Elliot Jay Stocks is a designer, speaker, and author. He is the Creative Director of Adobe Typekit, the founder of typography magazine 8 Faces, one half of Viewport Industries, and an electronic musician.

A note about my new Mac set-up

Posted on 09 August 2011 Comments

Article illustration for A note about my new Mac set-up

[UPDATE, 10.08.2011: I’ve edited this post so that it now lists the complete specs of the two machines.]

People keep asking me about my new iMac-plus-Air set-up, so I wanted to write a quick note it: so far, it’s absolutely bloody fantastic!

I’ll elaborate. As I said when I originally blogged about my plans for a cloud-centric Mac set-up, it’s all about the extremes: the biggest possible iMac and the smallest possible Air. Many people can’t understand why I went with an 11" Air, but in my opinion, a 13" defies the point of getting an Air in the first place. People forget that the 11" Air has a horizontal resolution of 1366 pixels, which is just 74 pixels narrower than my old friend, the 15" MacBook Pro. 74 pixels! So all you lose (horizontally) is this:

74px

Of course, I must admit that I’m not relying on the Air being my only machine; it’ll be sharing the duties with the iMac, which is obviously huge. Its horizontal pixel count is 2560. Blimey.

The specs

11" MacBook Air
Processor: 1.8GHz i7
Memory: 4GB RAM
Storage: 256GB SSD

27" iMac
Processor: 2.7GHz i5
Memory: 8GB RAM
Storage: 256GB SSD + 1TB Serial ATA
Accessories: Wireless keyboard and Magic Trackpad (used in conjunction with my pre-existing Logitech MX Revolution mouse)

The story so far

I’ve had both machines for five days now, and have been using them for actual work for about three days. I’m happy to report that apart from the initial pain of having to set up two machines rather than one (double the installations, double the preference changes, etc.), they’ve been performing exactly as I’d hoped. The Air is blazingly fast; even faster than my old MBP — which had an SSD in it —  and seems about as fast as the iMac in every task I’ve thrown at it. And yes, I’ve been using Photoshop on both. Working across the two machines has been absolutely fine so far, as all of the important stuff (including several libraries and preferences, not just apps) is synced via Dropbox.

I realise that this is early days yet, and I’m treating this as something of an experiment, but it’s working wonderfully so far. For anyone who travels, the Air is just perfect: it’s super light, extremely small, and the new models are pro-level machines in terms of power. And having the iMac at home with absolutely everything on it means that I can keep the Air lean, too, which is even better.

The new Macs

Needless to say, I’m selling my existing 15" MacBook Pro. It’s a couple of years old now, but I put a 256GB SSD in it about five months ago and it’s basically like a new machine. It has 4GB or RAM and I’m throwing in a spare battery (it’s the unibody model, but the one where you can open the bottom part where the battery lies), a neoprene sleeve, and a BookArc. £900. Email me if you’re interested. Sold to my studio mate, Mr. Tom Oliver Harrison!

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