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Apple what the… now also no more airports?

Now I’m REALLY getting worried…..
Apple reportedly stops developing AirPort WiFi router products, moving employees to other projects

Let’s be honest, a lot of people bashed the new MBP and in all honesty I was also disappointed and I’m not going to repeat that now.It’s clear apple is choosing in laptops a different route than a lot of us has hoped, but now that I read this…. I’m really beginning to wonder if Apple has TOTALLY lost it’s way.

When I changed from windows to Apple the reason was simple, EVERYTHING worked seamlessly. In our home and studio we have all macs and the integration between them is absolutely out of this world, it works flawlessly in most cases. For work it’s important we have a solid wifi connection but also that we can run around with cameras and phones and laptops and keep the connection between different rooms, the airports are great for this, setup is incredibly easy with a simple app and it… well it just works.

But…..
At home we of course also want some switching (we have a house where we use 3 airports for complete coverage) but I also want airplay. We have the airports connected to our home theater set and a receiver in another room so we can listen to music wherever we are.

Apple is now stopping the production of the airports…. now let’s stop and think about this.

there are other routers…
But airplay is JUST apple, back to my mac is not always supported, time machine doesn’t work on all routers (connecting a harddrive), iTunes multiroom audio is gone probably, meaning that if they stop production and sales of the airport we loose all this “cool” stuff that works like a charm, we lose the easy management of several routers *(we have a total of 6) via one app…. and….

pffff
This is another step from Apple that I really don’t get.
For us it means we are now actively looking at alternatives, because if a router stops we have to replace it immediately.

According to Apple it wants to focus more on consumers and I get that, although I find it a weird choice, but this is a CONSUMER product, it’s one of the easiest and best working routers I ever worked with to be honest, so IF apple is indeed aiming for the consumer then why the heck do they take out the ONE thing that connects everything in both the house and the office…..

or are they coming out with a new device?
Maybe a build in router in an Apple TV?
Which would be ridiculous because it would mean we have to place a lot of Apple TVs in locations where we don’t want it, and extra Apple TVs in locations where we do need them…..

I don’t know anymore, but being an Apple user is getting harder and harder. I’ll wait and see how Windows operates on the Wacom Mobile Studio Pro and make a decision maybe sooner than later.

Don’t get me wrong I LOVE Apple, and everything works like a charm but the airports are part of that experience, if you take that out it’s a question of how will my wifi work… will there be a router with airplay from a cheap brand that sucks with wifi and makes it necessary to reboot every week or so (we had those) or will there be expensive high-end routers adding Airplay if they have to pay a lot of money to apple for it while they only aim at businesses?

For us who use the router both for business and personal this is going to be a huge hurdle, we need solid routers that are stable and powerful, but I also need airplay for the music in the studio, our Apple TV’s (which are connected via wifi), our iPads and iPhones etc. etc.

It’s becoming a mess….
Come on Apple….
Don’t keep us in the dark but at least be open about what you’re going to do, for the first time in a long time I’m actually afraid that I will have to redesign our whole infrastructure.

 

Apple created an awesome ecosystem and is now slowly (well talk about slowly, it’s going PRETTY fast) totally destroying that.

 

Let’s hope they are creating something MUCH cooler, but the way it’s presented at the moment is that IF we see a device like this it will probably be a device (like I mentioned with the Apple TV) that has “onboard” wifi routing capabilities, in other words aimed at people that can place it in a small house and cover the house that way, maybe a Siri hub or smart house whatever, we have a device like that for our home but it’s a disaster to place it correctly so it covers the area we need, mostly also because the only option to extend the range is to buy another one (and at 250.00 that’s a bit expensive). So if Apple is going that way it’s yet another Apple part of the Eco system that gets axed in our setup, like you guys we also don’t have an unlimited budget.

the future….. of mobile use….

After my blog post about the MacBook pro and my disappointment I got quite some surprising responses.
Now I don’t want to label most people as Apple fanboys but sometimes I do wonder if…..people actually read the article correctly and not jumped to conclusions after reading the first few lines 😀

If someone can be labeled as an Apple fanboy it should be me. I LOVE Apple, I own an Apple watch, iPhone 7plus, MBP, MacPro, AppleTV, iPad pro, Apple Pencil, airports etc. I strongly believe that other brands might have solutions that are good, somehow if Apple makes it it just works and it integrates flawlessly, it’s not really a fanboy statement as more a statement of “I don’t want any problems, I just want plug and play but with all the options I need”. And boy do the products keep their value, you never have to worry about selling something, it’s gone before you think about it.

 

So when I wrote my article “Dear Apple” I was not talking about that I hated the new MacBook Pro or the touch strip, in fact I think the touch strip is better than the dial from Microsoft, for the simple reason you’re just faster with a keyboard or a touch strip than placing a dial and selecting through menus, plus the dial is not “yet” supported by Adobe while the strip is. And that doesn’t mean I think the dial or puck is amazing, I absolutely love it in the video. The reason I wrote the article was also not about loosing te ports and going all USB-c, there are hubs for that (add another $ 105.00 for the hub but ok), it also wasn’t about price, although I did get a little sick in my stomach when I saw the final quote for 2 notebooks, the reason I cancelled my own notebook and did order one for Annewiek is simple, Annewiek does video and has different needs from me…. it was more about the moment in time we are now and the needs of a professional photographer/video guy.

 

So what am I going to do?
The present and the need of the photographer
As a traveling photographer, educator, someone who loves to draw paint and enjoyer of comics and movies, I’m traveling with a MBP 15″ and a Wacom tablet intous (small), A thunderbolt Raid Harddrive (WD passport) and an iPad pro. This is a pretty heavy load and loads of gear to lug around. But it all works fine, the iPad I use on the plane, buss and the RV or when waiting/free time, the MBP is used for teaching and shooting tethered in the field. It’s all working like a charm and everywhere I come there are power adapters, connectors and if you forget something… well there is ALWAYS someone who can lend it to you because 99% of my colleagues use MBPs. But most of all my MBPs have survived the blistering heat in the Dubai dessert, the humidity in florida, the freezing cold in Finland and several small rain showers in the UK and the Netherlands, I’m never worried about it.

Over time however I’ve been looking at the Microsoft Surface pro and absolutely fell in love with the concept and the idea of having just one device. The guys from Microsoft were absolutely awesome and lend me first a Surface pro 3 which I loved but felt was a bit too unstable for what I do, and later a Surface pro 4 which absolutely rocked (MUCH more stable) but I did find myself struggling with the real estate, in Photoshop the menus were taking up way too much space, I missed my keys for sampling, moving, brush size etc. of course it can be done via menus but I need speed (I love my work but I’m not a hobbyist that has all the time in the world)……and when I zoomed the menus smaller they were too small and I couldn’t hit the actions I needed, or the tools with the accuracy I needed (yes my eyes are great)…. also when using manga studio (or Photoshop) I felt the stylus to be less accurate than the Apple Pencil on the iPad pro and the Wacom on my intous or later cintiq, for normal non pressure brushes it worked fine but it didn’t feel 100% right under an angle and when using pressure plus I was able to empty the battery in less than 90 minutes with my workflow (which is pretty heavy and goes pretty fast). At that time I skipped the Wacom companion for the reason I thought it was underpowered and had the same real estate issues.

 

But times change.
Wacom recently announced something that had my attention from the first moment I saw it.
A new Companion called Mobile Studio Pro… why did they change the name? Well maybe because it’s a different product.

 
What is it?
In essence it’s a 16″ cintiq with brains…. can I call it that? I guess so.
Recently I switched to a 27″ cintiq in the studio and can tell you it’s addictive as can be, it’s absolutely awesome, I actually can’t tell you enough how much I like it, but it’s very pricey. The feel however of sitting right on top of your work and retouching directly is absolutely worth every cent. 
Ok let’s not make this too long.
Wacom released the Mobile Studio Pro 16″ and 13″.
Let’s skip the 13″, for me it’s too small.
Let’s focus on the 16″
It’s an Intel Core i7 CPU 3.3 GHZ but much more important it also has a fast Nvidia QuadroM1000M video card with 4GB ram, 16GB internal RAM and 512SSD. Which would make it plenty fast for 4K editing and of course some heavy duty Photoshop action. The 16″ screen is a full 4K resolution screen with covers 94% of the Adobe RGB spectrum (previous solutions only covered 70%) so that means we have a 16″ screen that has MORE than enough resolution to show you all the menus of photoshop open and still leave you with a LOAD of working space for your retouching. 

 

Buttons
One of the MAJOR “flaws” of the surface is the lack of buttons, which you can solve with software but that also takes away real estate. The Wacom has the well know buttons (8 on the 16″ and 6 on the 13″) and the wheel. So you can program all your favorite shortcuts and change brush size, zoom and angle the canvas all without ever needing a keyboard. This is a MUST HAVE on something you’re gonna use for professional workflows.

 

Connections
Where the surface pro only had one USB port, or you needed a small hub, is the Mobile Studio Pro nicely equipped with a kensington security slot (great for events), 3 USB-C ports, a SD card reader and a way to secure to pen to the tablet when not in use. As with the MBP you will need convertors or a hub to use TB2, USB3 and HDMI but this sacrifice is something I’m willing to do for the following reasons…..

 

The most important part of this review
With a device like the Wacom Mobile Studio Pro you’re not only buying a tablet, you’re actually buying a cintiq with brains.
On the road it’s a laptop with a BT keyboard, I wish you could connect the two together to work on your lap in airports etc. but who knows maybe there will be a solution for that someday. In the field you can tether to it and you don’t really need a stand, someone can just hold it, during trade shows you can also tether to it but also show some quick retouching tips, during seminars and demos you can connect it to a projector and run powerpoint, back in the hotel it’s a combination of your laptop and a cintiq…. and the best thing was saved for last…. when you buy an extra dongle you can even connect it to your mac or pc in the studio or at home and use it as real cintiq. And for fun… you can also watch movies on it and read books/comics, although in all honesty, when flying I don’t see it replacing my iPad for the simple reason I sometimes don’t even have room for the iPad Pro in Economy.

 

 

Some thoughts I had and you probably too
Let’s go to some concerns I have.

 
Windows 10
Sorry I just have to address this, windows is NO MacOS, there are things I’m used to that won’t work or will work differently. And don’t think “there you have another Mac user that doesn’t know anything about windows”… I’ve been working with windows ever since it was released (before that with DOS, Amiga, COMX and MSX1/2) you could say I’m one of those computer nerds (wannabe hacker) when growing up, for over 20 years Annewiek and I owned a computer store where I helped out with support and trouble shooting windows installations for consumers and small businesses including networks and wifi solutions (this is also why I’m always so frustrated about slow internet in hotels and campgrounds, I know how it should and can work :D) Up until windows 8 we were actively involved with selling and giving support (although I was not active in the store anymore), and I’ve been running windows 10 since it’s release on my other laptop (yes I own a PC laptop too). So let’s take a look at some concerns you might have.

A. Harddrives and file exchange : can be solved by using ExFat (solved)
B. Airplay : we use this A LOT but it can be solved by some apps (still have to look into it, but I think solved)
C. Airdrop : No real way to get this to work,  there are solutions that do something similar (semi solved or workable)
D. MacPhun : I LOVE their stuff…. no solution but there are alternatives.
E. Registry : Don’t tell me there is no problem anymore because there is. Yes things have improved but it’s still not a matter of “in case of emergency just reinstall the OS and continue working” it’s also not a case of “get a new machine/hardware and just copy your programs and continue working”. Windows is still a terrible system when something goes wrong. What I always do with a windows machine is create an exact mirror of the hard drive and store this for future use, after each major update I’ll check if everything still works and I do the same thing, but I won’t delete the old mirror. Let me put it this way… owning a computer company has shown me things I hope you guys NEVER experience but I know it can happen. Also on a PC I will NOT actively install software to just test something, because I know that deinstalling is sometimes not a REAL deinstall, so I will install the stuff I REALLY need and NOT touch it anymore. This is the best way to keep a Windows machine running fine. On the Mac I love to test stuff, download some apps to see how they work etc. on a PC in a workflow setting… no way.
F. Virus scanners : Also here, don’t tell me you don’t need them or they won’t slow down your system, they do and you do need them. But if you choose wisely you can have less impact than if you choose the wrong one.

Overall Photoshop, Lightroom, Capture One and all my other plugins have Windows versions so it will actually all work as I’m used to, the shell will be different but in the end as soon as I’m working there’s no real difference. You just have to ask your supplier if they would be kind enough to also give you windows versions of your plugins.

The only thing that WILL not work is…. Final Cut ProX, I prefer Final Cut ProX above Premiere for the magnetic timeline but for the editing we do on the road…. premiere will do just fine, premiere is an amazing video editor and actually my preference for many years till FCPx matured, so switching back is absolutely no problem, although in the studio I’ll be using FCPx.

Durability
Oh this is a BIG BIG one.
From my MBP I know for sure it can take some abuse, I’m incredibly careful with my gear but we do get it in some “hostile” environments, which actually proofed to be not so good for the Surface which at one point didn’t boot anymore till it was cooled down, where my MBP just kept going like there was no problem at all. Time will tell if a Wacom Mobile Studio Pro will break down or will continue to work, if it brakes down….. there is only one thing I can do, go back to the MBP.

Rest value
The MBP has  TREMENDOUS rest value, sometimes even ridiculous, I’ve sold older MBP’s for prices that were close to 25% off the new value I paid 2 years before that. I’ve tried to sell a high-end PC laptop a few times and ended up just keeping it because it was worth…. well not much.

Warranty
If something happens with a Mac, you can go to ANY store in the world and they will help you, what happens when something happens with a Wacom… as a pro it’s absolutely unacceptable to be without my machine for a day, in fact I can deliver it in the morning but I REALLY need it back ASAP and not in a week.

Battery time
Also a REAL big thing.
They claim 6 hours, so let’s say 2 hours with full load on Photoshop which I think is pretty long seeing my experience with the Surface. Don’t let people tell you they can retouch for 10 hours on a Surface because that’s 100% not true. You can… but you have to lower the screen brightness and you can clone a bit, run some curves etc. My workflow is Capture One RAW conversion into Photoshop, clone and heal, run a filter for the skin, run a filter for extra sharpness, run DxO or Alien skin for tinting, save and repeat. This even drains the battery of my MBP in about 3 hours.

When shooting tethered there is no real problem with the MBP, with the last 3 MBPs I owned I could do a full day workshop with Capture One as tethered solution with FULL brightness and end up above 20% battery live. However we also carry with us a Hyperjuice which can supply another 6 hours to a MBP or iPad pro via USB or charging output (this rocks), the surface pro needed it’s own power supply and 220/110V so no option to use a cigaret lighter connector (airplane etc) only 220/110. I don’t know yet for the Wacom but before I make the final decision I have to be sure I can somehow power the unit in the field without 220/110V.

 

Conclusion
In the past Apple created devices you did not YET knew you needed.
I never wanted an iPhone until I saw someone working with it and saw it sync with agenda and mail (I was still on pop3), I was in awe.
I never wanted a Mac, until I needed one for my Medium format camera and used it for windows and a small part MacOs, within a month I sold my PC and got my first MacPro and NEVER looked back, in the mean time I also convinced my parents and Annewiek and they all are now Mac Users and love it.
I never needed an iPad, until I used it and love the way I could now watch movies during flights without these dreaded entertainment sets from the aircrafts (they still gave you devices on some flights), and I love reading on it.
I never needed an Apple Pencil until I got one and found back my love of drawing.
I never needed an Apple Watch, until my Fitbit broke down for the second time and I thought let’s try it.. well I’m still at version one but wouldn’t want to be without it.

 

I REALLY wanted a device with touch and retouching on the screen……. I waited for the rumored tablet running MacOs which came in the form of the iPad pro and tried seriously to find a professional workflow for photography and never found it (video works pretty well) and drawing is fricking amazing, the next thing/chance was the new MacBook Pro which would revolutionize the world of mobile computing….. and still no touch for the photography/designer people…. In the mean time in the studio we switched to the Cintiq on the MacPro, microsoft has the Surface pro 4 and wacom a third version of their companion (now called Mobile Studio Pro) and the need for a mobile solution like this grew and grew and with the realization that Apple will NOT release something in the near future (they are already 3 generations behind)…… I’m sad to say that for the very first time in my whole apple experience Apple didn’t give me a device I thought I did not need and absolutely loved and can’t be without anymore, but they actually left me a bit in the cold, there’s nothing wrong with the new MacBookPro it’s awesome but times change and the needs of people change, mostly because of what happens around you, if I was a writer, businessman, video editor etc. (which I also am by the way :D) I would probably jump on the new MBP and LOVE it, but as a photographer and retoucher I’m just too much seduced by the awesomeness of a cintiq with a brain that can function as a laptop, tablet and a real cintiq in the studio with a nice big screen and plenty of speed and resolution…………..

 

As soon as I have the Mobile Studio Pro I’ll do a video and review on it as soon as I’m using it.
Don’t think I’m gonna leave Apple…. if there is a new MacPro in the next 2 years I’m fine, if they DROP the MacPro I’m afraid I’ll have to look elsewhere but that will be one of the saddest days in my photography career because I really love my macs and apple products.

Dear Apple…….

I’ve been thinking long and hard about writing this because in all honesty I don’t want to be one of the many sites/guys complaining but because I’m always giving tips and I think pretty pro Apple…. I do have to write this.

 

The day before yesterday we saw Microsoft releasing some really cool products.
In all honesty I’ve tried several Surface Pro incarnations and never was convinced enough to switch, main problem was the OS experience on the screen and the way the stylus responded, it just didn’t felt…. done, it was like “ohhhhhhh almost”.

 
This is something that Apple did great.
Granted in the past Apple was first, with the rest following, slowly others tried to be first with sometime disastrous results (I think it will take a long time for Samsung to recover), but Apple always followed with an answer in the trend of “Ok you tried it, thank you but this is how you do it right”, and let’s be clear they released the Apple Pencil and iPad pro and OMG that’s a product that’s awesome, ok it runs iOS but I’ve done some drawings on it that are absolutely on par with what I can do with a full OS running machine, I’ve always said “if the apps are there there should be no limit for the creative process, IF the hardware is good, and….. that’s where Apple shines”.

 

So yesterday I was ready, Annewiek an me on the coach ready for our new MacBooks, my MBP is still in new condition but it’s a MBP that’s already 2 1/2 years old and I wanted some really cool kickass technology in my MacBook, and it started great…… yeah of course you have released the best iPhone yet (would be weird if it was less), of course 99% of the people are on the newest iOS (it’s Apple so it works so why n0t), of course you have the best OS yet Sierra, again never heard someone say… “well this OS sucks, but the next one…..” so yeah yeah yeah come on Tim give my goodies.

 

So….. 25 years ago the first portable device from Apple and they changed the world…. and yep that was true.
We see the trackpad, oh yeah….. I know where this is going….. it’s going to be awesome, I was now on the edge of my seat for my new creative master power house that will literally obliterate all those people claiming Microsoft was great….wait and see you guys…… this is gonna revolutionize the world, and indeed Tim said the same thing…… the popcorn wasn’t touched and we were both holding sweaty hands on the coach with our eyes focussed on the screen and we didn’t blink a moment….. this was history in the making….. oh my oh my……

 

And …… there it was…….. isn’t it awesome wow wow wow, this is it, LOOK at the trackpad, this is it Annewiek this is gonna change the way we work (wait for it, I’m gonna explain later why we thought that), and that touch strip…… yep even better that we expected, in all honesty this is REALLY a smart move and something that will literally change the way you work, so far so good…… final cut pro demo, great and there we go Adobe on stage…. go Adobe show the world the revolution……….

 

Yep…. and there it all went downwards.
Wait a minute, why is she using her fingers on a trackpad for selections, ah wait they are teasing us….. it must be…… ok love the colors, well done, loads of humor and indeed a nice way to photoshop a new background…. and Adobe leaves the stage….. mmmmmmm of course there will be more…. and indeed…. some music by a Dj, yep again great that new strip, awesome (and I REALLY mean that, it’s not sarcasm). And then the moment…….. well actually not…. where is the “Oh and one more thing…..” no the screen went black and we were left with the feeling….. WTF (sorry) just happened….

 

Ok we needed new notebooks anyway so I decided to order, every day we edit video and photos and our MacBooks are a vital part of our workflow with digital classroom so EVERY single piece of extra speed we REALLY need, so I ordered a 15″ for me and a 13″ for Annewiek, I looked at the price and almost fainted… 5900.00 EUROS and I already did it pretty careful, 16GB in both machines and the slowest CPU but 512SSD, oomph, but ok just breath and press order….oh wait….. crap it’s all USB-C so let’s get the convertors…… let’s see we need.

 

2x USB-C to Thunderbolt for the black magics (Digital classroom)
2x USB-C to USB3 for our wacom and of course a card reader (WHY APPLE WHY)
1x USB-C to HDMI for when I teach…
And here it all stopped…… my common sense kicked in one could say.

 

Rewind.
I’m paying over 4000.00 for my 15″ machine and I get a boat load of convertors and what do I gain… some speed (which in reality is always much less than on paper) and a touch strip……. we ended up ordering only a 13″ for Annewiek and we are going to try some third party convertors first because that saves us over 200.00 for what we need.

 

Ok so what could have happened and SHOULD have happened…. are you listening Apple (Yeah who am I kidding, CLEARLY Apple doesn’t listen).
This could have been a revolution.

 

  1. The trackpad
    Did you see the size of that thing?
    This is what got my heart pumping, imaging having an Apple Pencil and being able to draw on that trackpad, for retouching on the road that would have been absolutely awesome…..

 

And well…. there is actually not an option 2.
Apple delivers a great product, but for the first time (for me) I’m left wondering…. wtf.

 

We’re talking about a company that claims to be a trendsetter instead of a trend follower, it claims to be awesome, terrific, great and the best of the best…. but what it this time delivered is a mess. Let’s see what’s wrong.

 

  1. USB-C
    Don’t get me wrong I think we should all move to USB-C as soon as possible, but don’t take away all USB ports, leave at least 1. I don’t want to drag around convertors for tethering, every single extra connection makes it more prone to errors.
  2. Magsafe
    WHAT ARE YOU THINKING APPLE…..
    Do they not know that when you go to a trade show 99% of the people speaking and demoing are using MacBooks?
    Do you know how many times the magsafe adapter saved my laptop?
    A LOT of time, when someone is standing on my cable it just came loose, now with USB-C I wonder how many MBP’s will actually end up on the floor in pieces.
  3. No Cardreader
    OH MY OH MY, for a company that claims to be in sync with the creative force that build their name HOW could they imagine we didn’t need a card reader anymore?
  4. That trackpad
    Why SO big when you don’t use the Apple pencil, I really wonder how many people will have accidental double clicks, right mouse clicks or weird moves because their hands are on the trackpad…. time will tell. Unless they now want 10 finger gestures the original trackpad was big enough.
  5. No more lit up Apple logo…..
    Ok that’s not a biggy but I would miss that.

 

Maybe Apple doesn’t understand what the pro’s need.
We don’t need a 4mm less thick notebook, we don’t care that it’s a little bit lighter (you know how much gear we drag around), we need a system that works and works everywhere, go somewhere and connect HDMI, if we’re at an event we want to put the card in the machine, download images and send them away, if we want to copy something fast we need a USB stick in the USB port. Now we need to carry around fricking convertors for EVERYTHING we need to do on a daily basis, what if the convertor gets lost…. for a consumer no problem… for a pro it means…. well no demo, no workshop, no etc….. because with only USB-C the machine is useless, there are no projectors in event spaces with USB-C, there are …. well you get the idea.

 

IF Apple would have made the trackpad compatible with the Apple pencil I would have hated the idea of convertors…. but I would have ordered. I for one would feel sick in my whole body for the price but as a pro I want the best and in all honesty where PC notebooks have let me down MANY times due to extreme heat (in the desert), high humidity in Florida, or a little bit of rain in the Netherlands…. my MacBook pro’s have NEVER let me down, the OS is rock solid and the system still likes new after many miles travelled and being used every day while my PC notebook (also a very expensive one) after 2 years looks like it’s 2-3 years old (and that one is used maybe once or twice a week).

 

So what now…. Will I leave Apple…..
No of course not, on the desktop I still think my MacPro rocks, its incredibly fast and I can edit multicam 4K without any problem so it works, the OS in my opinion is the best on the market for stability, integration with iPhones and iPads etc. Apple TV is a great learning tool, we use two in our studio (mostly one) to project my desktop on two big screen TV’s and in 99% of the cases it works flawless so absolutely no reason to switch.
For mobile….. sorry to say but I think for me it’s bye bye Apple.
I’m gonna miss final Cut pro on the road for our video editing but Adobe Premiere is an AWESOME alternative, I used that before FCPx was actually mature enough to start using it, it took some time but I believe FCPx at the moment is one hell of a program.

 

When I see the Microsoft Surface book I just know it’s not gonna work for me, I tried a surface pro 4 and had major issues with it for battery life and the fact that it couldn’t be charged with anything else that their own power supply which meant I had to carry a LARGE block and couldn’t use for example our hyperjuice which will keep my MBP running for 8 hours straight even when using PS. And that was the other problem… when I buy a Surface I want to Photoshop and edit video… and when the battery dies within 90 minutes (it was actually much less but I don’t want a flame war) for me that just doesn’t work, also compared to the Wacom I’m using or the iPad pro the stylus wasn’t up to par… for a consumer it’s great but not for me.

 

But there is another device.
Wacom just released the Mobile studio 16″
A 4K 16″ screen with 94% adobe RGB, a Wacom stylus (so you know it’s good) and all the connectivity I need (not just one USB port like the Surface), with the 4K screen I know PS and Manga studio and Lightroom will leave me plenty of real estate instead of covering a 1920×1080 screen with menus and leaving just a very small space to retouch or draw and I think 16″ is just enough screen and still small enough to use on location… remember I’m a pro user not someone for a MacBook air, it’s a WORKhorse.

 

And indeed I’m willing to use convertors for a device like this, because it also saves me A LOT.
Now I travel with a MBP and a wacom tablet, and that was the norm, but in a day and age where touch screens are the norm I think that the travel wacom tablet would be replaced. With the mobile studio 16 I can travel and use it as a Cintiq when I’m connected to a PC or Mac, and when disconnected it can run on it’s own… there are still some concerns…. does it charge via “USB-C” via the Hyperjuice, how long is the battery life really etc.
And in all honesty I’m a bit worried about going to Windows……
I know my way around windows and I’m pretty technical so no problems there.
But Windows also means that when I change device or hardware there is HUGE change I have to reinstall everything which takes me about half a day to get it up and running the way I want, it also means that we have to start using virus scanners, registries that fill up, weekly or daily updates for the OS, hardware drivers etc. etc. As a former PC user this was one of things I LOVED about macs, worry about what I do and not all about the OS or drivers etc.

 

Will it be worth it?
We will see, but I’m afraid it will be (for Apple).
Imagine having a 4K display that is touch sensitive, a wacom stylus so you can draw and control your software without the need for anything else (I know it doesn’t work that way), just connect a wireless keyboard and you have a laptop, connect it via a dongle to your mac and pc and you have a cintiq… it all sounds almost to good to be true….. if it would run MacOS I would run to the store and buy one, now I will probably just slowly and with a little bit of a sad feeling walk to the store and get me a Wacom…… nothing against Wacom by the way, but switching to Windows is just something I thought I wouldn’t do anymore. I’m however VERY much looking forward to the experience of the mobile studio 16 and who knows if it works great……. no I don’t want to think about that.

 

How could Apple REALLY revolutionize the laptop market
Almost impossible with the surface pro laptops, but they could do it IF they do this.
Imagine having a MacBook pro with the large touch strip and a large trackpad that you can use with the Apple pencil, but wait there is more…. if you’re done with the laptop part you can disconnect the screen and it switches to iOS and you can use it as an iPad pro including the Apple pencil. It wouldn’t be a revolution because Microsoft already has it… but at least it would run MacOs….

 

I really CAN’T imagine that Apple couldn’t pull something like this off.
Making a touchpad compatible with Apple pencil should be no problem at all, making an iPad pro connect to a MacBook body with the smart connector should be ABSOLUTELY no problem, and in fact you don’t even need a smart connector because programs like Duet also manage with just a lighting adaptor. Now leave the card reader in and one USB port and you would literally have my dream machine.

 

Years ago the MBP was my dream machine.
They server me (and Annewiek) very very well, they NEVER let me down, the NEVER crashed on me during a vital moment, when on stage or on a shoot I don’t want to think about if my hardware will keep working, I want to focus on my work and not on hardware. Today I’m afraid it’s the end of an era, the era where Apple was the best choice for the creative force. Apple is now a company that in my honest opinion is charging pro prices for consumer aimed gear, a pro machine with dongles and no card reader because it can be 4mm thinner is something NO pro in the world is waiting for….

 

Sorry Apple.
Wacom, here I come……. (I think).
Feel free to leave your options and thoughts.

 

iPad pro, Surface Pro4, Wacom Cintiq… which one…..

A while ago I posted a video online where I showed an app called Astropad.
This app is pretty awesome, it makes it possible to do some retouching in Photoshop/Lightroom etc. on your iPad pro with the Apple Pencil, and it works pretty well, although it has limitations (later more). This video got an amazing amount of views, actually it’s nearing the 180.000 views on YouTube. It also got some remarks which literally puzzled me but also motivated me to write this very short (well ok I’ll try) review on 3 amazing devices, but all in their own right. So…. ladies and gentleman hold your horses, buckle in and if you want to comment please read the article very well and read your reply before pressing post.

 

The weird, dumb, crazy remarks 
Now as you know me I’m a pretty laid back kind of guy, you can’t get me angry very quickly and I’ll always try to answer any question you guys have, but sometimes……

On the video on Astropad I clearly demonstrated an APP on the iPad pro that MIMICS what you can normally do on a Wacom Cintiq. I loved (and still love) this app, but it has limitations. First of all it has to be run on an iPad that is connected to your Mac, this means you ALWAYS need a mac close by, but as long as you are in the same network this means it can be anywhere in your home, this makes it possible to retouch in Photoshop while sitting on the coach.. pretty cool. Now that’s the app, and I think I was pretty clear in that video what it did….. Still MANY people asked me if it ran Photoshop and NO it doesn’t (clearly).

The thing that did get me a frustrated a lot were the many many people starting “wars” on that the iPad pro sucked, I was a fool and I needed to get a surface pro 4. Yeah well…. that wasn’t the idea of the video right? you don’t tell someone that owns a Volvo that he has to get a tractor or plane. But…. it did motived me to call up our friends at Microsoft and arrange an Surface pro 4.

And this…. is where I start this review/opinion on 3 great devices.

 

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iPad pro
Let me start with this one.
It retails for app 1200 euros and you have the familiar cool stuff that you are used to from Apple (or if you’re not an Apple fanboy, the bad stuff), it’s a great device to surf the web, you can watch a LOT of movies while traveling, you can use Lightroom mobile and now with the Apple pencil you can get incredibly creative with software like Pro-create and the Adobe suite or MediaBang etc. etc. there is a lot.

I got the iPad pro for one very simple reason, I LOVE to draw. I haven’t drawn in a long time because I never felt the digital way was my way and to draw on paper… well I don’t know why I didn’t do it but I just didn’t (end of story), with the iPad pro and the Apple Pencil I loved the way it felt and I was immediately sold, plus I like the larger display to watch movies on in the RV or while traveling, although in the plane it can sometimes be a bit too big, but then when you read a comic….. ahhhhh heaven, it’s amazing.

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Astropad I already mentioned and is a great app if you ALREADY have an iPad, you buy it for a very reasonable price and you can retouch on your iPad pro. However it’s far from perfect and for one simple reason… the hover over option. When you do street/travel photography it ROCKS and I dare to say you hardly need anything else, but if you need some serious cloning or selecting… well how much I love Astropad it…. well isn’t usable for that. With a Wacom you’re used to see where you place your pointer BEFORE you hit the surface and this makes cloning a breeze, with Astropad, it’s a matter of… well guessing it and trust me, that’s a BIG frustration. But again if you don’t clone a lot (or just need to remove some dust) it works like a charm.

Now for serious photography the iPad pro is not what you need, there is no way of working on TIFF 16bits, there is no good software for retouching although Pixelmator and Enlight come very very close the end result is still not pro quality. There is some action from Adobe expected and one of their competitors Affinity is claiming to have a great solution next year but let’s see what happens, if Affinity really delivers what they promise… wow.

Video editing on the iPad pro is awesome, you can start in iMovie or Adobe clip and finish it off when you’re home on the Mac/Pc, this workflow actually surprised me in how efficient and easy it was, I expected photography to be better.

The iPad pro and the already mentioned Pro-create and other drawing solutions make that part alone already worth the money to spend on the iPad pro, it’s really VERY VERY good, if not the best device for creatives.

Watching movies, reading comics, playing games, surfing the web, all as we are used to from the iPad/iPhone very solid and great to kill hours on a plane or evenings at campgrounds/home.

The disadvantages are many if you compare it to a laptop or surface pro 4.
No USB ports, although the USB/Lighting sticks solve this pretty well, but still also there you miss a real file system where it becomes possible to open up comics for example from a stick or copy them to a certain app, now it’s all very basic, great for movies and video/photography but that’s about it. BUT if you know this it’s a “perfect” working solution. Also no full blown photoshop or lightroom, Lightroom mobile ROCKS but only if you have a great internet connection which when traveling well let me say this… sometimes sending a letter is faster than sending an email.

The advantages are more in my opinion.
The apps are made for the screen, they are rock solid, they start very fast, they do what they have to do and the touch interface is better on Apple than on any other device I every tried add to this the Apple pencil and you will know why I (and so many) love our Apple iPad.

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Surface pro 4
Microsoft was so kind to send me their Surface pro 4
The version I got retailed for app 2400 euros, twice the price of the iPad pro, and I loved it.
Running full versions of Photoshop and Lightroom and Capture One is great of course.
But that’s on paper…..
And I know I can’t run them on the iPad pro but somehow I know that, on the Surface pro 4 I can so I expect to be able to use them, right?
Well that’s where it goes wrong.

Let me first tell you that I’m NOT an Apple Fanboy, I own a lot of Apple gear, but if something better show up I’m switching without any problem, they are just tools, but somehow when Apple makes something it always seems to work. That being said I also know the limitations and that also means I would LOVE a macbook with a touch screen or an iPad Pro that runs MacOsX (APPLE!!!!) but that’s not here (yet). The Surface pro 4 promises to be just that… so I expect that, this is very important to say before I continue because although I love the product I also find some problems with it.

First off all let’s look at the software.
I love to shoot tethered in Capture One, and that works like a charm, awesome freedom, just walk around with the tablet on a stand and shoot.
Now the retouching part, the display is too small to use Capture One comfortably, and this trend continues with Photoshop, you can scale Photoshop but when you scale it up the work area is WAY too small, when you scale it down it’s more than enough but for the best of me I can’t control the settings or click the right buttons, it’s just too small (Adobe make a zoom function thats flexible or just in between, that would solve this).
Lightroom works ok, although also here zoomable interface…. thank you very much that would be handy.

The touch in Photoshop is awesome, you can easily zoom, rotate and drag around while retouching with the stylus, now this is what I want, this rocks, this is awesome this is…….. hmmmmm battery empty…. yep that’s the main thing I have against the Surface Pro 4, I could retouch 4 images and my battery was dead, now I retouch FAST, but I use 3 plugins that are pretty CPU hungry on my shots and this meant that after app 1 hour my battery was dead as a rock, totally empty.

By the way one quick side step.
The thing I did miss in Photoshop were the keystrokes, and attaching a keyboard… well that didn’t work for me, I choose a tablet to draw on for a reason and than attaching a keyboard doesn’t make sense, I was about to give up when I found a cool little app called tablet pro, this gives you an extra floating or locked keypad where you can program your keystrokes, like the Wacom has it’s expresskeys, this REALLY made the difference for me between sending it back and using it with loads of fun.

Now when an iPad/iPhone is nearing it’s empty state there is not really a problem, you just connect it to a 12V outlet, or a spare battery like the HyperJuice, Mophie etc. there are plenty of them out there, for the Surface Pro 4….. NONE, meaning if you take this baby with you on a 10 hour flight the fun stops at app 9 hours to go, probably already before take off if you are so lucky they have to de-ice the plane and the rest of the time you… well just sit.

Of course it’s not that bad… watching movies the battery actually copes pretty well, it’s not as good as the iPad pro (which I never emptied not even on the longest flights (10+ hours)) but it manages pretty well and if you also take something else with you for entertainment you will probably love the Surface Pro 4, but don’t start retouching because you will run into problems with the battery and there are no external solutions (unless I miss something).

The other thing I experienced as negative was the ONE USB port.
Yes I know the iPad has none but that’s not a laptop….. (see why I told you to think about it before replying), and from the Surface pro 4 I actually expect to leave my laptop at home. Now why is one USB port bad… well you can’t make any backups. The unit I got had a 128GB internal memory and when I travel that’s not enough so we have to use an external drive for storage which…. is connected to USB, so if I want to make a backup of that drive……. yep no luck, unless you also bring your dock which gives you a minidisplay port, USB and some other goodies, so in all honesty it’s something that you CAN solve. But…. when I don’t bring a laptop I also expect my device to run all day during a photoshoot in the field, my MacBook Pro with Capture One running and tethering with full screen brightness can stay “alive” for app 4-4.5 hours, after which we connect it to the hyper juice (actually when it’s half empty), the surface pro 4 ran empty after app 2 hours, which means I can NEVER do a full workshop or even photoshoot with it in the field, unless….. we have power and in most cases we will have power but in some cases we don’t and certainly not close to the laptop.

Now it seems like I’m negative about the Surface Pro 4, but I’m actually FAR from negative. I absolutely loved working on it, Windows 10 is nice although I prefer the MacOs but it’s good enough. The stylus is pretty good and when used in Photoshop or Manga Studio (thanks to Smith Micro for supplying me with a test version for PC and Mac so I could compare) it’s a dream to work on. For drawing itself I still VERY MUCH prefer the iPad pro, the apps are designed for the iPad pro and this means you have the maximum space to draw and no clutter around the edges with menus like on Windows, let’s be realistic this is a full version you’re running and they are not designed to be ran on a small screen.

In essence I loved the surface pro 4 but the problem I have with it is the working space in Photoshop, the very limited battery life and the one USB port on the device. If they would add an option to charge via USB that would make the Surface Pro a MUCH better device for guys like me who really use the device in the field.

 

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The Wacom
Now this is a weird one in this list I think, but bare with me.
Due to the drawing experience on the iPad pro I wanted to do the same thing on the Mac, but in all honestly eye hand coordination with the normal tablet didn’t work out for me, for normal retouching I couldn’t life without my Wacom but for drawing it just doesn’t work, now there were two options for me.

  1. The Wacom Companion
  2. The Wacom Cintiq 13HD

In all honestly the Companion as it is now is pretty awesome but a bit too large for me to travel with and too limited because I also bring my laptop, so I can much better just bring a travel tablet and draw on the iPad pro which I also carry with me. The Companion idea is great and very similar in my opinion to the Surface pro 4 except it has all the express keys and when you connect it to your mac or PC you have a full blown cintiq, but it’s bigger than the surface pro 4, so for traveling…. well I’ll let you decide.

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When you get used to drawing on the screen with both retouching and drawing it’s very hard to leave that experience and go back to the normal tablet, so I knew I wanted a cintiq. My first choice was the 13HD but when I tested that one out at CameraNu.nl I had to be realistic with myself…. it’s just a bit too small, so in the end we decided to go for the 22HD touch. As you probably know we really ended up with a 27″HD demo model from Wacom which I can try out and show so I’m very happy.

Now when I look at my retouching at home I absolutely love the Wacom Cintiq, compared to Astropad it’s not limited by the hover function, it’s much bigger and it shows my selections crystal clear (Astropad does show some flickering with the marching ants), Thanks to Smith Micro I can also use Manga Studio on my Mac and has become my favorite drawing program for sketching and line work, after which I finish everything in Photoshop. The experience on the Cintiq is absolutely breathtaking, on the iPad pro the lag is VERY low and the overal experience is great, but… the surface can be a little slippery where the Cintiq really feels like a more tactile surface which I actually prefer, I do feel that shading with a pencil is MUCH cooler on the iPad, everyone I show this is just stunned, but…… psssst I never shade like that…….so I don’t miss it.

Traveling with the 27″ cintiq is out of the question, Annewiek told me so herself, so you better believe it.

 

so…… why all these devices in one post.
As mentioned before it started with a review of Astropad (a cintiq like app) on the iPad pro, which I bought to replace my iPad and to draw. Due to all the remarks about the Surface pro 4 I got one from Microsoft to compare and I think that there will be a Surface Pro in my future if they make it slightly bigger and add an option to use external batteries. Because I got so used to retouching on the image itself and drawing is something I’m more and more in love with plus I want to do some new stuff with my photography I actually ended up with a Cintiq, so I think this is the only place where you will find a review with these 3 together but I hope my insights gave you some ideas and maybe tips if you’re also looking for a solution.

 

Conclusion
There is no spoon….
Oops wrong blog….
There is no perfect solution.
I hope for the day we have macbook pro keyboard with an iPad pro screen, take the screen off and the iPad pro becomes an iOS device with all the apps etc. put it back into place and it’s a dumb screen for a laptop, this should be no problem at all for Apple so I wonder what they are waiting for…..If they would also make it possible to RETOUCH on the screen while connected it would mean I would have one device with me during travels.

For now I’m using the following.
iPad pro for media consumption, drawing, reading comics, surfing the web, the perfect traveling companion.
MacBookPro for shooting in the field, in all honesty a tethertools table on a stand is not that much more work to carry around than a tablet on a stand.
Wacom Cintiq for studio use.

That last one I don’t see me replacing by ANY device, working on the 27″ cintiq is VERY addictive and going back to a smaller one…. well no way (well maybe but than it has to be a lot better), the iPad pro and MacBook Pro I’m afraid that for the coming time that will stay my combination up until ONE device can REALLY replace them both, let’s hope on the Microsoft Surface Pro 5/6/7 or if Apple wakes up and does something amazing 😀

Feel free to leave comments but keep it respectful please, this is MY opinion and only MY opinion.