Home > Impressions, Review > Apple Porn

Apple Porn

Let’s get the porn outta the way first eh?

AEBS

So being stuck at home all summer has its perks and drawbacks. I can’t say I don’t completely appreciate the super fast Comcast internet we’ve had, but the reliability was just all over the place. The last few weeks, our internet started cutting out very frequently, often requiring a router and modem restart every 30-40 minutes or so during the worst hours. This sucked. I finally got pretty damn fed up, so we sprung for one of the recently-updated Airport Extreme Base Stations. My dad had been talking about setting up a wireless backup system anyway.

The system took me all of 5 minutes to set up, and since I used the same network name and password as our last router, none of the computers in the house had to be tweaked to work with the new AEBS. Awesome! Long story short, I now have speeds of roughly 4-5 times faster overall (largely thanks to the simultaneous dual band (2.4 and 5 GHz), hence eliminating slowdowns due to older machines on the network. I can confidently say that the network disconnects have been cut down to about 1/100 the frequency with the old D-Link router, with the remaining DCs probably attributable to either the modem or Comcast messing around. As you can see in the last of the AEBS pictures, I’ve also hooked up one of my spare external hard drives (in a Hornettek Hover enclosure). Yes, Time Machine is working fine (with Lion too) over an external hooked up to the AEBS.

MBA

Well, this guy is clearly the reason anybody (at all) would read this blog post. Apple announced these guys on Wednesday (with me trawling those forums hourly) alongside Lion. I was in the store on Wednesday (a decent 20 minute drive away), and after like an hour of shitting around with a nice employee named Ryan (who was repeatedly trying to scan the machine and get it to check out properly), I was told that they couldn’t sell me the machine because their system hadn’t been updated. Yes, MacRumors forums members already said that repeatedly throughout the morning (that the stores actually weren’t supposed to sell until the next day), but I had really hoped to get lucky. Didn’t work. Oh well. It came out to about 2 hours wasted overall, that I could have been using to be much more productive.

I went back the next day, and got my machine within 20 minutes. I have to say, I felt like a total badass walking into the store and walking out with a brand new machine 20 minutes later. I’ve always ordered my stuff online, so you don’t really get that Apple store satisfaction. I’m pretty sure if I’d waited until I got back to school to buy this guy, I could’ve saved like $60 on taxes, but given that I’ll be moving around with my machine a lot in the near future, I figured it be nicer to have an Air to tote around vs. a 7 lb MacBook Pro. $60 to shave 4-5 lb off seems to be a decent deal, actually.

I ordered the mid-range model 11″ (1.6Ghz/128GHz/4GB) to replace my prior 1.4 GHz/64GB/4GB machine. I’d been paranoid that 4 GB RAM would be a BTO option again, thus screwing me out of having the Air for traveling unless I bought an ultimate in store. I’m so glad 4 GB is BASICALLY standard on all the models except the base machine. I paid about $1250 for this guy (with a student discount), whereas the ultimate (1.8GHz/256GB/4GB) would have cost about $400 more. When the RAM is all I cared about, that $400 is a big f***ing deal. On the topic of money, these Airs have dropped a good deal in price, considering the last gen 11″ 1.6GHz/128GB/4GB (which was actually the ultimate) ran for about $1450 including tax, and that was a crappy Core 2 Duo (it’s not really crappy, though, since most people on 11″ machines aren’t going to even max that out – I was the exception). So, by selling my last machine for a $100 loss, then buying this machine for $400 on top of what I actually earned back from that machine, I’ve effectively upgraded an old machine for $500. Doesn’t sound like too bad a deal. Overall, these guys are going to sell like freakin’ hotcakes. On a side note, the Apple stores carry 3 standard configurations for the 11″ machines: the base (1.6GHz/64GB/2GB), the mid-range (mine), and the ultimate. Given that the ultimate is actually displayed as a configuration in stores (it’s shown on the iPad thing as a choice), Apple is definitely well prepared this time.

Well, I took the machine home and did the whole new computer thing (boot up, check for dead pixels and cosmetic damage, install all programs, and sync dropbox/accounts, etc). For some reason, I truly enjoy this process (I’m sure there are those who absolutely hate the tedious monotony that comes with so much installing). I now have the machine completely up and running (and I went ahead and paid for Little Snitch and iStat Menus while I was at it, since I’d been using them errrr liberally before this). While I am currently not typing up this post on the Air, I can say that it definitely has felt snappier than my previous machine. Another interesting note is that my Pro and Air now have the exact same size internal SSD, and media is shared using a portable hard drive (where I keep my iTunes and Aperture libraries) and Dropbox; yet, the Air actually has a bit more free space thanks to some of the bigger programs I have installed on the Pro. Since I like to keep stuff between my machines sync-ed, that extra space is probably never gonna find a use, which is just fine, since I like to keep SSDs as empty as possible anyway.

A lot of people got really excited and started wetting themselves at the now-brought-back backlit keyboard. I honestly can’t say I give a rat’s ass about it. I’ve been using computers for a while now, and it really isn’t that hard to type without looking at the keyboard. My wireless bluetooth keyboard is not backlit, and I’m doing just fine. To each his own I guess, but I really don’t see why this was a deciding factor for so many people, and for that matter, why Apple found it necessary to remove the lights just to restore them. I have to admit, Scumbag Apple was pretty transparent this time: pulls backlit keyboard from new design; adds backlit keyboard after everybody already bought the previous one. I guess that meme pretty much sums it up.

Just a couple of small things to point out about these new machines. Obviously, due to Apple’s secrecy and fear of leaking information out in software, the new hardware comes with custom OS X builds. My 11″ Air came with Lion build 11A2063, instead of the 11A511 (or 11A494 for some) in the GM and RTM versions of Lion. Also, there was some hot debate over what kinds of SSDs Apple would be using this time. iFixit proved that they’re still the mSATA drives. Some people also noticed Apple mixing it up with Samsung and Toshiba drives in the last gen, with the Samsung drives being significantly faster (due to Native Command Queuing). My machine has a Samsung, so that may add to why it feels faster than the last one. Other than that, using this guy feels exactly the same as using my last machine. I’m just glad to have the portable computer back.

Some gripes: I’m actually a little bit ticked about a couple things on these new Airs.

1. Apple left out the FaceTime HD camera. Honestly, I don’t care if my camera is HD or not, but I can’t help but feel that Apple is just pulling another scumbag move here.

2. Why is the SD card slot still only on the 13″? It’s very possible that they really just can’t fit the card reader in there, but I bet it’ll eventually show up.

3. Why is the bezel on MBAs still so damn big?

4. This is probably my biggest complaint. The Sandy Bridge processors were supposed to increase energy efficiency, ESPECIALLY with the loss of the NVidia 320m. With the crappier Intel HD3000 graphics, I really hoped to see some battery improvements. Several sites have already determined that there’s actually about a 30 minute loss in battery life. I’m really not going to complain about that too much, since I rarely will actually drain my computer down in one sitting, but it’s really just about peace of mind, of being able to keep working without worrying about my battery.

Overall, I’d say the new Airs are basically just as good as the previous ones at that time. A couple new features justifies the months since the last release, and it’s rather fitting. With the price decrease, anybody looking at a new Mac should seriously consider getting an Air if his/her tasks aren’t too intensive. People too often overestimate what they do (YouTube and iTunes really don’t need that much power…). They can save themselves a little bit of money and actually get a machine that feels faster from the get-go (yay SSD!).

Lion

I’ve been using Lion for a while now through the Dev Preview period. Everybody has Lion now. There isn’t really a reason for me to give many impressions or review of it. My personal opinion right now is that Lion is a tad unpolished (my friend experienced some pretty strange Mission Control behavior, and I really dislike how all the Spaces are all linear now, with no way of setting the order manually). Some people have also complained about multiple display behavior (you can’t have 2 screens with a space on each), which is really just stupid and defeats the purpose of these linear spaces. I’m sure 10.7.1, 10.7.2, and so on will bring some needed changes. Thanks to the system feeling a bit snappier, and the low cost, I’d still absolutely recommend upgrading, as my gripes are basically just with new features, and everything under the hood is just fantastic.

Final Note

Along with the Airs and Lion, Apple also released the new Mac minis and Thunderbolt displays. It’s pretty interesting to see that the minis ditched the optical drive in favor of an empty slot (where a hard drive can fit if you can get another SATA cable). I’m not too sure about that move, however, since most people buy minis as media centers. A media center really needs a disc player.. Other than that, the new specs look pretty great. The minis have traditionally carried the same specs as the white MacBook (which is now discontinued, thank goodness) and the low end 13″ MBP. The new minis actually have the option for a discrete GPU now, which is just terrific. As for the Thunderbolt displays, I’m incredibly tempted to pick one up when I get back to school and recoup some of my funds. With FW800 and gigabit ethernet, one of those displays can act as a really nice hub for any Mac with a Thunderbolt port. Since they’re not actually shipping yet, nobody knows for sure, but some fear that Apple might have just effectively terminated the usefulness of Macs with just the MiniDisplayPort. I hope this is not the case, since the most powerful Mac Pros still don’t have Thunderbolt. I guess we’ll find out in 6-8 weeks.

Advertisements
Categories: Impressions, Review
  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: