Here on Gear Diary we often review new products and, sometimes directly and at other times indirectly, we offer recommendations. This time out, I’m turning to all of you for guidance and input: which laptop I should use on a series of upcoming trips. Here’s background on where things currently stand and what kind of input I am seeking.
A year and a half ago, both Judie and I purchased the new 15″ MacBook Pro with retina display. I upgraded to 16 GB of RAM and put a 512 GB solid-state drive in it. It is by far the best computer I have ever owned. This despite having a keyboard failure early on that required a complete replacement of the upper portion of the laptop. Coincidentally, Judie had a touchpad failure which also required a complete replacement of the upper portion of the laptop, including keyboard. My only issue with the 15″ MBPr since repair is that it is a beast to carry when traveling. This is particularly true during CES each January. At 4 1/2 pounds, it may not sound like a heavy computer, but about halfway through the day it really starts to wear on you. My initial solution was to purchase the base 11 inch MacBook air when it was updated a few months ago. I made the mistake however of ordering one with just 128 GB storage and quickly discovered it was hard to limiting for the kind of work I do. Judie also purchased an 11″ MBA, but she was smart enough to double the storage, and it is working just fine for her as a travel solution used in tandem with her 15″ MBPr. The good news is that I was able to quickly turn around and sell my 11″ MBA on eBay, which recouped pretty much all of my initial expenditure outlay.
Fast forward a few months, and I have three upcoming trips. Two of them, an 11 trip I am leading to Israel and our annual week at CES, will have me doing a good bit of moving about from place to place on a daily basis while also requiring me to do a fair bit of writing. I could try to go all-in with my iPad, but it is just a bit too cumbersome for some of the tasks I know I’ll need to undertake; I really need the efficiency of laptop.
So here’s what I have been thinking and where I would love your input.
Option 1: Sell my 15″ MacBook Pro with retina display and purchase the 13″ MacBook Pro with retina display when it is updated this week. The offset amount from selling and purchasing would likely be $1000-$1500. Ouch.
On the upside, the 13″ MacBook Pro would become my full-time computer; it would serve me quite well, have excellent battery life, and expect virtually no compromises compared to what I am doing now. It would also save me some weight. The downside is the initial expenditure and the fact that it only saves under 1 pound. (The 15″ is 4.46 lbs while the 13″ is 3.57 lbs.) That’s significant, but not a total solution from the sole perspective of weight reduction.
Option 2: Purchase a 13″ MacBook air with 256 GB of storage. Use it for the next 3 to 4 months, and then sell it recouping a significant percentage of the initial outlay. I suspect that will end up costing me about $200 to do this.
On the upside, this would save me about 1 1/2 pounds of computer while requiring me to make almost no compromises. (The 15″ is 4.46 lbs while the 13″ air is 2.96 lbs. If I went to an 11″ I would save over 2 lbs.) Sure the MacBook air doesn’t have a retina display yet, but that’s not a deal breaker for me. The downside is the fact that the initial outlay of money is significant but, at the same time, because I can sell it in a few months, the final cost of this is not all too significant.
Option 3: Purchase a Chromebook for $250 and use it on the go. (HP’s new Chromebook is even lighter than the 11″ MBA at just 2.3 lbs.) Sure it requires me to work in the cloud, so it won’t be quite as efficient as a MacBook would be, but it does have advantages over trying to use an iPad full-time and it certainly is a cost-effective way to get something smaller and lighter than my 15″ MacBook Pro. Best of all, I could purchase it for about $250 and then in three or four months sell it for $150. That would make the total expenditure for me somewhere around hundred dollars. That’s well worth it to have increased efficiency while I’m traveling.
So I ask of you – with these three options being the only available options I can see, which would you recommend? Or do you see another option that I’m missing? I appreciate any and all input.