Astropad, to be or not to be deceived…

I’ve seen the newest doo-dad app that was launched lately that’s supposed to make use of the ipad as a makeshift cintiq. And by that I mean astropad.  I’ve also tested it, and I’ll outline my personal impressions below.

At first I thought I would be a regular 9.99 app. Boy was I in for a treat. This app costs 49.99. 50 bucks in order to be able to just use it. I would say off the bat that it’s overpriced. Given, it has nice features like panning, and in some way it tries to emulate a wacom’s ring dial/button. But it pales miserably in comparison to that.

Now in all fairness, I have to admit I don’t own a wacom pen or a 53 pencil. But as far as I’ve seen, they don’t offer much on the pressure side. And a tablet without pressure sensitivity for a painter is about as  useful as a potato. I somehow have my doubts that with a pen, things would fix themselves. I’ve used a regular stylus. It sucks. It feels like using paint. Incredibly neanderthalian. The performance is better than that of duet, what speed and fluency is concerned. But I would still not spend 50 bucks on a glorified duet app. My sense of practicality would just go and wring my neck.

So, 50 bucks for the software, another 50 or more for a “pressure-sensitive” stylus and you got yourself a poor-man’s cintique, right ? Wrong. For about 100 bucks you could just as well get a first hand wacom (small but still useful, 1024 levels of pressure beat the shit out of 0 levels of pressure on those overpriced styluses) or a second hand one, which could be bigger even if it’s older. You would gain far more.

For me personally I think astropad is a waste of money and time. Others might differ. But think about this: if you still want to use you ipad to paint or sketch, why not get a 53 + paper and use that, rather than use cluncky photoshop and pan around to see parts of the UI ? It’s like shooting yourself in the leg. Ugh.

Switching from PC to mac – a complete experience


Haven’t been here in quite some time to post anything, so getting a new device seems to be as good a reason as any to write a new article for my blog. Before starting though, i have to confess that the reason why i switched from PC to Mac was because of the many people I know that are so happy with their macs and their makky experience, as well as the fact that my pc and subsequently the OS (windows) was starting to get on my last nerves.

And so my Macquest began. I have bought a late 2013 MacBook Pro with a reasonable enough spec to put any high end PC to shame. It is powered by a quad-core i7 processor, beefed up with 16 Gb of RAM memory. For graphics, its sporting an integrated 1.5 Gb Iris Pro and a Nvidia Geforce 750 GT M with 2 Gb of available Video memory. To boost it all, it runs on a blazing fast SSD with a total capacity of 512 GB of flashy goodness.

I would say this would embarrass an aspiring PC any day of the week just by the specs alone. I won’t go into the financial details as it makes little sense to do so, mostly because the price varies in each country and also depends on how old and used the purchased mac is. But since I’m writing this article to share a bit of my experience with switching from a PC to a Mac, from an advanced user’s perspective, I should get this ball rolling. I’m going to try to get this article split up into 2 parts. The good bits and the rather unpleasant ones of both the Mac and the PC, and I’ll close up with my personal opinion about switching over, why you should and why you shouldn’t do it. Shall we then ?

The PC experience

My first experience with a computer was with a pc. That was the very first thing I saw when my dad brought me to his workplace sometime in the early 90’s (1990 – 1994).But so much about history. Lets get to the facts. Basically I’ve been a PC man all my life. Deciding to switch over to the mac was sort of a spur of the moment thing as well as endless windows and driver installs gone wrong. Plus the age. I’m not close to 30 and my tolerance for doing geeky stuff is closing in on 0 fast. However, the PC is not that big bad wolf everybody is painting it to be. Most of the computers in the wild are PCs. This is largely because of the small costs attributed to the manufacturing as well as materials. A pc is cheap and easy to repair. Basically the whole marketing of a PC is based on the fact that components are easy to swap and can be done even by someone that doesn’t have that many technical skills. This could not be more WRONG ! Installing the components is the least of your problems ! Drivers are the biggest pains in the butt. See, windows was designed to be so modular and extendable its actually very easy to break. Most of the drivers out there don’t work with all of the windows versions that have been released. Each OS version has its own driver. This can be a nightmare for network administrators and service people that take care of PC networks. However. Windows as an OS is not bad. Its quite easy to pick up and learn and even easier to operate. And its very flexible. However that has the downside of permitting any amateur to fiddle with its innermost parts and breaking it, ending up in a PC repairshop only due to the broken OS. But, those that end up mastering Windows, will later, have no trouble of mastering OSX as an operating system.

Here’s my pro and con list for the PC:


– can be as cheap or expensive as you want it to be

– parts easy to replace

– performance equal if not greater than that of the best Mac desktop / laptop

– very wide usage

– easy to pick up and learn

– interfaces with a lot of equipment

– heavy gaming industry pushing its evolution further.


– very hard to maintain

– software is really bad and causes a lot of headaches

– keeping a PC up to date requires upgrades, which can end up very costly

– OS is not very good or stable.

– independent makers cannot guarantee their hardware will integrate seamlessly with the Windows OS

– different drivers for each OS version

– vulnerable to internet attacks

– easy to hack and crack


If you want to be flexible, have the very best of hardware performance, but are prepared to pay the price of having to figure out drivers, compatibility and stability issues, then the PC is the tool for you. It will offer you a lot of hardware power and performance, but you will loose considerable amounts of time with configuration, crashes and making the whole damn thing work. And after a while, when Microsoft issues a new OS update, you might be suprised to find out they botched up some security setting and you’ll need to work around that.

The  Mac experience

The very first time I saw a proper Mac, was when I was still in the university, right before deciding I wanted to be a graphic designer. I used to work for a publishing house, which also had its own print shop. There is where I first fiddled around with a old G3. Can’t really say it was a pleasant experience, mostly because the machine was old and outdated (this was happening sometime in 2005) and it was really trying to keep up with the demands of a more modern Photoshop. I was, however, intrigued by the simplicity and the streamline appearance of the OSX. So i did a bit of research about Apple, and became an admirer of their capacity to integrate hardware and software so well together. I can’t say I’m a die hard Apple fan that would stand in line to buy their latest shit. Quite the opposite really. I hated the iPhone for quite some time. And I still do. But it has something that just keeps people from coming back to it time and time again. It’s not the build quality or the nice graphics. Its the fact that it performs so admirably well what it was designed to do in the first place. But back to the Mac. I can only say I’m very impressed. It could be because the Macbook I got is one beast of a machine, or because its flying with that outrageously large SSD, or because of the finely tuned Yosemite. But, in the end, I believe its all of it put together. The software is rock solid,you don’t need to crack your head with drivers. Just plug and play. You don’t need to be bothered with folders that give you direct access to the OS, and you don’t really need it either. Plus, buying a Mac gives you licence for all of the office tools you need, without having to buy them. You do, however, need to buy them if you bought a second hand Macbook, as their licence is tied to your Apple Account. But that’s ok. They are cheap. Cheaper than their Microsoft counterparts, and they don’t need a monthly subscription. I’ve hated Microsoft Word all my life. With Pages, you will forget all about Word and the hardships you used to endure with it, like struggling to move a rectangle around. Pagination is a dream with Pages. Its so damn easy a kid can do it (and they do, because it comes full of templates for children and teens, for home works, report cards, essays, etc).

Most of the people shy away from buying a mac because of the costs. But to be perfectly honest, they are not that big in comparison with the lifespan of a Mac, which is definitely bigger than that of a PC. A friend of mine still uses a late 2009 Macbook that works ALMOST the same as fine as it did the day he bought it. A PC in comparison will start to degrade in about 4 years time (if you buy a top-notch PC, you might be able to drag it on 2 years extra, but not more). And you will get the Mac’s value back tenfold in terms of productivity. You’ll be spending less time configuring and fixing your computer and more time working with it. And that’s not just me, but a lot of others that are starting to care less about configuring their PC’s and want to care more about getting the job done.

There are also downsides to owning a Mac. You will have to pay for everything. No freebies. Freebies are not as easy to find as with a PC. The warranty on a Apple computer is of just one year. After that you need to buy extra Apple care. And its NOT cheap. But you get what you pay for. Then there’s the price of all of the adaptors and cables. They are insanely expensive. A VGA to Lightning adaptor here, costs about 50 euros. The same price you would be dishing for a Apple Keyboard. And a mouse is closing in to about 70 Euros or more. And its not very good ergonomically speaking. Its quite crummy. But its got a touch surface and feels really premium. The keyboard too has 2 extra USB slots on each of its sides, for sticking sticks into it. Its a chiclet, which means you will either hate or like it. I personally wasn’t a big fan of chiclet keyboards, but still got accustomed to it, and its starting to grow on me. I’m still having trouble with the layout of the buttons and how close they are in opposition with my old Windows keyboard. But hey, something’s gotta give. Oh, and get this, the Apple keyboard also works on a PC ! How cool is that ?


– increased productivity

– easy to pick up and easy to master, especially if you’ve already worked on a PC. It will seem ridiculously easy to work with.

– less hair pulled out because of incompatible drivers.

– no crashes

– no viruses (a firewall is still highly recommended)

– amazing Operating system. Works on all systems and is backwards compatible too in opposition to Windows

– a hefty software bundle that enables you start working the day it comes home. You do need to set up an Apple Account though.

– great design. This is a prop for people like me who are suckers for good industrial design.

– Apps are easy, look good and work great. Sketch is an example of such an app. It’s amazing for web and app developers, as well as illustrators. Can’t recommend it enough. And for 99 Bucks, its very very affordable for all designers, as opposed to Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop. (where now, you have to pay a monthly fee of 50 dollars/euros if you want to enjoy the full suite of apps that Adobe has to offer.


– the price. its huge.

– cost of cables and Apple approved additional peripherals.

– very small warrantee. You have to get additional Applecare to benefit from proper warrantee.

– Apple likes to restrict access in a lot of areas of the OS. This becomes a nuisance for developers that want to work on iOS or OSX apps. They will spend a lot of time trying to circumvent those apple restrictions.

– the fairly large cost of a Apple Developer license. 99 Dollars a year for a license feels a bit on the expensive side.

– the computers are not upgradeable. Once you bought a configuration, you’re stuck with it ! So make sure you buy something that will endure.


If you’re a graphic designer like me, that hates having to deal with installing antiviruses and stuff just to keep malicius trojans away, the mac is for you. If you hate drivers and don’t want to be bothered to learn how to manage a PC, get a Mac. If you want to concentrate on the work more, get the Mac. But be sure you can afford getting the best one and make sure you’ll afford to buy extra Apple care.

Should I switch ?

This is up to you. It depends what priorities you have set for yourself as well as the budget you have allocated for purchasing a computer. The most important question you need to ask yourself is: What do I need it for ?

If its gaming, then get a PC

If it’s graphics, then get a Mac

If it’s office work, then get a Mac

If it’s high end simulations and research work, then get a PC and install Linux.

If you want portability with a punch, get a Macbook Pro. There is nothing else better.