. Get a MacBook. Wait for an update, though... you never know, they might illuminate the MacBook keyboard. Ok, ok, they won't. but still. It will probably get multi touch.
     
damiensmunki  (op)
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Jan 24, 2008, 12:24 AM
 
Thanks, Adam, but my primary computer is a Mac Pro. I'd even use the MP as a kind of network drive with Back to my Mac. Thinking more about the Air, however...I'd have to get the SSD, as I can't imagine trying to work on a 4.2k rpm drive, and $3000 would be a tough pill to swallow.

Apple's marketing is just so brilliantly manipulative... It makes me desire a product at some ridiculously primal level, when my higher levels of cognition yell at me, "RUN AWAY!"
     
SierraDragon
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Jan 24, 2008, 01:36 AM
 
MBP versus MB
Thinner MBP vs. thicker MB
FW800 v. no FW800
Many more (1440x900) pixels v. less (1280x800) pixels
MBP has much more screen real estate
Backlit keyboard v. no backlit keyboard
Good graphics card v. no graphics card
Express Card Slot v. no Express Card Slot
The MBP only weighs 6 ounces more
Pro aluminum v. consumer plastic
Matte or glossy v. only glossy screen

Both are durable, fully suited to riding a backpack. The aluminum theoretically can scratch or dent more easily, but is less likely to suffer catastrophic damage if dropped on a corner.

Glossy screens add contrast and saturation to images, so most graphics pros choose matte. Many consumers seem to like screen-added contrast and saturation, however. It is an individual decision.

-Allen Wicks
     
Kristan Kenney
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Jan 24, 2008, 02:12 AM
 
I'd go with the MacBook Pro. It's a bit more durable than the MacBook and it looks great, you get a higher resolution and a superior graphics card in comparison to what is offered in the MacBook.
     
macuser9909
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Jan 24, 2008, 02:56 AM
 
I had a white MacBook. Sold it, bought a new MPB and have never looked back. If you can afford the MacBook Air.. look into it, see if it is for you.
     
gregfripp
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Jan 24, 2008, 06:50 AM
 
I have a macbook, and now a macbook pro as well.
The macbook pro is a MUCH better machine.
It has more ports, a much nicer keyboard and better performance all round.
Go for the macbook pro!
Greg
     
driven
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Jan 24, 2008, 07:39 AM
 
Faced with the same decision recently (last weekend!) I went with the MBP.
- MacBook Pro 15" Core i7 2.3Ghz / 256SSD (Work laptop)
- iMac 3.2Ghz 1TB
     
MacosNerd
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Jan 24, 2008, 08:18 AM
 
I owned both the MB and the MBP.

I purchased the MB when they first came out, nice computer but what I found was some short comings.
First the screen size, for my 40+ eyes it was difficult to use. The integrated graphics was a larger issue then I first thought it would be. I use aperture and I found the performance hit was too large to deal with. Back to the screen size, when running Photoshop, I also thought the screen real estate was a little too cramped.

When moved to the MBP, I found the screen real estate was big enough to use photoshop, and I could read the text easily. Performance was much better for my needs.

While I got the MB because it's small footprint and durable plastic case, I found that the size was also its major weakness for me. Its great for traveling, but when I had to pull it out and use it, then it's advantages disappeared.
     
ghporter
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Jan 24, 2008, 09:15 AM
 
Both computers are great for classroom stuff. One classmate and I have MBPs and about 4 or 5 others have MacBooks. None of us have problems with portability (ok, the classmate with the MBP has a 17" model and it's a bit big to lug around sometimes...) nor with functionality.

The decider for me would be what sort of environment you'd be using the machine in and what sort of environment you'd be in between home and the place you used it. As noted above, the aluminum shell on the MBP makes it a bit more rugged, but it is a bit bigger. This means that there are situations where the larger machine might get in the way, or where a smaller machine might be exposed to potential damage.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
iamnotmad
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Jan 24, 2008, 09:35 AM
 
Interesting replies. I happen to tonally disagree with many of them. Having had a TiBook, I recently got a new MB (black) and the graphics card is much LESS of an issue than I expected (esp after the nov update, it's a respectable integrated graphics card, that even fully supports vista). I also disagree that the KB is better on the MBP, I think the MB has a much better KB, and as a matter of fact I expect the MBP when updated (which will likely be within a month) will get the same (though back lighted) KB, like the MBA.

The only significant port difference is FW800, the MB has the rest. The system bus and mem architecture is the same on both currently as well.

After being open to buy either, the MB was a much better deal given how little real difference there is between the two. Again I expect the gap to widen some when the MBP's are updated which will prob be very soon, but right now, it's hard to justify the MBP to me unless you MUST have FW800, 2 inch larger screen, or 200 more MHz.
     
Simon
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Jan 24, 2008, 10:48 AM
 
Originally Posted by SierraDragon View Post
Good graphics card v. no graphics card
Nonsense.

No Mac notebook has ever had a graphics card. The actual difference is that the MBP has a fast GPU with dedicated VRAM and a dedicated bus to it while the MB uses RAM as video memory and has to go over the FSB to communicate with it.
     
Simon
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Jan 24, 2008, 10:53 AM
 
Originally Posted by damiensmunki View Post
Thanks, Adam, but my primary computer is a Mac Pro. I'd even use the MP as a kind of network drive with Back to my Mac. Thinking more about the Air, however...I'd have to get the SSD, as I can't imagine trying to work on a 4.2k rpm drive, and $3000 would be a tough pill to swallow.
If this is going to be a portable second Mac next to your main MP I think it's quite simple:

if { Is portability a big issue? }
if { Are you on a tight budget? }
MB;
else
MBA;
endif
else
MBP;
endif
( Last edited by Simon; Jan 28, 2008 at 05:17 AM. Reason: fixed typo)
     
driven
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Jan 24, 2008, 12:00 PM
 
Originally Posted by Simon View Post
Nonsense.

No Mac notebook has ever had a graphics card. The actual difference is that the MBP has a fast GPU with dedicated VRAM and a dedicated bus to it while the MB uses RAM as video memory and has to go over the FSB to communicate with it.
I think that's what he meant. (At least that's the way I read it.)
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SierraDragon
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Jan 24, 2008, 06:23 PM
 
Yes, I simplified to show the long list of MBP benefits over MB. One can go to BareFeats.com to find tests of graphics performance differences between (Apple's description) the MB's integrated graphics Intel GMA X3100 graphics processor with 144MB of DDR2 SDRAM shared with main memory and the NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT with 256MB of GDDR3 SDRAM graphics unit of the MBPs.

Sorry for the imprecision, all that does not fit well in a five word comparison. Bottom line is that for certain graphics apps like Aperture or games the NVIDIA graphics unit (not a card per se) in the MBP provides superior graphics performance.

-Allen Wicks
( Last edited by SierraDragon; Jan 24, 2008 at 06:38 PM. )
     
driven
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Jan 24, 2008, 06:41 PM
 
The graphics card was a primary reason that I went for the MBP. (... and it was a tough call considering the price premium). I love the backlit keyboard, but I wouldn't have made the choice on that alone.)

I went with the gloosy screen mostly because I didn't think to ask for the matte. That said, I'm keeping it. The blacks are really dark and the picture looks really crisp. The screen seems MUCH brigher than my old PowerBook G4 1.67. The brightness helps me not notice the reflections of the friggin' florescent lights right behind my desk. (When the screen is all black it's like a mirror in my office.)
- MacBook Pro 15" Core i7 2.3Ghz / 256SSD (Work laptop)
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SierraDragon
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Jan 24, 2008, 06:48 PM
 
Originally Posted by driven View Post
The screen seems MUCH brigher than my old PowerBook G4 1.67.
The MBP screen is much brighter than our G4 PBs.

-Allen Wicks
     
iREZ
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Jan 24, 2008, 07:27 PM
 
i own a macbook pro, and waiting to upgrade (yes i wrote upgrade) to a macbook, reasons why:

HD is MUCH easier to replace and lots faster to do so, the "consumer plastic" (and "pro aluminum"? where do you get these adjectives) allows for much larger wifi signals then its "pro aluminum" big brother, it's more portable (volume and footprint wise), you get a choice of color...not a big deal but def a positive, wont dent, and a much sturdier magnetic latch system that makes the notebook feel lots sturdier than the pro when closed.

too many people focus on the what the macbook lacks in comparison to the pro but never think about what it has that the macbook pro doesnt.
NOW YOU SEE ME! 2.4 MBP and 2.0 MBP (running ubuntu)
     
jamil5454
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Jan 24, 2008, 08:01 PM
 
This may seem obvious, but don't forget the fact that the MacBook pro is significantly more expensive than the MacBook. Instead of getting a Pro, I went with the MacBook and used the money I saved on:

- 4GB RAM
- 1TB external storage
- bluetooth KB and mouse
- 22" LCD

Just something to consider.
     
Cadaver
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Jan 24, 2008, 11:38 PM
 
A dissenting opinion...

I have a 15" MacBook Pro and last week traded it with my wife for her MacBook. Why? Size, mainly. While the MacBook is only half a pound lighter and slightly less wide, it "feels" much smaller; less of a general footprint than the 15" MacBook Pro. The laptop bag is of course smaller, too, despite the fact they are otherwise virtually identical and from the same company. The power brick is also a bit lighter. All this adds up to a noticeable savings in total mass. I'm much happier with the more portable size of the MacBook than the MacBook Pro.

While the screen is smaller - fewer pixels - I think the DPI of the screen is nearly the same, so text isn't really any smaller (there's just room for less). And while some people hate the MacBook keyboard, I on the other hand really, really like it. Its essentially the same as my desktop's keyboard, so I only have to be used to typing on one keyboard style, which is nice if you type a lot.

If you're not using Aperture, 3D rendering apps or planning to play games, the lack of a dedicated GPU and VRAM compared with the MacBook Pro is, IMHO, a non-issue for OS X and general desktop/office apps. Way less of a big deal for general computing than I would have thought. My (wife's) MacBook doesn't stutter or hesitate at all, and this is the GMA 950 integrated graphics of the original Core Duo MacBook (2.0GHz model). The X3100 is better. I'd never attempt to play a 3D game on this machine, but this is not what I do on this machine.

As for the glossy screen, I agree its a personal preference. I wouldn't want one on my main desktop where I work with photos or graphics, but for a secondary portable machine on which I'm mainly using text apps, the additional contrast the glossy-style screen gives is really nice. Text is clear, easy to read and razor-sharp.

In my experience, owning both machines, the battery life is better on the MacBook (smaller screen = smaller backlight, and no GPU to power). And I can't comment on the current available models, but my 2.0GHz Core Duo MacBook runs cooler than the 15" 2.16GHz Core Duo MacBook Pro.

If the laptop were my only machine, I would probably prefer the MacBook Pro. But as a mobile machine - an extension of the desktop machine, if you will - then for me the MacBook is a better package. Smaller, slightly lighter and better battery life than the MacBook Pro.
     
damiensmunki  (op)
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Jan 25, 2008, 12:51 AM
 
I keep hearing rumblings of the black MacBook showing oily fingerprints over time. I'm okay with that, so long as the oil can be scrubbed off. How easy is it to clean the black case? Thanks for all the help, guys.
Rob
     
drnkn_stylz
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Jan 25, 2008, 02:00 AM
 
Here's my contribution, and I use MacBook's and MacBook Pro's all day:

MacBook

Pros
- Smaller size, better portability
- Longer battery life (not by much)
- Equal power to MBP, less GPU
- FW400, DVI-out
- Easy RAM and HDD upgrades

Cons
- Low quality speakers
- No ExpressCard slot
- No matte screen
- Scratches easy
- No backlit keyboard


MacBook Pro

Pros
- Dedicated GPU
- FW800
- Full size DVI (no need for expensive adapters)
- Matte screen in larger sizes (better resolution)
- Backlit keyboard
- ExpressCard slot
- Good speakers
- Multi touch trackpad (soon)

Cons
- Aluminum dents easy
- Not as portable
- Shorter battery life
- Basically double the price


I really want a MBP after owning a MB for 2 years. However, I would really miss how portable the MB is. I might just sell my current MB, get a new MB and an iMac for more power.
..13" MacBook Pro | 2.53gHz | 4gb RAM | 320gb Seagate Momentus XT | OSX.6.6.. // iPhone 4 32gb
     
Sage
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Jan 25, 2008, 02:48 AM
 
Since you have a MP at home, what will you be using the laptop for? If you don’t need the better graphics card and the little extra bit of CPU grunt, I’d strongly recommend that you consider saving the $800 by buying a MacBook, then using some of the spare change to max the RAM and install a larger HD. I have a first-gen MacBook with 2GB of RAM (the max it could have), and it runs fantastically fast.

Although, you don’t sound financially strapped, in which case I’d go for a MBA.

Oh, and to answer the actual question: my MB isn’t built to quite the same quality that my iBook G3 was, but it’s still a durable and well-screwed-together machine. And remember that you don’t hold laptops the same way you hold iPods, so I wouldn’t worry about dropping it – everybody I know has dropped their iPod at least once, but nobody I know has ever dropped a laptop.
     
damiensmunki  (op)
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Jan 25, 2008, 03:52 AM
 
Against what seems to be better judgement, I'm leaning toward the MBA. I really just need a portable machine to function as an extension of my Mac Pro. I won't be doing any Aperture work on it, as I'll use the Pro for that. Really...I'll just be using Back to my Mac, word processing and spreadsheet work, and some stats app work. Really, the more I think about it, the more I realize...my only big concern with the MBA is the 4.2k rpm drive. I wonder how much bottlenecking that'll involve.

Oh...and I guess I have a good record...I've never even dropped my iPods. ::runs for knockable wood::
     
Simon
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Jan 25, 2008, 06:04 AM
 
Originally Posted by SierraDragon View Post
Bottom line is that for certain graphics apps like Aperture or games the NVIDIA graphics unit (not a card per se) in the MBP provides superior graphics performance.
I fully agree with that. 3D games, Motion and Aperture will see a huge benefit from the 8600M over the X3100. I'm sure there are a couple of other examples I forgot to mention here too.

That said, I think it's important to stress that a big exception is CS3. There are a lot of Mac CS3 users and among them quite few believe a beefy GPU and lots of VRAM will speed PS up. Sounds plausible since PS is a graphics app, right? Unfortunately it's wrong. Hopefully Adobe will rely more heavily on fast GPUs in future versions, but right now with CS3 what you want is a fast CPU, lots of RAM and a fast disk. Compared to those specs the GPU is pretty irrelevant.

The MBP screen is much brighter than our G4 PBs.
I can confirm that. My 15" LED-backlit MBP screen is already noticeably brighter than the screen of my 2.33 GHz 15" MBP. But I'd say the difference to the 1.67 GHz 15" PB G4 is even larger. A modern 15" MBP has a much brighter display than a 15" PB.
     
Simon
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Jan 25, 2008, 06:08 AM
 
Originally Posted by damiensmunki View Post
I keep hearing rumblings of the black MacBook showing oily fingerprints over time. I'm okay with that, so long as the oil can be scrubbed off. How easy is it to clean the black case? Thanks for all the help, guys.
Rob
It's quite simple. Take a damp cloth an rub.
     
Simon
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Jan 25, 2008, 06:19 AM
 
Originally Posted by damiensmunki View Post
Against what seems to be better judgement, I'm leaning toward the MBA. I really just need a portable machine to function as an extension of my Mac Pro. I won't be doing any Aperture work on it, as I'll use the Pro for that. Really...I'll just be using Back to my Mac, word processing and spreadsheet work, and some stats app work. Really, the more I think about it, the more I realize...my only big concern with the MBA is the 4.2k rpm drive. I wonder how much bottlenecking that'll involve.
It sounds as if the MBA could be the right second Mac for you. Since money doesn't seem to be an issue, but you're concerned with the HDD performance, have you considered going all the way and taking the SSD option? Performance should be a whole lot better.
     
damiensmunki  (op)
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Jan 25, 2008, 09:22 AM
 
I've thought about getting the SSD option, but something about paying the cost of two black MacBooks for one, less powerful computer just nauseates me a bit.
     
driven
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Jan 25, 2008, 12:07 PM
 
Yeah ... the SSD is in the "early adopter" stage now. Give it a few years to become affordable.
- MacBook Pro 15" Core i7 2.3Ghz / 256SSD (Work laptop)
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Simon
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Jan 25, 2008, 12:33 PM
 
Originally Posted by damiensmunki View Post
I've thought about getting the SSD option, but something about paying the cost of two black MacBooks for one, less powerful computer just nauseates me a bit.
I can understand that.

Unfortunately I think if you really want a MBA now and you need decent drive performance too that's what it boils down to.
     
Rev2Liv
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Jan 25, 2008, 04:23 PM
 
For me, I wish Apple had just licensed the VAIO TZ series from Sony. It's a sub 3lb notebook 11.1inch LED backlit, replaceable battery and upgradeable RAM.

Oh, and it also a built in superdrive. The TZ series IMO spanks the MB Air. Plus the VAIO TZ has an 8700mAH extended life battery that will literally last for 6-7 straight.

I have a VAIO VGN-T350p which in 2005 with a LV Pentium M 1.2ghz, and superdrive and a 7650mAh battery, powered me through classes and helped set me apart from the bandwagon riding PowerBook and iBook people at the time.

The non-replacable battery means that you can't carry a spare battery which is a huge crutch for on-the-go computing.

Also, note that subnotebook's use a 1.8 inch PATA drive instead of the standard 2.5 inch. Basically, 1.8 inch PATA drives are slow as molasses.

Oh, and 800 vertical lines of res. is the bare minimum I can stand. I found that with a 10.4 inch screen at 1280x768, I couldn't really multi-task since the res. wasn't high enough.

But I used to lug around a 1ghz 17" PowerBook before that, and the Sony really lightened my load.

One last thing. Forget about BootCamp. My Pr0n collection fills greater than 80GB.
( Last edited by Rev2Liv; Jan 25, 2008 at 04:55 PM. )
     
0157988944
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Jan 25, 2008, 04:58 PM
 
Originally Posted by Rev2Liv View Post
For me, I wish Apple had just licensed the VAIO TZ series from Sony. It's a sub 3lb notebook 11.1inch LED backlit, replaceable battery and upgradeable RAM.

Oh, and it also a built in superdrive. The TZ series IMO spanks the MB Air. Plus the VAIO TZ has an 8700mAH extended life battery that will literally last for 6-7 straight.

Oh, and 800 vertical lines of res. is the bare minimum I can stand. I found that with a 10.4 inch screen at 1280x768, I couldn't really multi-task since the res. wasn't high enough.
Oh, and it looks like sh*t.
     
damiensmunki  (op)
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Jan 25, 2008, 05:01 PM
 
What looks like sh*t? The MBA or the Sony he's talking about?
     
0157988944
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Jan 25, 2008, 05:02 PM
 
Sony
     
amazing
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Jan 25, 2008, 05:26 PM
 
If money's no object and if lightweight is important, go with the MBA.

If performance is important, and money is tight, get the MB.

If performance is important and money's no object, get the MBP.

Lastly, if you can wait till June, you'll have other options. Since it doesn't seem like you can wait (you're definitely gonna ruin your eyes on the PoS) get the MB now and sell it when something nicer comes along.

Most importantly, let the early adopters beta-test the MBA before deciding to go with it.
     
damiensmunki  (op)
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Jan 25, 2008, 05:44 PM
 
you're definitely gonna ruin your eyes on the PoS
I don't understand, but it's been a long day at the office, so maybe it's me... Is this a masturbation joke? Kidding...I think. But seriously...what do you mean?
     
amazing
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Jan 25, 2008, 06:37 PM
 
sorry I wasn't more specific: I was saying that you're gonna get bad eyestrain based on your earlier post about

"staring at the office's flickering, migraine-inducing, 15" CRT monitor "

If you're getting migraines from it, best to switch to something better quickly.
     
mfbernstein
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Jan 25, 2008, 06:49 PM
 
Originally Posted by Rev2Liv View Post
For me, I wish Apple had just licensed the VAIO TZ series from Sony. It's a sub 3lb notebook 11.1inch LED backlit, replaceable battery and upgradeable RAM.
You want to spend at least $300 more on a 1.06GHZ machine? The Core 2 Duo is a nice processor and all, but that'd pretty much remove the possibility of anything more CPU intensive than video decoding.
     
amazing
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Jan 26, 2008, 11:14 AM
 
Here's an interesting review from CNET where they benchmark the MBA against a Sony TZ150.
You can see that the MBA is still usable (painfully? in a pinch?) for stuff, where the TZ stinks:

Apple MacBook Air Core 2 Duo 1.8 GHz - 13.3" TFT Laptop reviews - CNET Reviews

Again: subnotebooks are like convertibles. Some people are going to go for convertibles no matter what you say, even in snowy regions where they can't use it half the year. The convertible is unlikely to be their only vehicle, convertibles are not for heavy lifting. But: they're going to having lots of fun with the convertible, when they can drive it. If they've got the where-withal to do that, great! Let's let the convertible-fanciers argue about which convertible is best, hmmm?

Flash drives are cheap and sizes are increasing. Buy an external 16X usb 2.0 burner that's way faster than the Superdrive. You're no taking it on the road. It's gonna be stationary at home or wherever, anyway. Carry an Airport Express with you to hook to ethernet. You're set.

This advice goes for whatever laptop you have--no Superdrive is going to be as fast as a 16X external burner and you've got a wireless laptop: Would you rather be tethered to an ethernet cord or wireless to an AE?
     
Koralatov
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Jan 26, 2008, 03:12 PM
 
Originally Posted by Simon View Post
But I'd say the difference to the 1.67 GHz 15" PB G4 is even larger. A modern 15" MBP has a much brighter display than a 15" PB.
I'm not disagreeing with you on this at all (especially seeing as the modern 15" MBP has LED backlighting), but it's very difficult to make a direct comparison, as the PB's backlight will have faded over time, thus reducing its overall brightness. Unfortunately, the only way to see for sure if the new MBP is actually brighter than a 15" PB is to get a PB that's never been used, which is pretty much never going to happen.

Originally Posted by Rev2Liv View Post
I have a VAIO VGN-T350p which in 2005 with a LV Pentium M 1.2ghz, and superdrive and a 7650mAh battery, powered me through classes and helped set me apart from the bandwagon riding PowerBook and iBook people at the time.
So, your recommendation would be "None of the above" then? It's quite obvious that you're not really interested in answering the OP's question, but rather showing off/advertising your Vaio. If the OP had asked for laptop recommendations, then you might have contributed usefully to the discussion, but as he asked for Mac laptop suggestions, you really haven't.

Going by the what the OP's said about his existing set-up, I think he's pretty set on a Mactop; adding a PC to the mix wouldn't be the end of the world, but it would complicate matters more than using an Apple laptop.

Oh, and 800 vertical lines of res. is the bare minimum I can stand. I found that with a 10.4 inch screen at 1280x768, I couldn't really multi-task since the res. wasn't high enough.
The Vaio TZ (of which you speak so highly) only has a vertical resolution of 768. So is your suggestion actually motivated by a desire to answer the OP's question, or do you just feel miffed that the MBA isn't a Vaio TZ, and thus want to stick the boot into Apple a bit?

In answer to the OP's question, I'd personally go for the MBA if I were in your position. You're obviously not short of a few spare pennies, and it would meet all your needs on the road, as well as being super-compact.
     
damiensmunki  (op)
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Jan 26, 2008, 04:19 PM
 
Going by the what the OP's said about his existing set-up, I think he's pretty set on a Mactop; adding a PC to the mix wouldn't be the end of the world, but it would complicate matters more than using an Apple laptop.
My head would cave in on itself, if I bought a PC.
In answer to the OP's question, I'd personally go for the MBA if I were in your position. You're obviously not short of a few spare pennies, and it would meet all your needs on the road, as well as being super-compact.
That's the way I'm leaning. I just really wouldn't use the optical drive much, if I had it. I'm not someone willing to pay $60/month for ATT's mobile broadband service, so I'll solely use hotspots and my phone as a modem, if I really need to. This means I don't care about the lack of an express slot or the problem with usb modems not fitting. My brain, however, is still hitting a speed-bump when it comes to the 4.2k rpm hdd, but again, I won't be doing much intensive work on it...mostly productivity apps, internet, and light statics work, considering I can find a stats package that functions well on the Mac. I guess if I can't, I'll be running Parallels and SAS or SPSS. Anyone read anything about reviewers trying Parallels on this thing?
( Last edited by damiensmunki; Jan 26, 2008 at 04:26 PM. )
     
SierraDragon
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Jan 26, 2008, 05:13 PM
 
Originally Posted by iREZ View Post
..."consumer plastic" and "pro aluminum" where do you get these adjectives?
Apple differentiates the boxes Macbook and Macbook Pro and I fully agree with that characterization. At a minimum, pro level requires better connectivity than FW400 and must allow a matte screen option. IMO any laptop that lacks FW800 and EC/34 card slot is unequivocally not pro. Apple could create a pro plastic laptop, but there is not one in the current lineup. MBs with their glossy screens are indisputably consumer boxes, albeit powerful ones for many uses.

-Allen Wicks
( Last edited by SierraDragon; Jan 26, 2008 at 05:19 PM. )
     
Koralatov
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Jan 26, 2008, 05:38 PM
 
Originally Posted by damiensmunki View Post
My brain, however, is still hitting a speed-bump when it comes to the 4.2k rpm hdd, but again, I won't be doing much intensive work on it...mostly productivity apps, internet, and light statics work
If you're in the US, from what I know, hotspots are not so much of a problem--unlike here in the UK, where they're much rarer. So I don't think you're going to have much of a problem there, to be honest.

As for the 4,200RPM drive, I'm really not sure whether that's going to the huge issue that a lot of the interwebs have been making it out to be. Sure, it's not going to be blazingly fast, but I doubt it'll cause you serious headaches running the programs you plan to run. I use an iBook with a 4,200 drive, and I don't really have any problems using it for the kind of tasks you describe.

That said, it's ultimately up to you. Perhaps your best bet would be to go into an Apple store when they turn up, and have a play with it; that's probably the only way you're going to ever decide definitively whether the drive is going to cause a problem for you.

Originally Posted by SierraDragon View Post
Apple differentiates the boxes Macbook and Macbook Pro and I fully agree with that characterization. At a minimum, pro level requires better connectivity than FW400 and must allow a matte screen option. IMO any laptop that lacks FW800 and EC/34 card slot is unequivocally not pro. Apple could create a pro plastic laptop, but there is not one in the current lineup. MBs with their glossy screens are indisputably consumer boxes, albeit powerful ones for many uses.
You're absolutely right, and I too agree with differentiating between pro- and consumer-level machines. However, one thing that does bother me about Apple's current design philosophy is that the differences between the pro and consumer lines are being made increasingly subtle--they're now no longer quite as clear-cut as they were when the "plastic consumer" and "aluminium pro" divide existed. Whilst it's probably not a major issue, it does bother me somewhat; I genuinely liked the division between the two. That said, I'm not a huge fan of the direction Apple's industrial design is taking these days anyway--the MacBook was the most recent design that I really liked; the new iMac looks terrible to my eyes. I'm not sure about hte MBA though, and likely won't be until I see one in the flesh.
( Last edited by Koralatov; Jan 26, 2008 at 05:46 PM. )
     
dimmer
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Jan 26, 2008, 05:54 PM
 
I'll be running Parallels and SAS or SPSS

Doesn't a OS X version of SPSS exist? I remember they dropped the Mac product back in the OS 8 - 9 era, but I thought they'd returned (horrid, incomprehensible UI and all)?

Whoops, that's taking this off-topic. Sry.
     
Simon
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Jan 26, 2008, 06:05 PM
 
Originally Posted by Koralatov View Post
I'm not disagreeing with you on this at all (especially seeing as the modern 15" MBP has LED backlighting), but it's very difficult to make a direct comparison, as the PB's backlight will have faded over time, thus reducing its overall brightness.
That is of course true.

But I have a 15" LED backlit MBP here sitting next to a 15" PB and they are worlds apart in terms of brightness. Of course the PB's screen has already faded, but that is pretty much irrelevant because a) the MBP will hardly fade (thanks to LED vs. CCFL) and b) because there is no such thing as a new PB. Pretty much any PB you see today will already have a faded display.

This is not theoretical debate on wether the PB's screen was brighter when it came out years ago. It's about how they compare today. And the bottom line is that my PB is dark compared to my 15" MBP next to it.
     
Koralatov
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Jan 26, 2008, 06:40 PM
 
Originally Posted by Simon View Post
This is not theoretical debate on wether the PB's screen was brighter when it came out years ago. It's about how they compare today. And the bottom line is that my PB is dark compared to my 15" MBP next to it.
You're absolutely, and I apologise if you thought I was attempting to troll you or derail the debate; I was merely making a slightly pedantic addition to what you'd said.

It's also worth noting that even with its "meagre" specs, the Macbook Air still handily outperforms the PB. Overall, whilst it's no speed demon by any means, it doesn't perform too badly at all. Whilst I hope seeing this will put to bed a lot of the wailing about the AirBook being a worthless POS compared to the 12" PB, I suspect that it won't; there seem to be a lot of people who have taken the fact Apple didn't release a 12" Pro laptop as a personal slight, and something only short of a war-crime.
     
Rev2Liv
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Jan 26, 2008, 08:19 PM
 
Originally Posted by Koralatov View Post
So, your recommendation would be "None of the above" then? It's quite obvious that you're not really interested in answering the OP's question, but rather showing off/advertising your Vaio. If the OP had asked for laptop recommendations, then you might have contributed usefully to the discussion, but as he asked for Mac laptop suggestions, you really haven't.

Going by the what the OP's said about his existing set-up, I think he's pretty set on a Mactop; adding a PC to the mix wouldn't be the end of the world, but it would complicate matters more than using an Apple laptop.
Please consider this quote and the keywords of *guidance* and *help*.
Originally Posted by damiensmunki View Post
Thanks for any guidance and help with sorting out my thoughts on these computers
Most people comparison shop before purchasing whether it be a house, car, tv or computer. If you consider that showing off, than i'm sorry I hurt your feelings. As far as not answering the OP's questions, *nobody* has actual real world experience using an MB Air so I felt giving some experience with a subnotebook would be useful. Certainly, real world experience with that form factor/compromise regardless of OS would be useful in making a decision or am I completely off base?

This may hurt your feelings again, but I also used a PB 2400C back in the day and was hoping Apple would set a benchmark again for subnotebooks and beat the VAIO TZ.

Originally Posted by Koralatov View Post
The Vaio TZ (of which you speak so highly) only has a vertical resolution of 768. So is your suggestion actually motivated by a desire to answer the OP's question, or do you just feel miffed that the MBA isn't a Vaio TZ, and thus want to stick the boot into Apple a bit?
Zealot! You are correct, the MB Are does have an extra 32 lines of vertical rez. Again, I am speaking of real world experience with a sub-notebook in an academic setting which may help the OP in making a decision. Reading reviews is different than actually using a notebook. How would you feel if you spent $2000 on a machine that you hated?

Sticking the boot to Apple? Haha, the MB Air reminds me of the MIghty Mouse launch and Steve's RDF. Chill out buddy, no need to turn this thread personal.
( Last edited by Rev2Liv; Jan 26, 2008 at 08:34 PM. Reason: adding info.)
     
0157988944
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Jan 26, 2008, 08:26 PM
 
I have a MacBook because Windows is crap. It's a plus that it looks nice, too, but honestly, I'd buy a puke-green laptop with viking horns as long as it was portable and ran something equivalent or better than Mac OS X.
     
Koralatov
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Jan 26, 2008, 09:13 PM
 
Originally Posted by Rev2Liv View Post
Most people comparison shop before purchasing whether it be a house, car, tv or computer. If you consider that showing off, than i'm sorry I hurt your feelings. As far as not answering the OP's questions, *nobody* has actual real world experience using an MB Air so I felt giving some experience with a subnotebook would be useful. Certainly, real world experience with that form factor/compromise regardless of OS would be useful in making a decision or am I completely off base?
You're absolutely right--no-one has real world experience using the MBA, but I think the OP's feelings regarding a PC somewhat reinforce my point. Whilst it is wise to test-drive a variety of models before purchasing, he has chosen (whether wisely or not), that he wants a specific brand of computer. Your point regarding form-factor and compromise might be more valid had he wanted a new computer, rather than a new Mac; as it stands, making observations on the compromises and form-factors of something he has no intention of buying is somewhat less useful.

As for showing off, I quote: "helped set me apart from the bandwagon riding PowerBook and iBook people at the time". You may not think of that as showing off, but I would consider it to be an example of it. Had you considered that people may have bought their computers for reasons other than to "bandwagon ride", or do all Mac users only use Macs because it's somehow 'cool' to do so?

This may hurt your feelings again, but I also used a PB 2400C back in the day and was hoping Apple would set a benchmark again for subnotebooks and beat the VAIO TZ.
I can assure you that my feelings are not hurt in any way by the fact your Mac-using vintage is greater than mine. And, to be honest, I'm not sure Apple is really that interested in beating the Vaio TZ; I think it's more interested in removing some of the unnecessary components and features in the subnotebook category.

Zealot! You are correct, the MB Are does have an extra 32 lines of vertical rez. Again, I am speaking of real world experience with a sub-notebook in an academic setting which may help the OP in making a decision. Reading reviews is different than actually using a notebook. How would you feel if you spent $2000 on a machine that you hated?
I've been called much, much worse than a zealot, and I imagine I will be called much worse in the future. I merely pointed that out because you dismissed anything less than 800 vertical as not useful. You're right, your input may help the OP in making a decision. However, you will note that I advised him to test the MBA before he laid down $2k on one. (Thanks for explaining to me that reading about something is different from actually doing it--the distinction was lost on my until now.)

Also, your comments, whilst born from experience, seemed not to be so much about the uses of a Mac as about how great your Vaio is in comparison to the MBA (which, as you say, no-one has had a hands-on with yet). I'm sure it is a fantastic machine, but--as noted previously--it doesn't meet the OP's requirements in that it's not a Mac.
     
 
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