My Notebook Dilemma

Currently, I’m using a Mid 2015 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display. It has an 2.5 Ghz i7, 16 GB of RAM and a 1 TB of SSD storage. It’s the fastest, most capable Mac I’ve ever owned.

I bought it right before going independent with Relay FM. I knew that I’d have a desk at home as well as space at an office I share with my brother’s non-profit.

I went with the 15-inch because I thought I’d be using it as a notebook way more than I actually do. Both of my desks have external displays, keyboards and mice. I simply show up, plug my computer in and hit the ground running with whatever I need to get done. I’m carrying a 15-inch laptop that lives most of its life as a desktop replacement. At home, the MacBook Pro doesn’t even get to be opened; I have it perched in a BookArc:

All of that’s to say that I don’t use the built-in display very much at all, and would love to carry a smaller notebook again.

Enter the dilemma.

In thinking about what to do for my next Mac, I have two options I can think of: stay with a powerful notebook and shuttle it back and forth or put an iMac on my home desk and carry a MacBook Air when I need to record podcasts at the office or work outside the home. As a two-computer setup would be more complex and a lot more money, my guess is I’ll simply downsize notebooks for now.

Apple makes a lot of laptops these days. I’ve spent time with each model over the years. I’ve used the 13-inch Air and Pro in past jobs. My wife has had both the 11-inch Air and the MacBook with Retina display.

I like the 13-inch screen size a lot more than the smaller notebooks. While it may be weird next to my iPad Pro, I think that’s a pretty decent trade-off between size and portability.

The 13-inch models each come with their own compromises, however. The Air has amazing battery life but a screen that’s far from ideal and it can be configured with fewer options. On the other hand, the 13-inch Pro is a much more flexible from customization stand point and has a Retina display, but the battery life isn’t great.

Of course, the entire notebook could get turned upside down whenever Apple ships Skylake-powered notebooks. The 13-inch Pro could end up much slimmer and lighter, thanks to Intel’s recent power-saving technology. The MacBook Air could go away all together, being replaced with a more powerful MacBook.

I hope the 13-inch Pro continues to be a good machine with a lot of custom options when ordering, but would Apple sacrifice some of that to position lower in the line, closer to where the Air is now?

Whatever happens, I’ll be shopping for a Mac this spring, putting the days of being a 15-inch notebook owner behind me. It should be interesting.