Tag hardware

Mini Review of Pencil by 53

Today I received Pencil by 53. It’s incredibly comfortable to sketch with. Compared to the 10 other styluses I’ve used this one has the best feel.

Pencil by 53
The Pencil feels great in the hand!

The New Apple Line

Gradated Screens?

I was on a mission last night to check out the new Apple line up. I was set on testing the new Apple notebook screens. I focused on the screens because I was worried about the screen being gradated. Any one who has done design on a 20in. iMac knows what I’m talking about. The display washes out color towards the bottom of the screen. The 24in iMac doesn’t have this problem.

So I tested out the new Al MacBook and MacBook Pro screens. The gradiant was very minimal on the MacBook—pretty much a non-issue. The MacBook Pro has a clear screen very beautiful. The main difference between the screens seem to be saturation. The Macbook Pro’s screen has a better, more accurate saturation compared to the MacBook. The MacBook is slightly washed out. It’s very slight.

CC: iBuffet

I wasn’t able to check out the 24in LED screens, because they only had one and some creepy dude was on it the whole time.

So I’m still trying to decide on which Mac to get. I’m leaning towards the MacBook, because I really love the size. The MacBook pro seems so big to me, but I would love to have a dedicated video card and FireWire. I’m thinking that I’ll use the savings from the MacBook and put it towards a Mac Pro—I’m hoping for a redesign this spring.

The Apple Aluminum Keyboard

Apple Aluminum Keyboard Unboxing Photo I broke down and bought the new Aluminum Apple wired keyboard. I went my local Apple store the day after the announcement to get iLife and iWork (possible future post), but unfortunately they didn’t have the new iMac out so I couldn’t try the new keyboard.

Well this Sunday I went in to exchange my wireless Mighty Mouse, I’ve went through two, I’m now on my third, I love the mouse, but the stupid scroll ball nipple thing always breaks. (another possible future post) So since I was there I tried out the new keyboard and decided to buy it. I went with the wired one because I need the extended keyboard.

As for my review of it… I love it. It looks OK in photos, but looks great in person and on my desk. I love the way it feels and ergonomically it is much more comfortable for me. I’m stuck on a computer probably 9-12 hours a day so ergonomics are important to me. At work I use a Dell keyboard and an evoluent vertical mouse (possible future post #3) and at home I use a Wacom intuos3 4×6 tablet and Wireless Mighty Mouse.

Good Bits

Basically if you like the Macbook keyboard you’ll like this keyboard. I was always of fan of “clicky” keyboards, but I enjoy the soft touch this one has. It’s great when your blogging at 4A.M. since it is quite. I also like the extremely low profile; it keeps me from bending my wrist too much. Finally the USB ports are 2.0! I hooked up my Canon EOS 350D and downloaded 30 or so raw images in a minute or two. It was nice not have to worry about where to plug the cable in. Apple Al Keyboard-08.jpgThe port are recessed so when you do hook up a USB cable to the keyboard you don’t have to see the fat knob part of the USB cable sticking out.

Negative Bits

I haven’t fully been able to get the “special keys” functioning. I did install the keyboard software update (1.1), which got the media, volume, and brightness keys working, but the exposeé key, and dashboard keys don’t work. I haven’t spent much time fiddling with it so if I get them working I’ll post back here. Lastly the USB ports will only power a high powered device if the keyboard is hookup to the new Al Imacs. Bummer.

Flickr: Apple Al Keyboard Photos

09/11/07 Edit: Keyboard Software Update 1.2 was released today and has fixed all the above issues for me.

How to Properly Clean a Mighty Mouse.

I recently had a problem with my scroll ball on my wireless mighty mouse. I couldn’t scroll down so I did a google search to see if others were having this problem and I found an apple support page that describes how to properly clean the scroll ball. This page also links to a video which shows how to do this. This is pretty obvious, but I’d thought I’d post it anyways.

The method described by apple’s support page did work for me, but I think it is very annoying that after most of us have made the transition away from ball mice to optical or laser mice Apple brings out a scroll wheel that is a BALL, so now I stuck cleaning out the scroll ball.

I do like the mouse and the main reason I bought it was that it is nice to have a bluetooth mouse that I can pack along with my macbook. I know their are others, but this seemed like the best choice for me. I wish the Logitech MX Revolution was made in bluetooth, I’d love to have that mouse. They do make the Logitech V270 Cordless Optical Notebook Mouse for Bluetooth , but it isn’t nearly as feature rich as the mx rev, and not as sleek as the mighty mouse.

I really do like the mouse though, the 360 scroll ball is great for Google Earth, Photoshop, iMovie. One thing I really like about the mouse is the fourth ‘button’—the one that you squeeze. I have set this button up that if I squeeze it, I get Exposé, F9, that shows all the open windows. I’ve added modifier keys to this so if I hold down the cmd key instead I get the show desktop function of Exposé. The opt plus the fourth button will activate Exposé’s show all window from the particular app your working in, F10. And lastly if I hold down the opt and the cmd keys it will activate the Dashboard, F12.

Broken Scroll Ball Update

10/12/07: About two months after I wrote this post my scroll ball died. I went to the Genius Bar and they tried to clean it, but nothing worked so they gave me a new one. Three months later the same thing happened with the new mouse. So now I’m on my third Mighty Mouse. The guys at the Genius Bar said they haven’t seen this problem before, so I’m not sure why the scroll ball keeps breaking. My best guess would be, because I have sweaty-ish hands…

Now even though it sucks that I’m on my third mouse I have admit that Apple’s service has been great. Both times I was at the Genius Bar, it only took five minutes to get a new mouse. The best thing about the exchange is that when ever I get a new mouse it comes with a brand new warranty. Most companies only honor the product until the initial year is finished. i.e. If you exchange the product after eight months of ownership most companies will only cover the new product for an additional four months. The only time they deviate from this is when your warranty has less than 90 days left, then by default they usually always give you 90 days. Apple gives you a full one year, even if you had the product for 364 days. Now I’m pretty sure they don’t do this with computers, but I always buy AppleCare.

How To: DIY $10 Macro Photo Studio

Great article on how to make a small macro photography studio for only a few dollars out of household materials. Read more on the Strobist Blog

example of lightbox

How Hot is the MacBook?

After computer has been on for three hours, while streaming iTunes music, and working in Pages, terminal, Firefox, and other apps. I will measure different parts of the MacBook with an infrared gun. I think the results are good. (specs: 2.0ghz core duo, 2gb ram, 80gb drive)

Yes I misspelled acceptable, I made this video in about five minutes.

http://youtube.com/v/Mfj9WuKZF-I

MacBook (nonpro) has been announced!

macbooks So on my previous post, MacBook (non-pro) to Arrive in 30–60 days (my tech spec. requests), I made some “demands” on what I want in a MacBook. Well lets see what they did “right” and “wrong”, how’d it compare to my requests, and lastly will I buy one?

Pros

  • New look! Now they both come in white and black. The white MacBook’s keyboard and hand rest are a nicer gray then on the iBook. The iBook had an ugly off-white/grayish color that I hated. Its also thinner now at only 1.08in (27.5mm) thick which is a ¼ inch smaller than the iBook. Changes to the keyboard allow for a firmer more tactile response, make the keys flush with the body of the macbook, and also the keys do not touch the screen.
  • Addition of MagSafe adapter, FrontRow with IR remote, magnetic latch for closing lid, 10/100/1000Mbps ethernet, digital audio in and out, and integrated iSight with PhotoBooth.
  • New glossy widescreen display. According to Apple it is 79% brighter than the iBook before it and has 30% more screen real estate (native 1280×800). The whole glossy thing, is said to make images/video look more saturated and blacks more black.
  • Dual Screen Support, this is a huge plus! By dual screen support, I refer to the fact that you can now “power” your laptop screen plus an external monitor with a resolution of 1920×1200. (basically up to a Apple 23-inch Cinema HD [expect a future post about how I like the Dell UltraSharp Widescreen Flat Panel Monitors better than Apple’s displays) Also this isn’t in mirroring mode. The external display you hook up can be a fully independent extended desktop. New Intel Core Duo Processors are said to be up to 5x times faster than previous iBook. The MacBook is capable of 2gb of 667mhz DDR2 RAM. 6hrs of battery life, 3.5hrs with normal usage, 2.5hrs with DVD playing/burning. User replaceable hard drives and easier to install ram slots. Heat-staked feet designed not fall off.

Cons

  • No express card slot! That sucks. I wanted a truly portable system, so I wanted to get an EVDO plan so that I can have internet everywhere. Hopefully Verizon will start uncrippling their phones, so people could use their phone as a bluetooth modem. Even better would be a EVDO USB 2.0 solution (Edit: usb modem are now readily available) or T-mobile to come out with an EVDO like service, since they don’t cripple anything.
  • Integrated graphics chip. :( Although they are more powerful than the ATI 32mb cards that were in the iBooks. But I hate to have to share my ram. The GMA950 does support core video unlike the previous iBook.
  • Superdrive doesn’t burn dual layer DVDs.
  • Only two USB ports, and one firewire 400 (not that big of a surprise or deal)
  • Black model cost $150 more ($200-$50 [60GB to 80GB HD]) as far as I can tell theirs no difference between the two beside the hard drive being 20GB large which is worth $50. (I don’t want the Black anyways)
  • Still not ultra-portable, like some of the Sony Vaios, but I don’t mind that much because the Macbook and the iBook before it have a much sturdier shell then the Vaios.
  • Glossy Screen may suck for office environments due to reflections on the display. My concern is that if images look more saturated and blacks look more black, then will it be harder to make accurate prints? From what I heard this can be true. (MacCast podcast 5-17-06)
  • Magnetic Latch cons: Depending on the strength of the magnet you’ll have to be careful not to place Cds and DVDs, near this area. (Notice that the Cd drive spits the CD/DVD out of right of the MacBook.) In the user manual for the MacBook Pro it does caution users: “The MacBook Pro power adapter port contains a magnet that can erase data on a credit card, iPod, or other device. To preserve your data, keep these and other magnetic media away from the power adapter port.” I assume will see a similar warning in the MacBook manual.
  • Apple states that the MacBook will run hotter than its predecessor. They even have tips page for customers worried about damage due to heat. p106 MacBook Pro Manual: “Do not leave the bottom of your MacBook Pro in contact with your lap or any surface of your body for extended periods. Prolonged contact with your body could cause discomfort and potentially a burn”

Comparison

Here is Apple’s comparison between all of their current notebooks. And here is some guys comparison between the late iBook model and the new Macbooks.

I’m going to compare it to my previous post, in which I said I want an dedicated graphics card, 1280×768 min screen resolution, and a EVDO slot. Well I did get my screen resolution which was an |absolute| must, I would never buy a laptop with a 1024×768 screen. The integrated graphics is a bummer, but it has done well in tests, and reviews. The lack of an express card slot is a bit disappointing, but with bluetooth and usb 2.0 I’ll find a work around. So, did I make the purchase? Yes I did. I got the white model MacBook with 2.0 ghz Core Duo, and upgraded the hard drive to 80gb and added iWork ’06, mini-dvi to DVI adapter, mini-dvi to VGA/S-Video Adapter, and of coarse apple care. I did get an educational discount from Apple on my purchase since I’m a student which saved me in total $201. I also add 2GB of RAM, not through the Apple store though. That would have cost me $450. Instead I bought it from transintl for $209. I should be receiving my MacBook April 26. I paid for 2-3 day shipping, and they are going to take 5 days to ship it. :( (1-5 days my ass) When it comes in I take some hi-res shots of it and post them. Why not black, you may ask? Personally I don’t like the way it looks, I prefer white, and I don’t want to see every single figure print, and I’m not going to pay $150 extra for simple black, maybe I would for aluminum or something else nifty, but not black. (I’m not saying it sucks, its just not for me.) Since this will be my 1st Mac I will be posting info about the process. Also I’m planning a video podcast that may debut toward the end of July.

Reviews

MacBook (non-pro) to Arrive in 30-60 days; My Spec Requests

“Apple has begun manufacturing its new MacBook and should have the laptop in consumer hands in the next 30-60 days, sources report. The MacBook and it will indeed be called the MacBook, sources have confirmed, as Apple will be dropping the iBook moniker.”

~ via Digg

read more | digg story

My Take

Recent rumors of the macbook (non pro, previously known as ibook) finally being released sometime between May and June has me quite excited. So far I’ve read that the macbook will sport a 13.3in display with 1280×720 resolution ! : Finally, I mean seriously I can’t believe that the ibook was still running at 1024×768 especially the 14 inch!

The next major concern I have is that they will use an integrated graphics chip in all version of the macbook, I mean I can understand if they put one in the low end version, but they should have a second ibook version that has a 64mb graphics card, or at least 32mb. Or at least an upgrade path. With the mid-end Dell laptop line (inspiron E1505) for example you can upgrade the laptop from a Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 950 to either an ATI 128mb x1300 Hypermemory for $79 or ATI 256 x1400 Hypermemory $143. The Intel GMA 950 chip is also used in Mac Mini with Intel, this is what is suspected to be included in the macbook. The Inspirion E1505 has a base price of $1261 (w/ 128mb card $1340 & w/ 256mb card $1404) Now I don’t want to get into a total comparison of who is priced better Dell or Apple, I just am pointing out that it is an affordable option to upgrade the card if you need to, I would gladly pay $143 to get the x1400 instead of the GMA 950.

Also rumored is that the industrial design of the macbook will be the greatest change to the computer line, that Apple has made in years. Hopefully not some shiny black case that scratches easily.

So will I buy a macbook. . .? All I can say is I definitely won’t if it has less than 1280 resolution screen, a video card that is integrated (with no optional upgrade path), and I’m also hoping that they will put a Express card slot, so that when the EVDO cards do come out I can use them. As of now the ibook has no slot of any kind.

So what if they do all the things I don’t like? Then I’ll be waiting for the macbook pro with a conroe chip or maybe a 13.3in macbook pro. I didn’t buy the macbook pro because the apps I want to use (Creative suite, Final Cut Express) are not available yet. For me personally the whole point of the macbook pro is to have a top of the line notebook, which I believe it is, but by the time I get to use it it’s full potential it we be a year old. So when Creative Suite and Final Cut Express comes out I will be buying a high end system.

Note: I know I’m making a lot of demands on the macbook, but I’m not saying all this features need to be in a $999 version. I would gladly pay $1499 for a 13.3in ibook 1280×720 res. Screen, 512mb ddr2 ram, 128mb x1300 card, (which I doubt they do.), 60gb 5200rpm SATA drive (hopefully i can upgrade it to a 7200rpm 100gb drive) & a Superdrive.