Posts Tagged ‘macbook pro’

MacBook Pro 13-inch with Retina Display—Powerful and Compact

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

I’ve recently upgraded practically all of my work tech. I’ve upgraded our phones to iPhone 5s, I moved from my 1st generation iPad to a new iPad Mini, and I’ve retired my main work machine, an early 2008 iMac and replaced it with a new MacBook Pro 13-inch with Retina Display and a companion 27-inch Thunderbolt display.

I’m feeling pretty good about the changes. It’s a relief. I spent weeks agonizing over doing anything at all and then making the choice about exactly what type of equipment I needed.

For those who claim that the age of innovation is over for Apple I just have this to say: bullshit. This new MacBook Pro is remarkable. I dare you to sit it next to any other non-Apple laptop on the market and not be able to see that it is superior in virtually every way.

I’ve been a laptop user since the age of the “luggables” in the late 80s. My first was a Compaq portable that weighed 15 pounds and was the size and shape of a lunch box. And it felt like a lunch box loaded with bricks. I’ve used Mac laptops of virtually every vintage and placed dozens, perhaps hundreds of them inside businesses for colleagues. One of my past favorites was the beautifully designed but underpowered Powerbook Duo, which could be docked like a VHS cassette into a desktop dock.

My most recent laptop was a 2006 15 inch MacBook Pro, a dedicated work machine that I took with me from my last full-time job and is now my wife’s home machine. It’s a monster, but still quite usable.

Just over a year ago I helped my youngest daughter pick out a new machine to take with her to college. I encouraged her to get a super-light MacBook Air, but she decided that she wanted more power and the built-in CD/DVD drive and went with a 13 inch MacBook Pro. It’s proved to be a great machine for her (which she’s decorated it with this decal – or one very much like it).

I considered the MacBook Air as well. It is a remarkably portable machine. But frankly, I don’t care as much about portability. I will primarily use this machine in my office and only move it from my main desk, connected to the Thunderbolt Display, to my new standing desk where I’m writing this review. I made more than one trip to the Apple Store and consulted with my friends, many of whom were colleagues at the defunct Now Software, a once popular Mac software company.

I selected the MacBook Pro 13-inch with Retina Display.

It’s not a MacBook Air, but the machine is amazingly small and light, especially compared with other laptops. Open here before me as I type it appears to be carved out of a single piece of aluminum. My daughter compared it to her just 1 year older 13″ MacBook Pro and proclaimed hers a monster compared to mine (she might have used the word “cow”).

Compared to my previous machines it’s a rocket. The flash “hard drive” makes loading programs or opening files practically instantaneous. All of the lags and waits I’d experienced with the aging iMac are gone.

And the Retina display. Wow. It’s crystal clear and truly high definition. It’s easy to see the difference when it’s connected to the non-Retina Thunderbolt display. I’m not as picky as some who find that once they’ve seen a Retina display that they can use nothing else, but it is a beautiful screen. It was an easy choice when compared to the non-Retina MacBook Pro which I could have purchased for a considerable savings.

I don’t miss the CD/DVD drive. I still have my old iMac and it has become our home media center.  I rarely use the CD/DVD drive in it. I really don’t need the SD card reader in the new machine, but it’s a nice addition. I’m getting to the point that I don’t want ANY openings or connections in my portable devices. Wireless charging and connections are the way of the very near future.

There’s something about this laptop that makes me more comfortable and confident using it than I’ve ever been using laptops. It feels both solid and just the right weight and form factor.

I’ve been primarily using it with separate wireless Apple Keyboard and Magic Trackpad, but the gigantic trackpad on the machine itself is very nice. As for portability, it’s a bit too large, but only just, to fit into my Levenger Bomber Jacket Messenger bag. I’ve purchased a Timbuk2 Quckie Messenger Bag for the rare occasions when I’ll need to take the machine outside of the house.

If my pattern plays out, this new machine should serve me well for the next four to six years.

The iPad Mini—Practically Perfect In Every Way

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

I am gobsmacked. For all of the years of speculation about a miniature versions of the iPad and even after seeing it released I was positive that I did not need or want one. I’ve been an iPad 1st generation user since the very beginning. I wasn’t just happy with the original iPad—I’ve used it every day for reading news, doing real work, and for entertainment. I even used it instead of a laptop for travel, including work travel. It was and is a remarkable computing device.

I dutifully looked at the subsequent iPads and noted their generational improvements, but without much real desire or motivation to upgrade.

And then I made the mistake of touching an iPad Mini.

It is, in my considered opinion, the Mary Poppins of tablets.

I wasn’t just excited about the differences, I was completely knocked off my feet. The thing is shockingly thin. It’s manufacturing quality is so fine that it feels like a single machined piece of fused metal and glass. I’ve described it to others as an example of alien technology.

I’ve been using mine, a white 16 gigabyte WiFi model, with a gray smart cover, and it isn’t just portable, it’s difficult for me to put down. I can’t keep my hands off it. During my recent recovery from neck surgery, when I’ve been restricted from lifting, and frankly, have found it difficult to get comfortable, I found that I could comfortably use the iPad Mini to read, surf, communicate, and view. It’s an amazing platform for FaceTime, which we’ve come to use frequently communicating with our daughters (one in NYC, the other at school in Providence, RI).

I am quite happy with my iPhone 5, but I am nuts about my iPad Mini. I believe that Apple doesn’t just have a successful product with the iPad Mini. It’s clear to me that this is another mega hit. They will literally sell every one as fast as they can make them for months to come.

Here’s another sign that it’s a hit. Everyone in my family, including my mother and my rather tech-disinterested wife, has asked for one. My oldest daughter and I, both 1st generation iPad users, have sold our old models on eBay for remarkably good prices and have already made the move. I sold my 64 gigabyte model for enough that the cost to move to the iPad mini was just $50. My daughter’s 16 gigabyte model made it an $80 upgrade for her.

And those complaining about the screen? They’re comparing it to the Retina screens, which are remarkable. I’m writing this on my new Retina MacBook Pro and it is a glorious display. But I don’t miss it or really care about it on the iPad Mini. The screen is excellent. It’s fine. And I’d rather have the thinness and amazing battery-use time over a slightly better screen and the higher cost it might bring.

You’ve been warned. If you’re happy with your current iPad for frack’s sake don’t touch an iPad Mini!

Disclosure: I am a long-time Apple stock holder and an advocate of all things Apple since 1987.

What You Need In Your Next Computer: More Horsepower, Less Storage

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

I recently bought a new computer system, primarily for work. I was surprised at how difficult a decision process it was, but I’m very happy with the end result.

My previous work and home machine was an early 2008 iMac. It’s been a workhorse, but I found myself dealing with long wait times for it to wake and free itself of whatever it was up to so that I could work. It served me well to work on at my desk, but it was also our home media server, hosting our nearly 20,000 song music library and a growing TV and movie collection, and over 30,000 digital photos (and the photos are of increasing size and resolution). Because of this it’s also the machine that we sync our iPhones, iPods, and iPad to.

Add to that the fact that sitting at that desk and working at that computer has been making my back and neck pain increasingly worse. I needed more power and more flexibility with how and where I work.

Here’s the problem boiled down: I needed a powerful machine I could move around AND I needed a home system that stayed put.

I’ll spare you the long process of considering virtually every combination of Macs, iOS devices, and even desk configurations and tell you how I ended up: I’m keeping the iMac, which I’ll soon rebuild to be only an iTunes/iPhoto repository and sync station and I bought a brand new Macbook Pro 13″ with Retina display.

And it is, without a doubt, the best Mac I’ve ever used.

It is wicked fast. Applications launch in barely a breath. I can switch between tasks with no lags or pausing. There have been no crashes or even frozen applications. And the Retina screen is a thing of glory.

But I hesitated to buy it. Why? Because of the very limited internal storage options.

For my entire computing life I have always operated by one rule: you can’t have enough storage. My first Mac, a Mac SE, had a 10 megabyte hard drive. The old iMac I just demoted has a 250 GB internal hard drive and I have two 1 terabyte external drives connected to it.

It was very difficult for me to envision having less than a terabyte of internal storage for my new machine.

But as I debated and discussed this problem with friends I realized this: I don’t need to carry everything with me all of the time. But I struggled with that idea. Could I really buy a new machine that I’d use for years with less storage than I’d had in my previous machine.  I asked everyone, even Apple Store sales associate (though it was clear that I’d been using Macs for longer than he’d been alive).

So I asked myself: What do I really need?

I need access to my stuff. I don’t have to carry it with me. Here was the list that I made: I use Dropbox for all of my work and current personal creative projects. Since I’m a writer, that means lots and lots of really small text files. I would not migrate my old iMac over to this new machine. I would only install the applications that I really need. That includes Microsoft Office, Final Draft, and Scrivener.

I selected the Macbook Pro with 120 gigabytes of flash memory.

And when I was done I still have over 90 gigabytes of available storage. That’s a very comfortable amount of space.

I can temporarily fill it with things if I choose to travel. I can bring over movies and music, then dump it all when I’m home. And by using iCloud and iTunes Match virtually all of my music is available to me anywhere I can get online.

By not worrying about massive storage, I could select a more powerful and faster machine. I like having lots of home storage, but I’m finally comfortable in having less in my portable devices. When I trade in my 1st generation iPad which has 64 gigabytes of storage I’m going to happily purchase one with just 16.

It may seem ridiculous, but I somehow feel lighter.