Following up on my Consume / Create post, I was thinking about Apple’s current product line, and wanted to graph it out.
At the far left end is the iPod, which is almost an exclusively “consuming” device. I don’t know what kind of content you could create with an iPod. I mean, you could create content, it’s possible, but I don’t want to think that hard about it. Next up is the iPad, which is a cross between a big iPod and big iPhone. You could create written content, but it’s got no camera, and very limited connectivity in the way of input ports. (See Could No Camera Be an iPad Killer? and Parsons’ Students Shrug Off Apple’s iPad. No Camera, No Creativity) The iPad is a new device, so it’s hard know yet where it will fit into the landscape, so I put it before the iPhone. Now the iPhone has a camera, and you can play music on it, and (possibly) shoot video, and you could type up your novel on it, though you’d likely go mad in the process.
OK, so the iPod, iPad, and iPhone are mostly consuming devices anyway, but two of them let you create things, but there are various levels of “creating” thing, and honestly while my copywriter friend could tap out a killer headline on an iPad, my photographer friend is probably not capturing the next great image on an iPhone. I’m mainly focused on media creation.
We then move on to “real” computers, starting with the MacBook Air. It’s got a camera and one single USB port. I don’t see this is a serious computer for serious media creators. It is a super-lightweight laptop great for the traveler/writer/business person. Skip it. The low-end MacBook (often called “the whitey”) is next. Low-end. It’s got two (yes two!) USB ports, and Gigabit Ethernet, but no Firewire. And, it’s low-end, which means it lacks power. Really. It does. (Luckily, it has a built-in camera!)
I put the Mac mini in there next, as I think it’s a step up from the low-end MacBook. The Mac mini has a bunch of USB ports and a Firewire 800 port, which means I can connect something like a Panasonic HVX200 HD camera and move that footage. I can also connect a Firewire card reader and get 24MB RAW files from a DSLR or RED footage onto it at a reasonable pace. The Mac mini is no powerhouse, but connectivity-wise, it’s moving up the ladder.
We then move onto the iMac and then the MacBook Pro. The iMac is a nice computer, and you can even get one with a 27″ display that’s pretty adept at editing video. I put the MacBook to the right of the iMac, mainly because on the high-end configuration you get the ExpressCard slot, which will let you connect eSata drives, which is a step up from Firewire. The MacBook is obviously better for portability, and the prices (and features) intermingle a bit between the two lines. The latest 27″ iMac is available in a Quad-Core configuration though, which is some serious power, so I’m still not sure of the positioning of these two.
And as long as we’re still talking about that Quad-Core iMac, let’s compare it to the Mac Pro, the granddaddy of Apple’s Creation Stations… If you’re wondering whether you can forget the Mac Pro and just get a top-of-the-line iMac, well, that depends on what you are going to create. You can read Why It’s Still Smart to Buy a Mac Pro and as someone who maintains a Mac Pro with 4 internal drives, an AJA IO card and two G-Tech eS Pros which pulls in footage from the HVX200 as well as the RED ONE, I can tell you I wouldn’t dream of replacing this Mac Pro with an iMac. Not yet anyway…
What about price? Hmmm, I figured it would be worth reorganizing the above graph with cost being the variable.
Once again, the order isn’t perfect, but I think it’s a quick overview, and worth comparing to the graph above to see how they differ.
Anyway, now that you’re done consuming all these silly words, get out there are create something! From what I hear, it’s easier than ever before, and the equipment you need is cheaper than it’s ever been! :)