MacBooks forum


Macbook pro or a Macbook Air?

by tpgw / April 22, 2011 2:06 PM PDT

I'm looking at purchasing a new laptop and giving my 2 year-old macbook pro to my son, and wondered about replacing mine with a new pro or try out an air. The lightness is very attractive as I don't generally take my laptop places due to its weight. My main computer uses are for email, MS office, internet searches and iphoto. But I really do like the backlit keyboard... thanks for any input!

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Clarification Request
That backlit keyboard,
by mrmacfixit Forum moderator / April 23, 2011 12:16 AM PDT

is also on the Pro

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pro v air
by tpgw / April 23, 2011 1:40 AM PDT
In reply to: That backlit keyboard,

My pro has a backlit keyboard, but I don't think the air does..and it certainly is a tool I like...and have gotten used to...and am using right now...

All Answers

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The Air MIGHT work
by Jimmy Greystone / April 22, 2011 11:22 PM PDT

The Air MIGHT work, but the iPhoto is a potential sticking point. If you do pretty light duty things, like say just removing redeye, then the Air would probably be just fine. If you're doing more complicated processing tasks, the Air's limited CPU and RAM are likely going to become a hindrance. The other concern is that the Air is SSD only, and if you do a lot of stuff with photos, you A) probably won't have anywhere near enough room to store them internally, meaning B) you'd need an external HDD that you'd have to lug around with you and C) you'd probably wear out the SSD a lot faster than most people, but probably not before the end of your warranty period. And there's no way you could just add a traditional HDD to it after market either because A) the new Air's have special 5-point Torx screws securing the bottom cover, B) it's almost impossible to find a screwdriver to get those off short of through Apple, C) even if you managed to do that there's no room for a HDD inside the new Airs, and D) even if there was room, the SSD uses a special connector. Not to mention the RAM is soldered directly to the logic board, so there's no way to upgrade that.

So if you do very light work in iPhoto, and your photo collection is rather small, the Air might work. Or if you're willing to cart around a portable HDD with you specifically for iPhoto stuff, that would work too. If any of this sounds like a deal breaker to you, then get a MBP. The 13" models aren't THAT heavy, especially compared to some PC laptops.

You could also consider what I've been mulling over. I don't do a lot of traveling, usually just about 2X a year since my birthday happens to be almost directly opposite Christmas, I head back to see the folks around both for maybe a week. I've been considering getting an iPad to take with me when I travel, and then I have my iMac when I'm at home. When I'm traveling, I figure I can just adapt to the limitations of an iPad for a week if it means not having to lug a laptop through an airport. You might just consider one device you can use largely while traveling, and another to use while at home. But you'll have to decide whether or not that would work with the kind of traveling you do.

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not a HUGE iphoto person...
by tpgw / April 23, 2011 1:47 AM PDT
In reply to: The Air MIGHT work

I certainly COULD put the photos on an external drive...and keep most of my photos there, leaving some on the air. I do like having access to the slideshows at different points in my life, but with a little forethought, I could move them onto the air, I suspect.
I like your idea about having an ipad to travel with, but I would need a mac at home, and that defeats my purpose of giving it to my son.
We're pondering (hate to say it in this forum) of getting him a non-apple laptop due to price and being done with's just we know how wonderful macs are, and are completely a mac family, so have been figuring to give him one of our models and update ourselves...and thanks for the've given me a lot of information to think about...

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CNET WRITES ABOUT when an update to the Air is expected.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / April 23, 2011 2:00 AM PDT

I've considered the Air too but would have to go with the regular unit as I don't feel like moving down from my current Intel i5 CPU to the Core2Duo.

More reading at

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Pure speculation
by Jimmy Greystone / April 23, 2011 4:08 AM PDT

Pure speculation in that article, and June seems like an awfully quick refresh rate for the Air. They just launched the new design less than 6 months ago. Historically, they've only updated the Air once a year.

Apple is very tight lipped about their product updates, and out of all the rumors that invariably come out about things, probably at least half of the credible sounding ones end up being way off base.

There are a large number of reasons to take that article with a grain of salt. Not the least of which is no one else seems to have bothered reporting it. There's the fact that the latest refresh launched late last year, and historically the Air gets a single refresh a year. I would honestly be expecting that the iMac would be the next one to get the update. That one hasn't been refreshed since about early July, and would be a far better target for a sandy bridge migration. People don't buy the Air because it's a computing powerhouse. They buy it because it's light, compact, and has great battery life. And for all the bemoaning about it having a Core 2 Duo, virtually every PC netbook has an Atom CPU, which is maybe able to deliver 70% of the performance, clock for clock, of a Core 2 Duo. So while there may be better processors out there, how much sense would they really make for the Air? And if you've ever seen the insides of the new Airs, like I have, there's precious little room for any additional components. The battery takes up probably 80% of the interior, and the bottom case only sits a millimeter or two above the components. The only way you could make room for an additional fan, to get better air circulation for a faster CPU, is to either compromise on the thickness of the system or give up some of the ports. You give up a USB port and the MDP port, you could potentially shift the magsafe port onto the logic board itself, get rid of the I/O board that makes up the left side ports and microphone, and put in an additional fan or just a bigger fan. It's that, or you'd have to get rid of the wedge design and make it more uniformly thick, then you might be able to add either the second USB port or the MDP port back in, but probably not both unless you wanted to remove one of the speakers. Seriously, there is NO wasted space inside the Airs, so any additional heat given off by the sandy bridge CPU would have to be offset somehow, and I don't see how they'd do that as things are now.

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I just made this switch
by onemoremile / May 7, 2011 1:07 AM PDT

I had been using a 2007 MacBook Pro (and a PowerBook before that) and do a lot of work with photographs. I tend to use Aperture far more than I use iPhoto. I, too, was tired of carrying around the MBP, especially when I went on longer trips. After a great deal of research, I recently bought a maxed out 13 inch MacBook Air with the 2.13 GHz Core 2 Duo, 4 GB of RAM and the 256 GB hard drive. I use the MBA primarily for browsing, email, word processing, spreadsheets and photo work. I do my heavy photo processing with an iMac that lives at home and use the MBA as a mass storage device in the field and for initial editing. I am extremely happy with this setup. The MBA accomplishes most of my photo work faster than the MBP. I think that the solid state drive and the video card in the MBA add a lot of speed and make photo work go very well, unless one is doing some major Photoshop pixel pushing. If you are doing your photo work in iPhoto, I believe that you will be very happy with the performance of a properly equipped MBA. You will need to decide whether the SSD is large enough to store the photo files that you want to keep onboard. You can always invest in an external hard drive that stays home and hosts some of your photos. Have fun!

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