Using a 12″ Macbook for design work? | Tech for Designers Review

Using a 12″ Macbook for design work? | Tech for Designers Review

November 1, 2019 100 By Peter Engel


– Hi. Welcome back to my channel. Today, I’ve got another Tech for Designers review video for you and I’m
gonna be telling you about using the 12 inch
MacBook for design work. Now I got this computer
partway through last year and I got it to use as
an on-the-go computer because this thing is so tiny and thin. Such a nice light portable computer and I got it because I wanted
to use it on public transport. I have a lot of side projects on the go, as you’ll know if you’ve
seen my channel before, and I wanted to be able
to work on those while on my commute to work. I also thought it would
be a great computer to have to take away when
I’m traveling as well rather than my 15-inch
Retina Macbook which takes up quite a lot of
space and is rather heavy. These day, I work from home so I don’t do the commute-to-work thing
anymore but I do love taking this laptop to work in cafes
because it’s much smaller to put in my handbag than
trying to lug the 15-inch around with me. Because it is a lot smaller
than my 15-inch Macbook, that does mean it’s less powerful as well. I thought I’d do this
review to talk to you about how it feels to do design
work on this smaller, less-powerful machine so that, perhaps, if you’re thinking of getting it, you know what to expect. First, let’s talk about hardware. Like I said, this thing is
just super-thin and light. Minus the gold one because these do come in many different colors
and I’ve stuck this “Teach What You Know”
sticker on it because I just thought that looked
cool there over the apple. Unlike the Macbook Airs
which are obviously Apple’s other thinnish computer, these Macbooks have Retina screens which
is a really nice touch and makes it much more
suitable for design work. Because of the Retina
screen as well, it means I can set it to more space in the screen resolution
options and that means that actually I get a
whole lot more fitting on this workspace than
I would if I just used it at the normal 12-inch resolution. The screen is nice. The keyboard is all really nice. I absolutely love typing on this keyboard. It’s so much better than the old Mac ones. I’ve gotten really used to this now and I prefer to do most of
my writing on this machine because of it. Because this keyboard
is so nice to type on. I don’t know. The keys
are just nice and flat and it’s just really nice to use. Does take a bit of getting used to but once you get used to
not having to push down as far on the keys, it’s awesome. The trackpad is also great
as most Mac trackpads are. This one has the Force Touch
trackpad and, personally, I don’t know why that’s useful on a Mac. I don’t know. I know there’s also
things that you’re able to do with it but there’s
not anything that I’ve found that you can do with it
that actually improves my workflow. Most often, I’d say that
the Force Touch actually would hinder my workflow. Because I’d accidentally
Force Touch something when I was just meaning to click. So I turn that off, which is good that you
can have that option. One of the big downsides
to this computer is, because it’s so thin, it’s got very few ports. It’s just got a USB-C port here and then your headphone jack on the other side. And I guess, considering what they’ve
done with the iPhone now, I should be thankful that they even put a headphone jack on it. I personally haven’t
actually found this lack of ports to be that much
of a problem because this isn’t my main
computer so I’m not trying to get stuff off of an SD card into it. I’m not often trying to
charge my phone from it or anything like that. I have got this dongle
here which plugs into the USB-C and it’s got
a USB port, an HDMI, and also a USB-C. Means you can be charging your computer while also presenting. And also plug this in if I
do want to charge my phone from the computer which
seems a bit overkill but there are options. I think that the lack of
ports would bother me if, like I said, this was my
main computer but for me, the fact that this is
so portable outweighs any annoyance of having to
also have a dongle to use. What about actually doing
things on this computer? This is what I’ve had a
lot of questions about, especially when I did my Tech
for Designers Hardware video where I went through all
of the hardware that I use. A lot of questions came
from who were interested in how powerful this thing
was and if you could actually do proper design work on it. I took this away with me when
I went on a company retreat. This is the only computer that I took. So all the work that I did that week was done on this little laptop
and it was really a test of it’s power and also its limitations. Like I said, my first tip for
using this for design work is to set it to that
more-space screen resolution option because otherwise I
personally just feel like it’s really cramped and
you can’t see enough of the screen to get stuff done. Especially for
video-editing in particular. This way, you can see
much more of your windows in Premiere or whatever it is that you use if you have more space. So, video-editing on this. I found it’s perfectly
capable of editing the video. I haven’t found it lagging
at all or anything like that. One thing I do is set Premiere
to half-resolution preview so that way it’s not
trying to take up too much of this guy’s RAM. By the way, I didn’t say that before, but my computer is the early 2015 model so it’s the first version of
these that came out, I think. So I’m sure the new ones are
a little bit more improved. This one has eight gigabytes of RAM, one-point one gigahertz
processor which is, obviously, not that impressive. And it’s got 256 gigabytes
of hard drive space. Those specs are not great
when it comes to wanting to do work that requires a bit of grunt. But like I said, I’ve
managed to edit videos on this thing absolutely fine. I edited a lot of videos
on it when I was commuting and same whenever I go away. This is what I edit on and
it works out absolutely great for that. One thing that it’s not great
for is exporting those videos. On my 15-inch Macbook,
exporting a 10-minute video might take, I don’t know, like 22 minutes or something like that. Maybe less. I don’t know. Depends on what effects I’ved used. But this guy takes over an hour to export a video sometimes which
is obviously not great. It’s doable, though. You just set it there
and leave it to do it. But, yeah. It just takes a long
time so be aware of that if you’re looking to make
this your main machine. That it has not got the
power of other Retina Macs. The other main piece of
software that I use all the time is Sketch which is a vector-based web design tool, I suppose,
is what you’d call it. I’m unsure if you’ve heard about it. I’ll link on a card if
you’re interested in that. That I found works absolutely
great on here because the program itself is vector-based
and runs very quickly. It’s not trying to process a lot of bitmap images or anything. And so, power-wise, it’s
been great for that. The screen size has been slightly
too small for it, though. If I have an Artboard in
Sketch that’s perhaps a design that’s 1200 pixels wide, for example, you can’t quite see the whole
design at full resolution. You have to zoom out
which means you’re looking at everything much smaller
than it will actually appear. For that reason, I tend
not to use this thing to do finished design work and
it’s more for the idea stage. Or more when I’m out in a
cafe and working on things which is generally going
to be something that’s not finalizing web design, for example. It’s not the sort of work that I do there. So, again, that hasn’t
really been a problem because that’s not what
I use this computer for. But it would be a problem if this was my only computer, I think. I would get quite frustrated about that. Keep that in mind. Like I said, I love writing on this thing. It’s the perfect little
writing tool because the screen is the perfect
size that you can see your writing tool, whatever
it is you’re using. But it’s not so large that you’re going to have other windows
around distracting you. And like I said, the keyboard
it super-nice to type on. Whenever I write the show notes for our podcast, for example, I do it on this machine and I also use Photoshop on it to create our feature images for
the podcast as well. That runs absolutely fine. When I get a few too many images in that featured image Photoshop folder, it does take a while
to save because, again, it’s not that powerful. But that’s just something
that you learn to deal with. So, all in all, I don’t think
I recommend this computer to a designer who is
starting out and this is the first computer that you buy or the only one that you own. For the same price at the moment anyway, you can get the older Macbook Pro 13-inch and I think that would be
a much more useful computer if you’re getting started. There’s more screen real estate. It’s more powerful. It’s a little bit heavier, obviously. But if it’s your only computer, then I think that’s
probably a better option. If you’re looking for a more
portable travel computer, no matter what other computer you own, then I think this is going
to be a really great option. Because, honestly, I
cannot get over how compact it is and how it just fits so easily into whatever bag it is that I’m carrying. It’s pretty much the same size as carrying around an iPad but you
can get a whole lot more done with it. For that, it’s awesome. That is my review of the
12-inch baby MacBook. I hope you enjoyed
hearing my thoughts on it and hearing about using
it for design purposes. Because I’m sure that
most people who buy this are probably not buying it for design. I don’t know. I hope you enjoyed
hearing that perspective and hearing what it’s like to work on it. Thank you for watching this video. Give it thumbs-up if you did enjoy it. If you’ve got any ideas
for what kind of videos you’d want to see in this
Tech for Designers series going forward, then
please feel free to leave the suggestions down
below in the comments. I’d love to see them. Hit the Subscribe button
if you’re new to my channel because I make new videos
talking about design and design-related tools and
things every single Saturday. I will see you in the next one. Bye.