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  1. #1

    Member Since
    Jun 12, 2011
    MacBook Air or Pro for dissertation?
    Hi all, I'm in the market for a new laptop and would like some advice on the Macbook Air vs. Pro question. I will be writing my dissertation on this laptop and using programs such as Scrivener, Papers and Microsoft Office. It will also be used for lots of internet browsing (including YouTube), iTunes (just for audio, decent sound would be nice), and casual photo editing (basic iPhoto is plenty). This laptop will need to stand up to many hours of use each day, including lots of typing and reading. I am a fairly petite person so the portability of the Air would be nice.

    I will not need to do video editing, gaming or anything else complex on this laptop, but I do have a habit of leaving multiple applications open at once. A typical day for me probably involves having multiple Word documents open, a couple browser windows each with about 10 tabs, an iTunes playlist going, and possibly a PDF or two.

    Which one would you recommend? The Air because I donít do stuff requiring hardcore specs, or the Pro because I like to multitask? (P.S. If Air is the consensus, I can wait for the refresh models to come out before ordering.)

    Thanks so much!

  2. #2

    chscag's Avatar
    Member Since
    Jan 23, 2008
    Fort Worth, Texas
    27" iMac i5, 3.2 GHz, iPad 3, iPhone 5c, iPhone 6+, 3 iPods, El Capitan
    I would think that a larger sized screen is something that you'll want when typing and putting your dissertation together? Certainly the "Air" is lighter in weight and easier to carry around but sitting in front of it for long periods of time might not be something that you'll want to do. Of course you can always buy a large external monitor and attach it to the air but that defeats its portability.

  3. #3

    Member Since
    Jun 08, 2011
    I think the Air would be a great choice for you. Go with the 13" model since ultra portability isn't your main concern and screen real estate is awesome. Sounds like you could get by with a 128GB drive (unless you have a lot of music) coupled with an external drive for backup and long term data storage. I would upgrade to the 2.13GHz processor and 4GB of RAM.

    If you could tell us what you have currently and what you like/dont like about it, we could probably give you a better recommendation. However, if you have a dedicated workspace, I think a 24" or bigger monitor and keyboard/mouse (or trackpad) would be much appreciated. Being able to have a webpage or .pdf open next to an open word document is priceless when pulling long paper writing sessions.

    IF (and I don't think they will be) the Macbook Air is refreshed on Wednesday, we'll have to see what comes out and revise recommendations accordingly.

  4. #4

    Member Since
    Jun 08, 2011
    And don't forget to take advantage of your educational discount!

  5. #5

    Member Since
    Jun 12, 2011
    Thank you, chscag and wescoe. Wescoe, to answer your question, here's what I have:

    My spouse has a new-ish Dell desktop from last fall. Not my cup of tea, but the screen is as big as I could want and I am adequate at using it. So if I need a big screen for part of the project, I can use that as long as it isn't dependent on Mac software.

    I also have a 13'' MacBook from 2006. I do like the screen size and it seems like it performs well enough most of the time. However, my MacBook has a variety of minor things wrong with it and I am trying to decide if that adds up to needing a whole new machine. (To contextualize the situation, it needs a new battery, the optical drive is shot, it does that thing where I get kicked off of the Internet and have to toggle AirPort off/on to get it to work again, the fans run almost constantly at over 6000 rpm with no provocation, and I only have about 5 GB of memory to spare so I would need to delete lots of files to truly revive this computer.)

    If anyone here has any opinions on whether it sounds like my current MacBook is worth tinkering with or getting professionally fixed, I'd love to hear them. The most important thing is to have something that meets my needs, but if I could do that without replacing the computer entirely, that might be nice. (but it would be fun to have an Air!)

  6. #6

    Member Since
    Jun 08, 2011
    Monitors aren't software dependent though you will need a DVI or HDMI adapter to hook up an external monitor to your mini display port. These run about $30.

    It seems to me that a MacBook Air will suit your needs just fine. You'll probably appreciate its portability too; it has quite a sleek form factor if you've never seen one in person.

    It sounds like your 2006 Macbook (I've got one too) has given you quite a run and will need significant TLC to get back in working order. I say you cut your losses, sell it as-is on ebay or sell it back to one of the many buyback companies and get yourself a new computer. I would wait till at least Wednesday to make the purchase though just to see what the announcement is.

    Assuming there are no changes to the lineup and you have not stated a price cap, I suggest a 13" MacBook Air, 2.13GHz processor upgrade, 4gb RAM upgrade and your choice of 128GB or 256GB hard drive depending on how much space you think you'll need. I think that system should have no problem giving you another 4-5 years of reliable service.

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