MacBook Pro or Air 13" or 15" for new college graduate?

I recently graduated college and am looking to buy a new laptop. I've been a Windows user for all my life and am now wanting to make the switch to a Mac. However, as thorough as I've tried to be in my research, I can't seem to grasp the differences.

I take a TON of videos/pictures and enjoy working with them in Photoshop and Movie Editor. I am also religious about the internet, surfing pages, streaming videos and chatting with friends through Facebook as well as Skype video calls.

I am also an avid writer and have come to understand that I'm going to have to buy a word processor? While I'm not going to be writing as many papers/proposals/etc, I would like to have a decent amount of space for documents and presentations. I have a 2TB external hard drive I can use but would prefer to have space to keep my daily used "things" so I don't have to lug the HD everywhere.

Also, as my last item, has any previous Windows user found it difficult to transition between the two systems? I'm going to assume it will help that I've had an iPod for years now and bought myself an iPhone 6 months ago. I also already use Safari as my browser on my PC. My main worry is the interface/navigation with the rest of the OS.

If anyone could help me, it would be greatly appreciated. :)

2 Answers from the Community

  • Best Answer:

    With the screen sizes you've given, I'm going to assume you are in the $1300-$1500 range.

    The advantages of the MacBook Air (MBA) products are their lightweight portability, and the speed of file storage on the Solid State Drive (SSD). The advantages of the MacBook Pro (MBP) series is raw computing power and on-board storage space.

    Any Apple product is going to be great for social computing. If you like to compute "socially" (for example, with friends at the local java-joint) then the MBA is great for its portability: lightweight and solid state -- pass it around the table, then tuck it under your arm to go.

    For journalism/writing, most text documents do not take up a large amount of storage (usually around 1MB each). Many journalists use the MBA for its small size and lightweight with generous keyboard, to get in and get the story to press. Likewise, many authors enjoy toting the MBA through the home -- from kitchen, to patio, to bed -- or to the park, without all the weight.

    An advantage to MBP for journalism is longer battery life, and the possibility of a larger screen size (if your budget allows).

    For photo and movie editing, the MBP pulls ahead. Photoshop tends to generate huge files (at least as workfiles). Running Photoshop (or iMovie) on an MBA is nimble, but you will probably run out of storage space very quickly -- this also means your temp-file working space as well. The MBP makes up for its slower storage by its much faster processing power. With 5x the storage capacity of the MBA, the MBP should keep you editing in style without the external drive.

    My friend made the switch from Windows to OS X, and the first week or two she was asking, "Okay, where do I...?" or "How do I...?" But she considered the process pretty painless and recommends OS X to everyone now as the better OS. Use built-in Help, and your 90-days support. Your local Apple store has services to help you transition, too.

    • Answered by Bret G from Topeka
    • Jun 6, 2012
  • Bret has a lot of great points! He is not wrong. Personally, I am an I.T. professional, and I prefer the MacBook Pro. Having a port for network access can come in handy when you need it most. The Native VPN on OS X works great. fast/reliable.

    I have noticed that I can be more productive at home on my 3 y/o MBP than I can at work with two 23" monitors attached to a Windows PC. Breezing through desktops is great on a MAC (although I miss the "spaces" used in Snow Leopard, as the keyboard shortcuts were faster), but the gestures you can use on the large trackpad are fabulous and can be customized to a degree.

    On the note of size, that is just preference (all $$$ aside). I find that my 13" is fine, and is great for crowded meetings. 15" would be a little large in many situations that occur in the office. It also fits better on a desk, as space seems to have shrunk over the years. At home, or if I was in marketing, I'd probably do a 15, but I'm just an I.T. guy. The 13" is mush easier to move around too.

    On the note of storage. I can pull anything I want from my cheap 4T of Raid1 in my basement to any device including my phone - From anywhere, so I'll never spend the extra cash on a bigger drive. I have a 128 now with 100+ CD's on it, video, and tons of apps and it's only ~60% used; you may need 256G. You have to ask yourself, "how much data do I really need to carry around?". This is especially true, since they ail probably give you a desktop, and flash drives are under $1/G now.

    Just my two cents, but I guarantee that you will love whatever you buy. You may find yourself getting "roped" into the God forbidden Apple eco-system, but who cares; the stuff works with no hassles. The more of the stuff you have the easier life gets if you set it up correctly. I was a Windows I.T. guy for 20+ years and I'll never go back. IMPORTANT: go SSD w/whatever you buy, you wont be sorry - FAST. Remember, keep it easy for you.

    • Answered by Sean R from Chesterfield
    • Jun 21, 2013