Surface Pro 2 vs. MacBook Air 11" i7

Discussion of music production, audio, equipment and any related topics, either with or without Ableton Live
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ecornell
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Surface Pro 2 vs. MacBook Air 11" i7

Post by ecornell » Fri Mar 21, 2014 11:08 pm

Hey all I am thinking about downscaling to a more portable machine and wondered if anyone could provide some feedback on the following machines:

- Surface Pro 2
- MacBook Air 11" Haswell i7

Assume they have the same RAM/hard drive space configurations.

It seems to me that the drawbacks of the Surface vs. Air are:
- i5 instead of i7 - this is my primary concern so I would love to hear feedback on the practical difference between these
- One USB port vs. 2 (but can a USB 3 hub handle a lot of USB 2.0 traffic?)
- Lack of Core Audio

Alternatively, the drawbacks of the Air vs. the Surface are:
- Input method - no touch screen and hi-resolution pen interface
- Cannot be used as a tablet
- Significantly lower screen resolution - seems like there would be a lot less room for tracks/clips etc.

Thanks for all of your feedback!

yur2die4
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Re: Surface Pro 2 vs. MacBook Air 11" i7

Post by yur2die4 » Fri Mar 21, 2014 11:37 pm

Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro.

I have a fetish for it. It was almost my next computer but I went with a full laptop.

You should be able to find an i7 model of all devices if you shop at manufacture sites or just really dig around.

Also keep in mind that these are the mobile 'u' processors. They can perform nicely but I haven't seen results of how they handle Live. I'm sure there are benchmarks and all that. I think Apple has slightly different u model options available.

Lastly, after having an idea of your options, go to Best Buy and find the models most closely resembling those you will use. Put them through the paces. Test Everything. Type on it. Use the mouse. Touch around. Lift it up. Open it close it. Flip it upside down. Work 'fast' which is semi abrasively. Shut down start up. The touchpad is probably the single most important aspect of usability.

If you have any questions about the pluses and minuses of touch with Live, I can go there too.

Edit: don't forget reviews online. Especially YouTube! Performance etc. With YouTube you can sometimes spot problems early on. If you are lucky you'll find the device using the software you intend to use. A bonus for the Air is that it's indestructible. Look it up on the tube haha

Samuel L. Jizzle
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Re: Surface Pro 2 vs. MacBook Air 11" i7

Post by Samuel L. Jizzle » Sat Mar 22, 2014 11:37 am

Surface Pro 2. Microsoft is the way of the future.

The way of the future.

Liam
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Re: Surface Pro 2 vs. MacBook Air 11" i7

Post by Liam » Sat Mar 22, 2014 2:36 pm

Apple seems locked into never providing touch screens for their Macs as that would eat their ipad sales of course.

Surface is going to give you more I think.

Its not an easy decision though so as suggested go to BB and try out both fully.

kitekrazy
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Re: Surface Pro 2 vs. MacBook Air 11" i7

Post by kitekrazy » Sat Mar 22, 2014 4:01 pm

Liam wrote:Apple seems locked into never providing touch screens for their Macs as that would eat their ipad sales of course.

Surface is going to give you more I think.

Its not an easy decision though so as suggested go to BB and try out both fully.
That 512gb version is like $1800. The Surface is a great idea buy having an optional keyboard. If find it odd that most Windows laptops have touch screen. Why would you bother when there is a keyboard in front of you? Apple should add touch screen to the iMacs.

yur2die4
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Re: Surface Pro 2 vs. MacBook Air 11" i7

Post by yur2die4 » Sat Mar 22, 2014 4:14 pm

I've gotta add. Touch in Live is not the most friendly thing in the world, but Can be fun.

Aside from the absoluteMouseMode fix, two things that hurt most are, 'clicks' are not accepted until after you lift your finger as opposed to when you press your finger to the screen. This is how you use a mouse too. So triggering clips or keys, they have that 'negative edge' (street fighter controller term :p ). The other is, it is easier to manage things in Live if you turn off Right Click on Hold. Any item that you press your finger to but do not change immediately will have the context menu pop up ok you otherwise.

Lastly, it'd be fun if we had an option for resizing the clip launch play button in relation to the overall clip's size. Because they are pretty small.

There are a number of other things I'm aware of. But it is fun otherwise. Even though you have to keep reminding yourself that you can only adjust one parameter at a time at any given moment using the touch (but there is so much potential!!)

sopwith
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Re: Surface Pro 2 vs. MacBook Air 11" i7

Post by sopwith » Fri Mar 28, 2014 1:16 am

I'm pretty new to Live, but I've been having a great time using it on my Surface Pro 2 (8GB ram / 256GB SSD). Live runs extremely well on the SP2 - though I haven't tried tons of VSTs yet, it's handled all the effects I've thrown its way with ease. Very low latency through my RME babyface; latency with the stock intel drivers is ok, it definitely got better when I switched to ASIO4ALL. But with the Babyface it's rock solid at 48 samples.

As yur said, it would be great if the clip launch button were bigger - in general, most of the UI is a bit too small to easily use with your finger. But dragging clips and effects to tracks is fine, and modulation XY pads are great with touch (though still a bit small). Dragging warp markers and stretching tracks by touch also oworks quite well.

The solution to the small UI is to leverage Live's great midi mapping and connect to a program like Smithson-Martin's Emulator Pro:

https://smithsonmartin.com/products/emulator-pro/

That way you can create your own extremely friendly multi-touch interfaces to control nearly any parameter in Live. They even have ready-made scripts which pass midi info between Live and the Emulator interface, so you can populate your interface with Clip launch buttons which turn different colors depending on whether the clip is playing, launching, or stopped. It takes a bit of setup time, but it totally negates the fact that Live's interface isn't totally touch friendly out of the box.

yur2die4
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Re: Surface Pro 2 vs. MacBook Air 11" i7

Post by yur2die4 » Fri Mar 28, 2014 1:21 am

I don't know if I've already mentioned this. I use 148% zoom in Live's preferences, on a 17" monitor. It is middle ground. I can still see most windows etc, things are easy to handle without accidentally grabbing the wrong parameter.

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