I am in the market for a new laptop — the wife’s old G4 iBook just won’t cut it (damned spinning beach ball!).

Last week, we hit an Apple store, all set to buy a MacBook Pro — when they all but talked us out of it.

Any ideas or suggestions? I don’t mind my Dell desktop, but I hate the Fujitsu Windows touch screen notebook. Thus, I will stick w/Apple.

Of the various Apple notebooks, any much better or worse?

Is there any reason NOT to get the 15 inch MacBook Pro?

Category: Technology

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

90 Responses to “Which Mac Laptop ?”

  1. kukiniloa says:

    I’m a fan of the MacAir – it’s so light and portable I don’t mind carrying it anywhere.

    It’s admittedly not good for running intensive apps, but it’s so portable that I can even use it on the can!

  2. greg says:

    Why and how did they talk you out of it? Dear Leader will NOT be pleased to hear this.


    BR: They explained why based on what I did all I needed was the white iBook. But I what I want is: 15 inch screen, extended battery life, room to grow, and most of all, as close to a zero wait state as I can get . . .

  3. Opinion follows:

    Definitely get one With an Optical Drive ~!~ preferable one that Reads y Writes!

  4. nl says:

    I’ve used macs exclusively since 1989. I’m on my fourth notebook.

    I just get the cheapest one, and upgrade the memory to the max (from 3rd-party suppliers).

    For way more money, you get a slightly bigger screen. If you really want a bigger screen, the 24″ desktop models are probably the best solution. Otherwise, the simple version is just fine.

  5. brianlane8 says:

    As a new convert to Mac, I find excel extremely cumbersome to operate. I’m told that as I get used to the new keyboard shortcuts, I’ll like it better but for now that’s my one beef with my Macbook Pro

  6. call me ahab says:

    I know you can afford it Barry- but Apple’s are extremely overpriced


    BR: so are BMWs . . .

  7. AmenRa says:

    Why would they talk you out of it? I love mine. If you don’t need an optical drive then go with the Mac Air. The Macbook Pro was the only one (a the time) that had pc slots for laptop connect cards. But the laptop connect can be done by USB so that’s not a problem anymore. The newer Macbook Pro is supposed to have a much longer battery life so I’d get that if I was in the market.

  8. Mike in Nola says:

    No opinion on macs as I haven’t used one since the original, but just left a post in another thread that Apple is effective cutting prices in a back to school special:


  9. and leaving opinion behind, see:


    LSS: practice safe computing. do Not leave ‘mission critical’ info on your ‘lappie’..Back it Up.

    now’s a good time to get into the habit. w/ your new lappie, buy a ‘Mule’–a ‘pute that’ll never see the i-net, to run your backup apps + home-based SAN..the pute will be able to make ‘copies’ so that you can geographically disaggregate your filez..


    as an aside, while the employee, in the story in the first link, was hosed, he was asking for it–he forgot that: “Stoopid!~ Never Pays” and, yes, that Ca$h award will not rebuild what he Lost..

  10. tradeking13 says:

    Maybe you could be on one of those Laptop Hunter commercials. “I’m a PC and I’m a CEO”

  11. rhodium says:

    I got my wife a new aluminum MacBook but she needed a firewire port so she is borrowing my MacBook Pro. The MacBook is fine for Word and standard stuff, I use Boot Camp on it for one Windows program I need and the terminal window for some Linux apps. Apps are all speedy; computationally intensive jobs I can send to a cluster. The case does seem solid. A second screen is real nice since most of the time the laptop sits on my desk. You may want to look into a Mini as a home music server while you are at it.

  12. TheBelardes says:

    Please don’t buy a Mac. I bought one for law school and I’ve lived with regret all year.

    [BR: I am not a fan of Windows or most things Microsoft]

    Besides, buying a Mac is contributing to market inefficiency.

    1) Their commercials suck. We have an unemployed college kid in pajamas mocking a working adult in a suit because he uses a PC. Okay junior, play your iTunes and facebook your friends in between bong rips and diddling with your iPhone apps. I’m going to go WORK at this JOB that I have where I use a PC and a Blackberry. (I’m only 25 so the commercials are even more annoying to me as a young person. The Mac kid describes ever intern at my office.) You should only buy products that have awesome commercials. That’s why I spend half my disposable income (about $20 due to the current market) on beer. It’s the American way. I think Lincoln said that.

    2) They are expensive and the increase in price over a PC is not compensated by any real added value. Unless you really value never getting any viruses from porn sites. (Which has so far been the only benefit but doesn’t compensate for the price … well…) So basically what I’m getting at, of course, is that buying a Mac is exactly the same as buying Citi at $15 except for all the ways it is different.

    3) The use of the term “Genius” at the Genius Bar in Mac stores may be contributing to the number of uneducated youth in America. The “Genius” title is for people like Albert Einstein and Doogie Howser, M.D. and not a bunch of kids from State that needed to earn an additional $8.50 per hour to cover their weekly weed costs. This term used so closely to the “cool” Mac products only serves to encourage the youth to do drugs, download music illegally, and then work at the Genius bar to impress chicks with a title they don’t deserve. I think.

    If you want to truly aid your country in a time of need you will do the following:

    1) Go to Wal-Mart and buy the cheapest PC they have.

    2) Take the money you saved and go buy a foreclosed property.

    3) With the money you still have left over you will go buy a new car at the Chevy dealership for yourself and then head over to Chrysler and pick out something for the wife.

    4) With the money you still have left over buy some stocks. I hear they’re cheap right now.

    Just kidding. My MacBook ain’t that bad and I got a discount from school. It just doesn’t work with some programs I need for class and the Schweser CFA instructions videos online won’t work on it and that kinda rubbed me the wrong way.

    And the thing never does get viruses not matter what site you go on. Take my word on that. They weren’t joking in this one. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RYPWFF9Sty4

    Back to those CFA studies…

  13. ben22 says:

    I’ve got a MacBook Pro. Love it. Why did they tell you not to buy it??

  14. Dude says:

    It depends on what you want to do with it.

    If you a student, get a small apple laptop that is light enough to carry to class, but also get a 24 inch display for your dorm room. If you travel a lot and don’t mind a less powerful machine, get a MacBook Air. If you can only have one system, get a MacBook Pro. Get the 15 inch if you want it to be lighter, and the 17 inch if having more screen real estate is important. If you really want to minimize your load traveling, get an iPhone. I leave my MacBook Pro at home now and just carry the phone. If you want a bigger screen, it doesn’t need to be portable, and you don’t need workstation power, get an iMac. If you want lots of power and screen, real estate get a MacPro with one or two screens.

    Money no object? Get a MacBook Air for travel, a Mac Pro with dual quad core processors and 2 24 inch screens, and an iPhone for your pocket.

  15. patfla says:

    Maybe they talked you out of a new Macbook Pro because the Apple Developer’s Conf is the week after-next (Mon June 8) and there’s a good chance that the Mabook Pro line will receive a refresh?

    http://developer.apple.com/WWDC/ (WWDC)

    In which case you might want to go with a Macbook Pro – but only after that announcement if it occurs.

    I’ve specced out the current 15″ screen Macbook Pro. It comes standard with 4 GB of memory. So I need two things: upgrade disk drive to 7200 (from 5400) rpm (this will greatly speed up the notebook performance I believe) and get AppleCare (extended warranty).

    One always wants to get AppleCare. APPL’s standard warranty is on the poor side – and notebook/laptops are more failure prone.

    Anyway, the ticket was just shy of $4000. Ouch. That’s a heck of a premium when you can buy a pretty good Windows laptop for $500 – $1000.

    People will tell me apples and oranges (heh). That’s OK, they’re entitled to their points-of-view.

  16. patfla says:

    I’ve gotten caught (here) by that before.

    The smiley is actually June 9 – and be careful not to put the close paren immediately after a ’9′.

  17. myherobobhope says:

    I bought the 2nd cheapest Mac Laptop (a year ago [without looking up specs] it went 1k white, 1.1k white, 1.2k black and the last only gave a new color and a slightly bigger HD).

    I’ve had 0 problems with my laptop, and priced similar windows machines for about the same.

    I’m not sure the MacBook Pro is worth it. It’s made for graphic designers and has things like an on board video card that you probably don’t need.

    Assuming they still give a 10% discount to students, I’d suggest finding a student to buy you one (I’m available, but in Louisville, KY) and saving yourself 100 bucks. [BR: My wife is a teacher]

    I think the MacBook is well designed to be a useable, everyday laptop… I don’t believe the Pro is really worth it, but I haven’t even contemplared buying a new computer over the past year.

  18. Eric K says:

    Make certain you want a glossy screen if you buy a 15 MBP. Only the 17″ models offer antiglare screens, and Apple charges $50 extra for it. I have a 17″ MBP from March 2007 with a matte screen, and I love it. It’s durable, reliable, and it runs Windows using Parallels. My boss bought the MP Air the week it was available, and it has been a lemon. It’s constantly overheating, crashing, and has required many trips to the Apple store for repairs. Don’t buy a MP Air.

    Even with the 17″ screen, the pixels are so small that I use a 23″ external monitor at work.

    The standard 2 GB of RAM is enough for me, and I run Photoshop, Windows (under Parallels with a 512MB RAM allocation) and a bunch of other apps simultaneously.

    However, Office 2008 for Mac sucks compared to Windows Office 2003 (the last version I used). It’s a nightmare to migrate from Outlook to the Mac-equivalent, Entourage, and Entourage is a horrible email client that always messes up the message thread when I reply. For someone who has been using Excel for 20 years, the latest version of Excel is frustrating, especially because many of the charting functions have been hidden. However, the previous G4 Mac Office (Office 2004) is worse than 2008, so I don’t recommend that either.
    I would be more productive with Excel 2003…

    So, Barry, if you use Excel and Outlook a lot, I recommend sticking with Windows. If you mostly blog, use Word, PowerPoint, Photoshop, etc. you’ll be happy with a Mac.

    If you have a BlackBerry, using a Mac is a bit more complicated – there is a 3rd party program (PocketMac, http://na.blackberry.com/eng/services/desktop/mac.jsp ) which will sync with Entourage or the other Apple programs (iCal), but you can’t run the normal Blackberry Desktop software or update the device software on the Blackberry from the Mac — you’ll need to keep your Dell around for that. (I wasn’t able to get Blackberry Desktop to see my Blackberry while running under Parallels, but I don’t have the latest version of Parallels.) When connected via USB, you can copy files to the blackberry but you can’t load applications over USB. With the latest Blackberry software (4.5+), updates are supposed to occur over-the-air so you shouldn’t need to connect to a PC.

  19. patfla says:

    I’m sorry – insomnia.

    Just shy of $3000. But that’s still a lot of money nd a very large (huge) premium over a Windows notebook/laptop.

  20. patfla says:

    The Office/Excel thing is probably more Office 2007 vs. Office 2003. There are presumably Mac equivalents of both.

    If you’re used to the ‘old’ excel (I have office/excel 2007 on my desktop at work and it’s required a large change of habits) then you might want to see if you could buy the Apple equivalent of Office 2003.

    And if it exists, it’ll be less expensive.

  21. buermann says:

    I would at least wait until Snow Leopard arrives later this year before purchasing a new machine. The current Leopard operating system will be going unsupported by software vendors long before the machine needs to be replaced.

    Two other things: the 15″ does not have the new internal battery tech that’s in the 17″, so you only get the 5 hour battery (it’s removable, otoh, so you can just swap it out); and for some bizarre reason Apple does not offer the anti-glare coating for the 15″ that they do for the 17″. If you ever work in a bright area with a lot of polarized light bouncing around you’re going to really hate that superglossy finish on the screen.

  22. dsawy says:

    I did 20+ years in the computer/networking industry as an engineer. I now run a Macbook Pro 17″ and will be getting an iMac 24″ for the desktop soon.

    Some people say that Macs are not worth the money they charge for them. I beg to differ. I value my time. When I last did computer consulting gigs, I was charging $200/hour for my time. And while I’m trading and researching market events, my time can be worth far, far more than that.

    I’ve had zero, zip, nada, no problems with my Macbook Pro. It has even shrugged off getting Earl Grey tea dumped on the keyboard. I can run any Windows program I wish with VMWare, WinXP as the guest OS and a 1GB/1CPU memory partition. I don’t imagine this means much to most people here, but for software developers, the fact that the Mac has a good BSD Unix API available is rather handy in porting or re-compiling Linux/GNU software. Once you peek behind the pretty GUI on OS X, you find industrial-strength Unix.

    And best of all, I don’t spend so much of my time patching, rebooting, debugging and otherwise trying to stay ahead of the malware that has taken over the Windows market. The damn thing just works.

    FWIW, I’ve worked on over 12 operating systems in my career, from mainframes down to microcomputers, single-board embedded controllers and OS’s that I wrote for specific applications. I’ve written applications in 10+ computer languages. So I’ve been around a lot of computers in my life. The net:net is that I just don’t have the patience to deal with the festering dung heap out of Redmond any more. There was a long period there when I ran Windows (’98, NT 4.0, 2000 and XP), but when Vista came along, I voted with my feet. I also voted with my feet when Apple had QC problems in the mid-90′s and I left the Mac behind after having used & programming it from 1986 until 1994.

    Sure, it costs more. Things that “just work” usually do, whether they’re cars, computers, phones, stereos, firearms… quality costs a bit more.

  23. erikvonstronhiem says:

    I’m an Apple guy so I wouldn’t purchase anything but.
    However, I do have a back-up terminal that’s Windows based. Although, its safe to say “its not my favorite”.

  24. patfla says:

    Oh course the danger, Barry, is that by opening this topic you’re going to become a spectator to an Apple vs Windows flame war.

    I never have any time for those.

    And my current thinking is that I’ll still eventually get the Macbook Pro – but I’ll continue to stretch out the lifetime of my Thinkpad for now.


    Consumer Reports Takes a Shine to Apple

    Hitting for the cycle is a rare event in baseball, and rare as well in the pages of Consumer Reports.

    So when you go three for three—as Apple has in the recent laptop computer-ratings issue—and score highly in other categories, it’s worth at least a nod.

    Whether you purchase religiously at retail based on the opinions of CR tests or pooh-pooh their findings altogether—I fall into some middle ground there when it comes to electronics—an educated consumer might do well to examine the charts in the current June issue, just released.

    In laptops, Apple MacBooks rated first in the 13-inch category, the 14-to 16-inch size, and the 17-inch list; Dell, Toshiba and Hewlett-Packard were also-rans. The 15-inch MacBook Pro was rated overall with a score of 75 out of 100, ahead of a 64-rated Toshiba Satellite (the Pro costs $2,000, the Toshiba $700).

    Among desktops, the Mac mini finished second to an H-P Pavillion Slimline, and the iMac placed second behind a Dell XPS One.

    CR surveyed its readers about computer tech support. Apple trounced the field in both desktop and laptop categories.

    For shoppers on the cusp of a purchase decision, I’d suggest holding off another month or so. There’s a buzz about, detailed at Apple Insider, that price cuts may be imminent for some of their desktop (as in iMac) and portable (low-end MacBook) models.

    Also, it’s a good bet that Apple will again offer a back-to-school promotion for students this summer; last year, the company gave away iPod touch models with most computer purchases. That promotion usually starts in June and runs until September.

  26. erikvonstronhiem says:

    I’m an Apple guy so I usually don’t purchase anything but.
    I do have a back-up trading terminal that’s Windows based. Although, its safe to say “its not my favorite”.

  27. erikvonstronhiem says:

    I’m an Apple guy so I usually don’t purchase anything else.
    I do have a back-up trading terminal that’s Windows based, although, its safe to say “its not my favorite”.

  28. babygal says:

    No matter what you get, buy the three year extended warranty. I’ve had two computers replaced by Apple under warranty.

  29. BR,

    no matter what you wind up with, def. get, at least one of these: http://solutions.3m.com/wps/portal/3M/en_US/ComputerFilter/Home/Promotions/CurrentPromotions/OnLineAds/?WT.mc_id=3M_screen&WT.srch=1

    they also have apps to ‘reduce glare’ as well..if you can, find a wholesaler, though, you’ll see, in Spades, an ex. of the myth of “Keystoning”..

  30. taojonesing says:

    The MacBook Pro 15″ is a fine computer. If you’re a road warrior, though, and you insist on going Mac, you might prefer one of the smaller MacBooks (non-Pro). The lighter weight can come in handy when you travel a lot.

    I own both MacBook Pros (a 15″ and a 17:) and a Lenovo ThinkPad x61. I prefer the MacBook Pro 17″ because it meets both personal and professional needs, but I prefer the Windows based laptop for pure business stuff, in part because so many enterprises have Microsoft back-ends, and IT typically does not know how to support Macs on their networks.

  31. karen says:

    Barry, the ONLY negative on the MacBook Pro is the new black plastic keyboard. And, if you can go with the 13 inch, the plain MacBook would be more than adequate… it also has the unfortunate black plastic keys, however… 15″ is my minimum so i’m stuck with paying extra for the Pro, even tho I don’t need that much gaming/video power. Another consideration might be an imac with the 13″ mac book for traveling…

  32. momoso says:

    Dude covered all bases above, except:

    The Air has no drive… so if you like to watch DVDs during flights know you’ll need to buy the films from iTunes or rip the disks with Handbrake (I find keeping a dozen or so films in my drive a lot better than carrying disks anyways). You can use the external, but doesn’t work very well in a cramped plane seat IMO.

    The 17″ Pro has huge battery life (7 hours in best conditions) so fewer times you’ll be fishing for an outlet at the airport or Starbucks. It’s not too heavy, but its size may make it more inconvenient to open in a plane seat, unless you always fly first class ;-)

  33. danm says:

    Back to those CFA studies…

    June 6?

    I sure don’t miss those 3 Saturdays!


  34. MexicaliBlues says:

    Quite happy with my 15 inch Macbook Pro. Mine has the silver (metallic) keypads-so not familar with the plastic-but it sounds less appealing in plastic keys.

    2 yrs ago I would have never thought I would be primarily on a mac, now I rarely use a windows OS.

  35. flyingone says:

    Go with the Macbook Air with de 128 GB Flash Drive (the expensive one). You won´t regret it.

    The Macbook Air is the laptop you didn’t knew you need it until you use it for a while. Then you can’t use another one for day to day computing. Once I temporarily gave our CEO one because his macbook pro 15 was being replaced to the newere one and it hadn’t arrived. He was not happy when I gave it two him, the next week you couldn`t take it away from him. Now every high level executive has one.

  36. sherm says:

    i just got the 13 inch mac book. anything bigger and its too cramped on a plane. a few thoughts, the mac is extremely well built, the battery life is fantastic, BUT, i hardly ever user it. safari ruuns very slow for some reason. iwork is too basic for real work and i havent fired up ilife for the movies. however, i did install windows 7 under virtualbox, very cool. ironically ie runs extremely fast. in the end i use my gateway tablet 90% of the time.

  37. Marcus Aurelius says:

    Go for the 15 or 17 inch Pro (the extra RE on the 17 can come in handy, and it’s not all that much larger/heavier). I’ve had a few gigs where I was required to use windows machines, and while they get the job done, they’re not as nice to use as the macs. Kind of like the difference between a 3-bladed razor with a lubricant strip, and a disposable. They both will get the job done, but the disposable makes you dread using it.

  38. Marcus Aurelius says:

    Oh yeah — upgrade the RAM to at least double the standard.

  39. rpachter says:

    15” MacBook Pro.

    Next question.

  40. philipat says:

    I wish those Apple sales folks had been selling CDO’s!

    By the end of 09 the next generation of laptops with (Large) Flash drives should be widely available. These will all be wafer thin and virtually indestructible because there will be NO moving parts. Prices will drop quickly.

  41. gloppie says:

    I am no Windows fan neither, but MACs are overpriced and under performing compared to the AMD / I386 with Linux OS. The Ubuntu distribution is very easy to use, extremely stable and fast, and free.
    I have a Toshiba Satellite that came with Win XP MCE that was total bloatware. Ubuntu dual-partionned and resized the drive automatically with no data loss, and gives me access to the Win partition. I will remove Win altogether soon enough, I never boot it anymore. OpenOffice comes with Ubuntu and reads / writes all sorts of file formats including but not limited to Word, Excell, Powerpoint the usual suspects….
    Best of all, you can try it on for size just by booting on the Live CD, no need to install on the HD.
    Give it a try, you may like it.

  42. greg says:

    BR… I think I would go for the 17″ Macbook Pro, and if you find it to cumbersome, hire someone to carry it for you. I’d get that guy who plays Timmy in David Spades show “Rules of Engagement”. I would think that if you were to send Dear Leader a free autographed copy of your book, perhaps a complimentary MacBook Pro might be offered as a gesture of thanks.

  43. andy-sf says:

    Trust me. Get the most powerful MacAir w/o thte SSD Drive. It is perfectly capable. Buy the Ethernet cable and the external DVD drive.

    If you really need 15″ screen than you only need the MacBook.

    If you need firewire than you need the MacBookPro.

    Also, never buy a Mac with <1 month to a major apple event. So wait till the upcoming event has passed.

  44. r says:

    just like creating a financial plan, it depends on what you’re goals are with the laptop.

    if you’re like 90% of Americans, you’ll use it for Internet browsing, Word, Excel and uploading pictures, buy a PC from newegg with tons of memory and install Windows 7 and Office. (for about 800-$1000)

    Then take the $2000 you save from buying a Mac and buy some nice cigars. in 2 years, you should give this one away and buy another one.


    if being hip is important [no judgement, i'm a libertarian], buy an ipod phone and buy a macbook pro.

  45. matt says:

    I’m a Mac user. I have been for about 6 years now. Here’s what you get with a Mac:
    1. Unix CLI and all of the powerful tools that come with it
    2. Cool design

    I went to Mac because of #1. I suspect that most people do it because of #2. You have to decide if that’s worth the extra money. I can tell you that the most frustrating thing about owning a Mac is the paucity of free software.

    I’m actually switching back to PC for my next purchase and I’ll just put whichever flavor of Linux I feel like.

  46. icebrg says:


    You said: “They explained why based on what I did all I needed was the white iBook. But I what I want is: 15 inch screen, extended battery life, room to grow, and most of all, as close to a zero wait state as I can get . . .”

    I too like screen real estate and “zero wait state”. My suggestion:

    2.4 GHz MacBook Pro 15″ with the following upgrades:
    4 gig of memory – helps tremendously with “zero wait state”
    Any of the 7200 RPM serial ATA drives – helps with “zero wait state”

    Further rationale:
    MacBooks are out due to insufficient screen real estate and not enough power (“zero wait state”)
    MacBook Air is out due to too little screen real estate and not enough power (“zero wait state”)
    The difference between 2.4 GHz and 2.66 GHz does not justify $500 (not enough addition to “zero wait state”)

  47. Stuart says:

    Besides my desktop, which is a 24″ Imac (god a thing of beauty) I have a MacBook Pro. It’s 1 1/2 years old, a superb machine. The newer MacBook pros are are screaming fast with leopard (2.4GHz is plenty). The battery life is a problem though as stated above. I hear from others and can personally experiencing vouch for poor battery performance after 18 months. 3 hours down to <1 hour charge AND it gets HOTTER THAN HELL. Do not put it on your legs while in shorts. Very nasty.

  48. Eric K says:

    RE: Excel usability changes: the problem is that the older Mac version (Office 2004) isn’t written for Intel processors, so it is slow, and Microsoft didn’t spend as much money developing the “ribbon” equivalent for Mac Excel as they did for Windows Excel. (The “ribbon” equivalent in Mac Office 2008 isn’t a copy of the “ribbon” toolbar in Windows Office 2007 because the Office Mac team wanted to be different. Understandably, the Mac Excel team isn’t where the best and brightest usability experts at Microsoft spend most of their time…)

    And Entourage 2004 is even worse than Entourage 2008. I ran Office 2004 on my MBP for a year before Office 2008 came out, and I wouldn’t go back.

  49. annstringer says:

    How absurd that some kid (they are all kids at our store) talked you out of the 15″ Mac Pro.

    1. PCs are crap and macs run win-crap
    2. Yes you will have to deal with upgrading excel at some point and yes Office for mac is crappy, but you are dealing with it now. And if you need super human excel docs just run windows.

    You know I ma not going to waste my time addressing all these other complaints about Macs — you obviously get the whole Mac thing. so:

    3. (MOST IMPORTANT) The more computer you buy now — the longer you go without getting more spinning wheels and having to buy another. Get maximum up grade-ability. Simple as that. The pro lines are much more upgrade-able than the consumer lines are. Buy as much as you can afford.

    4. (SECOND MOST IMPORTANT) Get the 15″ if you work from it mostly at an office and can plug in a second monitor. Productivity goes WAY UP with a second monitor. If you travel more than you are at the office — buy the largest screened laptop they make. (Do they still make a 17″?)

    5. (MAYBE JUST AS IMPORTANT AS ONE AND TWO) For the kind of work you probably do — any of the mac pros will be fine — make a personal shopping appointment for a Business (you get someone who gets business purchases). And then — buy it online not in the store because you can choose your options and have it custom built.

    Good luck.

  50. AJS says:

    Get the MacBook Pro. The lighted keyboard is the best feature. Get a Rain Design mStand, a keyboard and a nice big LCD and you have a nice dual screen setup (or double up and get one for home and the office). And while you’re at it, ditch Office (Google Docs rock!). I have had my pro since the fall and have yet to install office. If you really need it, get a copy of VMWare Fusion and run Office 2007 (and any other windows apps). For my money, the only way to run the infection-prone Windows is in a virtual machine which you can easily roll back. Of course, you’ll want a nice 1TB external drive for your time machine backups.

  51. davossherman@gmail.com says:

    If you travel get the Mac Air.

    If you want to do this on the cheap get the MacBook for 999.

    If you have any aversion to small screens splurge and get the Mac Book Pro.

    Even if you screw this up, you can’t screw it up unless you get a PC. We tell clients, get a Mac or you’ll be giving us the difference over the next couple of years.

  52. constantnormal says:

    There is only one significant reason to get the MBP over the entry-level MB. That is if you have any need at all for a Firewire port. The speeds are not hugely different, the screens are almost the same, yada yada yada.

    But there is a HUGE reason to wait a week and see what WWDC brings. It’s extremely likely that Snow Leopard will be released, and it promises to be much quicker then the current Leopard, by ditching a ton of legacy code, and to also require a lot less in the way of RAM.

    OTOH, if you have any favorite apps that are available in PowerPC flavor only, then that’s a hit against Snow Leopard, as there will be no support for PowerPC apps. No point in buying a new MBP, then buying a system upgrade a week or two later, and worse yet, spending the hour or so to install it. I presume your time is worth more than $100/hr (mine certainly is).

    And there is the possibility, as has been stated earlier, that there will be hardware speed boosts and lower prices. I’m not expecting it, but if they release a quad-processor Macbook Pro, I will have one ordered before the keynote is over.

    If you really want to have the best performance, make sure that the hard drive is the 7200 rpm model, as time spent waiting on disk drives is time that is roughly equivalent to a million times waiting on the cpu. It will only show up in disk-intensive operations, so if your usage profile does not include pounding away on large files (e.g., spell-checking books), you can ignore this, as the 5400 rpm drive will generate less heat and use less extending battery-only operation.

    One suggestion: if you contemplate running Windows on the notebook — for compatibility with the Dell desktop — either as a dual-boot option or via one of the virtual machine apps (VMware’s Fusion (nice name) or Parallel Desktop), plan ahead and size the hard drive appropriately.

  53. Jason G. says:

    I like the 15″ MacBook Pro. The little 13″ are too small for my needs, and the 17″ is just too darn big (for laptop bags, lap use, etc).

    If I were buying I would wait till after the WWDC on June 8 in case they do a refresh or upgrade. Your mileage may vary.

  54. dafox says:

    I bought a macbook pro 15″ for my wife a couple years ago. Best $2k I’ve ever spent. And I do IT for a living (running Windows and unix networks)

  55. rlux says:

    I’m typing this on a 15″ MBP and I loooooove this laptop.

    Buy it.

  56. JD says:

    Get the 15″ MacBook Pro, and the optional 256MB SSD for $750. If you want speed, that’s the ticket: you’ll never go back to hard drives.

  57. cosmicray says:

    I have a G4 iBook that has been in constant use since 2005. On black Friday, I ordered a MacBook white. This thing screams (compared to the iBook). I believe Apple just bumped the specs of the MB white today (same price tho). I never thought the iBook was heavy… until I got this baby.

    I’m a 25 year Mac owner. Portables: 140, 520c, Wallstreet G3, iBook G4 and (now) the MB White.

    If you can afford the MBP, go for it. But I think you will be quite happy with the MB.

  58. NewBob88 says:


    Buy a 15 inch MacBook Pro 2.66GHZ with the 329 GB ATA @ 7200


    Add the Apple LED Cinema Display and a wireless mouse and keyboard.


    You will have the best of the two worlds; a portable and a desktop with a 24 inch display.

    This is my setup and I love it.

  59. smpeterson says:

    i have a macbook and a dell d630 laptop bought simultaneously. in hindsight, i wish i’d bought 3 dells for the same money. the mac can’t seem to achieve anything better than a “weak” connection to my wireless network, frequently requires re-installation of various drivers (i’ve given up trying to print to my networked HP printer), and is constantly telling me that firefox “unexpectedly” encountered an error and needs to restart. of course, my mac has no viruses… but neither does my dell with a decent security suite (which i can renew the annual subscription on for 9+ years before i come close to the upfront cost of the mac).

  60. Bob A says:

    “is there any reason…”?
    you could by a 40″ LCD HDTV
    a Windows Laptop with comparable performance
    for the about same amount of $$$
    but somehow
    I don’t think that argument’s gonna change your mind

  61. Bob A says:

    to me apple people are just plain delusional
    It’s better because I ‘think’ it’s better
    reality has no bearing
    to me.. using an Apple laptop is like slow death
    everything is ass backwards
    harder not easier
    uglier not prettier
    granted the hardware itself is pretty
    I know you all don’t believe me
    but it’s true

  62. John R says:

    My Suggestion

    17″ or 15″ Refurbished MacBook Pro – http://store.apple.com/us/browse/home/specialdeals/mac

    Refurbished is basically the same as new, it’s just out of the box.

    Spend the money you save from refurbished on AppleCare Warranty — guarantees you no problems with the refurb model (most electronics breaks within 1 to 2 wks of purchase if it is going to break).

    You can beef up the RAM to 4-8MB. But don’t get it from Apple as they charge boatloads for RAM — crucial.com is much cheaper. (extra RAM boosts performance more on a dollar basis than a slight bump in processor speed [if and only if they are the same processor model, which almost all of them are on that page])

    This way you can say–”yes, an expensive BMW for my Honda Fit needs, but I really drove a hard bargain.”

    Monitor Bonus

    Don’t buy an Apple LED display. What you want is this —
    Samsung xl30 LED monitor. That’s the BMW of monitors.

    or another Samsung Model.

    See you need LED because that saves you electricity costs!

    (I guess after giving you this advise, I have to buy B.N. :)

  63. John R says:

    Oh, hard drive size and speed — unless you are encoding video for a living, you probably don’t need the largest and fastest hard drive. But, and this is a big but, you do need a good back up drive, for a new windows machine or a MAC. Figure that into your purchase.

    For hard drives, the way Google purchases them is they purchase the cheapest and make at least two backups. Get a backup drive 2 times the amount you can imagine using, and get a second one. this is just a rule of thumb.

  64. Whammer says:

    BR, I have a 17″ MBP, my daughter has a 13″ Macbook. I have used hers, and I much prefer the MBP. Not even close.

    For what you do, I gotta believe you would be well served by the MBP. I also run Windows on VMW Fusion, because I really need some Windows apps. That, plus Excel on the Mac sucks horribly, and Entourage is a complete debacle.

    The Mac has definitely become the preferred choice among the “savvy” computer users where I work. I am not one of them. But I used a Mac for a long time in the ’80s and ’90s, then used Windows laptops for the last 9 years. The power users love the Unix stuff, as mentioned above. That doesn’t help me. Nevertheless, in terms of overall user experience, you would be better off with a MBP.

  65. rafer says:

    Barry, do like I did a couple of months ago and buy the 15,4 inch MacBook Pro 2008 version. This is not the one with the unibody but the ‘old’ style.


    With this laptop you don’t get the high reflection screen of the unibody. Instead, you’ll get a refined and proven workhorse. Technically it’s almost the same as the new ones.

    And they’re relatively cheap.

  66. Christopher says:

    If she babies it get an apple. I won’t buy another one. Nice sw….hw is shit.

    If you need a good durable laptop get a Dell.

    If you need an indestructible laptop go with a Panasonic Toughbook.

    Don’t overthink it man.

    Just buy her what SHE WANTS.

  67. froodish says:

    Plenty happy with my 15″ MBP – it’s been a champ so far. It’s my main machine and I work it plenty hard. I do web dev, so I usually have a VMware virtual machine open running some flavor of Windows along with my editor and Photoshop, email client, etc.

    Agree with those that advocated for maxing RAM (4GB at least), a 7200RPM drive (both easily user added), Applecare and if you can wait, waiting until after WWDC. There are often hardware & software announcements.

    Disagree with those advocating for the old, non-unibody model. The ease of hard drive replacement on the unibody vs. the epic on the old models makes that decision easy.

    I also have had good luck with the refurbs. They’re as good as new in my experience and you usually save 15%-20%.



  68. censeo says:

    I’ve had my Macbook Pro for two years–my first. I will NEVER go back to Microsoft crap. Macs fly, never fail, do everything simply: no frustrating learning curves. Buy the Macbook Pro with the most powerful microprocessor available. If you want to use it like a PC, well that’s what the Intel duo-processor is all about. I’ve found the folks at the Apple store well informed and helpful. Try another store, or ask to speak with one of the techs at the Genius Bar. There’s also Small Dog: http://www.smalldog.com. Up in Vermont and great people. Give them a call.

  69. JasRas says:

    The 15″ is perfect

    Max out everything on it.

    Buy parallels if you have some windows programs you use at all.

    You will be happy

  70. johnny says:

    get the top of the line mac book pro. The battery last 8 hours.

  71. Marcus says:

    Two points -

    1. Mac Stores are bad.

    Mac stores suck. Apple has cornered the market on incompetent managers. I am not in the least surprised at your experience. Try to locate a local Mac authorized provider. They will give you the personal service the Mac stores have lost.

    2. Get the plastic case.

    No matter which Mac you buy, get the plastic case, not the aluminum case. If you have a minor dent or scratch on the case, Apple will not honor Apple Care. Their aluminum is slightly stronger than aluminum foil so a scratch is inevitable.

    Minor Point – Smaller screens are adequate and much preferable if you fly. Those airline seats are small and you will be flowing over the drop down tray and onto nearby passengers with a large screen.

    I had the 17″ MacBook Pro and some smuck stole it. I replaced it with the smaller MacBook, which is more than adequate, and less expensive.

    Also Apple will soon have Snow Leopard, the new OS. You might want to think about Open Office or the Apple business tool set instead of Microsoft Office. Microsoft is the mother of most of my computer problems, not Mac. Remember DOS!

    Both Open Office and Apple Works are reliable, easy to use, and completely compatible with any brain-dead Microsoft product. Word and Excel are crash prone. Both have been defuntionalized to the point of minimal usefulness.

    Lets all pick a day and drop Microsoft Office together. July 4 anyone?

    Enjoy your new Mac

  72. GreggT says:

    I’d go MBP in a heartbeat if it wasn’t for the glossy screen. I’m thankful I don’t have to make that decision at this point, I’m hoping they’ll go back to matte screen before I need a replacement. Otherwise I think JohnR above has given the advice I’d follow – refurbed MBP, lots of memory, 27″ or 30″ Samsung monitor – I’d add a Logitech VX nano for a mouse, and an Apple or Logitech keyboard if you want one.

    FWIW, I’m an IT infrastructure geek of 20 years and have used unix, windows, mac for extended periods of time as a desktop/laptop. The OS X laptops have been the most reliable, least annoying environment I’ve used, they stay out of my way.

    If you don’t need Exchange integration, run Thunderbird or Apple Mail, not Entourage.

  73. [...] Go here to read the rest:  Which Mac Laptop ? | The Big Picture [...]

  74. arcticpup says:

    I purchased a dell studio 15… with VISTA 64-bit operating system… the thing crash at least 6 or 7 times every evening I used it. I spoke really hard to understand offshore Indians from India who suggested installing the 32-bit operating system of VISTA… still crashes. I sent the Dell back… and purchased a Macbook it’s awesome. I purchased the software I needed and I’m loving it… I’ll never buy another PC again… unless BIG BROTHER tells me I have to.

    You’ll regret not buying a MAC.

  75. leftback says:

    The MacBook Pro 15″ is perfect, although heavy. The 17″ is just too much on an airplane (especially in coach which hopefully you don’t have to worry about). I have had two and also have an iBook as well. You should get it as fully loaded as possible in view of the constant advance of technology. The Air looks cool but seemed flimsy to use unless you are a particularly dainty lady, which obviously you’re not. If you are on the road a lot and are anything like me (clumsy), you need something that is a bit more robust, as laptop bags do get a beating.

    I just cannot understand the OS X haters above, unless they are all trying to run Microsoft spreadies all the time. Of course I have never had to call Apple about anything. Most of the people I know who had Mac problems are ‘tards.

  76. Dervin says:

    Hi BR, I work as an Apple Desktop Support Engineer for a division of a university.

    The only reason not to get the 15″ MacBook Pro is it’s probably overkill for what your wife wants it for (unless she’s doing photoshop and video editing).

    The MacBook doesn’t offer any advantage over the MacBook Pro, except for price.

    I’d recommend the MacBook Air, without the SSD drives*. The advantages to the Air outweigh the 15″ screen of the MacBook Pro. From my professional experience, a bulky laptop doesn’t often leave the home/office. For home, buy a nice monitor and wireless keyboard/mouse combo. The disadvantage to the Air is there’s no cable lock port – so she can’t leave it unattended in the teacher’s lounge.**

    And if your wife is a teacher, to get the discounts wouldn’t she need to order through the web?

    * The SSD drives are pretty much unrecoverable in a crash. Recovery Services still haven’t figure out how to recover damaged SSD drives. Yeah I know people say back up your own data, but those places exist for a reason.
    ** There are plenty of software based tracking systems, you could use one of these for security, but it won’t deter theft.

  77. fully diluted says:

    I would keep it simple and just get the 2.4GHz MacBook Pro with the solid state hard drive (should have slightly fewer visits from the beach ball), and depending on your frugality, either upgrade to 4GB of memory from 3rd market suppliers or just select it on the website. However, you might want to wait until the new OS, Snow Leopard comes out, but that’s a minor issue as well, if you need the laptop ASAP. Good luck!

  78. drollere says:

    @BR: “They explained why based on what I did all I needed was the white iBook. But I what I want is: 15 inch screen, extended battery life, room to grow, and most of all, as close to a zero wait state as I can get . . .”

    the windows users who complain about the apple marketing campaign (“some kid in pajamas…”) forget that the apple marketing is *honest*. apple *wants* you to be a happy camper, not another clone in the empire.

    as for what to get: anyone on a flight back from indiana is putting in some serious career karma. and you will probably spend as much time with this machine as you spend with your wife.

    think romance and go back to the store and just tell them: 15 inch screen, room to grow …

  79. hawleyl says:

    I prefer the white MacBook because it seems lighter and feels better balanced. Whatever you get, buy more memory. For serious work at home/office buy a large monitor, full-sized keyboard, regular sized mouse and connect the laptop the larger equipment. On the road you may want a regular mouse. If you don’t do much serious stuff on the road, e.g. just browse the web, e-mail and minor word processing, then the smaller MacBook could be sufficient. I do a lot with just an iPhone!

  80. carmen101 says:

    I have a 15 inch Mac Book Pro and have no complaints. It’s powerful enough not to rely on desktops or external monitors. Make sure you have a good backup system plus you may want to have as much RAM and disk space on it that you can afford. (I still have one Dell PC Windows XP in my home, not sure why. My other computers are a Power Mac G4 tower, and an Ipod Touch 2nd gen.)

  81. TDL says:

    BMWs are worth the extra $, I doubt Apple’s are.


  82. jlsthree says:

    I just got my new 15″ MacBook Pro yesterday.

    Last January I purchased a 13″ MacBook for my wife.

    I use both and really like the smaller MacBook. The only reason I got the 15″ was because of the Express port for my cell card. I could have upgraded to the USB version, but like the reliability of the express port. I know of two people who had problems with the USB cellular devices.

    Either way I don’t think you can go wrong. I got rid of my windows machine and went to mac at least 6 years ago. Since then all of the techies in my department have migrated to the mac. Most are 15″, however, some go the that 17″ model. Get the biggest harddrive available and at least 4 gig of ram……

  83. [...] at the Big Picture – Which Mac Laptop?  Interesting commentary on this one; we’re converting to Macs here at the [...]

  84. winstonw says:

    Never been able to make the switch to Apple. I like to understand what’s going on under the bonnet and fix things quickly to get productive.

    I’ve had Dell notebooks since 2001. Toshiba before that.

    I like Dell’s 3 yr 24hr nbd on site warranty. I buy computing power, not a ‘computer’.

    Further, heaps of companies turn over dell notebooks regularly so there’s always a good used market. I currently have 5 D610s in the house, 4 of which cost me peanuts at auction.

    Now, the family have backup computing power. And my boys and I can totally strip a Dell notebook due to their excellent manuals and tech friedly build.

    I mainly do internet, word, and excel, and occasional DVD movies when on the move. And the Dells although a little cheaply built, are well worth the money.

    I live in Australia and I have no idea what Apple’s warranty service is like.
    But I know I wouldn’t put up with having to courier my main notebook to an outfit that sit on it for a few days.

  85. cdrueallen says:

    I use a 17″ MacBook Pro at home but I’m still carrying around my 15″ MacBook Pro with the dent in its aluminum side it got the day it fell off the Peet’s counter. After my experiences with Dell and Gateway laptops – drop them once and they’re dead – I thought the fall would be the end of my MacBook but it booted up and has been running ever since without a problem. I wouldn’t go back to using a Windows PC if they paid me. I’ve had my 15″ MacBook for 5 years now and have never needed a warranty. I run the free and excellent NeoOffice software on it so I don’t need to pay for MS Word, Excel, or Powerpoint. And I don’t have to buy security software either.

  86. bman says:

    When buying a laptop there are two things to consider: Weight and battery life. Everything else is just details. So you got a 17″ screen? how much heavier did that make it? If you want power, if you want big screens if you want lots of storage, buy a desktop. I do like Barry’s requirement of a near zero wait.
    But everything else is superflous.

  87. bitpuddle says:

    A couple of thoughts:

    – The spinning beach ball on the existing iBook might just be the inevitable cruft that builds up. A clean install of the latest OS might help quite a bit. You could even do it (initially) on an external drive to see if it helps, before wiping the current install. A newer, faster hard drive and maxing the ram might also help (total cost ~$250).
    – If you are happy with the iBook, a new MacBook is a great upgrade. Basically the same screen size but a much better hunk of hardware. Buy the maximum ram from a 3rd party (not Apple).
    – I have a “unibody” MacBook Pro and love it. With a big, fast hard drive and 4 gig of ram I run MacOS and windows simultaneously and get a great deal of work out of it. Other than having to get used to the no-button trackpad, it is the best Mac laptop I’ve owned.
    – On the Windows-running side, Dell’s new Studio 14z is rather compelling. A nice compromise between cost and performance.

  88. zot23 says:

    I bought a MBP 17″ about a year ago (was a lifelong PC user.) Loving it to pieces. I would either go for the MBP (more power, but less battery life / more weight), or the Macbook Air (less power, but lighter and longer battery.) You can always buy a separate external DVD drive to carry with the Air and hook it up the handful of times you need it.

    A personal choice, but both of those are very, very good options for someone on the go that wants a stable and easy to use platform. Let us know what you buy Barry!

  89. billo says:

    Anyone who tells you to get a Linux machine for doing work is being unrealistic. I love Linux, been using it for almost 15 years, but I am a complete computer dork. If I actually want my computer to just work out of the box, Mac or Windows are much better. You really don’t want to be reading Linux forums to figure out how to get things like speakers or video to work.

    Most people I know who have used Windows and Mac extensively (for multiple years each) prefer the Mac experience. The line of argument that Macs cost more is not true. Macs include a lot more functionality in both hardware and software, so the price is about the same. A little more or a little less depending on how good a shopper you are. Hint: buy refurbished macs from Apple and save a few hundred bucks.

    I have a 13″ Aluminum MacBook, one of the new ones. It’s the best laptop I’ve ever owned: it’s small but not crippled like the MacBook Air. It’s fast, has plenty of memory and disk. It’s incredibly well built, solid like a bank vault. The glass screen is the best thing ever, if somebody touches my screen and leaves a fingerprint, I can just wash it off with windex.

    Only if you need to wider screen with more pixels should you pay the extra money and weight for a MacBook Pro.

    It’s so sad that other computer companies can’t give Apple some competition in industrial design. Making a really sleek computer is not easy, but if you look at Dell, Lenovo, Sony, Toshiba… it’s like they aren’t even trying.