PC vs Mac? (aka: Digging Samsung Series 7 Chronos)

 

If you want to start a giant flamewar online, you can always count on three things:  HDR, Canon vs. Nikon, Android vs. Iphone, and PC vs. Mac.  Try as people may, there still seems to be this lingering mindset that there are big differences in performance/productivity/creativity in owning one versus the other.  There is also a great amount of debate that circles when we switch from one to another.  For the most part – I get it.  We are creatures of comparison, and we love being in tribes.  That said, i thought it would be cool to just write out some thoughts on it as I started playing with this Samsung Series 7 Chronos laptop.

The Backstory

Some friends over at Intel had asked me whether I would consider trying out a laptop that leveraged the Core i7 Processor.  Great processing power, lower power consumption – whos not to like that?  A lot of the work that i have been doing recently is in the genre of HDR - where I am taking multiple exposures and putting them together to make surrealistic images.  To me, having to wait around while the computer is processing has always been a slow death.  Combine that with the fact that most of the images that I am working on are HDR merges of D800 files (36 megapixels) and my need for bigger processing power became more imminent.  Add to that the fact that I am not just merging one file, but multiple HDR files into panoramics and you can see why jumping at trying something with more oomph was high on the list.  So far, the Chronos has been performing extremely well.  I’ll cover just how well in another blog post.

This got people talking about what caused me to move, or consider using a PC.  It also got people asking what made me want to choose the Macbook Pro that I was using now.  Its best to outline the things that I thought was great about using the Macbook Pro

Things About Macbook Pro I like

Sexiness:  It is very hard to deny the fact that the Macbook Pro is a nice looking machine.  Its smooth, has very little stickers, and the construction of it really does feel akin to artwork.  The overall look of the machine mattered to me.  Its similar to people who own watches.  Could you tell the time with a 30 dollar watch? Sure.  There are still people that buy 200 dollar watches for the very same purposes.  That said, the overall style of it was appealing to them, much in the same way the style of the Macbook is appealing to me. Considering the fact that my life runs on a computer – with me spending over 80 percent of my day on them, being with something that I like aesthetically was important.

Ecosystem: In addition to a Macbook pro, I have an iMac at home, a Time Capsule, an Apple TV, and iphones for Jenn and I.  To be able to have machines that talk to one another easily was something that I thought was important.  I liked having an itunes library that I can share with another machine, stream to an apple TV and sync to iphones.  Theyve made it easy, so it was easy to choose. This ecosystem argument has broken down a little bit – and i’ll talk about that later.

Power Supply: Again, the lions share of my work has me on the road working on stuff.  I was for a while using a Dell laptop, and I hated the fact that the power supply that was with the unit looked like a small table.  It was hard to pack, a pain to lug around, and hard to put away.  It protruded out of the laptop awkwardly, and I hated the amount of space that it added to the laptop footprint (small as it was)

Battery Life:  Running a PC meant that in a very short amount of time, I would have to go out and find power.  On a Mac, Ive always felt like ive had an ample amount of power to work on the things that I wanted to, battery wise.  Being mobile meant I wanted  something that lasted longer.

Why I Absolutely Needed a Mac

 

The reasons that I gave for using a mac are largely preference – not a solid foundation to say definitively that I needed one system or another.  That said, I was pretty much forced to making the switch to a Mac for three very niche and specific reasons.  These are also, the only reasons why I am still on a Mac:

Cleartype and Book/Magazine Writing:  In Windows Vista, Microsoft introduced some technology that allowed for sharper fonts called ClearType.  This was an option that you could turn off and on as you wanted it.  In Windows7, they made ClearType mandatory- no way to turn it off.

When you create screenshots of dialog boxes, menus, and iconography on a computer and you have ClearType enabled, the conversion that they have to do to the screenshots that you made look horrible for use in print.

I spend my days writing books and magazine articles for places like Photoshop User MagazineLightroom Magazine, and Light It Magazine.  I wrote my first book “Get Your Photography On the Web” using a Dell M4500 with Windows7 on it.  My editorial team wanted to immediately lynch me as every screenshot that I made for the book needed to be redone on a Mac.  When you are trying to meet an editorial deadline, you dont need these kinds of delays – so using a Windows7 machine was a no go.  When you are writing for as many books and magazines as I am – its a forgone conclusion – head to a mac.

Camtasia:  I spend a lot of my time at work making tutorials.  This means that I have to use screen recording software to make these tutorials.  On the PC, the program that everyone uses is called Camtasia.  As I would encode the videos to use for creating tutorials, our video production department started noticing sync issues with voice and video.  I think this may have had something to do with variable bit rates on the videos that were coming out.  In short – using the PC to make the videos was causing a problem.  In such short deadlines, having to troubleshoot these problems just wasnt worth it to have a PC based system.  We knew what worked on the Mac – and it made the decision easy.

File Permissions on Servers:  Being an all Mac shop at work – there are tons of folders and resources on the networks that are used to facilitate our work.  I found that moving folders from a PC environment into a Mac environment sometimes caused problems that were rough to troubleshoot.  These files are denied, these files cannot be read, this server has a hard time being available to you.  Again, time doesnt permit for these kinds of hiccups.  It works on a Mac so why move it.

Do you find yourself working on your computer where these three things are important to you?  If so, you may find it easier to be on a Mac.  If none of these things are things that you do for a living, and dont mean anything to you – there’s no real reason for you to be on a Mac.

 

Why I am Liking the Samsung Series 7 Chronos

 

I have had just a little bit of time playing around with the Chronos – and have to say that based on that small time, I can already see me recommending this computer as a great laptop for people looking to get into a mobile computer.  The following are a couple of things that are immediate standouts to me on it.

 

Intel Core i7:  Speed is the Key!  To be able to have a computer that’s doing heavy lifting with low power consumption, this makes this laptop immediately a must want.  When you take into account things like converting video (from raw files to youtube/podcast forms), encoding videos from Photoshop CS6, and running filters on really big files, the Core i7 is going to be a great add here.  The Chronos 7 came with a Stock 8GB of RAM, but that will quickly get a visit to Crucial.com and get that bumped up to 16GB.   As I start doing more and more testing on it, i’ll make a full blog post on it. (check out more on the Core i7 stuff here)

 

 

The Chronos Design Rocks:  Samsung is one of the few PC manufacturers that finally get it!  Take a PC laptop and make it look like something you would want to carry in your arm.  Make it light!  Give it a brushed steel look.  Dont make knobs or switches jut out of the thing.  At home, I just recently bought a Samsung stove, and the sleekness of the computer reminds me of the sleekness of the stove.  This computer looks sexy, svelte, portable, and powerful.

 

The Power Supply!!:   FINALLY!!!  The power supply on the Chronos doesnt look like it needs its own bookbag!  Its small enough to not make a dent in your bag.  Is there room to improve?  Sure! I wouldve preferred a right angle on the power supply so it doesnt jut out.  But the size is a HUGE advantage here.

 

Upgrading to Windows8 Was a Breeze:   When I first got this laptop, it came with Windows7 installed.  This totally will not do.  I went to the Microsoft website and bought Windows8 to use.  In about 25 minutes it was completely installed with no problem.

Now, I realized that there were some compatibility things here that would need to be upgraded, and I cringed as to how much soul sucking was going to be done while I went to Samsung’s website and one by one performed this “Is this going to be on Windows 8?  Is this the one I need? Where do I save it to install.”

 

Samsung gives you ONE program.  You install it. It goes out and finds your system.  Then goes out and finds ALL OF THE DRIVERS YOU NEED FOR WINDOWS 8!!

 

 

Push one button, and it takes care of the rest for you!  I was set on having this be an incredibly time consuming thing, and these guys made it absolutely easy!

I have another post I want to do on my Windows8 experience.. but in short.. I’m really digging it.  More on that later..

ClearType is an Option Again! 

With Windows8, it looks like Microsoft has gone back to having ClearType be something that I can turn off.  I am going to be checking and performing tests with our editorial department.. but this gives me great hope.

 

Tools for The Trade

So, am I happy with my Macbook Pro? Sure.  Its good.  I’m not going out and getting into a knife fight with someone over it.  I’m not going to bash a PC for it.  It’s OK.. But, more importantly – its the computer that I am using at the moment because of these small sets of requirements that I need it to do for my job.  It totally helps that it has a nice aesthetic, but for the most part… its a laptop.

Am I excited about the Chronos 7? Absolutely.  It looks sexy.  The computer peforms very well (so far).  I’m loving how Windows8 looks.  Cleartype is not an issue.  And its cheaper than what I have right now.  If you want to save yourself some coin and get something that’s going to be able to handle some heavy lifting –  these are some of the sexiest laptops out there and they totally deserve a look (im already sending this “you know.. we need this PC” note to our IT department. :) )

At the end of the day, I have seen some amazing work come out of the worst of computers, and some god awful work come out of some of the prettiest boxes.  The playing field these days between Mac and PC is pretty level.  All of the Adobe Creative Suite is the same on both. They computers are just hammers – tools for you to do your thing.

What you do with them is what makes the most difference.

 

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