Studio Makeover Top Ten Dreamlist:
5:00 AM: The vibration from my watch alarm, and not being ready to get up I fit my snooze button. Seven minutes later my iPhone rings with the Agents of Shield Overture, waking me up a bit more, and filling me up with a bit more energy. The lights in the studio dimly turn on to a teal color and after making some coffee, I head into the studio. I usually start by turning on my Mac, waking up my iPads, and catching up on a bit of news.
Being a graphic designer has evolved to relying on a lot of technology, and I definitely embrace that tech to help me be more efficient as a designer and a business owner. With today's programs becoming more powerful and versatile, and having a capable machine to handle all the necessary tasks.
Recently I have been noticing that my computer just isn't cutting it, and I have been looking at upgrading. I am currently using a top of the line Mac mini, but it just isn't enough power. Considering when to buy a new Mac can be tricky and should be done so with strategic planning. June is always Apple's WWDC Conference, so with baited breath I held out to see what was announced on June 5th. With no surprise iMacs and MacBooks were both updated, but there were several other announcements that shared the stage that afternoon. Below is a list of the top ten tech toys that are on my list of immediate upgrades.
#1 - 27" iMac 5K Retina Display: The Creative [$3929]
The whole reason for the revamp is because I need a stronger computer.. Apple announced the New iMac with tons of upgrades in performance. After taking a look at the site I decided to get a top of the line machine to future proof myself. The specs of the machine are:
5K Retina Display | 4.2GHz quad-core 7th-generation Intel Core i7, Turbo Boost up to 4.5GHz | Radeon Pro 580 with 8GB video memory | 64GB 2400MHz DDR4 | 2TB Fusion Drive
An Alternate for the big spenders (and patient waiters)
Apple also made an exciting announcement, a new variation of an existing product line. The iMac Pro is a high tech creative’s dream. Check out the specs of this beast:
5K Retina Display | Space Grey Finish | up to 18-Core Xeon Processor [8-Core Xeon Processor is standard] | AMD Radeon Vega Graphics Card with up to 16GB VRAM | 128 GB ECC Memory | 4TB SSD
It won’t be available until December and at a starting price of $4999 it is for the serious professionals. It’s a bit of overkill for me, but it sure does look nice.
#2 - iPad Pro 10.5" 256 GB Silver: The Mobile Powerhouse [$749]
Another announcement was the refreshed iPad Pro in 12.9" and the new 10.5". Both sizes came with performance updates like:
Screen improvements with True Tone and Wide Color Gamut | it's 50% brighter | 120Hz refresh rate | A10x 6-Core CPU | USB C Fast Charging
The iPad Pro has been a real mobile powerhouse for me as a designer. I wrote a post about the seven ways the iPad Pro has made me more efficient as a designer and business person. The new models also come with 64GB of storage and have 256GB and 512GB configurations as well. Trying to unify my work devices I decided all devices will be white/silver, so needless to say I am going with the new 10.5" silver iPad Pro with 256GB of storage. To finish everything up with the iPad I will also be getting a white Smart Cover, the new Apple Pencil case in black leather, and a Sandisk 200GB Wifi jump drive.
#3 - HomePod Speaker: The Smart Assistant [$349]
Head into most large corporate offices and you are met with a receptionist who supports the assistants of the office. Bigger is a boutique agency so we have less man power on the books to minimize our overhead and pass savings onto our clients. That causes an issue because admin roles tend to stay vacant. At early June’s WWDC conference Apple announced one last thing. That was the Apple HomePods. It is a Sonos quality speaker with smart home functionality like Amazon Echo or Google Home. It will have multi speaker functionality, so as the work space grows so can a collection of assistants who can handle a lot of easy tasks all while serving up an inspirational tunes.
#4 - Beats Pill+: The Atmosphere [$229.95]
When it comes to computer speakers I have always used my built in speakers on my thunderbolt screen. I have started getting into conferences more often and wanting to listen to music without wearing a set of headphones all the time. After listening to this portable speaker in action, I fell in love. Discovering that you can pair two together to create an immersive sound for any workspace had me sold.
#5 - AirPods: The Multi-tasker [$159]
In the early 2000’s Bluetooth headsets were all the rage, but they have been dethroned by standard Bluetooth headphones and amazing speakerphone capabilities on smart phones. I actually craze a Bluetooth earpiece, and I think the AirPods are the perfect solution. They operate with just one headphone in, like a traditional Bluetooth earpiece, but they can also act as a set of Bluetooth headphones by using both at once. Stylish and seamless these are a great solution to the functionality I am looking for.
(Since writing this post I have actually purchased the AirPods and will have a review on those soon)
#6 - Dyson Hot+Cool Fan: The Regulator [$399]
Our studio is in a garden level apartment which means it can get hot during the summer and cold during the winter. I already own a Dyson fan that I use in my house and I love the craftsmanship and technology. The Dyson Hot+Cool would be perfect addition to the office for climate control. It comes with a remote, but I would most likely attach it to a HomeKit plug to be able to control the fan/heater remotely.
#7 - Lacie Porsche Design USB-C Hard Drive 5TB: The Brains [$199]
When My current filing system consists of a series of 500GB and 1TB hard drives that I have acquired over my years as a designer. All together the system is about 4.5 TB of space and it is literally split into 4 hard drives and a plethora of jump drives. When I saw this Lacie Porsche Design USB C Hard Drive not only did it havea simple streamlined design, but it was also 5Tb which would completely cover the 8 or so different devices I am using now. Add that to the 2TB drive that I will be getting with the new iMac and another Lacie and the studio will have a whopping 12TB of space. For standard graphic design work that is a lot. And with it being USB c it will have lightning fast transfer speeds as well.
#8 - Apple Time Capsule - 3TB: The Archive [$399]
I remember when I bought my first real Mac for graphic design I bought one of the first gen time capsules. A lot has changed since then the form factor has become a bit taller (for better antennae reception), they now offer 802.11 ac wifi connections, and the disk space. I had a top tier time capsule with 1TB of space, now the baseline model is 2TB with a 3TB option as well. I like the seamless approach the time capsule takes using the Mac, but it also becomes a hub for my internet, and connection to my AirPrint printer.
#9 - IKEA Bekant Sit/Stand Desk: The Motivator [$499]
There is a growing trend now-a-days that puts the focus on the harm that sitting at your desk puts on your body. Over the last few years options like varidesk and others have been released as desk top systems that convert your desk from sitting to standing options. The only think I don't like is these option are sort of bulky and unattractive, and I think thats why our Scandinavian friends at IKEA created the Bekant Desk. With the press of a button the internal motors lift the desk in second allowing you to sit or stand and get the blood flowing so sedentary doesn’t set in.
#10 - Studio Recording: The Paparazzi [$205]
The big thing I am trying to set up is a small studio. We have such great cameras with our smartphones and more and more social media sites are implementing live features that it is a great option for the person that wants to kick out a quick video or live stream. Below I have outlined a great set of tools (I already own a few) that would add a professional feeling to your standard consumer cell phone:
Manfrotto Mini Tripod: $24.95 | Neewer 216pc LED High Power Panel Light: $45.00 | Rode Lavalier Plus Microphone: $70.00 | Neewer Collapsible Difuser Mini Softbox: $20
There is a saying in carpentry that goes “measure twice and cut once” and there are ways that it can correlate into design and tech buys to be more specific. If you know what you need then you can have the equipment for a while. When I was just starting out I bought base line model computers to get creating quickly. We are now in our second year and like any successful business it is time to invest in the tools that will really help us grow and be more efficient.
Brian Anthony is the Creative Designer at Bigger Creative Agency. A comic book nerd who loves everything about design and technology. Born and raised in Brooklyn, like most New Yorkers, he isn't afraid to speak his mind. Brian is an outgoing designer who has had his work featured in USA Today, New York Fashion Week, and CES. He finds inspiration in everything and loves to throw on any tune and get to work.