Technology upgrade is on the way… eventually

First of all, thanks to all of you that provided suggestions last week regarding which camera I should get. After considering the comments and doing a bit of research, I’ve tentatively decided on the Canon S95. I say tentatively because I’m sold on the camera in theory, though haven’t had the chance to play with a demo yet. I’ve been calling around to different Best Buys and most don’t seem to have it in stock, though I seem to finally have found one that has them in stock and has a demo. I realize they can be ordered online with free shipping, but I really want to play with one first. So hopefully I can provide a review of that after big trip number one in March (or maybe the quality of pictures I take will serve as the review).

On a related note, since you guys provided me with such great feedback last go around, I have another dilemma. I’m badly in need of a new laptop. For someone who’s life revolves almost entirely around the internet, I’m surprisingly apathetic when it comes to technology. I’m not playing World of Warcraft or anything like that, so as long as I have a computer that has a decent word processor and browses the web fast enough, I’m a happy camper.

You see, my last laptop broke nearly four years ago in an overhead bin on a US Airways flight after I scored a bump off of a United flight (long story). At the time I had a computer science class and had a project due that week, so was in desperate need of a laptop. I went to Circuit City (remember them?) and bought the cheapest laptop they had, which I believe was around $350. It has served me insanely well over the past four years, though the battery is totally dead. In other words, the second I unplug it, the computer dies. Given that it takes my computer probably four or five minutes to start up (seems like eternity), this causes me probably a couple of hours of lost time every week. So after much convincing from far too many people, I’ve decided to go for a Macbook Pro. I don’t care about any of the “cool” features, it’s the ten hour battery life that won me over. I do plenty of mileage runs spanning 30 hours, and when I think how much more productive I could be if I had a laptop that worked for an entire transcon, it’s totally worthwhile.

Well, I was literally about to buy a Macbook Pro when a friend pointed out that (apparently) Apple will be releasing their updated version of the Macbook Pro come mid-March. Sadly, this is one of those circumstances where I just can’t make a decision. If I buy it now, the “value seeker” inside of me will feel bad about my purchase come March, when I could have had a better computer for the same price. If I wait till March, I’ll be spending another month with my portable desktop (for lack of a better word). It’s not a huge inconvenience, except I was really looking forward to having some decent battery life when I travel internationally in March, where finding a plug isn’t always that easy.

What do I do?!


  1. Definitely wait for the refreshed MacBook Pro in March. It has the MUCH faster Sandy Bridge class Intel CPU in it, and you may well regret not waiting the month to get it otherwise 🙂

    If you’re travelling overseas in March, you could buy it overseas. Apple has good international warranty, and its Apple Care 3yr extended warranty (highly recommended) is international too.

  2. Those 11″ MacBook Airs are friggin perfect, especially while on a plane. Go try one out. The battery is not as good as the MacBook Pro (maybe 5 hours?) but the form factor is amazing. I do wish they had a backlit keyboard. Of course you will be sacrificing an optical drive. If that’s important, wait until the new MacBook Pros come out. I have a 13″ and couldn’t be happier with it. It’s tough as nails, very thin, and fast, but it may be a little heavy, especially when compared to an Air.

  3. I highly recommend getting a Macbook Air. They’re smaller than the Macbook Pros, still have great battery life, and aren’t going to be revved any time soon. Perfect for travelers. I’d do a 13in, but 11in works too.

    (I definitely agree with your friend though. Macbook Pros are going to be revved pretty soon, likely mid-March.)

  4. Totally agree with Ben …. I love my Macbook Air! You wouldn’t think 2 lbs is a huge deal, but it really does make your bag feel ultra light.

  5. Omg MacBook air 11″ for the win. I absolutely frigging love it, but I bought it for my gf so I am stuck with a fat ugly MacBook pro “oh the humanity!” anyway s95 + MBAir and you are set for some tech loving skies.

  6. As a long time computer person (my degree is in Electrical Engineering) the one system I never really used was an Apple but I got a laptop (MacBook Pro) in 2007 and am glad I did. System is much more stable.

    If you go the laptop route make sure you pay the money for the 3 yr warranty since laptops reliability can be iffy, especially for travelers.

    As far as what to get it will really be a personal decision. For some an 11″ screen is way too small. The “Airs” are certainly small but I think the 11″ screen and 5 hr battery isn’t much. The 13″ Air has a 7 hr battery which is better.

    If you want something more powerful (battery and processor wise) and don’t mind the 13″ screen the MacBook is a good solution with its 10 hr battery, especially if you have a monitor you can plug it in while using it at home.

    If money isn’t a big object and this will be your only computer the MacBook Pro 15″ is the way to go (the MacBook Pro 13″ doesn’t get you much more than the regular MacBook).

    Currently I have an iMac 27″, Macbook Pro 15″ and an iphone (not to mention another computer with windows and linux). Since I don’t usually travel with a computer I think my long term plan (once the Macbook Pro dies) is to stick with an iMac for home use and pick up an iPad for travel.

    Despite all of the Apple products they aren’t perfect but they do work well and for the average person I believe they are much more stable.

    Since you are a student make sure you use your STUDENT DISCOUNT when buying anything from Apple it can save you money (you can use it online or at a store).

    Personally I’d wait until the new ones come out since it will only be a month or so.

  7. I’ve used nothing but Dell for a long time. You can get a really good refurbished laptop (I currently have a Latitude E6410) at their outlet store. They have additional 15% to 25% off coupons periodically on Twitter (follow DellOutlet). Figure out what you want to buy, and wait for the coupon to roll around. I don’t think you can beat them for value for money.

  8. The new MacBook air, released in December is perfect for what you need. Buy it online, get the education discount and you are set. I love mine. 13 inch screen is a must

  9. I recommend the MacBook 11″ as computer for travel. The computer is light, battery life is decent, and you can fit it and a meal on the tray table without any contention for space.

    I got the 11″ when it first came out and received comments from everyone. Fast forward three months, and I found myself sitting in the Frankfurt Tower Lounge with a solid 25% of travelers using them. Crazy!

    I am a former MacBook Pro junky. In fact, I still use the one that is less than a year old, but it lives on my desk at home. I don’t let it go out very often any more.

  10. Get a Canon Rebel T3. It’ll be much smaller than the t3i and t2i/7d/60d, and for 200 more you’ll get a DSLR. For someone who’s life revolves around a travel blog, and one with pictures you should invest in a dslr. If a “real” dslr isn’t your calling get a mirrorless camera like the sony NEX -5 or an olympus e-pl1/2. And since olympus releases another camera every hour, you don’t have to worry about value. If you need any help email me at justinmathew34@hotmail. Spammers stay away! I’m helping Lucky! 🙂

  11. I second the comment that if you are getting a Macbook pro be prepared that it does not last 10 hours. I do minimal stuff with my Pro (most recent version released and only 4 months old) and the battery is dead within 4-5 hours.

  12. If you are going to buy a MacBook Pro, definitely wait until the new models come out next Month. AppleInsider has a great up-to-date pricing guide ( for your reference. You can find the best vendor there and use to get the best miles/points/cashback from the purchase. If you find best price on apple itself, it would be great to go to a sale-tax-free state to make purchase. Don’t upgrade RAM or hard drive on Buy RAM and hard drives from another vendors which can save you lots of money.

  13. I have had my 13 inch Macbook since 2006 and love it, never had any viruses or even a need to wipe the hard drive. Battery life is several hours. Fits easily into a small travel backpack. Will never, ever go back to the Windows OS.

  14. I have to agree with YVR Traveller about the Lenovo ThinkPad X201. It lasts forever!

    Granted Macbooks are easy to use and user friendly, however they are not design for tough environment. It may be another victim of your overhead bin accident.

    Most ThinkPad customers are corporations, enterprises because they are well built and specially designed for travel/hash environment. For example, most ThinkPad has a sensor to detect vibration to protect the hard drive if the laptop drops, laptop case is reinforced, spill resistant keyboard, etc. The battery lasts up to 12.2 hours.

    As a student you get 5%-10% discount on ThinkPad. They occasionally give additional 15-20% coupon. or check out the Lenovo Outlet (with full warranty). They also have X201 tablet.

  15. Keep in mind, that the Apple laptops do NOT come with a user replacable batterys, so you can’t really get any more work time by pluging in a spare.
    I’m a Dell guy myselft, but any of the Lenovo/HP/Dell have really good valued business laptops in the outlet shops. Will probably cost you half what a MBP and they usually come with 3 year warranty standard (with an option for a worldwide next day repair service, that comes in usefull if it’s your main computer).

  16. @emyotop If he wants a smaller camera with dslr quality he could be using a mirrorless dslr. Why downgrade that much?

    @Andy Macbooks are designed for rough use. They are made from one solid piece of Aluminum. Also If you are a college or university student you get a $100+ discount. A new macbook also comes with a free printer. Go Mac and you’ll never come back! Love my iMac!

  17. If you do any photoshop or lightroom editing, think about a tablet. I use a fujitsu t900 with a second battery in the optical bay. I get 7 hours in flight (wireless off, screen brightness around 75%).

    I just love getting my files organized and culled and getting many of the best ones well started on the edit process. (I finish it on the desktop with the calibrated, large monitor). Having the wacom technology builtin is a big plus (note: it is not as robust as a wacom external tablet; no pressure sensitivity, for example, but it sure is nice to be able to work with a pen rather than a trackpad.)

    No matter what you buy, get a long warranty and get next day, in-home service if they offer it (otherwise you’ll have to wait out the round trip shipping delay).

  18. +1 to MacBook PRO. Get the 13″. I think you may miss the optical drive,and larger HD if you went with the air.

    Definately get Applecare. (Student discount saves on that as well).

    Check for updates on the impending refresh.

  19. Get an 13in Air. It is much lighter than a pro and the 10-15 sec boot can’t be beat on a plane.

    Had a pro that work bought. Ended up buying an Air for myself.

  20. If you can wait til July to get a Macbook, Apple usually has a promotion for college students where when you buy a laptop you get the student discount, a free ipod touch, and free printer.

    Student discount = approx $100
    Sell the ipod touch = approx $200
    Sell the printer = approx $50

    That’s a $350 savings!

    However, it seems like you want a new laptop soon.

  21. I bought myself an Asus netbook not quite a year ago (after way too long with an insanely heavy Compaq laptop with a battery life of not quite two hours). Battery life is rated at 11 hours, which was the controlling factor in my decision-making process. I haven’t bothered doing a real test on it, but I’ve certainly used it a full day without plugging in.

    Cost was about $300, so WAY cheaper than a Macbook Air. Screen is 10.1″, so enough, although I’d prefer to raise the resolution beyond where it’s currently set.

    I’ve been extraordinarily happy with it. Lent my old laptop to someone about a week ago (first time I’ve touched it in 9-10 months) and can’t believe I ever used it or considered it portable.

  22. I’ve had a MacBook Pro for 3 years and am also awaiting the upgrade in March or April, so I would encourage you to wait if at all possible, and if this is the machine you want.

    However, I would also agree with those who suggest a MacBook Air. For one, if you basically just do internet and email and pictures and music, it’s more than powerful enough, and there the extra expense of an MBP would be wasted. Secondly, the Air was just updated 2 months ago, so no buyers remorse if you buy right now.

  23. You won’t notice any real difference in performance between the Air and the Pro unless you’re rendering video (alot of it), processing RAW photo files (something I do) or processing audio, etc. Processor and memory intensive tasks will make the MBP more justifiable. That and the 15″ screen is why I stick with MBP. But the Air is powerful enough for the vast majority of computing tasks, which really aren’t very demanding of the processor. The Air is a good way to go.

  24. Another vote for the Macbook Air. It’s a svelte beauty that is designed for use on the road/in the air where a little web browsing, emailing, document editing and (light) photo editing are the extent of your use.

  25. Buy the macbook now-ish, but make sure you buy it from a place with a return policy and no restocking fees (Best Buy, I think even Apple now) and hold out till mid march. If a better one comes out, buy it and return the current one. Problem solved

  26. If you are going to get a Macbook pro/air get apple care. The hard drive in my iMac died 2 months ago, and I was still covered. I brought it in and got it replaced. When I glanced at the repair bill (that I didn’t have to pay for b/c I had apple care) it said $800! My apple care has already payed for itself, and still has two years on it. Apple care is definitely worth it.

  27. I have to throw my PC support in there, definitely get the ThinkPad X201, I had the Thinkpad X41 for years and loved it. Unless you are a graphic designer or do video editing there is no reason for a mac.

  28. Netbook’s ok for $300, but what you really want is the macbook air. Super portable, fairly robust and with the SSD drives they start up almost instantly too. Macbook pro is probably more than you need, and a pain to drag around compared to the air.

    If you’re sick of computers that take five minutes to become usable after starting up and with a dozen little icons in the task bar all demanding that you download updates twice a week there is *every* reason for a mac 😉

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