Home Tech Apple MacBook Pro v MacBook: The decision is made

MacBook Pro v MacBook: The decision is made

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After spending months vacillating between the tiny new MacBook and the more traditional and speedy 13in MacBook Pro with retina screen, I have finally reached a conclusion. Last week I bought the MacBook for test purposes (using Apple Pay on the Watch, incidentally), confident that if I wasn’t happy I could return it for cash or part exchange. This was to be the final showdown.

Well, after six days I am sold on the MacBook. Why? It has the ideal form factor and weight for travel, it has a gorgeous retina screen with the right aspect ratio for photographers (unlike my old 11in MacBook Air with its frustrating letterbox format). But both these benefits were known and accepted. I was worried about other things.

 The MacBook is smaller than a sheet of A4 paper, with a good inch to spare. The keyboard has an odd feel, more on this later, but you soon get used to it. The 12in retina screen is a masterpiece, perfect for photographers. This is the definitive portable Mac that will cannibalise iPad sales, no mistake
The MacBook is smaller than a sheet of A4 paper, with a good inch to spare. The keyboard has an odd feel, more on this later, but you soon get used to it. The 12in retina screen is a masterpiece, perfect for photographers. This is the definitive portable Mac that will cannibalise iPad sales, no mistake

My main concern was that even the faster 1.2GHz MacBook¹ would prove too slow, particularly for RAW file imports which is something I do often when on the road. I was wrong. Clearly, while this machine is not as fast as the MacBook Pro, by a long mile, it is fast enough as a second computer. Surprisingly for me, it tackles basic Lightroom tasks with aplomb. I imagine heavy Photoshopping would tax it sorely, but I tend to do only basics when on the road. After all, I still have a fast 32GB-memory 27in 5K iMac retina on my desk for the heavy lifting work. 

I will be using the MacBook exclusively for the next three weeks and, while I will surely to find some niggles, I am prepared to trade ultimate speed for convenience, lightness and sheer pleasure of ownership. In my fuller review I will be looking at contentious aspects such as the single port and the rather odd keyboard. But, for now, I am head over heels in love with the little computer.  

Now I begin to question what I am going with an iPad Air 2 in addition to the MacBook. With its Logitech keyboard cover, the Air is thicker than the MacBook and only a whisker lighter. And the MacBook, with its true multitasking operating system, is just so much easier to use productively. Federico Viticci will not agree, naturally. But I, for one, am convinced.

I can see the iPad heading to the saleroom pretty soon. The MacBook makes it redundant for me.

Read also: Setting up the MacBook from scratch and Cutting the clutter from MacBook toolbar

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¹ The MacBook is also available in a built-to-order 1.3GHz version. After deciding I could live with the little computer I did consider ordering the BTO version but decided to stick with the 1.2GHz which seems to satisfy my requirements for an ideal road-warrior computer.

 

4 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Mike.

    Great to follow and read about your experience using the MacBook (and the Leica Q).
    I would love to hear about how you deal with the MacBook, large Leica Q files and Lightroom in your fuller review.

    Greatings from Norway,
    Tor

    • Hi Tor

      Thanks for reading. I am also interested in checking out the (very) large DNG+JPG combos from the Q. The next three weeks I am on the road with Q and MacBook so this will be a baptism of fire. In the end it will be down to compromises–speed versus convenience. I will know more in a week or two.

  2. Hi Mike,

    Nice report… Following our brief exchange the other day, I rethought my 13" "Air" purchase in favour of the MacBook…

    You wondered why the MacBook seemed so much quicker than your 11" jobby and it got me looking again… If you had the standard one, you had less memory and slower graphics, along with a slower SSD… All of the processors are faster than any of us can cope with… But the pipes into them are now catching up too!

    So what do I need all those ports for?

    Thanks for your (perhaps unwitting) assistance!

    Stephen.

    • Do hope I haven’t led you astray but I am sure you will love the MacBook. My old Air was a mid-2012 and was a BTO high-spec model, so fast for its day and also had 8GB memory like the MacBook. I realise SSD speeds have increased dramatically in the past three years and, I suspect, the performance of the current 1.2Ghz chip is probably as fast, if not faster, than the 2.1GHz in the Air. Since I haven’t tried the current 13in MacBook Pro retina I can’t comment on that, although clearly it will be dramatically faster than the MacBook. However, we come back to the question of how much computing power we need in a travel computer. It will be interesting to see how I get on in the next few weeks with the MacBook as my only computer.
      Mike

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