Category Archives: Hardware

Apple Media Event Predictions – iSlate and iLife X


Only way to be right – or wrong – is to make a claim.

If you still haven’t heard anything of the buzz surrounding Apples now confirmed press event on the 27th January, you’re either living under a rock or you’ve got better things to do than follow what’s going on in the world around you. In both cases, you might wanna first read about the Haiti earthquake and then come back here.

Continuing my long line of astonishingly inaccurate predictions, here’s my reading of the crystal ball.

1. The Tablet will be called iSlate. My reasoning behind this: a) iTablet.com isn’t owned by Apple, if it was they’d most likely use that and take ownership over the generic term ‘tablet’. Just like they did with iPhone. b) This, more or less means we’ll be talking about ‘slate computers’ rather than ‘tablet computers’, which is good because tablets don’t have a glorious history. c) They also wont call it ‘iPad’ simply because it’s too similar to iPod, MessagePad and ThinkPad. And it sounds an awful lot like a pad of totally different sort. I like the suggestion by Cabel Sasser that it’d be called ‘Canvas‘. I really do like that, it’s original and new but I’m very sceptical that Apple would use it. It’s too left field for them. (Look at the rest of their lineup; MacBook, Mac Pro, iPhone, Apple TV etc.)

2. iSlate has a roughly 10″ multitouch screen going up to about 1280×800 pixels, same pixel size as the 13″ MacBooks have. Or slightly smaller at 1280×720 pixels. It’ll have the same buttons as iPhone and no more. The dock connector might support plugin in other devices like card readers and alike. I believe that in order for it to be successful in replacing a notebook as a weekend-away computer it has to have connectivity beyond wifi and bluetooth (look at how little you can actually do with bluetooth on iPhone) Like on iPhone, you can’t have background apps.

3. iPhone 4.0 and iSlate SDK 1.0. iPhone 4.0 is mentioned as a side note but the real kicker is showing what developers can do with the iSlate. I believe it’s too risky for them not to talk about apps as the world has, in the past 12 months, gone app-crazy. That’ll be the first question people will have: What does it come with and what apps are out there. Developing apps for it is not much more than developing for iPhone. Most apps can be ported with little effort. One major difference between the current iPhone SDK and the iSlate SDK is that there will be a common file area that all apps can easily access. This means that we can finally have Mobile Me syncing for all apps that wish to support it. It also means that we can dumb photos from our digital cameras to an iPhone or iSlate, edit them on the go and upload to our Mobile Me service and from there to our Mac at home. This means iTunes will always remain synced as well.

4. Last year we got iLife ’09, this is year we’ll get iLife X, pretty obvious, but what’s new? Biggest single thing is that iDVD stops from the lineup and is replaced by iShow or iPublish or something similar that denotes other forms of publishing and content producing than just DVDs. (Really, when was the last time you made one of those?) Killer here is that you can publish to iTunes LP format which gets extended so that publishing an album from GarageBand, animated photo book complete with purchaseble art or a magazine with multimedia components becomes a breeze. And the best part about this is that you can offer them for download through the App Store. Well, best part if you like the App Store. This means that if you’re an author of books with lots of words, it becomes trivial to publish on to the iPhone or iSlate. Or iTunes. And Apple TV. Most people win.

5. iPhone 4 doesn’t get mentioned.

6. There wont be any mention of the iTunes music subscription service that will be launched on 7th Sept 2010.

There we go. Check back here on or after the 27th to see how well I’ve done.

Hard Drive Price/Gb

It’s been a year now since I first started tracking HD drive prices. It’s not a hugely academic study – or extensive for that matter – it’s merely tracking the cost per Gb of the cheapest drive in each major size category on Dabs.com which I believe has some of the most competitive prices (here, in the UK, at least).

As 500Gb drives are clearly the most cost effective, it’s interesting to see 250Gb and 320Gb prices rising. Also interesting is the fact few months ago, other than 750Gb/1Tb HD’s, prices were either stagnant or rising.

If you want more detailed info, you can download the spreadsheet here: .numbers or .pdf.

hd_prices_feb_07.png

–kristian

Hard Drive Prices Have Gone Up

If you didn’t happen to know, I’ve been tracking HD prices for the last 8 months or so. Nothing elaborate, just checking the lowest price on Dabs.com every first week of the month. This month, strangely, the prices have gone slightly up. Not by much but enough to notice. Download the PDF here, to see how the prices have developed over the last 8 months. (Prices in pounds, graph prices per Gb)

–kristian

One more thing.

In my last post I forgot to say how dang lame the new Airport Extreme is. No audio connection. No Gigbit switch. No lower price tag (£80 diffrence to Apple TV). PFL, Pretty Figgin’ Lame.

[UPDATE: Apparently you can plug a USB HD to it and it then functions as a bridge to it. That’s good. I’ll give them that.]
admin

MacWorld 2007 Predictions

My predictions:

1. ‘ITV’ available right away, has a HD but no DVR capabilities. When this was first announced in September, I was really exited. Not so much anymore, it’ll really have to be something revolutionary to rock. At $299 (which will probably translate to about £220 [well above the regular rate]) it’s well over priced. You can already get software for Wii to play shared iTunes music and I think video will follow soon. The Wii is £180.

2. Refreshed display’s. 20″ goes HD, 23″ goes 24″ and all of them go iSighting. I don’t think there’s gonna be anything bigger than this for a while, user interface would have to change a lot. Try moving cursor across two 20 inch displays. Yes, it’s quite a trip.

3. Previewing Mac OS 10.5. New Finder, cool new features that were still secrets in WWDC. Time Machine gets an overhaul from what was shown in August, it’ll stop looking like Star Wars and more like a real application. Available by the end of March.

4. Apple Phone. (hey, you’ve gotta believe in fairy tales) US only for quite a while, unfortunately. But then again, that’s not really gonna matter as, although it’s made by Apple, it will not be able to beat the forthcoming Nokia N95 (check it out, it’s the new pinnacle of mobile phones.)

5. Octal Mac Pro. This, you could maybe say, is already delayed taking that the processors have been out for a while. They will be really fast theoretically.

6. iTunes TV show and movie downloads available in some select European countries. But as long as you can use bit torrent to get HD content for free and only 480×640 from iTunes, it’s not gonna pick up (this is not to say that I would use bit torrent to download content I don’t have a license to use).

And obviously iLife ’07 and iWork ’07(with addition of spreadsheet application)

Also, there’s gonna be some other really cool shit. Taking how Apple’s been hyping this, it’s gonna rock our socks off. I’m betting we’re gonna see 3 ‘one more things’. None more, none less.

See you all soon,

admin

Photoshop 10 (CS3) Beta Benchmarking

Hey All,

First benchmarks for PS 10 beta:

MacBook (rev A) 2Ghz/2Gb/120Gb : 1min 25sec(!)

This is the same machine that earlier did the benchmark in 2:10 (CS2) and 1:39 when booted to Windows. This obviously means that optimisation to Intel processors has been done very well and as this beats CS2 in Windows XP Photoshop itself is a lot faster.

I’ll be adding other benchmarks (CS3 Windows and CS3 PowerPC) later on when I find time to do them. Do post your own timings as comments.

Back soon,

admin

[edit] Almost forgot, here’s links to the image and Photoshop action that is used to do this benchmark. Also, you can find the other, earlier, benchmarks from here.

Finally something I can replace my iPod with

This is what I’ve been waiting, a real competitor to release us from the dictatorship of the iPod.

Microsoft Zune.

Rather than me reviewing it (I’m yet to receive a review sample from Microsoft) I’ll link you to some great reviews already out there:

David Pogue in NY Times

Walt Mossberg in Wall Street Journal

Engadget

Luckily everyone outside the US is saved by the fact that Microsoft has ‘no plans for Zune in UK‘ (EDIT: at least immediate future) . If you still want one and are not able to get it, you can sort of pretend you have it by using these screenshots as your desktop background. I find them as functional as the software itself!
admin

Very briefly: Cured from RSD

My RSD (Random Shutdown) syndrome has been cured by the kind people of Microspot. As with many others, it was the heat-sink.

It was a very annoying feature to have but now it’s gone (I hope). I don’t really feel angry at Apple or any need to flame them too much, I did know when buying this that it is a rev. A machine and things are likely to go wrong. And so they did. Apple – or actually in my case Microspot, an authorized repairs centre – fixed the problem relatively quickly. Not as quickly as I was hoping for but quickly enough. Just had to stay at work a bit later at nights to finish thing there, that’s all. Not a big problem.

I’m aware that this might be a big problem to someone else, so, i’ll just list how the problem came about:

About two weeks ago, on a Thursday, the machine shutdown for the first time. Before this, it had been a sleep for about 2 hours, I did some browsing for about 15 minutes and then it went off, without any warning. Immediately after that it wouldn’t boot, had to wait about 15 minutes. After that it worked for next couple of days until it repeated on Saturday. Again, it worked Sunday but then on Monday, after being asleep for the night, it shutdown and wouldn’t come back at all.

Couple of times, when it did it, you could hear the fans go full blast for few seconds before it would shutdown.

Here’s couple of links to pages for more information on the problem:

-The Apple Files shows you how to test if you are affected or not (I can’t confirm this to work, only found this afterwards. For me it wasn’t really about pulling everything out of the CPU)

Here’s a quite a long MacRumors.com thread on the issue

-Finally, if you have spare time, you can watch a MacBook randomly shutdown.

Mine is now safely back home, hope you guys never have to go through with this.

admin

p.s. Have you done any backups lately? You don’t always have to lose everything to be in trouble.

WWDC 2006

Most anticipated event in the Mac Calendar has started again this year. And Steve Jobs has delivered his Keynote. Here’s how I felt about it.

[EDIT: Notice that I’m not going into too much detail as I just feel like having a little rant. It’s really early in the morning and I’m not feeling good.]

1) Mac Pro. Good stuff, I’m sure it’s a fine machine. Dual optical drive bays, good. Four HD slots, good. Still only 1Gb RAM as the standard configuration, not good. Who in their right mind would every consider having anything less than 2Gb on these machines (4Gb is the minimum in my opinion)? As the benchmarks have show, this for many tasks is more important than having lots of processor speed, which often is left spare as RAM gets over worked. But, I guess, as Apple advertises it as the ‘most configurable Mac ever’, the consumer must be left with an option to spend £1600 and still get a slow machine.

2) 10.5. Time Machine, good. All the other little improvements, good. Spaces, sounds cool. I just hope they let you have different Docks for different profiles. This would be cool ‘cos at the moment I’ve got about 40 apps in there and I can’t tell which one is which since they’re so small and I hate the magnification effect, it’s stupid and useless.

Where is the finder overhaul?

They still have over half a year to finish this before the expected release in the Spring 07, so they better get on with it and not just give us few almost-must-have features and leave rest of it like it is and has been for years. Blaah.

3) Cinema Displays, bad. Bad. Bad. Why is the 20″ not true HD yet? I know I know, it’s only 30 pixels short but still, IT IS NOT HD YET! Price drop, good but bad. Let’s take the 23″ model. It’s $999, in the US, which is £523. That’s one bloody great price I’ll buy one! No! You won’t. It’s £779 in the UK store! If we factor in the US sales tax, which in NYC is 8%, if I remember correctly, we’ll get £564. Take the original $999 and add UK VAT, you get £614! Over £150 more than the US price! Why!? (It does make me feel a bit better to find that it is around £639 in the UK Edu Store.)

Ok, it’s not all bad at all. It’s actually really good. It’s just that everytime before this event everybody gears up to see so much new and amazing stuff that when it never actually comes one might be a bit disappointed. Good that we don’t have to expect anything to happen at Apple Expo Paris, we might be positively supriced.

[edit: added links]

I’m off,

admin

A Short MacBook Review

First of all,

This kicks ass so good.

-This is the nicest keyboard to type on that I’ve ever used on a laptop. It really feels like my fingers are flying on it. The keyb on PowerBooks was really good but this rocks. Especially, you’ll notice a massive improvement compared to iBook’s flimsy keyboards. Also the two-finger scrolling up/down AND sideways is a really great feature. You don’t really miss using a mouse for your basic browsing.
– The screen is bright, as Apple says, as bright as the cinema displays. If compared to a 12″ iBook screen, you can turn this down to it’s second lowest level to match that on the brightest. It’s glossy but that’s ok. I was really worried about this, but it really isn’t a problem actually. In my office, I’ve got a window right in front of me and I never see/notice a reflection of myself.

-It’s smaller than 15″ PowerBook, obviously, but quite a bit bigger than the 12″ models. It could be smaller but I quess it’s hard to fit all this within the frame.

-Battery life is great. I’m traveling to Dublin this weekend and we’ll see if it survives the train and the flight. I watched an hour and a half long movie (Bruce Almighty, if you care) and still had more than half of the battery left. And this was on the brightest screen setting. Al thought the battery in my old PowerBook was in very good shape, i.e. you could do light work for atleast for 2:30 hours, but you couldn’t imagine watching two hour film, even if the film was on the hard disk and therefor not using dvd drive, and the screen on darkest setting.

-It’s really fast. I upgraded mine with 2Gb RAM from Crucial. If you don’t want to spend £220 on it then you should atleast spend some £80 and upgrade it to 1Gb directly from Apple. See the Photoshop benchmarks here, the last comment has results for this one (funnily enought, this kicked MacBook Pro’s ass [I know, it’s just because of different settings and setting]). Anyhow, very very fast.

So, does anything suck?

Yes.

-Only two USB ports. Only one FireWire port. Backlit keyboard would be nice but I’ve never really missed it.

-Those are smaller things. One thing I’m a bit worried is how the integrated graphics card can handle Civ IV and other 3D intensive tasks. What made me even more worried, was when Aspyr said MacBook isn’t one of the officially supported machines. I’m sure it’ll still crack it, no problems, especially with 2Gb RAM. And if it doesn’t, I’ll just boot to Windows, get a Civ IV for Windows XP and wait to play the mac port on my next machine in two years time.

Conclution:

Darina wants one as well. It’s so good.

admin