Yesterday when Apple announced the new MacBook I was mildly interested. After all my 2nd computer is a MacBook Air. I’m always attracted to electronics that are thinner and lighter in weight. However, as they started to reveal the specs I quickly began to realize that this wasn’t going to be a product for me. I also had to remind some of my friends that not every product created is for every user. This is why Apple now has three different products in their notebook lineup (MacBook, MacBook Air and MacBook Pro). I’m mostly a pro user and this is NOT a pro machine.
Could it be an upgrade for my MacBook Air Mid 2012?
My 2nd computer that I use mostly around the house is approaching the 3 year old mark and that’s like 3 hundred years old in computer years right? My MacBook Air currently has 8GB of RAM, a Core i7 processor, 512GB SSD and a 13″ display. I always said that I would upgrade it the minute Apple created a 13″ MacBook Air with 16GB of RAM. That day still hasn’t come yet and the New MacBook isn’t an upgrade for me either, so I continue to wait. First off, I don’t want a smaller display. While I don’t connect a lot of peripherals to my MacBook Air on a regular basis it’s still good to know that I can easily connect an external display/projector, Wacom tablet and Thunderbolt hard drive and insert and SD memory card without any fuss.
Then who is the new MacBook for?
When I think of the New MacBook I immediately think of students and perhaps office workers/managers. These are folks who primarily use web based apps (so the browser is their main app) and productivity Apps. They do email, they write, they store things in Dropbox and they move around from location to location, classroom to classroom, meeting room to meeting room, a lot. However, most of those users will still tell you that they need to plug in an USB thumb drive from time to time.
The Bottom Line
If you’re disappointed in the specs of the new MacBook, remember that this is Apple’s “low end” notebook. It’s probably not for you and never was intended to for you. You walk past things in the mall every time you go there that aren’t for you, but you don’t complain you just keep walking. This is no different. This NEW MacBook feels more like an upgrade to the iPad user that’s hit the wall. If you think about it, it’s like an iPad with a keyboard/trackpad instead of a touch display, that can run Mac OS X instead of iOS. It has a 12″ display instead of a 10.1″ display. Yep, it’s an upgrade to the iPad in almost every way. Feel better now? 🙂
In the meantime I’ll keep working happily on my MacBook Air and MacBook Pro.
Find out more about the new MacBook here.
Also the good folks over at Mashable had a good article about 5 things that Apple didn’t say about the new MacBook. Definitely worth a read.
In other news
Apple dropped the price of the Apple TV to $69! It’s still one of my favorite gadgets of all time.
When the iPad arrived in April I had high hopes (I still do) for it to become a great tool for photographers and in many ways it has. More photographers showed their portfolios at Photoshop World this past September electronically than they did in print. Just recently I published my list of 8 Must Have iPad Apps for Photographers. Yes, progress is being made, but yesterday Apple released the long awaited update to the MacBook Air and the more I looked the specs the more it made me think about this new MacBook as a better choice for photographers in the field.
The iPad appeal
The iPad is/was appealing because it was small, lightweight, has a relatively long battery life, relatively large display and is capable of importing images via the Camera Connection Kit. It can do moderate photo editing on the go. Also the instant on and not having to manage a file system are pluses in many ways.
The NEW MacBook Air offers so much more for not much more money
The most fair comparison I can make is to compare the 64GB iPad Wi-Fi model ($699) with the new 64GB 11.6" MacBook Air ($999). Yes, the MacBook Air is $300 more and weighs 0.7 lbs. more. The MacBook Air is also a few inches bigger.
Size and weight
- 0.11-0.68 inch (0.3-1.7 cm)
- 11.8 inches (29.95 cm)
- 7.56 inches (19.2 cm)
- 2.3 pounds (1.06 kg)1
Size and weight1
- 9.56 inches (242.8 mm)
- 7.47 inches (189.7 mm)
- 0.5 inch (13.4 mm)
- 1.5 pounds (0.68 kg) Wi-Fi model;
Once you get past the slightly larger size and weight of the MacBook Air, you can then start to justify it for what it offers over the iPad. The MacBook Air (MBA) has the ability to run your standard Mac applications (or even Windows Applications using Parallels or other Virtualization apps). So instead of trying to find replacement Apps on the iPad, it can actually fun Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 and Photoshop CS5. Instead of having to use the Camera Connection Kit with low power/speed CF Cards/Readers, you can plug in any standard USB Card Reader and Import photos from any memory cards. With the MBA you can also more easily offload your images onto another hard drive just by plugging it in to the USB port and doing a standard file copy. Also since many photographers publish their websites using Adobe Flash, you can view those sites on the MacBook Air by installing the latest Flash Player if you choose to. Lastly, and probably one the biggest reasons is that the you can shoot tethered to a MacBook Air and see your images on the nice big 11.6" display. Lightroom 3 already does native tethering and that means that the MBA can already do this. Yes, the MBA is $300 more, but you get a much more capable device for that $300.
What I would have liked to have seen
There are two things that I would have liked to have seen on the MacBook Air. The first is a built-in option for 3G connectivity. That's one of the things I love about my iPad is that I can take it out of my bag and get online pretty much anywhere. Sure I can use my MiFi or a 3G USB Stick, but a contract free 3G option built-in the MBA would have been killer. The next thing I would have loved to have seen is a TRUE HYBRID between these two devices. Imagine a MBA in the same form factor, but if you open the lid and flip it over it becomes an iPad and can run iOS Apps. While it's true that a touch screen on a vertical display would be a pain, there's no reason that the display has to stay vertical if it swiveled and reversed. That would have truly been the best of both worlds!
What will I do now?
Believe it or not I have no plans to get a MacBook Air pretty much for the same reasons that I didn't buy myself the first model. When I travel for business I need the most full featured and powerful MacBook Pro available and the MacBook Air just isn't enough muscle for what I do. Since it's not going to replace my current MacBook Pro I see no need to travel with TWO laptops. A MacBook Pro and iPad will continue to be my tools of choice. However, if you're a photographer that doesn't demo software for a living like I do, then the MacBook Air might be a GREAT tool for you! If I didn't need the power of a MacBook Pro, I would seriously consider the Air!