You may have some cash on hand from the holidays, and buying a Mac (s aapl) is as good a way as any to spend that money. But when it comes to buying a new Mac, people seem to have an idea what they want, but aren’t sure exactly if that matches up with what they need. Here’s some advice to help you answer that second, more crucial question.
Only need access to information in order to make decisions?
One unfortunate hand-me-down that iOS devices have inherited from their iPod ancestors is that they are all tethered devices. You need either a Mac or a PC to take advantage of many of the iPad’s feature, by design, making the iPad incapable of replacing someone’s only computer. It’s puzzling to see a Mac, a USB cord, iTunes and an Internet connection listed as system requirements for what is marketed as a standalone computing device. Still, if you already have a computer, and you’re looking for something that grab info for quick scanning and play media, then the iPad is perfect.
Need a travel buddy?
If you’re trying to decide between the Air and the iPad as a mobile solution, consider how far you’ll be traveling, and for how long. While the iPad is a perfect companion around the office or even for intra-city adventures, if you plan on being gone longer than a day, then the 11-inch Air would be the better choice. When away for even a few days, having access to the software available on OS X as well as being able to utilize a keyboard will be a welcome benefit of the 11-inch Air over the iPad.
Creating content on the go?
If you’ll primarily be creating content and media, or regularly use multiple applications, then the MacBook Air 13-inch may be the better choice than the 11-inch Air. The screen size of the 11-inch will prove to be a little challenging when utilizing multiple applications. While Exposé and Spaces will certainly help, sometimes the extra bit of screen real estate is what’s needed to get the job done.
Creating advanced content on the go?
If you do more than just simple graphic design, preparing office presentations and charts, or writing, then consider stepping up to something a little more powerful: the MacBook Pro. If you’ll have regular access to larger secondary displays, then the 15-inch model is the one to get. If a secondary monitor isn’t often going to be an option, then consider the 17-inch, but go to the Apple Store first and decide if you want to carry one around first. Both the 15-inch and the 17-inch MacBook Pros have the specs to handle most tasks, including video editing, photo manipulation, graphic design and more.
Will you be sharing with others at home?
Perhaps your family shares a household computer; which Mac is the right Mac to hold down the fort? That all depends on whether or not you have and are satisfied with an existing keyboard, mouse and monitor. If so, get a Mac mini, since it’ll save you a bunch of money, but if not, get an iMac. As for which size iMac, get the 27-inch if your budget allows. No one has ever wished they got the smaller monitor after purchasing the big one.
Do you tend to do a lot of really demanding things all of the time?
If you work on massive video projects that require lots of rendering time, use multiple virtual machines simultaneously, or if your Mac is used as a serious gaming machine, you probably need the power and expandability of a Mac Pro. Keep in mind that not every Mac Pro will outperform some iMac configurations, but you can customize them after the fact. With its dual Super Drives and expansion capabilities, you can add plenty of memory and storage to a Mac Pro. Having more cores allows it to do more things at the same time.
Whichever you choose, it’s still a Mac
A new computer is a major purchase, so there will almost always be second-guessing that goes on after you’ve made your choice. At least with Apple, you can be confident that whichever Mac you choose, your decision was overall a good one.
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