MacBook Pro Decisions

I’m in the market. When I switched to Mac about 18 months ago, I bought one of the first generation MacBook Pros. I loved it then, I love it now. Mostly. What I don’t love is that those first generation Pros maxed out at 2G of memory. Sounds crazy to say this out loud, but that’s no longer enough.

I currently own a 15” model and have always thought it was the perfect size. The perfect fusion of size, weight, travel-ability (as opposed to just plain portability) and screen real estate. By and large, it has been. It travels fine and I’ve never found myself desperately wishing, “Man, if only I had another 500 pixels.” I always just assumed that my next generation laptop would also be a 15”. But then I started reading. Seems that some other folks were also in the market and they were looking hard at the 17” model. Moreover, they were making some pretty compelling arguments.

Reading only gets you so far, though, so last weekend I went to one of the local Apple stores to put my eyes on one. Aside: In the interest of full disclosure, I also went to lay my hands on the Air. I knew it wasn’t the machine for me, but…it’s just so pretty. That is a staggeringly beautiful piece of computing hardware. The size of the 17” MBP, admittedly, is still a little daunting to me. One of the reasons that I’ve only owned laptops for the last 10 years is because I have a frighteningly minimalist design aesthetic and I love the small footprint. The 17” model looks like part laptop, part briefcase and part desktop to me.

On the other hand, looking at all of that screen real estate and thinking thoughts about how I could put it to use (save your pr0n jokes) made me drool just a little bit. Some kind of Pavlovian thing, I assume. Two inches doesn’t sound like much, but the difference in resolution between the 15” and 17” is remarkably significant. I didn’t realize that until I stepped into the store and saw them next to each other.

So now I find myself on the cusp of being the proud owner of a 17” MacBook Pro. After all, I used to be an infantryman. According to the badge on my old uniform, I used to be an expert infantryman; I’ve carried more weight than this. Plus, I spend a lot of time developing and doing all sorts of other power user-y things that hog screen real estate and I don’t spend that much time traveling. Um, right?

Anyway, I’m not quite there yet, so I’d be interested in hearing from anyone that cares to chime in. In addition to the question of 15” or 17”, I’m also waffling on the matte or glossy screen option.


Subscribe5 Comments on MacBook Pro Decisions

  1. rob said...

    I currently think my setup is “perfect” :) I have a 15” Macbook pro, and then on my desk at home I have the 23” cinema display ( – I would like the bigger one actually)

    As you point out, the 15” is perfect for travel and most tasks, but when I need that extra space, I just plugin in in my office. The 17”‘s form factor is just way too big for me (though it is beautiful).

    As for the glossy / matte, I love the matte because you can take the laptop outside in direct sun, or in pretty much any lighting condition and it works really, really well (for doing coding, image manipulation, writing, etc).

    My wife has the glossy, and while movies look stunning, the reflection on the thing would drive me batty while trying to focus on work.

    my 0.02 £

  2. Rob Wilkerson said...

    If I had, or cared to have, an external monitor then there’d be no question at all. I’d stick with the 15” in a heartbeat. My problem is that my desk in my office at the house faces the door – not a wall. Having a big, honkin’ monitor in front of my face wouldn’t work for me; I’d probably spend half my day leaning over to look around it so I could see what the dog was up to or whatever. It would also make the room feel smaller.

    I think I’m with you on the matte screen. I brought home an office MacBook with a glossy screen just so I could see a side-by-side comparison (my MBP has a matte screen). I can guarantee that the reflection would make me crazy. I watch movies on the thing almost never. I code (and do other semi-productive things) daily.

    Thanks for the input.

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