Designers and laptops?

Discussion in 'Design and Graphics' started by Philalbe, Dec 15, 2010.

  1. Philalbe macrumors 6502

    Jun 11, 2010
    Greater Boston Area

    My name's Phil. I'm a freelance designer whose finally finishing up his degree. I own an iMac, but I recently just bought one of the new MacBook Airs. My reasoning was that I may need mobile access to my design software if meeting with clients or if hired by a firm. Right now I do a bit of long distance freelance work from home and happily do so own my iMac. I'm starting to feel as though my purchase of the Air may have been an impulse or novelty buy. Obviously roughly a grand is a pricey impulse buy. I was just wondering if other designers find use for laptops in the field or if you tend to work on your desktop machines? Do employers in the design field tend to supply their workers with machines in the workplace or is it common to have to bring your own? The MacBook Air is a slick nicely built little machine, but after carrying an iPad around the clamshell design, as thin as it is, still seems awkward in comparison. Obviously you can't install Adobe programs on an iPad, which is the crux. If I probably won't need a laptop in the field I could do without it. I apologize for the longwinded question :eek:
    Thanks in advance.


  2. definitive macrumors 68000


    Aug 4, 2008
    laptops aren't really needed if you're working freelance from home or your own office. there are things such as email, fax, phone, online storage, etc., where you can send copies of work to your clients to see on their own computers in pdf format. only time i'd consider buying a laptop for work is if i was guaranteed a full time in-house job where i had to use my own computer.
  3. Philalbe thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jun 11, 2010
    Greater Boston Area
    Hi. That makes sense to me. I appreciate the advice. Thanks for taking the time to reply :)
  4. jeremy h, Dec 16, 2010
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2010

    jeremy h macrumors 6502

    Jul 9, 2008
    I use a PowerMac but also have a MacBook Pro. One thing I find useful is to mirror my working software on the laptop and also have all my emails go to both the PowerMac and the Laptop. This means that if my PowerMac blows up I can switch to the laptop while it gets fixed (been a life saver a couple of times) - also - if for any reason I need to work from somewhere else (away for the weekend etc) I've got access to all those emails with copy / pics etc that I would have otherwise have forgotten to take with me.
  5. chaosbunny macrumors 68000


    Mar 11, 2005
    down to earth, far away from any clouds
    While I was freelancing my laptop earned me a good deal of my income. I used to help agencies when they had more work than they could handle, and of course they didn't have a spare machine so I brought my mbp. Clients just loved when I presented designs in their office and was able to show/do minor changes instantly. Saved me valuable hours too. In my opinion for a freelance designer laptop > desktop. You don't loose much but gain valuable possibilities.

    That said, in my opinion a mba is too limited in terms of hd space, no optical drive, less maximum ram, etc. to be a machine to work somewhere else for a couple of hours.
  6. autacraft Guest

    Hello to the OP

    I've been a freelance designer for a decade or so now, and on all the occasions I've worked in-house, mainly London agencies, I've never had to (nor should have to) take in my own computer. It's not really the done thing to be honest (if working for an agency anyway) and I'd certainly add on to my day rate if I had to travel to an office with around 4k worth of MBP.

    If you are working for a small start-up company or such like, you may have to take in a laptop, but to be honest these sort of situations are rare as work for such enterprises is more often than not done remotely.

    As for the equipment itself, I've had a mixture of Imacs, Mac Pro's and macbooks but have now settled with a late 2010 17" MBP core i7. Its my main system and use it pretty much full time as a desktop machine rigged up to a 24" monitor.

    For what I do, graphic work of all kinds, illustration and photography, the machine is very hard to beat and it churns through multiple tasks with complete ease and speed. I have CS5 illustrator, PS and Indesign all running together perfectly, and also run Chrome, Aperture 3 and itunes in the background with no problems.

    I would 100% recommend a MBP as a desktop replacement. They are that highly specced now that they can more than easily compete and have the absolute advantage of travelling with you should you need that.

    The 17" is great for graphic work in its own right, the resolution is fantastic so plenty of screen real estate, but for graph work you will really benefit from rigging it up to at least a 20" monitor when working at home. If you have never experienced the joys of multi screen working, you'll be totally wowed and your productivity will increase tenfold!

    Good luck!
  7. ChicoWeb macrumors 65816


    Aug 16, 2004
    I have a mac pro and a 17 inch macbook pro ( My mac pro remains at my office and my laptop goes with me to meetings or to work from home. It works just fine for me. I also use Chronosync to sync via wifi, my work files and such so they always remain the same on both machines. I've had several setups in the past 7 or 8 years, but this one works the best for me.
  8. DIMEZ macrumors 6502a


    Mar 5, 2009
    A laptop would come in handy trust me.

    For the past 3 years I have worked for my self, even though i work from home it is helpful when you go out and meat clients.

    I bought this macbook pro for just music and i would keep my sony viao desktop just for graphics since it is a powerful media machine. Ever since I've gone with mac that hasn't been the case. My desktop acts like a media serve now. When I'm on the go it comes in handy that I run CS5 on a laptop.
  9. lucidmedia macrumors 6502a

    Oct 13, 2008
    Wellington, New Zealand
    I have an MBA rev. B that pretty much goes everywhere I do... When I am not at home (hex mac pro) i use it as my main computer. Twice a week I am in someone else's studio where I plug the MBA into a large monitor.

    I use photoshop (mostly low res work tho), illustrator, indesign, flash, and after effects regularly. I also have a macbook pro, but I find it too big to travel with and don't use it much.

    So, in short, as a designer who works mostly in interaction design, I am quite happy with my MBA.
  10. leekohler macrumors G5


    Dec 22, 2004
    Chicago, Illinois
    I have a full time job as an senior art director and I also do some outside work on the side. My laptop has come in plenty handy on more than one occasion. I would highly recommend getting at least a MacBook. I have a PowerMac G5 dual core 2.0 to do the heavy lifting and my black MacBook serves me well on the road. I use both extensively. I would very much say get one for sure.
  11. Philalbe thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jun 11, 2010
    Greater Boston Area
    Thanks everyone for the thoughtful advice! It looks like most people agree that there is at least some use if not a need for a laptop; so I guess I'll hang on to my newly acquired MBA for now. I bought the 11" model, which I know seems like an appalling choice for a designer, but so far I've been impressed by how quickly it launches and runs my CS4 programs. The screen does make one feel a little claustrophobic, especially since my other computer is a large aluminum iMac. I've learned to be resourceful by zooming in and out, but still it would be nice to have a MacBook with more screen real estate. As I start to gain a more steady income I may ultimately upgrade to a 17" MacBook pro, as suggested above. Thanks again, everyone!
  12. Philalbe thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jun 11, 2010
    Greater Boston Area

    Hi. Thanks for the thoughtful reply. I agree about the 17" MacBook Pro. To me it seems like a dream machine; a powerful mobile computer with expansive screen real estate. I think I could definitely make one of those my main computer. It may be sometime before I can easily afford it....but someday :)
  13. autacraft Guest

    Sell the air and Imac ;-) pricepoints for MBP's are coming down in the first quarter next year apparently, so get a core i5 and a nice big monitor! you wont regret!
  14. Consultant macrumors G5


    Jun 27, 2007
    Due to the SSD in the MacBook Air, launching apps on the MBA is actually faster than that of the harddrive based MacBook Pro.

    But of course if you put in a SSD in MacBook Pro then MBP will be faster. (The SSD I want is around $500).

    Btw, I been using 17" apple laptop since Powerbook G4. Barely use my iMac.
  15. splitpea macrumors 6502a

    Oct 21, 2009
    Among the starlings
    I've been working freelance for 3 years. The first two I had only a desktop (well, a clunky old Windows laptop too, but it wasn't any use for work). I felt chained to my desk and my home. There was no option of working from somewhere other than home, and my house became a prison. If my internet connection went down (twice in 3 years, I experienced 1-week or longer downtimes), I couldn't go to starbucks or a friend's house and keep working.

    A laptop makes all the difference, and gives you flexibility and contingency. Just being able to work from different rooms depending on the weather or your mood changes everything.
  16. LeviG macrumors 65816

    Nov 6, 2006
    Norfolk, UK
    my work requires a high end system (cad rendering) so using a laptop for that on the road is just a pain, however I can see reasons to have both a laptop and/or a slate (ipad/galaxy tab etc) for when meeting a client.

    I'm in a similar boat the op, I need a new laptop, primarily for presenting work/taking notes at meetings so I was looking into macbooks, ideally wanting a 13" but I wanted a core i3/i5 processor which never appeared. I also looked into slates, the ipad is too limiting for MY needs plus I want widescreen like the video's I do... I looked at the macbook air and just thought yes it's pretty but underpowered

    So what have I decided - I've opted to get a hybrid laptop/slate (asus ep121) as I know that ideally I want a full os (and windows is fine for me due to my cad). It should be released next month and in my view I get the best of both worlds and a digitiser supposedly :)

    ok I re-read it and think it might be a bit of a ramble but it gets there lol

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