A Bit Of An Upgrade

Over the last few years my “mobile” computer of choice has been my iPad Pro. It’s small, light, and does what I need it to do. It has, in fact, become so central to my workflow I opted to upgrade my 12.9 iPad Pro, and let my 2014 MacBook Pro age away.

In the Fall of 2019 my MacBook began to show signs of aging. It was sluggish in Final Cut X, newer technologies tended to make it slow down, and it was beginning to feel less stable. I decided at that point I would wait to see if Apple released MacBooks with a new keyboard design in 2020, and save up money so I could jump if they did. I almost considered procuring an iMac for my non-mobile work, but my “office” bounces from place to place, depending on time, and I needed the added flexibility of MacOS to handle things like live streaming from the various locations in which I do my work.

When Apple came out with their 16 inch MacBook I began to drool. Discrete graphics, big screen, and an excellent keyboard were all huge selling points. The problem was… price. They are expensive. Size was also an issue, as the spaces in which I work often have limited space 1. So I drooled, and waited.

And then CoVid-19 hit and the need for more power became pressing. I started looking at the 16 inch again and almost decided to trade in half my house to reach the amount I’d need to procure one, but then Apple released a new 13 inch with a 10th generation quad-core processor that was already in my price range and I thought, “I think I’ll do that.”

I got it last Friday, and I am very happy. I am disappointed that Apple didn’t push this model to 14 inches, the way they pushed their 15 inch screen to 16 inches, but I’m still happy with the purchase. The screen is much brighter than my 2014 retina MacBook Pro, the keyboard is amazing, and the newer processor handles my needs to perfection. I did a live stream load test during which I had five incoming video inputs to my streaming software.

  1. The internal FaceTime camera
  2. My Panasonic G7 through a Blackmagic UltraStudio Mini Recorder
  3. My Nikon D7000 through USB 2
  4. My iPhone through a Network Device Interface Camera App
  5. A friend on a Skype call

My CPU hit 50%. The only two glitches I had were with switching to the NDI camera 3, and a bit of lag on the G7 4. It just worked, even while doing a simultaneous stream and local recording. My 2014 model couldn’t handle the NDI camera and a skype call at the same time.

During my first actual work usage of the MacBook for streaming, things went off without a hitch. My Nikon worked great, my two Skype callers were handled well, and even local video playback into the stream played without dropping a frame 5. It’s another universe from where I was.

And I expect I’ll have this MacBook for a good number of years. My 2014 model is still usable, had I not been pushing the envelope it would remain a viable machine for most of my photo editing, writing, and layout work. But this is better, and I’m looking forward to seeing what I can do.

Oh, and touchID is wonderful. It will take some time to get used to the Touch Bar, though.

  1. And they’ve all be arranged to handle the 13 inch form factor. 
  2. I wish other software was able to pull the hack eCamm Live is able to do with my Nikon. That’s a killer feature. 
  3. Which was more about the phone app than the MacBook. 
  4. Which is something I notice on the camera in general when I output HDMI. 
  5. And, it fit in my setup.