How’s the Air? But a Pro is better right? And the Air doesn’t come with a DVD drive…”
“How often do you use the drive?”
“Maybe once every six months? Or when people want to pass me things. Wait. Even if I bought an external drive and the Air it’d still be lighter and cheaper than the Pro right?
That was the gist of the quick conversation between my colleague and me before she rushed off. Notice how the conversation flowed: she wanted the lightness and the cheaper price of the Air but was worried that it would be underpowered compared to the Pro. The truth is, it is underpowered compared to the Pro. The real question to ask is if we actually need the power, or if it’s a good to have.
I wanted to do an analogy using other common day goods but somehow computers seemed to be in a category of its own. I mean, we don’t buy a shoe with lots of padding and special functions just in case we decide to use the shoe to climb Mount Everest. No, we pick up cheap and functional shoes based on our usage, and if we seriously want to climb something taller than the fridge at home, we’d shop for it. Same argument applies to bags and furniture and cooking utensils. Maybe it’s because electronic products are expensive. However, we don’t seem to have that problem with televisions or radios; just computers – or more specifically content creation products.
There’s always a fear that what we have will never be enough. You know what? It’d never be.
The point is if you are using a three year old laptop, the chances of any new laptops outperforming your current one is almost a given. What this means is that whatever you can do on your old one, you can almost always do on your new one. And if your usage hasn’t changed over the years, why should it change now?
In short, if you always used a MacBook, why worry about getting an Air now?
Let’s say you always used a Pro instead, like me. What then? I wrote a post previously on my personal blog about using the Air for two weeks, and I quote myself:
The interesting thing is I’m a self-professed geek but I’m willing to ‘downgrade’. Many friends I talk to today wonder if the MBA is going to be powerful enough for them, but the funny thing is I actually push my hardware much more than them, and I’m not complaining. What I realised with my MBA purchase is that hardware is reaching a point where only specific people really need to consider power workstations like the Mac Pro or even a bumped MBP. Everyone else, including geeks can function perfectly fine on most laptops, or in my case, the MBA even though it seemingly looks to be slow because of the spec.
Maybe it’s because computers are more expensive and we expect more life out of them. However, if you pay a premium* for something you need only five times throughout the lifespan of your machine, then I say save the money for something else. What if you bought an Air and really needed a Pro sometime later due to a career change or a sudden change in usage? I’d say sell off the Air and get a Pro, because the loss becomes a gain when the Pro helps you generate income or better products. However, if you bought a Pro and used it like an Air, then the gain becomes a loss because the premium could have been spent elsewhere.
I hope this post helps my friend and many others still thinking about it.
Then again, if money or weight is not an issue, and if you really don’t want to think about it, then just get the Pro and don’t think about it anymore. After all, these are just machines. What’s more important is that it serves you well. The machine is made for the man, not the man for the machine.
p.s. I’m focusing on the Air and Pro here because I think they are the only two machines worth getting; yes I’m ignoring the MacBook. Ben Brooks wrote on this point first and you can read more here. This post is also a great post about which Mac to get. He also wrote a post about why the 13″ MacBook Air is better than the 13″ MacBook Pro, which I agree strongly.
*When I say premium, I don’t refer to it only in monetary terms, but also in terms of convenience and comfort. I quote myself again:
I love the weight [of the Air]. I mean, put it with an iPad and throw in an external keyboard and it’s still lighter than my MBP. It’s fast, and because it’s running with a SSD, I can just close and move around, or use it on the go without worrying if my movements will damage my hard disk when it’s spinning. Furthermore, the weight allows me to just stop typing, close it and pick it up instantly without having to think “how am I going to lift this brick up without injuring my wrist”.