Thursday, May 17, 2012

First Month with a MacBook Air

When the MacBook Pro was announced I preordered and could not wait for it to get to me.  I ended up having to wait a couple months before it was finally shipped to me, but it was well worth the wait.  I kept it for three fantastic years before finally upgrading to a newer MacBook Pro.  Then about three months ago I was looking to upgrade again and started thinking about whether I should get the 17" instead of the 15" or go with a Mac Mini.  I actually got a Mac Mini only to find that it was not for me.  That is a story for another day, but after having the Mini I realized that portability was something that I valued a lot and the processing power of the Mini was plenty for most of my needs.  So why not try a MacBook Air I thought, and here I am writing this post on my MacBook Air.

Reasons the MacBook Air is Great

The MacBook Air is unmistakably small and light.  This is the main reason that I decided to give it a try.  I went with the 13" since I had my doubts I could transition to such a smaller screen as the 11" would have been coming from the MacBook Pro 15".  It is still incredibly thin and light at least as compared to the pro I had.  Having a smaller laptop really makes a difference when carrying around and using in bed.  The screen is still excellent as compared to my work laptop (its a dell), and the built in camera which is standard on all Apple laptops is perfect for video chat.  The instant on feature when you just let it sleep is great, but not a lot faster than my MacBook pro was from sleep.  The big difference is in booting which is much faster due to the SSD instead of HDD.  The SSD is also much zippier when opening programs or files.  If you open a lot of programs frequently or boot every time you use your computer then the SSD is a definite advantage.  You can get an SSD for a pro however and it could be an even faster model since the one in the Air is not user replaceable and therefore you do not get any choice aside from size.

Reasons the MacBook Air is Not so Great

So not everything is all that great.  First and most obvious is the lack of a physical disc drive.  Although I thought I could do without it has actually been annoying and I have found myself really wanting a disc drive again.  However, it did give me a good excuse to get an external blu-ray drive which it seems Apple will never carry in their laptops so at least there is that.  Ripping blu-ray movies in order to get them on other devices though is not that fun due to the size of the file, so really the blu-ray is not that big of an advantage unless you just really need to use blu-rays versus DVDs or you are planning to play blu-rays on your computer and output to your TV.  Another large complaint I have is the lack of user replaceable components.  The 4GB of RAM and the 250GB SSD are good and plenty for my current needs with the exception of those blu-ray rips, but if down the road I need to upgrade I will be forced to get a new computer entirely rather than just refreshing.  The last point to make on the disappointments list is the super loud fan which seems to kick on at the slightest load to the processor which happens frequently with the 1.7 Ghz i5 in there.


At this point, the tradeoffs are worth it.  I love the size and weight of this MacBook Air and it matches or exceeds the performance of my previous laptop in almost every way.  I still don't think I am entirely ready to rid myself of the disc drive as I still rent from Blockbuster and use my computer to watch the movies often, but the quick SSD and excellent portability are great.  If you find yourself looking for a very portable computer that still has good specs then the MacBook Air is a very difficult computer to beat.

Monday, May 23, 2011

I Sold My Geo for an iPad

It was time to get a new car for my growing family and so I had to get rid of my 1995 Geo Prizm.  I loved that car, but it just wasn’t big enough for the entire family so it had to go.  My buyer was looking to sell his iPad so that he would have enough money to buy the car so logically I just said “how bout the iPad for the car?”  It worked out and I am the proud new owner of an iPad 2.  People have been crazy for the iPad and act like it is the end all device that you can use for everything, but my impressions of its abilities have not changed even after owning one.  The iPad just doesn’t fit nicely between my iPhone and my MacBook Pro.  Is there really any need for a tablet between those two devices?  I have been thinking about what I can use the iPad for to make it really worth the money, but I have not really come up with anything yet.  It is really cool and I love watching NetFlix on it, but I do not really see myself using it for GPS in the car and it cannot do things like Hulu unless you subscribe to Hulu plus.  The best use I have come up with so far is to put it in the car for my daughter to use for movies.  It would be a very good looking screen and we can load the movies to it and get some Bluetooth wireless headphones so it seems like that is the most reasonable use. 

There are a couple of things that shocked me about the iPad.  First, it does not come with any headphones.  Those ear buds that Apple usually provides with iPods and iPhones have got to be really cheap to produce and therefore it seems like an odd exclusion on a $500 tablet.  I have my ear buds from my iPhone so there is not really any problem, but if I were getting this device to be in place of the laptop or the iPhone I would definitely need some way of listening to it without using the external speaker.  The second thing that seems odd is that my MacBook Pro came with a microfiber cloth to wipe the screen off because it is a glass screen, but it is not a touch screen so in theory it should rarely be necessary.  On the other hand, the iPad does not come with anything to wipe the screen off with.  I find myself constantly trying to wipe it off with my shirt or something just so that I don’t see all of those awful smudges on the screen.  Why would they not include a way to wipe it clean?  The Smart Cover certainly would not do the trick because you would really need to wipe the screen to get it clean and from my understanding the Smart Covers also take dirt off of the table and get smashed between the screen and the cover every time you close the cover so it seems like a lose/lose situation. 
What are your impressions of the iPad?  Have you come to love this Mac in tablet form factor? Does it do everything that you need it to do to take the place of your laptop and do you find that it can really be useful in between an iPhone and a MacBook?  Let me know what you think in the comments.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The iPad in All of Us

Apple's new iPad has no doubt crossed your mind if you are even close to an Apple or Mac fan.  I know it has been an item that has been impossible for me to ignore lately.  Even with all of the fanfare and how truly spectacular the iPad itself looks, I still have no desire to own one.  I just cannot find a good place for it to fit into my lifestyle.  Although it looks cool and is a prime example of an Apple product, it just doesn't seem like a very good alternative to a MacBook.  Of course the starting price is quite lower than a MacBook, but a MacBook has Mac OSX, flash, easily replaceable or upgradable components, a physical keyboard, a countless number of existent applications, and I am sure there are a few other things that I am missing.  Also, the premium that you pay to get 3G on the iPad seems downright outrageous at $130, unless I am missing something.  You would be hard pressed to convince me to get the 3G version of the iPad especially since it is on AT&T's network and costs so much more both monthly and initially.

So where do you stand on the fence of iPad or not iPad.  If I were to get the iPad I would definitely have to use it for a car computer or something.  It is just too expensive for me to justify using as a reader and too limited to use as much more than my iPhone.  No flash!  Look, I do not care if Steve Jobs hates flash and the HTML5 or whatever is supposed to be better (debate-able), every site out there already uses it even after three years of Apple pushing back against flash.  Can we not just grow up and allow the consumer some convenience for once?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Guide on How to Replace the iPhone Screen

Since my post a while back providing video tutorials on how to replace a cracked iPhone screen seems to be a more popular post I thought it might be helpful for some who are looking to do this difficult repair to have a guide on how to go about fixing the iPhone.  This do it yourself project should only be attempted by those that are confident in their ability to work on delicate electronics and are willing to void the warranty for their iPhone.  This project should cost between $50 and $150 depending on where you get your parts and which ones you will need to get.

Where Do You Get the Parts to Fix Your iPhone Screen

Of course when you attempt to do this project you are going to make sure you can get all of the tools required to replace the iPhone screen.  First thing is first though, you need to determine whether you have broken just the front panel (glass covering the display) or the actual display (lcd) itself.  The easiest way to tell is if everything still looks clear aside from the broken glass.  If all of the pixels appear undamaged and there are no odd colors then you are probably in luck and it is only the front panel that needs to be replaced.  This could save you around $70 since the display is the most expensive part.  The guide to fix the screen is the same with the exception of actually using the new display or not; the video in this post does a great job of explaining that as well.

There are a few places that you can go to get iPhone parts and tools.  Without a doubt, iFixit is your best place to start your search for parts and tools for the repair.  iFixit has plenty of parts for most anything that you need Mac related and they also provide repair guides for the DIY project you are planning to do.  Although iFixit is a great place to get these items, there are other places that may have the parts and it may be a good idea to shop around so you get the best price on your iPhone parts.  Rapid Repair is a great site which has iPhone parts and also offers repair services if you think that you may be in over your head.  eTech Parts looks to have a good selection with some good prices and there is always eBay.  iFixit and Rapid Repair are probably the best places to get the necessary tools if you do not have them already. 

 How Do You Replace the iPhone 3G Screen

This guide will be very similar to the one for the iPhone 3GS, but you should make sure that you use the guide that applies to your specific model of iPhone if you are still using a first generation iPhone.

There are a few tools that you will need a also a couple of parts.  You will need a Phillips #00 Screwdriver,  a small suction cup, and a spudger.  The parts required would of course be the display and the front panel which is actually the covering for the display.  Once you have these items you should head on over to iFixit for the full guide on how to repair the screen.  There is also a somewhat humorous video below that goes through the process for an iPhone 3G.  It would be a good idea to familiarize yourself with both before attempting to do the repair.

Can You Replace An iPhone Screen Yourself

At this point you may be asking yourself, "can I replace the iPhone screen myself?"  The video above should make you a little more confident in your ability to do this repair, but if you do feel uncomfortable it may be a good idea to get a professional to repair it.  Apple will of course do the repair for you, but it will cost you about $100 more to get them to do it for you.   This will allow you to retain your warranty though, and it also could give you peace of mind.  Unfortunately, there is no fun in that approve at all.  If you are good with gadgets and think that you can be careful when doing the repair then you are probably going to be just fine.

Friday, December 11, 2009

AT&T Speaks Out About Their Network

It turns out that AT&T has not taken kindly to all of the Verizon ads lately knocking their network. It seems that the two networks are playing nice now after a small legal battle that was childish at best and just managed to bring light to the whole deal anyway; making it a lose lose for AT&T.  After the dust has settled a little bit though, I got this email from AT&T.  They decided to email me and let me know that their service was great and getting better all of the time.

Normally I would just think this was some email that I had signed up for accidently when buying something, but I know that for AT&T I had specifically told them not to send anything.  They sent it anyway and it only puts more bang in Verizon's advertising buck.  True, it does speak well about AT&T's network and it does try and reassure us all that they are working hard to make it better, but only when they are under the gun.  Shouldn't AT&T be working on their network all of the time.  I know that AT&T has to defend their brand whenever it is slandered in someone else's advertising, but AT&T should have addressed many issues long before deciding to take on the iPhone.  The iPhone has done so much to damage AT&T's reputation that AT&T has actually started to advertise their other devices more heavily to soften the blow when they lose exclusivity of the iPhone.  There will probably be a huge shift in brand loyalty when the iPhone does become available for other carriers, but unfortunately only time will tell.