If you work from home and don’t have a decent laptop – your life is going to suck.
But you don’t have to spend $5000 on a fancy computer to get the work done either. In fact, I know a guy who made money with a cheap laptop, using spotty wifi in a tent in the middle of the desert – while fighting a war in Iraq.
But obviously… that situation is not optimal. You need something decent to work with.
I get asked all the time about what tools and gear I use. Most people think I work at a huge desk with 11 big-screen monitors and 3 computers. They’re always surprised when they find out that I work on a small, minimal desk with a single Macbook Air that I’ve had since 2010.
But a few weeks ago – I changed it up a bit.
Today I’m going to show you:
- The computers I’ve used
- Why I use them
- Why you might want to use them too
But first, let me explain how I became an Apple device hoarder.
I Used To Be A Serial Upgrader
Every time Apple came out with a new version of the iPad, iPhone or Macbook I would buy it. I felt like the constant upgrades were justified because I work from home and my computer gear is my life-blood.
But then their release schedule started to feel a little… shady.
- They give us the iPhone 4 and we all buy that
- Then they make a small change to the camera and call it the iPhone 4s and we all buy that
- Then they make a big update, call it an iPhone 5 and we all buy that
- Then 6 months later the 5s comes out, and we all buy that…
The slow release process is great for Apple. It guarantees that we buy new devices from them once or twice a year… forever.
They could probably give us better phones and laptops today if they wanted to. But it makes more financial sense for them to sell us 2–3 different versions along the way to maximize revenues.
Like everyone else, I fell for it and was buying new Apple stuff like crazy. The end result was a house full of laptops, iPhones and iPads that weren’t being used, losing value every day that I didn’t sell them on Craigslist.
Mac Device Breaking Point
I finally hit a breaking point in 2010, around the time the iPhone 4 came out. That’s why I ended up keeping my iPhone 4 up until this year and my late 2010 Macbook Air for 4 years. I did it on purpose – to prove to myself that I could do it.
I felt pretty good about holding out before upgrading. But the second I turned on the new Macbook Pro, I knew the upgrade was was definitely worth the money.
If you work from home and you haven’t upgraded your gear in a while I’d like to share my experience and show some side-by-side stats of exactly what my upgrade looks like, how it feels and why I have no buyers remorse this time around.
I also love photos of Apple devices side-by-side and this gives me a great excuse to take some.
Experience With the Macbook Air 13 in
I loved the Macbook Air. It’s definitely my favorite laptop that I have ever owned. Here are a few reasons I love it.
- Size and Weight: The simplicity of the design, it’s small size and it’s light weight have made it the best laptop for travel I have ever had. It slips in a backpack or carry-on bag without adding noticeable weight.
- Design. The Macbook Air is still my favorite laptop design. The way they shaved the front end down so that it comes to a sharp point is one of the sexiest designs on a laptop I’ve ever seen.
- Power. The power of the Macbook Air was plenty for me, up until the very end. The dual 2.13 Ghz processors handled my work apps well. I’m by no means a power-user, I mainly stick with a browser, Photoshop, Dreamweaver and a handful of other lightweight applications.
So if the Macbook Air 13 inch was so great, then why did I upgrade?
I’d been feeling a bit of a lag on the machine for several months mainly because I changed the way I use it over time. I no longer have a TV or stereo. I use my computer for everything. And I was starting to notice a slight lag while watching movies and using Photoshop.
Then, when I installed Mac OS X Yosemite, the lag doubled… so I knew that if I wanted to use the new OS, I’d probably need to go ahead and get a stronger machine. I could have gone with the new 2014 version of the Macbook Air, but I’ve been eyeballing the Macbook Pro for a while.
Why I Wanted the Macbook Pro 13 in Retina Display
To tell you the truth, I’ve wanted a Macbook Pro with Retina Display for a long time. But (as I mentioned before) I made a promise to myself a few years ago that I would stop buying every new Mac product each time they put out a new version.
Here are a few reasons why I felt it was necessary for me to go ahead and upgrade.
- Time. I’ve had my Macbook Air for almost 4 years (late 2010 model). In that time the technology inside the machine had changed enough to warrant getting a new machine.
- Retina Display. I’m looking at that screen for anywhere from 4–14 hours a day, so it makes sense for me to have the best screen possible. The Retina display is damn amazing by the way, big difference from the old 2010 Macbook Air.
- Power. Processors have gotten a lot stronger in the last 4 years and as I mentioned earlier I was beginning to feel a lag on the Air’s dual 2.13 Ghz processors. The Macbook Pro has 3 Ghz of power and 14 GB of Memory, which is 4x the memory in the Air. Huge, noticeable difference.
I didn’t really consider the 15 in. Macbook Pro. Size and weight is a big deal to me, so I stuck with the smaller, lighter 13 in. Macbook Pro.
Side By Side Comparisons Photos
Here is a breakdown of what the two laptops look like side-by-side. I’ll also give a little insight as to why I do / don’t like certain things about each one. There were certainly things about the new Macbook Pro that I wasn’t expecting, but almost all of them turned out to be good surprises.
The Macbook Pro is smaller. I wasn’t expecting that at all. Here you can see the difference. The Macbook Pro is on top.
I don’t mind the smaller body size. One of my biggest fears about going from a Macbook Air to a Macbook Pro was that it was going to be bigger. The smaller size was a nice surprise.
Here’s a different angle showing the size difference. The 13 in. Macbook Pro is on the left, 13 in. Macbook Air on the right. The Macbook Pro is smaller in both height and width.
The Macbook Pro screen is also smaller. I can’t tell visually if the screen is actually smaller or if it’s just the housing around it, but overall it feels smaller.
As you can see here, the actual keyboards are the same size but again, the Macbook Pro’s housing is smaller than the Macbook Air.
What Is The Best Laptop for Working From Home?
To be honest, there is no “best laptop”. The trick is finding a laptop that gives you with the maximum power that you need and not a bit more. Don’t get caught up on thinking you have to have a monster laptop in order to make money online.
I could have probably continued using my Macbook Air for another few years. My actual work is pretty light – a little Photoshop and Dreamweaver are the two heaviest apps I use. If that was all I was going to do I wouldn’t need a more powerful machine.
But because I also use my laptop as a TV, sound system and recording studio I really needed some extra procesing power. So the best laptop for working from home, for me, is the 2014 Macbook Pro 13 in. with Retina Display.
- The performance was noticeably faster
- The design is just as sleek
- It’s smaller in size
- The weight difference is barely noticeable at all
The Macbook Pro is obviously more expensive than the Air. The cost is almost all based on power and the Macbook Pro has much more of it.
If you have the cash, I’d definitely go with a Macbook Pro. If you just need a lightweight laptop that gets the job done, go with the Macbook Air.
What About iMacs or Desktop PCs?
I recommend using a laptop over an iMac or a PC desktop. Why? Because when you travel, you need to be able to take your work with you. I’ve found it incredibly helpful to be able to take the same computer with me on trips that I use at home.
- You don’t need any desktop sharing apps
- You’ll never “forget” a file
- You have the same work experience on the road
If you’re half way across the country, relaxing in a hotel room, the last thing you want to be worried about is forgetting to bring your files with you and not being able to do maintenance work while you’re away.
Do yourself a favor – buy a laptop.
And Mac’s are just my preference. You can use a PC if you (really?) want to.
If you’re on a Macbook Air and you’re feeling a lag, I recommend the Macbook Pro 13 in Retina as a solid upgrade, especially if you work from home and use your laptop as much as I do.
You’ll work a little bit faster, your videos will play better, your screen and colors will look 10x better and you won’t be adding much weight to your shoulder strap or suitcase when you travel.
That’s what makes the Macbook Pro a win for me.
So, what kind of computer are you using and how long have you been using it?