1) I'm very particular about buying things like computers.
2) I rely on my portable computer as my only machine (by choice/design) and use it day and night for both astronomy and my side projects (like my blog!).
3) I have been traveling a good amount, around 3 or 4 conferences and a few weddings per year. This is going to continue (or maybe increase).
All of my past Apple machines have been excellent, and I've selected them each with care and forethought. Usually I wait to buy until the machine that makes sense gets an upgrade, and there is a whole niche industry in predicting/discussing such timescales. For example, I purchased this MBP shortly after an update, and right before I was starting my PhD program. I knew the best value for a high performance portable computer would be the 15" MBP model.
This time I'm very torn. I had been hoping that Apple would release a 15" MacBook Air, essentially unifying their laptop line. Largely this is what they've done, with the new slimed down and beefed up MacBook Pro Retina (MBPr).
The MBA has also grown, for its part. What used to be a big netbook has now blossomed into a respectable workhorse. For things like writing, traveling, and sheer beautify, the MBA is unmatched in my eyes. With a few affordable upgrades, the 13" MBA is on my radar as a real contender.
Both the Retina and the Air are capable of handling my day-to-day workload, both have been recently updated, both argue for portability. How to choose? MacBook Pro Retina or MacBook Air? Go for the top-of-the-line expensive heavier animal, or the urban and sophisticated marvel? I've asked people for their opinions, but the feedback was limited.
I decided to see if looking at numbers could help the matter! Is there an objectively better choice? Is one Apple laptop truly more desirable?
|Resolution and RAM to Weight ratios as a function |
of price for various Apple portable computers.
These were interesting, as were other comparisons of the stats, but a clear winner didn't emerge. I needed a way to combine all of these characteristics, resulting in an "Awesomeness Parameter" that I could use. Then, simply pick the machine with the highest Awesomeness: easy!
I toiled for
|The "Awesomeness Parameter", which includes Price, Weight, |
Pixel Count, and RAM, shown as a function of the price.
The parameter "Q2" includes of all these factors: price, weight, resolution, and RAM. Each quantity is combined using my proprietary algorithm. The parameter is normalized to my current MBP (red), and thus Q2 = 1. The red dashed line shows how Q2 changes if you simply decreased the price of my current machine.
While this statistic is meant in utter jocularity, it (strangely) accurately describes my feelings about the current laptop line. I've been very impressed with the 11" MBA, for instance, though it lacks the CPU power and HD space I need. Naturally the future Q3 parameter will include these stats as well.
The two top contenders are VERY close, with the MBPr scoring a 6.5 and the upgraded MBA a 6.7. By this metric, I should clearly purchase the upgraded 13" MBA...
Of course, I'm not guaranteeing my proprietary algorithm completely solves the problem. Still, it presents a curious idea: can I accurately quantify/model my desire for a computer, wrapping the decision up in to a single number?
What do you think? Which computer is better? Can we believe in a quantity like Q2? Chime in!