Posts Tagged ‘Apple’
Note: This review, isn’t going to go into detail about the iPad and its apps, this post merely serves to illustrate why I bought a new iPad Mini over the iPad Air.
Last year I bought the iPad 4, I would have bought the mini if it wasn’t for the fact the mini’s screen wasn’t a retina screen. I didn’t even give the mini much thought back then, other than to say that I would have bought one if the screen didn’t show those now out of fashion, computer pixels.
I already own an iPhone 4S and the MacBook Pro with retina screen. I had gotten use to this type of screen so why take a step back?
Jump ahead one year into the tail end of 2013 and Apple release the updated mini, but they love to give us, the consumer, some choice. They did this by updating the larger endowed iPad, cutting down its size and making it thinner and lighter. The weight reduction is quite significant.
While both tablets were out of stock, I played with the demo units in the Apple store. My arms still got tired holding both iPads while reading the web. This was something I didn’t think would still happen, obviously the arms weren’t as quick to tire while using the Mini. I remember holding the iPad 4 and then having to lean on one side or switch to the other during long sessions. I didn’t want a repeat of that.
My biggest worry though was screen size if I purchased the Mini, I felt like I couldn’t give up the 9.7 inch screen, would I miss out by going with the 7.9 inch option? Would Paper feel awkward to draw with? Would Baldur’s Gate be as immersive on the iPad 4? What about the smaller keyboard?
In the end, my thoughts switched to the discontinued Apple iBook line of laptops.
Back then there were two sizes of laptop and I remember owning the 12 inch version. It was cheaper, held the same amount of storage (with the right upgrade option), the 14 inch was always slightly faster than the 12 inch and to top it off, there was no advantage with the larger screen, they both had the same number of pixels, with the same resolution! Okay, the 14″ had a larger battery, but was it worth the extra weight?
The iPads today can almost be compared in the same way, in fact Apple markets the capabilities of the Mini as being equal to the Air, but just with a smaller screen. If you can deal with that, I would say splurge for the smaller one and opt for more storage.
I did exactly what I’m recommending to you and I can’t believe the iPad Mini has twice the processing power and there is 64GB inside this, (that’s double compared to my iPad 4) the combination of storage, size and the power present in my hand is simply awesome.
I’m also happy to say I definitely made the right choice, I can’t think why I was considering it so much. My gut feeling paid off and this one feels right for what I want to do. Both tablets overall are very portable, but the Mini more so, the experience is just more intimate. The screen on the Air feels slightly more awkward now, awkward in the way you can carry it in your hand, place it around the home or buying an accessory for it that will add even more weight and girth.
The product designer Dieter Rams once said, “less is more” and it certainly feels that way with the iPad Mini.
I gave myself something less to think about this week.* I purchased the current top of the line Retina MacBook Pro with all the trimmings, 16GB of RAM, 2.7Ghz Quad Core processor and a 750GB SSD. In addition I consider myself lucky to be living in Hong Kong at the moment as this wonderful machine has cost me almost £800 less than it would if I walked into an Apple Store in the UK and handed over my debit card. There is another story behind purchasing this laptop, but I’m saving that for the next episode of JPG podcast.**
I’ve bought a complete machine, the first time in which I have done so and I don’t have to think about upgrading it later, this is it until it dies. I’ve already joked to friends that this is the last Apple Mac I will ever buy. This is where buying the top of the line is refreshing for me; I don’t have to think about any upgrades and the reason why I have given myself less to think about.
I have always bought a laptop with the view to upgrade the battery, memory and the hard disk later on, right at the point when the machine was starting to lag behind my expectations. I always bought the low end model with the capable processor. Purchasing this new computer I can’t upgrade has caused me to think about my previous computing experiences; this laptop is different to everything before it and I’m in a different space mentally.
On reflection I found owning those previous laptops bothered me; making an anxious because the constant quest to find upgrades later took up a large portion of my time. Memory was the easiest kind of. I would buy as much as the laptop could handle by going to crucial.com even though the website isn’t straightforward, but as a geek I put up with the site in order to get the benefits of more RAM. When it came to the hard disk, I think I went to all the websites that sold them; measuring attributes and prices against one another and then finally settling on one model before a newer one came out and then later buying that one as well. I was also always taking a peek in the SSD section of these websites to see if theprices were worth their asking prices yet.
I remember owning a plastic MacBook a few years back. I upgraded the hard drive three times, going from the stock 80GB drive to a 200GB, a 320GB version and then settled on a 500GB model (all 7200rpm models); more instances than when I owned an actual desktop computer (remember those?). It didn’t stop there, I even removed the optical drive and put in another 500GB drive after that! Even further down memory lane, I even went to the effort once of opening up a G3 iBook in order to upgrade the hard disk. For anyone who doesn’t know, there were forty screws of different sizes between you and achieving upgrade nirvana with those laptops. Hence the praise Apple received when they made upgrading the MacBook lines easier when they were first announced. Though I think it was to help them more than it was to help us.
Apple have always being difficult in the initial purchasing process; they were always stingy with their laptop configurations. Apple never included enough RAM or the specs of the hard disk were unsatisfactory in the initial price. This forced me and probably many others to choose a costlier model (more profit for Apple) or I would have to upgrade the ‘Mac of your dreams’ with third party upgrades. The third parties were always cheaper so I always took that option with the acknowledgement that I would be opening up the machine myself. Something else I don’t have to do anymore either, that also means less clutter around the house; I owned two difference screwdrivers and other bits and pieces from left over upgrades.
A Different Computing Experience
By owning a Retina MacBook Pro I’ve lost something that I thought in the past was important to the computing experience. I was always thought I was buying a Mac for the long term, when in fact over a shorter length of time I was spending my personal time looking for these ways to make upgrades; so it wasn’t just money I was spending. In my view there is something to be said about owning a sealed up machine because it liberates me from all this. I can just use the machine with no expectations of taking it further technically unless I wanted to buy another external hard drive.***
In the long run, I can envision Apple lifting our burden from buying third party hard disks at some point. What if everything you owned was stored online on iCloud? Imagine a Time Machine backup sitting online with the transfer speed equal to satisfy even the most impatient among us?
Even OS updates, besides the low price is something we don’t have to think about anymore. When I updated to Mountain Lion, I remember thinking some games took longer to install. Apple’s Gigabit ethernet through Thunderbolt helps, but my point is that an OS install took less time than an application install.
If you’ve read this far, you’ve realised this isn’t a typical review. I don’t really want to talk about the technical aspects beyond the Retina display, but naturally this is a fast and capable machine. All the connectivity options are what I want (especially when there aren’t that many, just two USB and Thunderbolt ports really), the speakers have amazing depth to them when you consider how they have been squeezed into the aluminium chassis. The weight and thinness is something to really admire, especially when my previous machine was the 13″ MBP, which was thicker and heavier. Most of my music feels fresh from being freed from the MacBook Pro’s tiny speakers. Geekbench results have this new laptop score double over the machine I’ve replaced. When I re-acquire Aperture and record new episodes of JPG Podcast, I’ll be putting it to the performance test. At the moment I haven’t had less than 10GB of RAM free, even after opening every page of John Siracusa’s Mountain Lion review into its own tab in Safari!
The screen itself is fantastic, the clarity to photographs and text is so sharp even at any resolution above ‘Best (Retina)’, which takes me to the bit of the screen that actually impresses me more; the ability to change the resolution! I haven’t been able to do this since I last owned a CRT monitor, hello 2004. Owning an LCD where you can change the resolution is also something I can’t take for granted, I love it!
I’ve always wanted a laptop that had desktop like performance and everything I would want in the one machine, the monitor really was the last sticking point for me. I never liked external monitors, I can’t stand all those wires everywhere. To think I have the same screen real estate as the 17″ MBP that I originally wanted, makes me more than satisfied when it’s coupled with the smaller physical size of a thinner 15″ MBP and in some cases the performance capabilities of the MacPro. The resolution at 1920 x 1200 is still sharp at a normal viewing distance.
I have two quibbles related to this machine, one, the font rendering in Safari is a bit weird; refreshing text incorrectly, it was doing it plenty while writing this review. The second quibble is the unusually long wake up time. I hope both of these are fixed in a future update.
I would continue now to further buy laptops like this just for the existential advantages I just described, yes the cost is steep and not for everyone when it comes to Apple products, but what I’ve described equally applies to say a Lenovo. I know there have been huge articles and discussions about the pros and cons to not owning an Apple Mac you can’t upgrade yourself; with a lot of people poo-pooing Apple because of the lack of upgradability after purchase, but if you are planning on buying a new Apple Mac, consider the benefits of this mental space freed up. I’m really enjoying this MacBook Pro more because of the route I took.
* I’ve managed to sneak in another discussion about minimalism.
** JPG Podcast isn’t dead, it’s coming back next month. I just have no internet to host shows. I’m borrowing wifi from anywhere at the moment until I get my own data connection.
I’ve been waiting for Apple to release the Firewire 800 to Thunderbolt cable (as I write this, the online Apple store is just now accepting orders for them, both of my current drives are Firewire 800 (with USB2) and I had to resort to the USB2 to transfer my work onto this machine. Now I have a Thunderbolt to Firewire adapter, I’ve realised Thunderbolt can only power one device on this chain I had set up with Firewire 800. Firewire 800 is capable of supplying 45 watts while Thunderbolt only supplies 10 watts. This means I can no longer daisy chain my two portable hard drives. I would need to buy a second cable adapter or constantly unplug and swap each drive between the one adapter to make the two backups. Source.
I think if you want to sidestep the entrenched and informed discussion from Apple’s reveal last week of non-upgradable MacBooks; arguing whether we should be allowed to upgrade our laptops or not. Apple has to release laptops you can’t expect to configure from the very beginning; establishing then from the outset an appliance like approach to all their mobile devices.
That means Apple has to supply now all their mobile devices with fixed amounts of RAM and storage space. That could mean offering a low end 15″ Retina MacBook with limited specs and high end version with everything going to eleven on the spec sheet.
Nobody after all is complaining about the iOS device they can’t upgrade.
I’m going to quote the entire quote from today’s post by John Gruber on daringfireball as it’s such a good one.
On the appointed day, Evangelist and the rest of the team gathered in the boardroom. They’d brought page after page of prototype screen shots showing the new program’s various windows and menu options, along with paragraphs of documentation describing how the app would work.
“Then Steve comes in”, Evangelist recalls. “He doesn’t look at any of our work. He picks up a marker and goes over to the whiteboard. He draws a rectangle. ‘Here’s the new application,’ he says. ‘It’s got one window. You drag your video into the window. Then you click the button that says BURN. That’s it. That’s what we’re going to make”.
Gruber basically states that ‘Bronson Watermarker‘ (homepage) does exactly the same thing except for PDFs that iDVD did for movies. Gruber is not a photographer so it’s understandable (and entirely forgivable) when he undersold the app by not mentioning that Bronson Watermarker also works with the popular image types as well (JPEG [and JPEG2000], GIF, PNG, BMP and TIFF files). This looks to be a very handy application for me considering I never could get Aperture to insert my watermark into my images during export. It’s the reason why my photography doesn’t have any; watermarks were always a stupidly, crazy, small, size and forced into the bottom righthand corner. I’ve always wanted them to appear in the same way as they do on the VII website.
I just wish the Aperture design team had the same discussion with Steve Jobs about the user interface as the iDVD team on that aspect of the application. Once I’m in the mood to watermark my work again, I’ll be giving this a go.
Anyway the app is £6.99 ($9.99) on the Mac App Store (link).
‘JPG’, which stands for journalism, photography and geek, is meant to be an extension of this website’s narrative; covering the same topics that I’m mostly interested. I’m getting to the point where I haven’t felt I should write about everything I come across and it is in my mind more engaging when two photographers discuss something like photography apps on the iPad/iPhone. Bringing Alex onboard helps in that sense.
We will be having irregularly timed podcasts, probably one or two a month (bandwidth permitting). Our aim isn’t to be an up-to-the-minute news show, there are enough of them (and better ones) out there. Again the style of the podcast will be much in the vain of this website, longer analysis, reviews of photography apps and sometimes just a bit of geek discussion. My aim is to get the balance of serious discussion and light hearted discussion right. Overall I want all the topics to be fun, but to be informative at the same time.
The Podcast’s art work is still being worked up. Later today I will create some sort of Podcast page s well.
If you download and listen I hope you stick around as this podcast idea expands, the first show is a bit raw and unplanned (as the title alludes to), but I thank you for listening.
An irregular podcast featuring your host Jonathan, with alternating guests Alex and Adam. In each podcast we’ll talk about what’s happening in the world of journalism, photography, mixed in with plenty of geek; where geek can bring almost literally anything to the discussion table.
In our first episode we get to grips with podcasting while at the same time discussing what is probably the best iOS Photography Magazine on the Apple App Store in the form of ‘Once Magazine'(but most definitely the best magazine overall), Apple’s 25 Billion Apps promo, a slew of iOS photography Apps for the iPhone and iPad, a curious iPhone case, a music recommendation and a year’s break to Canada.
iOS App – Once Magazine (iPad Only)
iOS App – F8 Magazine (iPad Only)
iOS App – 360 Panorama
iOS App – PhotoSynth
iOS App – Nostalgio
iOS App – PicStitch
iOS App – KinoTopic
‘Maybe it’s My Fault’ (Jordan Commercial, Youtube Link)
iPhone RangeFinder Case (Photojojo)