This is my new 13-inch MacBook Pro and a 10.6-inch Samsung N220 Netbook next to it, both set-up for digital workflow use, while traveling to remote locations. As you can see in the picture above, both computers are capable of running Adobe Photoshop Lightroom (Version 3). The MacBook Pro is the newest mid-2010 version so it runs OSX 10.6 and the Netbook is running Windows 7.
I used to travel with a 17-inch PowerBook and although that was always nice to have with me when it came time for working on my images and websites, it was often just too big to take along to where I had to go and the battery did not last very long. I have been looking for a better solution for some time, the 15-inch version of the Apple laptop has of course been a standard for journalists and photographers for some time, but I was waiting for Apple to bring back the 12-inch pro laptop. For a variety of reasons (including the MacBook Air) this will of course never happen.
In the last couple of years long life battery laptops started coming on the market and when Samsung announced a 10 hour battery life for their new Netbook, I decided that was the way to go for remote location work and bought the Samsung N220. When I’m in the middle of the jungle, I don’t really need to do image editing or website updates, but the ability to store and review images while on location is something I would rather not be without.
For the extreme remote locations I will probably continue to use the Samsung netbook for the next year or so, because it is very light and functions as a much better image storage device than any device I have ever used, that was designed specifically for that purpose. It also cost a lot less than my MacBook Pro, so if it does get damaged in a typhoon I won’t be too heartbroken.
Now the joker in the deck is of course the new 11.6-inch MacBook Air. I have played with it a bit and I have to admit that I kind of like it. As a matter of fact I kind of like it a lot. The 13-inch version of the MacBook Air does not appeal to me though, I can’t see switching from the MacBook Pro when it comes to serious computing. On my travels I often have to plug into an ethernet LAN, I also use firewire drives for fast external image and video access, and I have been known to make use of external monitors in the strangest of places. It could be argued that it is possible to connect to most external devices with a MacBook Air but I would probably have to carry a bag of connection cables that would weigh more than the computer itself.
This is the first in a series of articles on mobile Mac computing for photographers.
Next article: Connecting the MacBook Pro to various external monitors while traveling.