My Macbook Pro is about 4-5 years old. I love her, but she’s slowed down a lot over the past year. Sometimes it’s good as new, other times it elicits up to 10 “auuuuuuuughhhhh”s a day. Still, it could last another year or two, especially with a few trips to the Genius bar, a new keyboard so I can press two again, and a better external drive that can fit more of my big files so they’re not cloggin’ the pipes or whatever happens inside computers.
Also, I miss my iPad. A lot. And it would be useful for school stuff, though I would still need to mostly use my laptop.
So, I could get an iPad as mostly a toy but also a somewhat useful thing, and get a new computer later, or I could get a fancy little new computer now (I want an Air so it’s easier to tote to and from class) and just continue my visceral iPad lust for a few more years. DECIDE FOR ME THANKS.
I’ve read the comments from other folks before replying. Here are my thoughts:
"Do something to extend the life of your current Mac" - a new hard drive or a Bluetooth keyboard could alleviate some of the problems and annoyances you’re experiencing. Yes, a new SSD in your current MacBook Pro would make it faster, but carrying around a separate keyboard will get annoying fast, and there’s nothing to say that something else won’t break soon.
"Use an iPad like a laptop." - This can be done, but there are a bunch of limitations. For some people, like my mom or MIL, these limitations aren’t a big deal. For someone starting an academic program, I wouldn’t recommend it.
So my advice:
Get a MacBook Air. Put as much RAM in it as possible. I’ll say it again: put in as much RAM as possible.
Here are your options (Note: ALL of the options below include AppleCare and 8GB of RAM, and reflect educational pricing discounts.)
An 11” with 128 GB SSD: $1,322
A 13” with 128 GB SSD: $1,422
An 11” with 256 GB SSD: $1,592
A 13” with 256 GB SSD: $1,722
Those who have the 11” seem to love the smaller size, but the 13” is going to last longer on battery. It also has a slot for an SD card, which isn’t a huge deal, but which can be helpful. (For example, if your hard drive dies, you could boot your MacBook from an SD card. In an emergency, that could be a huge benefit.
A 128 GB drive isn’t a lot of space. It can be done, but if you’re expecting to put any amount of music or pictures or video on it, you’ll run low on space. 256 GB should be enough for most people.
Of course at a certain point it becomes a question of how much can you afford to spend on it. If this is more than you want or or can spend, then I’d put the money towards replacing your current MacBook Pro’s internal drive with an SSD rather than an iPad.
Those are my thoughts, FWIW.
* As a student, you get a good discount on AppleCare, and I would never recommend not getting it. Not getting AppleCare is like unprotected sex. Sure, it could be fine, but it’s not a risk you’re going to take. RIGHT? That said, you can delay the purchase of AppleCare for awhile after the purchase of the computer itself. The only time that you must purchase AppleCare at the same time as the device is if you are getting “AppleCare+” for an iPhone or iPad.