MacBook Pro (15in)
Price: From £1,599
The champion laptop for most creative types is the MacBook Pro. These models offer the perfect storm of portability, a decent amount of power and, since the introduction of Retina displays, superb screen quality.
While MacBook Pros do not have touchscreens like many higher-end Windows machines, the 2880 x 1800-pixel resolution of the 15in version gives you the equivalent resolution of a 5-million-pixel photo. It also supplies fantastic colour gamut coverage, with 93% of Adobe sRGB. What you see on a MacBook Pro screen is accurate and Mac OS X offers profiles to tweak screen calibration with a few clicks. Up to eight hours of battery life, fast SSD storage and reliability makes for a strong skill set.
There are a few holes: the glossy display is fairly reflective for outdoor use; the lack of an HDD option means getting more storage is expensive; and just two USBs can be limiting if you’re looking to replace a desktop computer.
MacBook Air (13in)
Price: From £849
Where the Apple MacBook Pro offers an excellent all-round laptop for photographers, those after an extremely portable option should check out the smaller MacBook Air. It’s one of the best-value, ultra-slim metal laptops around.
The 13.3in version weighs just 1.35kg and gives you up to 12 hours of use off a charge. You won’t see that sort of stamina if you perform a lot of processor-intensive image editing, but most Windows-based laptops can’t get close.
It offers few compromises on power too, as you get the Intel Core i5 processor used in most other Ultrabooks. Our top tip is to upgrade the RAM to 8GB for better performance.
Other than having limited (but very fast) SSD storage and only two USB ports, the main drawback of the MacBook Air is its screen. Resolution, contrast and colour accuracy aren’t on-par with the other high-end laptops here, which use IPS screens. The Air still uses a TN-type panel that can’t quite keep up.