To MacBook or Microsoft

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Spoiler Alert:  significant #1stWorldProblems and 1%er issues in this article.

When one does not have the full $8,000+ necessary to buy both the 2016 MacBook Pro and Microsoft Surface Studio what does one do?

It has been an exciting week for “creatives” (what we’ve now been labeled) as both Microsoft and Apple have announced new tasty treats for our artistic appetites.  Before jumping into what each has done I want to detail my perfect photography computer.

It would have a 15″ screen with a resolution that can handle a 50 megapixel image without lag.  This means it is portable and has the power to make massive pixel crunching seamless.  It attaches to a square-ish 27+” monitor that has the ability to lay flat and accept a digital pencil for precise painting.  That monitor moves around my desk easily as I want to be able to lean on it like I would a piece of paper when writing with a pen.  Other times I want to use it just like your usual monitor.  This is my nirvana based on current technology.  And it is soooooo close!

Microsoft made the monitor.  They actually made the whole computer.

screen-shot-2016-10-29-at-12-04-24-pm
The 27″ Wacom Cintiq

But I have to ask whether this is really better than a 27″ Wacom Cintiq.  I have been a $500 Wacom Intros Pro user for years, but haven’t taken the $2,800 Cintiq plunge.  According to some of the “creatives” who have used the Microsoft Surface Studio they claim it isn’t as accurate as some of the high-end Wacom products and does not register an extreme angle on the pen.  For some this has made the Surface Studio a no-go while others are willing to work around it.  As a Wacom user I have never thought about how I was holding the pen because it registers nearly everything.  It is quite natural in that regard.

There is no denying the Microsoft Surface Studio is cool.  I hope it gets Wacom to push their innovation even farther.


When Apple makes a new product announcement it receives about 60% hate, from the Internet, and about 40% love.  Once it gets in people’s hands the hate dissipates…mostly.  If the hate is not just coming from Apple haters who will hate Apple no matter what, then it comes from folks who feel offed by Apple’s offing of some old feature.  In the case of the new 2016 MacBook Pros most of the hate is coming from the offing of USB-A ports, the card reader, the mag-safe charging connection, and HDMI port.  They replaced them all with USB-C (Thunderbolt 3) ports forcing buyers to buy dongles if there is a need to connect any non USB-C device.  And, at this moment, that is just about everything you’d want to plug into your new MacBook.  In 6 months, will this matter?  Time will tell.  Imagine what kind of online flogging they’d get if they killed the headphone port on the laptop too!

Other than that my mind was blown when I saw Photoshop being demoed during the launch event.

The way one could control color and brush sizes with the new Touch Bar while painting with the larger Touch Pad was like a keyboard dream come true!

It is a breath of true Apple innovation that I haven’t seen since Steve Jobs passed away.  My definition of Apple innovation is when they give me something useful I didn’t even know I needed, and I now have to have it.

macbook-pro-2016My current MacBook Pro is a 2012 15″ Retina and it has been excellent!  Since getting the Canon 5DsR and DJI Phantom 4 I am losing the desire to do a lot of photo and video editing on it though.  The Canon 5Ds is a 50 megapixel camera and the DJI Phantom 4 has pushed me into 4K video editing.  Most of my editing is now done on a beefed-up 2010 Mac Pro.  Being 4 years old, it is time to put the Retina into the inheritance rotation for my wife.  Her MacBook Pro (my old 2008) will go to our 7 year old son who is just learning how to type.

So, yes, I plan to go the Apple MacBook route over the Microsoft Surface Studio because I don’t have $8,000+ to spend on two machines.  Nor do I want to move away from the MacOS operating system on what is my most used computer.  I have been building and upgrading custom PCs since the Intel 386 process days and my current version is even more powerful than a current $12,000 Mac Pro!  I’m not a 100% Apple “fanboi.” For me, Apple’s ecosystem makes life easier.  The way things work between iOS and MacOS are fantastic and I much prefer Pages & Keynote to Word & Powerpoint.  Excel crushes Numbers.  With older family members being on iPhones, iCloud’s Photos are a fantastic way to share photos of the kids.  And I can easily control what my kids’ consume on their own iOS devices.  Aside from a one-off machine, it is going to take another company some substantial work to dethrone Apple in our house.  Of course, companies like Apple have a tendency to be their own worst enemy in time…I’m not naive enough to believe this is our forever tech partner.

Spec plans for the MacBook Pro:

  • 15″ Space Grey
    2.7GHz quad-core i7
    1TB SSD
    Radeon 460 with 4GB GPU
    USB-C to USB-A dongle
    and maybe Final Cut Pro even though I pay for the full Adobe CC

I will try this laptop before buying, so I haven’t pulled the trigger yet.  With a Virginia Beach trip coming up I might be bringing one back from the Apple store there.

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