My daughter will be starting college for art this fall, and we want to get her a computer. She is more comfortable in the Mac operating system, see we wanted to get her a Mac. What do you all suggest I get her?
Student life is pretty mobile… so unless you want to get her two Macs (a desktop and a laptop) I would suspect you would be considering a portable device. I’m not up on my Macs, so I don’t know which one is best, so I will link you here:
Depending on her needs and desires, you might consider an iPad Pro with Smart Keyboard, Apple Pencil, and PaperLike screen protector (very specifically, the PaperLike brand) although Files right now is not reliable enough for use with local storage (maybe she never needs to store/swap files to external/local storage and it’s all online/wireless?).
I can tell you as someone with only an iPad Pro (2017) with Smart Keyboard, the limitations and immature software market/app “ecosystem” of iOS/iPad OS is the iPad’s own worst enemy, although it does have the occasional innovation like Notability’s lecture recording then synced note-taking “playback”. The above video is one of the only to mention the real-world impact of curriculum that doesn’t revolve around the student.
I personally would add, speculatively (as someone who wants an Apple Pencil but can’t afford it right now), that as gloriously effortless, versatile, and portable as a Pencil might prove for her, if she’ll be practicing primarily with physical media then the fact the iPad is good for drawing might not matter much. If you do go for iPad and Pencil, you definitely want the Pro because the non-pro has an air gap under the screen which would drive me nuts and I bet it would any artist.
Another frustration I have with iPad is the fact that it has only 1 port. Granted, the 2020 Pro’s Magic Keyboard has pass-through power so that the iPad’s own port remains free, but if you ever want to do anything with it at the same time you’ll still need a dongle/hub, which let me tell you is a NIGHTMARE because even Apple’s own adapters are cheap, flimsy garbage (my Apple Lightning to USB Camera Adapter began to short out within just weeks), or she’ll have a purpose-built bit of hardware like the HyperDrive glommed onto the side of it constantly (good luck finding a case that works with that, so she’d have to constantly pop it in and out of its case).
All that said, if she never needs to do any serious file management, cross-exporting, compositing from disparate file formats, etc. then iPad is what I would recommend, especially depending on how appealing a prospect she finds Pencil. The safest bet I’d say, though, is a Mac.
I sort of agree with you. But you also need to look at what software they need to use for the course. If they will be doing a lot with “full fat” PhotoShop, InDesign, Illustrator and Premiere Pro, then an iPad would be a waste of money. If the course is more “open” to actually producing works of art, regardless of medium, then the iPad is probably better for many of those tasks.
I’m a Windows user, so I’d recommend a Windows 2-in-1 design, which gives you a pen based tablet and a full Windows device to run the full Adobe suite or an equivalent (I use Capture One + Affinity Photo).
Personally, if I had to go Apple, I’d look at a MacBook Pro 13" (I’d prefer an iMac or a Pro 15", but if you need the portability to take it to class, the 13" is best) with a Wacom tablet and maybe a full sized display for working in her room. (I’m currently working on a photo project on my PC at home and there is no way I’d want to be doing that on the 13" 4K screen of my HP Spectre, the 34" UW screen is much better suited to photo editing. Just look at things like Next Top Model etc. you have the photographer out there with a MacBook Pro + a colour calibrated large screen display with hood for actually viewing the images they are taking.)
Or, if the family can stretch, a MacBook Pro 13" + iPad Pro with Pencil - can’t you use the iPad as an external display on the Mac? Maybe it could be used as a digitizing pad?
My friend’s sister is studying design at ASU and she was trying to use an under-powered MacBook to do rendering with some CAD package. In the end he had to let her come over and use his powerful Lenovo P50 Xeon based development machine so she could stop struggling with the slowness. My understanding is they expect the students to use the actual applications that they will eventually use when they graduate. Finding a job these days is going to be hard enough (thank you Covid) so I wouldn’t try to be a market leader bucking the industry trends.
She just needs to talk to some folks in the art department and get a sense for how those students are actually using computers; that is the best source of information for her. The choice should be dictated by what her needs will be, not what she’s comfortable with right now.
Ask the school what they recommend. And then go with that. No point buying a Mac if she won’t be able to do her work and you end up getting her a PC.
Thank you all for the recommendations. We have had conversations with the school, and a Mac will be fine for her. She does all of her work physically, so as of right now she does not have any interest in an iPad, and her advisor said she should not need one. She mostly wants it to do homework and keep pictures of her work.
Sounds to me like a job for the MacBook Air.