Don’t Use an Apple AirTag as a Pet Tracker – Use a Whistle Instead!

Apple introduced their AirTag (a Tile competitor) for those looking for an easy way to keep track of things like keys, purses, wallets, etc. However, many have been tempted to use them on their pets too. There certainly isn’t anything wrong with this thought process, but it really depends on your situation and where your pet may go missing.

How do AirTags work?

With an AirTag there is no subscription fee, no WiFi, and no GPS. It works with Ultra Wideband technology to show itself to the Find My app on your iOS devices. In order for your lost/misplaced/stolen object to show up on the Find My network it would have to be within range of another Apple device such as an iPhone, iPad or Mac. Let’s say you left your backpack with an AirTag attached to it/in it, in the library and you drove home. Now you’re miles away from your backpack.

You are way out of the range of bluetooth or even the 800 foot range of Ultra Wideband technology. However, if someone else is in the library near your backpack with an iPhone, iPad or Mac your backpack AirTag would automatically be picked up by the Find My network and show its location in the Find My app on your iOS device. Luckily the people near your backpack don’t need to do anything special. There’s nothing they need to install or activate. It all happens in the background. Your AirTag in your backpack would privately be detected and shown on the Find My network just being near another Apple device. Cool!

This is not ideal for pets depending on where they may get lost

Continue reading “Don’t Use an Apple AirTag as a Pet Tracker – Use a Whistle Instead!”

This is an AWESOME Keyboard for Your Computer AND Your Mobile Devices

IMG_0014

This Logitech keyboard rocks! When I received my iPad Pro last week one of things that was missing from the order was the New Apple Smart Cover Keyboard for the iPad Pro. It’s backordered and while I hope to get it this week or next, I kinda wanted to use a keyboard in the meantime. My good friend Larry Becker, turned me on to this Logitech keyboard and I couldn’t be happier with it. This Logitech keyboard has a feature that I hadn’t seen on other wireless keyboard before…

Continue reading “This is an AWESOME Keyboard for Your Computer AND Your Mobile Devices”

Photographers: Don’t waste your money on a Mac Pro

macpro-imac2

Earlier this year in May I did a post called “Photographers: iMac or Mac Pro?”  It was a post that was meant to really ask the question that as a photographer would you benefit from the faster and more expensive Mac Pro over say a nicely equipped iMac (or in my case MacBook Pro)? There was only one problem with that post. I didn’t actually have an iMac to compare. I ran all my tests using my high-end Mid 2012 MacBook Pro Retina Display. I noted that although my MacBook Pro fared quite well against the Mac Pro for common “photography workflow” tasks, that an iMac would probably do even better! Well now I have a NEW iMac Retina 5k Mac to test/review and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the results. I was a little blown away!

The same game rules apply!

If you don’t like Macs/Apple or don’t want a Mac for whatever your reasons are, you can pretty much stop here and find something else to do with your time. I find it entertaining when people feel compelled to tell you/me how much they don’t want the thing you’re reviewing or writing about because they use something else. This is not a Mac vs. _______ post. If you’re happy with a Windows PC or Linux PC, or anything else, I’m happy for you. If you can build your own PC cheaper, that’s awesome!

If you’re reading the rest of this post then I’ll assume that you’re a Mac user or thinking of becoming one.

The next thing I’d like to get out of the way is that if you’re looking for a Mac Pro review that tells you this new Mac Pro is better than the previous Mac Pro with all the benchmarks to back it up, then you’d probably be better served by other reviewers who have targeted the performance of the new model vs. the older model. I’m doing this review/comparison simply to answer the question, “as a photographer would I be better off spending my money on the NEW iMac Retina 5K Display or a Mac Pro?” If you’re a videographer and you’re a Mac user then you probably already have the new Mac Pro because you demanded the fastest Mac you could get to render your videos on a daily basis.

 

Updated: Introduction

When I saw the rumors that Apple was going to release a radically different design for the Mac Pro, to be quite honest I was only mildly interested. As I stated above, I realized with my last Mac Pro that I wasn’t really a Mac Pro customer. Sure I appreciate the faster performance, but I found myself only using my Mac Pro when I knew a process was going to take a long time to complete. Otherwise I was quite happy just using my MacBook Pro simply because I could use it in any room at any time. I could take it with me on the road. However, I said to myself perhaps if the performance (for what I do) is significantly better and the price point for an entry model was $2,500 or less, I’d consider getting one. Well we know the latter didn’t happen, so now it was time to test the performance. I got the opportunity to test a Mac Pro standard configuration in my studio for a few weeks. I loaded the latest version of my Adobe Creative Cloud applications on it as well as a few utilities that I use such as ScreenFlow. Next, I began running side-by-side tests of the things that I do daily that take more than a few seconds. My assumption was that the Mac Pro would certainly be at least twice as fast at everything I threw at it than my 2012 MacBook Pro Retina Display Mac. Actually I was wrong! Now fast forward to November and I have brand new iMac Retina 5k here to review and test. At the time I did the tests back in May, I really wasn’t expecting to run these tests again. Therefore I didn’t really hold on to the test files that I used. Luckily I was able to reassemble most of them with a couple minor exceptions that I will outline below:

MacPro-back

When will a Mac Pro significantly outperform any other Mac?

As I said above, I was wrong in my assumption that the Mac Pro would be at least twice as fast at everything. Actually it is faster at (almost) everything! Just not by a margin of two. On every test I threw at it the Mac Pro outperformed my now two-year-old MacBook Pro, but in some cases it was only slightly faster. With the new iMac Retina 5k there was even less of a difference. This is when I realized that in order to see significant speed improvements the software you’re testing not only needs to be optimized for the faster processors, but also it would need to take advantage of the multiple cores. Even then, the iMac and MacBook Pro are no slouch. They’ve got multiple cores too. Where I saw the biggest differences was in (no surprise) video rendering and processes that take longer than a minute or so anyway. At this point I now have a new iMac Retina 5K Display to compare as well. The differences in speed were less dramatic as I expected. However, even doing video tasks the iMac held its own and really started bringing into question “when would I ever want a Mac Pro?” When I ran the tests in May the Mac Pro was significantly faster at video tasks than my two year old MacBook Pro. However, I not only now have a new Mid 2014 MacBook Pro Retina that is faster than my old one, but I also have a base model iMac Retina 5k to compare too.

 

UPDATED TEST RESULTS

What I do as a photographer

As a photographer I spend most of my time in Adobe Lightroom 5 and Adobe Photoshop CC. Photoshop CC definitely takes advantage of multiple cores and now has Open CL support. So filters will run faster on the new Mac Pro. All of these applications are 64bit native and that means that they’ll take advantage of additional RAM.

My first test was one of the things I do after every shoot. I convert my RAW files into .DNG (Digital Negative) format. This is one of the few times that I see a progress bar in Lightroom because it does take time to do it. I converted 435 16MP Nikon .NEF RAW files into DNG format.

First on the MacBook Pro it took 14 minutes 35 seconds

On the Mac Pro the same conversion took 12 minutes 12 seconds.

OK, ready for this? On the NEW iMac Retina 5K a 435 16MP conversion took 11 minutes 39 seconds. Huh! What? Wait a minute! It was actually slightly (less than a second) faster than the Mac Pro. This of course left me scratching my head, but I have a couple of caveats to bring up. First off this is 6 months later and we’re on a newer operating system, Mac OS X 10.10 Yosemite, which in theory could be faster than Mavericks. The only caveat as I mentioned in the introduction was that I didn’t have all the same exact files from the May test. Yes I converted 435 16.2 MP files from my Nikon D4, but they weren’t the same exact images. I can’t see where that would make too big of a difference though. They are from the same camera and a similar portrait shoot, just not the same exact images as before. We can argue this one more, but just for kicks I ran the same test on my NEW Mid 2014 MacBook Pro Retina with a Core i7 Haswell processor and SSD drive (the iMac has a Fusion drive) and it was even faster at 9 minutes 56 seconds. This we can probably say is faster on the MacBook Pro over the iMac because it’s a faster processor and faster drive, but it doesn’t really explain why it would be faster than the Mac Pro. Since they aren’t the same exact images, let’s move on to the other test where the files ARE THE SAME!

HDR Test

The next test was a simple HDR (High Dynamic Range) conversion in Photoshop CC using three RAW files. This is a two-part process. The first part is simply combining the three (or more) images together and aligning them. Then the second part of the process is applying whatever settings you want to control how your HDR looks.

The first part on the 2012 MacBook Pro took 12.70 seconds and on the Mac Pro it took 9.10 seconds

The second part on the 2012 MacBook Pro took 13.00 seconds and on the Mac Pro it took 11.13 seconds.

What about the iMac Retina 5K?

Since I had the exact same RAW files for this test I ran it on the iMac:

The first part on the iMac took 10.75 seconds and the second part took 10.75 seconds. This makes it only 1.5 seconds slower than the Mac Pro for this test.

londonpano

Pano Stitch

The next test was stitching a Panorama together using Photoshop CC and 10 RAW files

On the 2012 MacBook Pro this process took 1 minute 12 seconds

On the Mac Pro this process took 51 seconds.

On the iMac Retina 5K Display this process took 1 minute (9 seconds slower than the Mac Pro)

I could have gone on running other tests and other filters, but these are the things I do on a regular basis. If it was faster at something that I rarely do, then I really don’t care as much. As you can see from the results above, the Mac Pro wins on every test as you would expect it to, but the results (even if it was twice as fast in every case) may not justify the difference in cost. We’ll get to that at the end.

Next it was time to look at what I do as a Photographer when it comes to video

I use video in a couple of different ways. The first as a photographer is to tell my story. This means capturing video with my DLSR, GoPro, iPhone, etc. I use Adobe Premiere Pro CC to assemble those videos and then output them to share (usually on YouTube). The next way that I use video and probably the way that I use video the most often is to record my Creative Cloud TV video podcasts. These screen recordings are done with ScreenFlow and since the editing I do is pretty simple I can edit these right in ScreenFlow. Of course I need to export those videos out and this can take a while depending on the length of the video. I had no doubts that this is where the Mac Pro would really shine. After all these are the kind of processor and resource intensive tasks that the Mac Pro was built for. I was not disappointed.

The first test I ran was an export of an hour-long edited video out of ScreenFlow.

On the MacBook Pro this export took 60 minutes

On the Mac Pro this export took 33 minutes.

On the iMac Retina 5K this export took 35 minutes.

It gets better in Adobe Premiere Pro CC and the Adobe Media Encoder CC. I needed to convert this video into a different format using the Adobe Media Encoder CC.

MBP-34

On the MacBook Pro this conversion/export took 34 minutes 36 seconds

MP-12

On the Mac Pro this conversion/export took only 12 minutes 36 seconds

MediaExport-1926

On the iMac Retina 5K this conversion/export took 19 minutes 26 seconds

 

What about that beautiful 5K Retina Display?

wpid14035-IMG_3926_sm.jpg
No photograph can do this display justice. You have to see it in person with your own eyes to appreciate it!

 

One the biggest reasons I would recommend an iMac over a Mac Pro to a photographer beside the money saved, is the fact that you’re getting a 27″ 5K Hi-DPI (Retina) display! Your images are going to look amazing on this display. I was blown away by the sharpness and the detail. Besides the obvious sharpness and detail, the other benefit is being able to work at high resolutions in programs like Photoshop. If you set the display resolution higher (I use SwitchResX for complete control of this) you can actually see more of your images as you work. No more having to zoom in to 100%. You can actually see them at 100% if you want. As it stands today, you won’t find a better display to see your images on. If you do, it will likely cost more!

iMac_Retina_5K_resolutions

 

The Bottom Line

I’m sure if we just ran processor and benchmark test that The NEW Mac Pro is the fastest Mac that Apple has ever created. The question you have to ask yourself is, “Do I run benchmark tests or do I use applications on a day to day basis that I’m waiting for tasks to complete?” For me the answer is no. Sure if I spent my days rendering video all day every day, I’d already have the Mac Pro. There would be no question. However, as a photographer I can’t justify the difference in price. Now that the iMac has a Retina 5k display it’s even a more compelling choice for photographers.

The Mac Pro model and configuration that I tested above is here. (Now keep in mind that if I was going to buy one I’d start with this configuration and I’d go with a bigger internal drive and more RAM)

Believe it or not the iMac Retina 5k that I tested was this base model. The results above were achieved with only 8GB of RAM and a 1TB Fusion Drive. If I were to buy an iMac I would get this model and I would buy this 32GB RAM upgrade and put it in myself. This configuration would give me a faster processor, an internal 512GB SSD, 32GB of RAM a 5k Retina Display, Keyboard and Mouse for less than the price of the Mac Pro that I tested.

My current MacBook Pro Retina 15″ is this configuration.

My thoughts on iMac vs. a MacBook Pro

Why an iMac? Although I don’t use one (I’ll have to send this one back if I don’t want to buy it), an iMac makes sense because you’re getting a fast Mac with a nice big 27″ 5k display all in one. You can’t really get a better display for this price and it includes a computer 🙂

Wacom_cintiq-24hd

Why a MacBook Pro? For me the MacBook Pro makes the most sense because when I’m at my desk I have connected to a nice 24″ HD Wacom Cintiq display/tablet. When I get ready to go I disconnect it and go. I have a computer with a nice 15″ Retina display when I’m on the road. If I didn’t travel for a living then I would absolutely have an iMac. Since I travel a lot, a MacBook Pro makes more sense. With that said, if I had never used a Cintiq AND I had seen the iMac 5k with my work on it as I have with this test unit I would be hard pressed not to buy one and just use an Intuos Pro tablet instead.

If you want the fastest Mac and you don’t mind spending $3,000-$4,000 (or more) on it plus having to buy a display, keyboard and mouse, then definitely go with a Mac Pro. Almost everything you do will likely be faster than the Mac you’re currently using. At the end of the day I realize that computers have become “fast enough” and that I don’t spend a lot of time waiting these days. Even when a process such as a video render/export is going to take a few minutes I can toss it to the background and work on other things in the foreground. My last Mac Pro once configured set me back over $5,000 and while it was a beast, I found that I wasn’t really using it as much as I had hoped I would, so I sold it. The new Mac Pro is faster, but is it $4,000 + display, keyboard and mouse faster? For me it’s not. The NEW iMac Retina 5k and MacBook Pro Retina 15″ will definitely hold their own against a Mac Pro for the kinds of tasks that photographers do.



The 3rd Generation Drobo is Here

drobo-3rd-gen

 

Drobo recently introduced their third generation 4-bay enclosure and I thought I’d take a look. I’ve been using Drobo storage units since 2008 (see my first review here). As a matter of fact that first unit is still in use today. Now I have five of them in total between home and my studio. So far to date I haven’t had any hardware issues with my Drobo units. They have actually performed quite well. I did have a directory corruption problem early on that required me to reformat and restore from a backup, but that could have happened on any drive. Other than that one incident my five Drobo enclosures have worked just fine. I know that some, including my buddy Scott Kelby have not been so lucky. As a matter of fact Drobo has gone through some major changes (for the better) as a company as a result. With that said and since I’ve not had any real issues I continue to use their products.

What’s New?

The new third generation 4-bay enclosure gets back to the basics. It reminds me of my first Drobo, only it’s cheaper and faster with a more solid design. With this new model you can put anywhere from 1 to 4 drives in it of any capacity. Of course you’re going to want to put at least two drives in it to get the data protection features. It has one interface on the back: USB 3. Aside from the USB 3 connection it looks and feels just like any other Drobo, but there are a couple of other things under the hood. It has a Power Fail Protection feature that protects the data you were transferring in the middle of a power outage. It also now sports a new Time Machine feature that lets you create a backup-specific volume. This is handy when you don’t want Time Machine to eat up all the available space.

You can configure it up to 24 TB

 

Why Drobo?

I get this question all the time. Certainly there are less expensive RAID systems out there that are not proprietary. I went with Drobo for the following reasons:

Beyond RAID (their technology) means that I can mix the drive capacities. As the price of 4TB drives continue to drop, for example, I can replace my 2 and 3 TB drives without doing them all at once.

I can swap out a drive without having to stop the work or reformat. If I need to replace a bad drive or increase the total storage capacity, I can just eject a drive and replace it with another (potentially larger) one.

I don’t have to be an IT expert to manage it. It sits in my server closet and just runs 24/7. If anything goes wrong it sends me an email.

drobo-server-closet
My messy, but functional server closet with a Drobo 5D up top connected to a Mac mini server and the Drobo FS below backing up stuff

What if it fails?

I’ve heard the horror stories. As a matter of fact you’d be hard pressed to find ANY product that someone doesn’t have a horror story about. However, I don’t rely on or totally trust ANY single solution when it comes to my data. No matter who makes my storage units or how great their reputation is, I’m going to have my data backed up in multiple places including an offsite backup via crashplan.com. So if it failed tomorrow, I’d probably replace it with another one as nothing lasts forever and it will die someday. My favorite model is the Drobo 5D. This baby is fast and is connected via Thunderbolt to my Mac mini server. Again, I haven’t had a moment’s problem out of it since the day I turned it on. It’s been running 24/7 since day one.

Although my Drobo units haven’t failed, my hard drives have! Here’s what Drobo does when a drive fails:

drobo-red-diskfailure

I got an email that the 5th drive was failing. I ordered a new one. It arrived in a couple of days. I ejected the bad one and put the new one in. I kept working the whole time. If you’re super paranoid you can set it to protect you against TWO drive failures. This will reduce your total available capacity, but two drives could die at the same time and your data would still be protected.

 

You can get the NEW 3rd Generation Drobo here for $349 or less. Drobo increased their warranty period from one year to two years.



Photographers: iMac or Mac Pro?

macpro-imac

Rather than just do a review of the new Mac Pro and tell you how fast it is vs. any other Mac that Apple has made, I decided to approach this review from a different angle. There was a time when I bought Mac Pro towers because I wanted the fastest Mac available. However, I soon realized that as much as I didn’t want to admit it, the Mac Pro is “overkill” for what I do on a day-to-day basis. Sure, faster is always nicer than slower when it comes to waiting for a process to complete, but honestly I’m rarely waiting for a process to complete these days. Sure, I render video on a weekly basis and it would always be nicer to have those videos render faster, but is the faster render worth the money for a Mac Pro? The answer will of course depend on how much you find yourself waiting on your computer and not being able to do anything else while you’re waiting.

Let’s get some ground rules out of the way first

If you don’t like Macs or don’t want a Mac for whatever your reasons are, you can pretty much stop here and find something else to do with your time. I find it entertaining when people feel compelled to tell you/me how much they don’t want the thing you’re reviewing or writing about because they use something else. This is not a Mac vs. _______ post. If you’re happy with a Windows PC or Linux, or anything else, I’m happy for you. If you’re reading the rest of this post then I’ll assume that you’re a Mac user or thinking of becoming one.

The next thing I’d like to get out of the way is that if you’re looking for a Mac Pro review that tells you this new Mac Pro is better than the previous Mac Pro with all the benchmarks to back it up, then you’d probably be better served by other reviewers who have targeted the performance of the new model vs. the older model. I’m doing this review/comparison simply to answer the question, “as a photographer would I be better off spending my money on an iMac/MacBook Pro or a Mac Pro?” If you’re a videographer and you’re a Mac user then you probably already have the new Mac Pro because you demanded the fastest Mac you could get to render your videos.

 

Introduction

When I saw the rumors that Apple was going to release a radically different design for the Mac Pro, to be quite honest I was only mildly interested. As I stated above, I realized with my last Mac Pro that I wasn’t really a Mac Pro customer. Sure I appreciate the faster performance, but I found myself only using my Mac Pro when I knew a process was going to take a long time to complete. Otherwise I was quite happy just using my MacBook Pro simply because I could use it in any room at any time. I could take it with me on the road. However, I said to myself perhaps if the performance (for what I do) is significantly better and the price point for an entry model was $2,500 or less, I’d consider getting one. Well we know the latter didn’t happen, so now it was time to test the performance. I got the opportunity to test a Mac Pro standard configuration in my studio for a few weeks. I loaded the latest version of my Adobe Creative Cloud applications on it as well as a few utilities that I use such as ScreenFlow. Next, I began running side-by-side tests of the things that I do daily that take more than a few seconds. My assumption was that the Mac Pro would certainly be at least twice as fast at everything I threw at it than my 2012 MacBook Pro Retina Display Mac. Actually I was wrong!

MacPro-back

When will a Mac Pro significantly outperform any other Mac?

As I said above, I was wrong in my assumption that the Mac Pro would be at least twice as fast at everything. Actually it is faster at everything! Just not by a margin of two. On every test I threw at it the Mac Pro outperformed my now two-year-old MacBook Pro, but in some cases it was only slightly faster. This is when I realized that in order to see significant speed improvements the software you’re testing not only needs to be optimized for the faster processors, but also it would need to take advantage of the multiple cores. Even then, the MacBook Pro is no slouch. It’s got multiple cores too. Where I saw the biggest differences was in (no surprise) video rendering and processes that take longer than a minute or so anyway.

 

What I do as a photographer

As a photographer I spend most of my time in Adobe Lightroom 5 and Adobe Photoshop CC. Photoshop CC definitely takes advantage of multiple cores and now has Open CL support. So filters will run faster on the new Mac Pro. All of these applications are 64bit native and that means that they’ll take advantage of additional RAM.

My first test was one of the things I do after every shoot. I convert my RAW files into .DNG (Digital Negative) format. This is one of the few times that I see a progress bar in Lightroom because it does take time to do it. I converted 435 16MP Nikon .NEF RAW files into DNG format.

First on the MacBook Pro it took 14 minutes 35 seconds

On the Mac Pro the same conversion took 12 minutes 12 seconds.

Yes it was faster! However, it was only about 2 minutes faster. I must say that I was a little disappointed. However, I moved on to the next test.

The next test was using the Web module in Lightroom to export a web gallery using the Client Response Gallery Template from The Turning Gate.

MBP-7

On the MacBook Pro this export took 7 minutes 41 seconds

MP-4

On the NEW Mac Pro it took 4 minutes 9 seconds.

Ahhhh, much better. Almost half the time.

The next test was a simple HDR (High Dynamic Range) conversion in Photoshop CC using three RAW files. This is a two-part process. The first part is simply combining the three (or more) images together and aligning them. Then the second part of the process is applying whatever settings you want to control how your HDR looks.

The first part on the MacBook Pro took 12.70 seconds and on the Mac Pro it took 9.10 seconds

The second part on the MacBook Pro took 13.00 seconds and on the Mac Pro it took 11.13 seconds.

The next test was stitching a Panorama together using Photoshop CC and 10 RAW files

On the MacBook Pro this process took 1 minute 12 seconds

On the Mac Pro this process took 51 seconds.

I could have gone on running other tests and other filters, but these are the things I do on a regular basis. If it was faster at something that I rarely do, then I really don’t care as much. As you can see from the results above, the Mac Pro wins on every test as you would expect it to, but the results (even if it was twice as fast in every case) may not justify the difference in cost. We’ll get to that at the end.

Next it was time to look at what I do as a Photographer when it comes to video

I use video in a couple of different ways. The first as a photographer is to tell my story. This means capturing video with my DLSR, GoPro, iPhone, etc. I use Adobe Premiere Pro CC to assemble those videos and then output them to share (usually on YouTube). The next way that I use video and probably the way that I use video the most often is to record my Creative Cloud TV video podcasts. These screen recordings are done with ScreenFlow and since the editing I do is pretty simple I can edit these right in ScreenFlow. Of course I need to export those videos out and this can take a while depending on the length of the video. I had no doubts that this is where the Mac Pro would really shine. After all these are the kind of processor and resource intensive tasks that the Mac Pro was built for. I was not disappointed.

The first test I ran was an export of an hour-long edited video out of ScreenFlow.

On the MacBook Pro this export took 60 minutes

On the Mac Pro this export took 33 minutes.

It gets better in Adobe Premiere Pro CC and the Adobe Media Encoder CC. I needed to convert this video into a different format using the Adobe Media Encoder CC.

MBP-34

On the MacBook Pro this conversion/export took 34 minutes 36 seconds

MP-12

On the Mac Pro this conversion/export took only 12 minutes 36 seconds

 

The Bottom Line

The NEW Mac Pro is the fastest Mac that Apple has ever created. The question you have to ask yourself is, “Is the speed difference worth the difference in price?” For me the answer is no. Sure if I spent my days rendering video all day every day, I’d already have the Mac Pro. There would be no question. However, as a photographer I can’t justify the difference in price. Hey! Wait a minute, you said in the title of this post “iMac or Mac Pro?”, yet all you’ve talked about is the MacBook Pro vs. the Mac Pro. This is true. I didn’t have a new iMac to compare it with. However, if you’re looking for a “desktop” Mac as a photographer, I’d seriously consider the current iMac. The current iMac will be as fast or faster than my 2012 MacBook Pro in every case. So here are some prices and specs to look at:

The Mac Pro model and configuration that I tested above is here. (Now keep in mind that if I was going to buy one I’d start with this configuration and I’d go with a bigger internal drive and more RAM)

The base configuration 4th gen 21.5″ iMac is here. However, this model is not a fair comparison. It’s probably a little slower than my MacBook Pro as it has a slower processor, less RAM, and no Flash Drive.

This would be the configuration that I would recommend and would be more of a fair comparison: 27″ iMac here.

If you’re interested in a similar configuration (using the current model) to my MacBook Pro 15″ Retina, it would be this one.

Why an iMac? Although I don’t use one, an iMac makes sense because you’re getting a fast Mac with a nice big 27″ display all in one.

Wacom_cintiq-24hd

Why a MacBook Pro? For me the MacBook Pro makes the most sense because when I’m at my desk I have connected to a nice 24″ HD Wacom Cintiq display/tablet. When i get ready to go I disconnect it and go. I have a computer with a nice 15″ Retina display when I’m on the road. If I didn’t travel for a living then I’d probably have an iMac. Since I travel a lot, a MacBook Pro makes more sense.

If you want the fastest Mac and you don’t mind spending $3,000-$4,000 (or more) on it, then definitely go with a Mac Pro. Everything you do will likely be faster than the Mac you’re currently using. Keep in mind that you’ll also need to buy a display, keyboard and mouse/tablet to go with it. At the end of the day I realize that computers have become “fast enough” and that I don’t spend a lot of time waiting these days. Even when a process such as a video render/export is going to take a few minutes I can toss it to the background and work on other things in the foreground. My last Mac Pro once configured set me back over $5,000 and while it was a beast, I found that I wasn’t really using it as much as I had hoped I would, so I sold it. The new Mac Pro is faster, but is it $4,000 faster? For me it’s not.

 

UPDATE: Now that the iMac Retina 5K is out I got my hands on one and did a comparison here.



20 Last Minute Mac and Apple Accessory Deals At B&H

mbp13

50% Off Apple Care & Free Software (up to a $59.99 value) on All Macs

MacBook Pro 13″ Core i5 2.5GHz

MacBook Pro 13″ Core i5 1.8GHz

MacBook Pro 13″ Core i7 2.9GHz

 

MacBook Pro 13″ Retina Display <-HOT

MacBook Pro 15.4″ Core i7 2.4GHz $300 INSTANT SAVINGS

MacBook Pro 15.4″ Retina Display

 

Macbook Pro 15.4″ Retina Display <-The configuration that I use

MacBook Air 13″

 

MacBook Air 13″ <-The configuration that I use

MacBook Air 11.6″

mac_mini

Lowest prices on Mac minis

Mac mini Desktop 2.5GHz Core i5

Mac mini Desktop 2.3GHz Core i7

Mac mini Desktop 2.3GHz Core i7 Server

apple-tb

Apple 27″ Thunderbolt Display

 

Apple TV 1080p $94.99

Apple Thunderbolt Cable $44.99

Apple Magic Trackpad $59.99

Apple Wireless Keyboard $62.24

Apple Magic Mouse $64.46

Apple AirPort Express Base Station <-the new one $96.99

 

See their full line of Apple Products Here.



Guest Review: If All Hardware Installs Were This Effortless…

 

 

 

By Jason Levine

 

16.0GB (8GBx2) PC3-10600 DDR3 1333MHz SO-DIMM 204 Pin CL9 SO-DIM

 

You know, having built more PC machines than I care to remember, I think my 'fear' in doing RAM upgrades stems from those fateful salad days, when a RAM upgrade meant a number of things:

 

1) Is this really the proper RAM for this particular (OEM, non-OEM, generic/custom) motherboard;

2) Will I have to go into the BIOS and make changes?

3) Will the machine recognize this memory at all;

4) Will I have perpetual BSOD and wind up re-installing the old RAM again, wasting money and time. 

 

I'm sure many of you have been there, and despite the fact that we're now in 2012, I still get those same vibes every time I prepare for the inevitable 'upgrade'.

 

Well, I'm happy to say that the current offering from OWC gives your 2011 series MacBookPro an unbelievable boost in speed and power, one that you're likely to notice almost instantly…especially if you've got an internal SSD drive and, even moreso, if you work across multiple 64-bit Creative Suite applications (like Lightroom, Photoshop, Premiere Pro, After Effects and Adobe Media Encoder).

 

The two, 8GB sticks arrived in small, simple packaging in less than 24 hours. I placed the order around 4pm Central Time on Thursday, and literally had it in my hand before 1pm on Friday. Gotta love that.  Crack open the seal, and there, atop some pink foam, were the keys to my new editing bliss… <insert pics however you see fit>

 

Curiously, or perhaps not-so-curiously absent were any kind of installation instructions. Again, I've done this for every MBP I've ever purchased, so I wasn't too concerned. A simple Google search yielded exactly what I needed, and just as I remembered…9 simple screws (for my 'early 2011 17" MBP) was all it took to reveal the RAM slots; pop it in, pop it out, you're done. Even as I began to remove the back cover, I thought to myself, "Do I have to ease it out? Any special tricks?" But again, it literally pops off, easily, and you just apply  a little pressure (so that the edges are flush) when you're replacing the screws. 

 

The key to doing this quickly is lining up those screws! I always place them, visually on the table, in their exact layout. Apple uses different size screws, so it's key that you return them where they belong. Not doing this, however, will lead to enormous frustration. I don't even want to go there!

 

 

 

Within seconds of closing the back cover, I powered on the machine and literally, in about 5.5 seconds, I was greeted with the LogIn screen; a happy place to be! I logged in, quickly went to "About This Mac" and lo and behold, there it was….  I ran the machine for about 9 hours following the install, and everything seemed great. Fast, responsive, and ultimately, stable.  Today I'll be diving into some deep editing/rendering, so that'll be the more definitive comparison test (having spent the better part of the year working with 8GB).

 

Now, I wanted to share this little tidbit. I had ordered this RAM when it was first made available (or rather, 'announced') sometime last March.  In fact, it was my dear friend and fellow road-warrior Terry White that sent me the OWC link in the first place.  At the time, the 16GB RAM upgrade was selling for $1600 . Steep indeed…but for mobile video editing, it would be a game-changer and a no-brainer on my part. I quickly made my purchase and awaited the goods.  

 

Well, tragedy struck Japan, and the industry was immediately impacted by this unprecedented natural disaster. As such, I was immediately made aware by OWC that the part was 'on backorder' and would be shipping in approximately '6 days'.  A second email, about two weeks later indicated "20 days"; I received two more emails and one final communication at the end of April indicating, "Backordered Indefinitely".  Understandable, clearly…and I just assumed it wasn't meant to be. 

 

Now, my only complaint in this whole process was that OWC never contacted me again to let me know it was back in stock! And moreover, it was nearly 1/6 the cost! (with shipping, the total was approximately $266 USD). I found out, via several Twitter friends, that they were already using the 16GB upgrade and I had no idea it was even readily available.  Since it was OWC who ultimately cancelled my order, I would have thought they would have contacted me to let me know it was once again available. They didn't. So really, this is just a little 'wrist slap' to say, "Hey…I wanted to give you my money…and you could have had it sooner!" 

 

 

All in all, this was the best (and most smile-inducing) RAM upgrade I've ever done (this being my sixth or seventh MBP). Time will indeed tell, but from where I'm sitting, it's all looking up…and with 16GB of fast RAM…in my laptop. 

 

 

Review: iTunes Match Finally Delivers What I’ve Been Wanting

I've been an iTunes user since day one (and even SoundJam before that). I've been an iPod user since day one too. I have a decent sized *music collection (6,649 songs) with a mix of tunes ripped from my CDs, purchased from the iTunes store and purchased/downloaded from other sources such as Amazon.com. While Apple has always done a good job in allowing me to sync my music/playlists to any number of iDevices, for some reason the company never saw fit to allow automatic syncing of music between multiple computers. I've complained about this on my blog in the past as well as going with 3rd party work arounds. 

 

The NEW iTunes Match Solves My Problems

In addition to iOS 5, iCloud and iTunes 10.5, Apple rolled out a new service called iTunes Match. iTunes Match is a paid service ($24.99/Year) and the idea behind it is that once you sign up (via iTunes 5) your music collection will be analyzed and "matched" with the music currently available on the iTunes store, whether you originally bought the music from the store or not. Tracks that are matched are then available to up to 10 of your devices (Macs, PCs, iDevices running iOS 5, or Apple TVs) via the cloud.

This also includes your playlists! Tracks that were not matched (in other words songs you have that aren't on the iTunes store) are then UPLOADED from your library to the iTunes cloud (iCloud). This means that ALL of your music is now available in the cloud no matter where you obtained it originally. 

 

Problems this solves for me

Once it did the initial "match" on my dedicated iTunes media server (a dedicated iMac running iTunes 24/7). I then went to my MacBook Pro and deleted all the music from that library. Once I deleted all the songs and playlists, I turned on iTunes Match on that computer as well. After a few moments ALL of my Playlists appeared on the MacBook Pro that are on the iMac. Any song/playlist that I want to listen to can now be streamed via the cloud. Also any music/playlists that I actually want to be physically on the drive say for offline listening can be downloaded with a single click. As long as my MacBook Pro has an internet connection I have access to ALL of my music at all times. Those times that I don't have access to the internet I can still enjoy the music that I've downloaded. 

On my iPhone, iPod touch and iPad – we know that these devices have limited storage. Therefore carrying around a large music collection means giving up something else. Once I turned on iTunes Match on these devices the music that was stored on them was immediately wiped and just like on my MacBook Pro, after a few moments I had access to ALL of my Playlists and All of my songs. The difference here is that any song you play is not only streamed initially but also stored so that it won't have to stream a second time. And yes you can proactively download any song(s) playlists that you know you'll want to be stored on the device for offline listening.

 

The Bottom Line

The benefits of iTunes Match are clear! I have access to ALL of my Music on any of my devices at all times (with an internet connection). I now use less space on my iDevices because I don't have them loaded up with music that "I may want to listen to someday". The other advantage is QUALITY! Some of my original CD Rips were at a lower bitrate. With iTunes Match you get everything at Unprotected AAC, 256Kbps (iTunes Plus) Quality. The other slick feature is that now it doesn't matter where I make organizational changes or new purchases. If I change a playlist on my MacBook Pro it's updated everywhere. If I buy a new song and add it to a playlist on my iPad, it's updated and available everywhere. This is one of those services that's worth every penny to me!

You couple iTunes Match with the new iTunes WiFi Sync for iOS (iPod touch in the car) and I'm completely in music heaven! I pull into my garage and it connects to the WiFi in my home and syncs the iPod with the latest changes. 

Now let's get iTunes Match for video/movies!

*Note: If you have more than 25,000 songs in your library that you did NOT get from the iTunes store then you exceed the limit of iTunes Match. iTunes Match only works for songs, not audiobooks, videos, ringtones, podcasts, etc.

5 Things That Got My Attention at Macworld Expo 2011

It's been two years since I attended Macworld Expo. I missed last year due to being out of the country. I also have to admit that I didn't really expect the show to last after Apple pulled out two years ago. However, to my pleasant surprise the show is still strong.  It's hard to gauge the show's actual success because trade shows in general are down. With the economy, internet and live webcasts of press briefings people don't feel the need to go to trade shows as much as they use to. I was asked to speak at this year's conference on "Digital Publishing from InDesign to the iPad." My class was on the last day, Saturday afternoon and while the class wasn't overflowing, there were a good number of attendees that were very interested in the topic. So much so that even though I ran over about 10 minutes, no one moved. Everyone stayed til the very end and many participated in a good Q&A session. I was happy with the class overall and have no complaints.

 

What about the show floor?

Macworld is both a Conference and an Expo. The show floor was open throughout the entire show. Walking the show floor is always a treat for me because I always find at least one product that I'm very interested in and had no idea it existed. It also gives me a chance to meet with developers/vendors face to face that I've corresponded with over the months/years. I can't compare this year's show to last year's show because I wasn't there last year, but this year's show was definitely up beat. On some days it was actually hard to get through the aisles because of all the people. 

 

Isn't it just iPhone/iPad Case World now?

There have been many jokes made about Macworld becoming "iPhone Case World". I certainly have felt that way in the past as in years past there were a ton of vendors on the show floor selling nothing but cases for iPhones and iPods. While there were certainly several options to get a case or holder for your iDevice this year too, it didn't feel like one big case tradeshow. There was a good mix of solutions for the Mac and for iDevices too. While most of the big companies don't exhibit anymore, HP was there with a sizable presence showing off their printer line including their AirPrint capable printers

 

5 Cool Things

Whenever two Macworld attendees meetup the question usually comes up "did you see anything cool?" While there wasn't anything that totally blew me away, there were lots of little things. I look at this show as the show you would goto to get "accessories" for your Apple product or iDevice. In other words without Apple you won't be learning about the NEW Apple ________, but you will see many nice add ons in terms of hardware and software. In no particular order, here are 5 things that I saw that got my attention:

 

Dolly Drive

There was a lot of buzz online and in person about a new Cloud based backup service called Dolly Drive. What makes Dolly Drive unique is that they have figured out a way to allow you to use Mac OS X's Time Machine backup feature to the cloud. Now you can do your hourly backups offsite. There are of course a lot of questions that come to mind and the company is new. I spoke with them and will be working with them on testing and reviewing the service. Stay tuned for that. However, it does look promising for those looking for a way to be able to backup and restore files while on the road.

Learn more at their site here.

 

LensPen for your Laptop or Mobile device

I was already a fan of LensPen for my camera lenses. However, I had no idea that they offered solutions for cleaning my laptop and mobile device displays. I picked up a Laptop Pro and ScreenKlean

See their products here.

 

iFusion

More and more people are giving up their landlines and just using their mobile phones. Certainly this is not the first product of its kind, but I liked the aesthetics of it. iFusion lets you dock your iPhone and use a standard handset while you're at your desk to make/receive calls. It's unclear how well this will work or not work, but It caught my eye. I also pinged them about a multiple handset wireless solution to replace what I have now.

Learn more here.

 

OWC SSD Solutions

Other World Computing was on hand with a fairly large presence and while they sell a lot of things that I'm already familiar with this was the first time that I got a chance to check out their SSD replacement hard drive solutions. The one that caught my eye is Data Doubler solution that replaces the optical drive in your MacBook Pro with a second hard drive such as an SSD. With a Solid State Drive you could use it to load your operating system and applications while keeping your original drive for the bulk of your data. This would drastically reduce boot times and application start times.

Learn more here.

Check out their shootout here:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=shVhpKnzfp4

 

 

iGrill

Whenever I see devices hooked up to (fake) raw meat I have to stop and look. 🙂 The iGrill aims to provide a temperature monitor for you food that has a bluetooth connection to your iDevice/App to let you know when your meat is done or needs to be turned over. Wow! OK, um  I guess. I have no interest in this product as I don't grill, but I gotta give 'em credit for providing the ultimate geek device for the home. The iPod toilet paper dispenser looks on with envy 🙂

You can learn more about iGrill here.