MacBook Pro versus MacBook Air – which is the better buy?

As fortune would have it, I’m in the market for a new Apple laptop. I currently own and love an early-2010 13.3″ MacBook Pro. It’s the lower-end model with a 2.0ghz Core2Duo processor with four gigs of ram and a 250 gb hard drive.

Battery life is still in the seven-hour range. I’m very happy with it, but I’d like something a bit more. I feel like I need a bit more power to help when processing video and add ram as my computing needs increase.

But honestly, my computing needs never really increase. My main programs are Things, Mail, MacJournal and Safari (multiple tabs open constantly) with little need for 3D graphic or modeling capabilities. I write and read and that’s about it.

It's just so pretty...

By now, everything is pointing to a MacBook Air. The portable hard drive I have has USB, FW 400 and FW 800, so I’m covered there. Katie’s Mac Mini has FW ports for my desktop hard drives that are currently daisy chained.

 

After discussing my idea with multiple programmer and coder types with similar computing needs, they all recommended a MacBook Air. Under the hood of the new Air is completely equal to the horsepower of my current early-2010 MacBook Pro, but the Air has much faster transfer speeds, doesn’t seem to get as hot and its battery gives a real nine plus hours.

I also have an early-2010, seldom used Mac Mini that is always available, so if I felt the need to offload some video rendering, I could do that without worry. And then I walked into the Apple Store.

The sales associate asked how long I was planning on keeping the computer (until it dies or I get rich), if it was my main workstation (it is) and how many programs I have open at once (4-5, with lots of Safari tabs). He recommended a new MacBook Pro because of its higher RAM ceiling, improved video card and ports, including the new Thunderbolt port of which I have little use for.

Do I want a thinner, lighter and slightly faster version of what I have now? Or should I choose a computer that’s faster than what I currently have, but the same form factor? Or should I just go with the cheapest one?

Any advice?