Computer or Tablet?

I will get back to the bulk loading posts again, I promise, but rearranging everything to deal with the virus and the move to the new apartment with much less storage space than the old place has set back all of my photography-related activities. I have given up trying find room in our small second bedroom for an exercise bike, a guest bed, miscellaneous storage and the computer desk from our old home. I have to move several boxes every time I want to use the old iMac for my photo work. Instead, I have been working in the living room with my MacBook Air on my lap and earbuds in my ears while my wife watches television. This arrangement works well in some regards, but no so well in others.

I found that I didn’t need a larger screen for editing my photos than the approximate size of my “big” prints which are either 7 by 10.5 or 8 by 12. I can still zoom to see details as large as I like, but looking at screen versions of my images larger than my prints of the same images was misleading me. Apparent sharpness of scanned files is very much affected by magnification, The 13″ screen of the MacBook Air is big enough.

But I specified the MacBook for things like email, word processing and spreadsheets, not for things like batch processing of large image files. It helps a little that one thing I do early in my process is convert the RGB/16 scans of black and white negatives to Gray/16. This reduces their size by a factor of three and speeds up the processing noticeably. But the MacBook still runs much slower than the eight year old iMac. This is largely due to its having 8GB of RAM vs. the iMac’s 16GB.

But the biggest issue with my MacBook Air is the butterfly keyboard. It is undoubtedly the single worst design decision Apple has ever made. Mine sticks, skips and jambs regularly and by all reports I am not alone. Apple has a keyboard replacement program for earlier MacBook computers than mine but claims that they fixed things by the time mine was made. I have read that they will repair some like mine on a case-by-case basis but getting to an Apple showroom (twice) with no guarantees is not convenient and apparently there is no mail-in alternative.

Supposedly, the scissors design “magic” keyboard of the latest Mac computers does not have these problems but, frankly, I no longer trust Apple laptop keyboards. But all the while that I was pounding on the MacBook keyboard, brushing off dust and crumbs, and cussing it my wife was typing away on her iPad with absolutely no issues.

When I bought my current MacBook Air i thought about buying an iPad instead. I’d had problems with the battery of my first generation MacBook Air while my wife had no problems with her earlier iPad. But there was no photo pixel editor available for the iPad and there was no way to access Epson’s ABW printer function. Both of those problems have now been solved. We now have Serif’s Affinity Photo and Epson’s Print Layout running on my very patient wife’s iPad Air. I loaded one of my RAW files from the iCloud, developed it, edited it and made a sepia toned print on our new Epson P700 printer.

My first computer was an Apple //e. Over the years I’ve had a number of Apple desktop and laptop computers. And now it looks like one of Apple’s more powerful tablets might be the better next step.

2 thoughts on “Computer or Tablet?”

  1. Hi Doug,

    I can tell you that I switched completely from an iMac (2013, 21.5 inch) to an iPad Air, not the latest model. Works like a charm for me.

    I can do everything Photo related easier than on a Mac as I can directly draw any adjustments with the Apple Pencil. I use Lightroom Mobile that you can get from the Apple Store for a monthly 4,99€ fee with 100Gb storage. And of course Affinity Photo is basically a steal… though I struggle to understand it’s workings yet.

    With the ‘new’ iPadOS 14, file management has become easy on the iPad and the ‘old’ iPad Air 3 is really up to the task speed-wise. I guess the new Air will be much better still.


    1. Hi Frank,

      Thank you for the encouragement. I have thought for some time that an iPad would be a better all around solution for my “computer” activities, but I worried that I might be cutting myself off from some capabilities I have now with a Mac. The photo-related software I just used on my wife’s iPad and the Files function have put my biggest two concerns to rest.

      And today I had another success. I started addressing Christmas card envelopes using EnvelopeCat on the Mac. It lets me select however many addresses I want from my Contacts and prints the envelopes as a batch job. I wondered if I could find a similar IOS app. A quick check of the Apple App Store turned up Addressed Envelope Designer. I used it to finish today’s batch of envelopes.


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