By James DeRuvo (doddleNEWS)
There are a few ways you can go when looking to give computer and tablet gifts this year. You can go with buying a brand new machine, or you can go with the upgrading of the existing one. However you’re favorite filmmaker/editor rolls, here’s our suggestions for computers and tablets this year. (Be sure to check out all our 2015 Gift Guides here.)
The iPad Pro. In case you haven’t heard about Apple’s gargantuan new 12.9-inch tablet, it’s a true artistic workhorse. How do we know? Disney Animation has been field testing it and the results are beautiful. With an impressive 5.1 million pixels, the iPad Pro has higher resolution than the 15-inch MacBook Pro Retina, and with the new 64 bit A9X chip, delivers desktop level performance, faster than 80% of the laptops on the market. Which means you can edit with it. $799 for 32GB and goes up to $1079 for 128GB. Toss in the Apple Pencil at $99, and it’s a storyboard machine. Here is but one option at B&H, plus the Apple Pencil.
iMacs 4K & 5K – Two years ago, we were touting the Mac Pro as the ideal powerhouse editing rig. Sadly, the MacPro has had checkered performance record. Some love it, some see it as a dog with fleas. No matter where you come down on it, there’s no denying that the 5K iMac is a better solution for most editors. This year, Apple added 5K Retina to all their 27-inch models, and upgraded their 21.5-inch models to similar 4K screens. The 27-inch 5K model has 14.7 million pixels, seven times as sharp as the standard HD iMac, while the 21.5-inch has 9.4 million pixels. The 27-inch 5K iMac will get the Skylake Processors and AMD Radeon GPUs, while the 4K can still hang in the post production realm with it’s Broadwell core processors and Intel Iris Graphics. There’s also a pair of Thunderbolt 2 ports to add additional displays. You can also run Windows on it, making it an ideal editing desktop for either Adobe Premiere CC or Apple Final Cut Pro X. Check out the new iMacs here on B&H.
Microsoft Surface Book has a design that will make you drool. Running Windows 10, the Microsoft Surface Book is a work of art that can perform like a race car. 13.5-inch screen with an NVidia GEForce GPU and GDDR5 RAM, the Surface Book laptop claims to be 50% faster than Apple’s MacBook Pro (I wonder if you could hackintosh it). It also has a 12 hour battery and can double as a tablet with a cool magnetic hinge. $1499. Find it at B&H here.
Chromebook – Now I know what you’re thinking. Why would you toss in a Chromebook in this mix? Well, three words. Amazon Story Writer. With Amazon announcing a serious scriptwriting program for the cloud, users no longer really need to have expensive script writing software on their hard drives, especially since they can also use Amazon’s other software for laying out storyboards and other pre-production needs which can no doubt be handled in Google Docs. So why not simplify things? If you live your life in the Cloud, a high end Chromebook is safe, secure, and will get the job done. Question is, how long before Amazon or Google announce a cloud-based video editor? Here are some options at B&H.
Now, for those looking to increase the performance of their existing rigs and get more time out of them, Here are a few suggestions, as well. Plus, check out this article on upgrading.
SANDISK Extreme Pro 480GB SSD Drive. If you want to speed up your PC or Mac, the best way to do it is with a solid state drive. With no moving parts, an SSD will boot up in seconds, not minutes. That means you can use your current spinning drive as a data drive and get faster performance out of your desktop or even laptop. And Sandisk is the way to go since it reads and writes up to 550MB/S. $164 at B&H (as of this writing).
AMD’s FirePro Graphics Cards. Currently on sale until the end of the year, the AMD FirePro graphics cards are extremely fast and can handle a 4K media stream without bogging down. From the W5100 to the W8100, users can save up to $625 on cards, and with the higher end cards, users can daisy chain them. Here are several options at B&H, plus AMD’s own site.
If you prefer NVIDIA, then the GeForce GTX 980 Ti (link to buy) is for you. In addition, designed for gamers out there who love to post videos in a growing category called “lets play,” the GeForce Titan X (link to buy) really screams, and can handle video rendering and computer graphics with ease. Of course, if you want some real 4K heavy lifting, the the Quadro K6000 (link to buy) might be the best option of all, if you can afford it.
RAM. The easiest way to upgrade your favorite filmmakers editing computer is to boost their RAM. By doubling it, you can improve the performance of your PC by as much as 10% just with a simple addition of these memory chips. But not all RAM is created equal, and if you plan on getting users RAM for Christmas, I recommend going over to Crucial.com (for PCs) and Other World Computing’s MacSales.com (for Macs) and run their RAM identifier. You put in the model number of the computer or motherboard, and it will tell you the best RAM for that model. It’ll also give you performance and price levels to fit your budget.
That leads to my final suggestion for upgrading your PC. Maybe instead, you want to build one. It’s completely doable,and it’s really easier than you think to put together. But the hardest part may be deciding what parts to get to built one. That’s where PCPerspective comes in handy. They have a hardware leaderboard that’s broken down by budget vs. performance. So users can bring their budget and get the best possible selection of parts and get the most bang for the buck. Here’s a hint though, if you’re going to edit 4K, you’re going to want an Intel i7 processor with hyper-threading. Otherwise, you’re going to be making a lot of trips to Starbucks for coffee while you wait. If you’re looking to upgrade that a Mac Pro (the new or previous models), then OWC has exactly what you need (start here, and if you want, you can upgrade the processor on the current model — details here).
One last suggestion … The Connected Data File Transporter. For $400, you can get a pair of these devices and sync your data to off site storage or via DropBox. It makes a great low cost cloud backup solution. Or, you can also give your loved one a subscription to CrashPlan.