Henry Gilbey
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Henry Gilbey blog

Mac or PC ? Dilemma time !!

Sorry, first blog post after Xmas and it's nothing to do with fishing, albeit I work in fishing and I am thinking about a fairly major, work-related computer change over. Yes, of course, what I really want to be doing right now is wandering my local coastline with lure and camera gear in hand/on back, because right now is one of those times that it's really worth being out and about - but unless you have spent Xmas somewhere away from the UK then it cannot have failed to register on your radar that holy cow are we in the middle of a persistent spell of wild weather which kinda puts the mockers on anything lure related for the moment....................

But my brain is a ticking !! (and I would welcome your thoughts if you would be so kind). My dilemma is that I need a new laptop. It needs to have a 13' screen or under to fit in the camera bags that I travel with, it needs to be as powerful as possible, and that screen needs to be as good as I can get so that I can calibrate it and do as much "colour-critical" work when I am away from my desk. When I am at my desk(s) here at home, I work with a 2xPC setup, both running dual monitors - one is an old PC that I tend to write on, do emails, use the internet etc., and the other is a newer and fairly powerful PC that does all my photo stuff - editing, keywording, processing, backing up, uploading, etc. - the things that demand a lot of computer power essentially. I also have a travel sort of laptop that needs upgrading.

And for the life of me I can't find one single Windows laptop out there that really grabs me. I don't and will never play computer games, so I don't need any kind of machine that deals with that sort of (waste of time if you ask me) stuff - but because I am a photographer I do have certain requirements, and to be honest I am also close to needing to upgrade my various monster hard drives to either USB 3 or Thunderbolt. Backing large chunks of data up all the time over USB 2 is quite frankly driving me mad, and before you suggest it, nope, a network drive is no good for me when it comes to high-res digital images, and nope, cloud storage ain't going to work either. Yes, I use a network drive and cloud storage, but not for large files or masses of data - hence my reliance on external hard drives. We are talking about terabytes of data if that is any help.

Bearing in mind that when I got to university (all those years ago !!), I didn't even know what a mouse was, yet here I am working for myself and essentially running a little business that relies big time on computers, and for whatever reason I have always used PCs running whatever version of Windows happens to be around - save for Vista of course which I gave a very wide berth to. I am comfortable on a PC, or at least I am comfortable getting them to work for me in a way that seems to do ok. But of course it has not escaped my attention that most people in my line of work, or at least most of the people/companies I produce work for do their stuff on Macs. I have had an iPod for years, I use an iPhone these days (with data roaming firmly turned off - sorry, but a phone for me is still a tool for making calls and sending texts. I hate the things), and we have an iPad here at home which my wife and I use for reading the papers on etc. I can see the appeal of the Apple brand but my computer life has always revolved around the PC.

That might be about to change though. As I said earlier, for the life of me I can't find any kind of Windows laptop/ultrabook or whatever that I think is designed for what I do, so I have been looking more and more closely at something like the MacBook Pro 13' with that Retina screen. It's not cheap, but it strikes me that for a bit more than a high-end Windows laptop, I actually get a machine that seems almost custom built for what I do. Sure, to potentially change from a PC way of working to a Mac would be a big step, but I played a bit on my middle brother's little 11' MacBook Air over Xmas, and to be honest it didn't scare me half as much as I thought it might, in fact I was already starting to like the way that a few things were working on there when compared to Windows. The way I pay for the principal software programmes I use for my photography these days means that changing from a PC to a Mac would actually be relatively painless, so what used to be the main thing hold me back is no longer an issue.

The idea of simplifying my computer life really appeals to me, and whilst needing to get my head around a new operating system I know could drive me mad, I think I am right in believing that if I go for the most powerful 13' MacBook Pro I can get, then this one machine could actually be enough to be the one single computer I need to do all that I do - both here at my desk and when I am away from home. I love the idea of a "proper" travel sized laptop that can do far more for me than what I currently use, and I also love the idea that this "proper" laptop could also be taken into my office, hooked up to a dual monitor setup and used as a desktop replacement. One single computer to do the lot, which would then make backing stuff up to various locations somewhat easier, more efficient and less time consuming. And no, I don't want those horribly expensive 27' Apple Thunderbolt displays when I already have two professional quality 24' NEC monitors here already - which I believe I could connect to the MacBook via whatever (overpriced ?) connectors are required, and then add an external keyboard and mouse for my desk based work.

I like the idea of one computer to do everything. I like the idea of fast Thunderbolt and USB 3 connections. I need to upgrade various hard drives as it is and I need a new laptop. One of my desktops is on the way out and in another year or so I would need to upgrade the other one anyway. I use Adobe Lightroom a fair amount and as much as I think it's a good bit of software, I can't kid myself that it exactly seems to love being run via Windows. I don't design stuff or put magazines together so I don't need a Mac for those reasons, although I can't help but wonder if in due course I am going to want/need/have to start dragging myself into the realms of filming and editing stuff - which from my understanding is far better accomplished on a Mac. I have done a lot of research now and as far as I can tell it would be a positive move to switch over to a Mac, albeit I accept completely that the "migration" period could be "challenging" at times - I wonder how a MacBook would respond to being hurled out of the window for example ?

Any of you got any thoughts ? I know that Mac people tend to be fairly vociferous in their support of the brand that is Apple, but I was wondering if any of you out there have any input that might help me along here. I hear all the time that whatever operating system is better and that Mac is better than PC or the other way round, but do any of you have any experience of what I am thinking about doing here ? I know that Apple products tend to be more expensive than their PC counterparts, but one single laptop which can essentially be the one machine that I work on wherever I am is surely worth thinking about.

Henry Gilbey15 Comments