Archive

Archive for the ‘Review’ Category

My Apologies

October 27, 2011 Leave a comment

So my workload really ramped up after my last posts, and I haven’t been able to deliver what I’d originally promised. I’ll probably be making a couple posts over the next day or two to try to cover some lost ground.

iPhone

The iPhone event a couple weeks ago brought the iPhone 4S (“nothing more” than a spec-bumped iPhone 4). I, along with most people, pretty much expected this news – it really follows Apple’s pattern of small updates. The 4S features an A5 processor, a much better camera, and possibly most important to most people, Siri.

I’d originally not planned on getting a 4S at all (none of the features except the bumped camera really enticed me, and I’d have to pay mid-contract pricing). But, thanks to my wonderful mother, who had an upgrade available and could really care less about a new phone, I am now on a new white 16 GB iPhone 4S. I will be sending my older black 32 GB iPhone 4 back to her soon, not because these were the “terms” of some trade, but because at the very least, I want to be able to iMessage and FaceTime my mother with the new toy she gave me.

I don’t have an unboxing gallery for this guy since the packaging is basically the same as the iPhone 4. Nothing has changed, really. It still comes with the same accessories and the box is largely the same except for a new iCloud logo on the bottom. I admit, I played with Siri quite a bit on first use, and it is amusing. Utility-wise, though, she really doesn’t do all that much (that you can’t do faster by hand) unless you’re driving. Siri really shines when you’re driving and need to make calls or respond to text messages. Using my trusty Klipsch S4i’s, I was able to EASILY make several phone calls and respond to 3-4 texts within a short 20 minute drive, all without distracting myself from the road whatsoever. Having Siri is really just like having that assistant sit next to you and make those phone calls and text messages for you. My opinion on Siri is that for now, it’s nothing more than voice dialing on steroids. Many of its features are cool, but not quite necessary in life. Two or three years down the road, though, when it becomes more developed, Siri will definitely become a staple of iPhones, and the major differentiator from the other OSes. As a side-note, since Siri is in beta, I am holding out hope that it gets brought to the A4 iOS devices once it becomes a release build. From the hackers, Siri clearly doesn’t NEED the A5 to run. The iPhone 4S still has the same 512 MB of RAM as well.

I played with the camera a little bit too. Saint Louis has really been pretty rainy and gloomy for the last couple days, and I really haven’t had much time to take nice pictures. The only changes really noticeable in everyday application are that the photos obviously come out in a much higher resolution and size, and the file sizes increase as well. Furthermore, thanks to the zippier A5 chip in these phones alongside this pumped up camera, the battery life seems to have taken bit of a hit. I don’t really remember the battery life of my iPhone 4 on iOS4 since I’ve been on iOS5 all summer, but I’ve typically used about 10-20% more per day on my 4S than on the 4. It’s not a dramatic difference, since I charge nightly anyway (with the monthly discharge of course), so it doesn’t bother me much.

Some other points of interest: that rumored yellowing screen on the new phones doesn’t seem to be an issue for my girlfriend’s or my new 4S. I would also like to point out that the speakers seem to be quite a bit louder – sitting in my room alone I can easily be satisfied playing music at about 25% volume. I’d say that’s pretty impressive. Obviously, they’re still phone speakers and do sound a bit tingy, but hey, I’m impressed with what I’ve got now.

As I mentioned earlier, I have been on iOS5 for a while now, so I’ve had plenty of time to mess with the new features. I have been using iCloud with my Macs to sync calendars, contacts, notes, etc, and the synergy is really great. I love that I no longer need to worry about not having bookmarks in sync between my two machines, and it’s really like leaving off exactly where I was when I move between my MBP, my MBA, and my iPhone. Also, since I’ve only had 200 text messages a month since I even got a texting plan, I’ve had to rely on Google Voice, Textfree, etc for the longest time. Thanks to iMessage, I might be able to just switch over to the native messaging app entirely, since all of those 3rd-party free texting apps just suck. They crash all the time, and it’s irritating having to go into two different apps to text different people. Give it a year or two, I think the carriers are going to have to rethink their texting plan charges, since iMessage, BBM, GV (each for their respective platforms) are going to start gaining momentum. There really is no reason to have to pay $20 a month for unlimited texting when the user is already paying for data.

All in all, my verdict on the 4S is fairly positive. While I would still make the same choice as before in not buying the 4S unless I had a very easy way of getting one (thanks Mom), for those still using models older than the 3GS should definitely upgrade. iPhone 4 users will mostly see very little reason to shell out the cash, though, and should wait for the next big revision. I think Apple is finally getting it’s rhythm down on iPhone revisions and the carrier contracts: those who upgrade on the big revision should upgrade at the next big revision in two years. Likewise, those who buy the “S” model of each iPhone, should wait for the next “S” model, presumably also two years away. The iPhone 4S is a great phone, and for those who have an easy path to upgrade should definitely jump. For those that have a more difficult time upgrading can hold out, since the 4S still isn’t THAT big of a change.

Advertisements
Categories: Discussion, Review

Apple Porn

July 22, 2011 Leave a comment

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.

Categories: Impressions, Review

A Quick Review

April 16, 2011 Leave a comment

Yes, it’s been quite a while since my last post. College has been an utter ass-whooping lately, so I’ve had to set aside some activities to get a good amount of studying in.

About a week and a half ago, I had the small dilemma of picking a new backpack capable of carrying my recently purchased 17″ MBP. The old TNF Wavelength could barely fit the machine alone, and I also prefer having a sleeve over the machine to prevent scuffs.

I went ahead and ordered an on-sale TNF Box Shot, as that is one of TNF’s absolute largest backpacks. I’d called in and asked about fitting a 17″ MBP into a Hot Shot, but the CS rep told me that it would be difficult. The backpack came fairly quickly, and what do I discover? The backpack does NOT fit the machine with a sleeve. Awesome.

I end up stopping by my school bookstore, and being fairly Apple heavy here, they carry the Incase Nylon Backpack. I played around with the pack a little, and despite the rather slim-looking exterior, it was very roomy inside. The laptop sleeve fit my machine with a little room to spare, and the best part: the laptop compartment, as well as a couple other small pockets on the pack are faux-fur lined. This eliminated the need for me to buy a new sleeve for my MBP! I ended up buying the backpack on the spot, as I just wanted to get the backpack shopping done with.

So, as you can see from the pictures, the backpack is actually quite nice. I really like the huge pockets, and nice laptop compartment. Another great feature is the hidden pocket behind one of the cushions on the backside. My only gripe is that the straps, compared to TNF packs, seem a little bit lower quality. I also would have liked some extra straps (maybe across the waist) to help distribute any extra load I might be carrying on some days. Overall, I would definitely recommend this backpack to anyone with a 17″ machine. Those with smaller machines have way more options, but even with a 15″, this pack is amazing.

Categories: Review

Booq Viper 11

April 1, 2011 Leave a comment

After over a month on backorder, my Booq Viper 11 finally arrived.

I’ll start with Booq Bags the company. I am actually quite disappointed with the overall service. The order was placed mid-February, with the site showing March 15 as the ship date. I’d hoped to get the case around then, so that I could use it on my trip to Boston, but I was left using my old 15″ MBP sleeve (rather floppy with an 11″ MBA inside). The case finally shipped on March 24th (9 days after the ship date) without any sort of notification. As one of the few companies that have actually charged me shipping lately (not cheap either for a $55 case), I’d have expected such a late shipment to have at least awarded me refunded shipping charges. I was really in no rush after the promised ship date was missed, and I don’t have the time to go nickel and dime Booq over the shipping charges (I didn’t have time to call between the 15th and now), but I feel that the customer should, at the very least, be notified when a product is going to ship a week and a half later than originally stated (never actually using the term “estimated” or “approximate” either).

Let’s get back on track, shall we?

I am very, very satisfied with the Viper 11 hard case so far. The quality is very impressive, and it is like no neoprene sleeve I have used before. The case is made from ballistic nylon, and has very ample padding inside. With a neoprene sleeve, if I dropped my machine, I’d basically expect my computer to have some pretty substantial impact damage. The Viper 11 makes me feel like (I’m obviously not going to test this) my machine would survive a 10 foot drop inside it with very little, if any damage at all.┬áThe case itself looks very good, and the zippers seem very high quality as well.

Despite the Booq Viper 11 being the best notebook case I have ever owned, it does have its downsides. For one thing, the case costs quite a bit. Granted, neoprene sleeves cost around $40 as well, but I don’t really agree with that price either. Companies need to make money, and for quality and peace of mind, I guess I really can’t complain on that front.

The other con is simply that the case is rather bulky (as can be seen in the pictures). I’d say the case adds roughly 1.5″ in width, and probably more than doubles the thickness. Furthermore, weight is increased by approximately 50%. Overall, a good way to put it would be: the Booq Viper 11 turns an 11″ MBA into a 13″ MBP, albeit significantly more protected. This con is a tradeoff I ultimately don’t mind very much, since it is still relatively light and small, and the little MBA is very safe inside its nice cocoon.

To sum things up, I would highly recommend the Booq Viper 11 to anyone looking for a case for the 11″ MBA. The case costs a little more, and is a little bit more bulky, but you get a very aesthetically appealing, very physically protective case for your $1000+ machine.

Categories: Review

iFixit’s Tools and MCE Optibay

March 14, 2011 1 comment

I got my tools from iFixit last week, and immediately got around to putting the Optibay and my other, Intel X25-M SSD into the MacBook Pro. The toolkit, which includes a 54 bit Screwdriver set, a set of 4 metal spudgers, and 2 black sticks, is actually fairly nice. The screwdrivers are actually magnetic, contrary to what I originally thought. Using the tools for the job was a breeze. Of note, I am very happy that I finally have some spudgers on hand, as I no longer have to worry about damaging some components while trying to separate a connector with my fingernails. The spudgers work with much more precision for those kinds of tasks.

As for the actual surgery, I only needed around 10 minutes. I did end up having to open up my machine like 7 more times in the same day (and restart like 80 times), but more on that later. Putting in the Optibay is VERY easy, and even a complete novice should be able to figure it out without too much trouble. Once I got the Intel SSD in, I booted up the machine, and prepared Boot Camp Assistant so that I could finish up the easy job with an installation of Windows 7 on the Intel drive.. or so I thought.

I quickly learned that while Boot Camp Assistant would be happy to partition both drives, Macs will NOT boot up non-OS X CDs/DVDs from external drives. Damn. I open up my machine and pop the disc drive back in. At this point, I have to do several things to try and make this work. I booted up off of the OS X disc that came with the Mac and installed Snow Leopard on the Intel drive (since with only one drive I need OS X on the drive to run Boot Camp Assistant). After 30 minutes, it’s time to try Windows again. I restart the computer, hold the Option key, and there’s the Windows 7 install disc. I select that and… flashing question mark folder…

I’m going to skip talking about EVERYTHING I tried, but I did everything from PRAM resets to SMC resets to just repeatedly restarting the computer. I did permissions repairs as well. I did take out the Intel drive several times just to see if the stock SSD would allow booting from the Windows disc, and it did. Something was up with the Intel SSD. I did also attempt to update the firmware, but the machine refused to boot from the firmware update disc too. At some point, I did boot into the Windows installer, but the installer said that my Intel drive was not bootable, which was stupid because I’d clearly booted into OS X on that drive NUMEROUS times already.

At this point, I just gave up. I scheduled an Apple genius bar appointment and went to bed (at this point I’d probably spent 7 hours trying to do a simple task).

The next morning, I thought of something. I popped the Intel SSD into my girlfriend’s crappy HP laptop, and the firmware update came up without a hitch. I put the drive back into the Mac, and voila. The Windows installer came up, and my problems were solved. The HP finally did something right. I’m still a little baffled, since the Intel SSD worked fine on previous firmware on my old MBP. Maybe the SATA III interface was giving the Intel SSD problems. Either way, I now have Windows 7 up and running (in my Optibay) on this machine. For those wondering, I have all 120 GB of my stock Toshiba SSD dedicated to OS X, as my boot drive. The Intel X25-M has 110 GB toward Windows 7 (25 of which is used up already just to Windows 7 and some necessary updates/antivirus) for gaming, and about 45-50ish GB toward OS X. I have yet to find a use for that 45-50 GB, but I’ll leave it around just in case I want to play around with it. It’s always good to have a backup boot drive anyway. 85 GB is plenty to install 2-3 games at a time on.

After a nightmare of an experience, I’ve basically gotten everything figured out. The whole process should NOT take more than 2 hours or so if you take note of a couple things:

1. Do any Boot Camp hokey pokey BEFORE you install the Optibay.

2. Make sure your SSD is updated to the latest firmware, regardless of your experience with that SSD on other machines. Keep in mind your mileage may vary with different SSDs, since they all use different controllers and different firmware.

To add one last thing, I’ve noticed my temperatures coming down a lot. When I first got the machine, I was idling around 45 C. Now, it sits around 35-36 C, sometimes as low as 33 C. In Windows, my idle temperature is around 38 C, which is SIGNIFICANTLY lower than the 60 C idle I was seeing on my old C2D machine in Windows. I’m going to attribute this to the new, improved thermal management of the SNB CPU in the machine as well as the larger chassis of my 17″. My initial plans to re-thermal paste the insides seem to be pointless now, so I won’t have to worry about buying the paste and taking apart my MacBook Pro again.

Categories: Discussion, Review, Tips

The Long-Awaited Beast

March 5, 2011 2 comments

With this week being big for iPad fans, last week was no-doubt a good week for Macs. The OS X Lion Developer Preview was released, and like I mentioned earlier, there has been plenty of coverage on this release on the internet, so I won’t bother doing any coverage myself. All I can say is that Lion looks to be a very significant update, with not only numerous UI improvements, but also plenty of under-the-hood speed enhancements. If the next release is dramatically different, I will go ahead and do some coverage, as I will be taking advantage of a Developer account soon enough. I must say though, with Lion looking like it will not be the $29 release that Snow Leopard was, the $99 cost for a Develeoper account seems like a good idea (to not only test the upcoming OS, but also to get the final release of the OS at the end of the beta period).

Fastest Notebook on the Market

Let’s get into what everybody wants. Last Thursday, the star of the show was the new MacBook Pros. I received my new machine yesterday, and I can easily say that I am impressed.

Here are the specs of my CTO monster of a machine (these specs are out of the box, and I will be making ongoing changes to certain things, more on that later):

17″ High-Resolution Antiglare

2.2 GHz Quad Core i7

AMD Radeon HD 6750M 1 GB

4 GB 1333 DDR3 RAM

128 GB SSD

Here’s the gallery:

When I received the package, I was actually a little bit uneasy. Having wasted a good deal of time lurking in forums, I’d seen enough people receiving defective machines (dented, scratched screens, sleep issues). My machine came in absolutely pristine condition, with not a scuff in sight, making me a very happy camper. It’s been on for maybe 36 hours already (various setup tasks, battery calibration, etc), and there’s been no hiccup yet. Sleep works fine, it’s all good.

As can be seen in the gallery, I’ve also put on a new Moshi Clearguard for this machine, as to prevent the keyboard from grease-staining right from the start. The Clearguard is the same quality as the one I bought for my MBA, so I’m definitely satisfied with it.

After I booted up the computer I made sure that everything worked, and powered it down again. I immediately got to work and installed the 8 GB of G. Skill RAM I ordered the day before the MBPs were actually unveiled (the RAM only cost $55, which is way too good a deal to pass up). Apple is using Samsung RAM in at least some of its machines, but that makes no difference to me, since it’s just getting swapped out. While I was in there, I did take some pictures of the internals, and while not much has changed from last year’s models, I am upgrading from a late ’08 unibody MacBook Pro. The internals of this machine are way cleaner and seemingly better organized. I also removed the SSD to show that it is indeed a Toshiba SSD. Interestingly enough, this Toshiba SSD physically weighs a lot less than my 160 Intel X25-M. This probably has something to do with the enclosure of the SSD, but it really doesn’t matter.

To clarify, I paid for Apple’s SSD because for once, the drive is quite competitively priced. People keep saying that Apple overcharges and it’s stupid to buy the SSD from Apple. However, if you’re buying any of the high-end MBPs already, the upgrade to the 128 GB SSD is only $90 with a student discount. Even if you factor in the loss of the base drive on those models (which I value at around $60-70 tops), the SSD is still only costing $160 at the most. This makes Apple’s SSD one of the cheapest on the market. Throw in the fact that the SSD is also covered under Apple’s own warranty, the upgrade seemed like a no-brainer.

I’d also like to point out that the new build of SL in the new MBPs actually has TRIM support built in. This may have to do with the new version of the kernel also used here.

With regards to performance, the SSD works pretty well. I can’t see a noticeable difference in speed from my Intel X25-M, but that’s to be expected. At SSD speeds, normal users will no longer see a difference between different SSDs, unless the SSD is being used for a scratch disk.

This is my first 17″, and I am definitely enjoying the amazing screen real estate. With my 11″ MBA serving as my portable machine, the 17″ is a perfect desktop replacement. The machine itself is blazing fast. I won’t get into benchmarks, since those synthetic results mean absolutely nothing to a user. Using Hulu on my old late ’08 2.4 C2D machine, the processor would get cranked up to maybe 30%. With this machine and iStat Menus, I couldn’t even see much activity in the graphs. Each core hit maybe a couple percent of activity, but the computer didn’t even break a sweat.

Something to take note of is the temperature. The machine, overall, seems to run at about the same temperatures as my old C2D machine. This is perfectly acceptable, as I don’t plan on using the machine in my lap. It did hit 60 degrees celsius when playing Flash video on my external display, but that’s expected from the AMD GPU, which performs quite admirably.

I haven’t pushed the machine at all yet, but I will be trying handbrake on this beast over the weekend. I will update this post once I have done so. I will also be sticking the old Optibay back in, with the Intel X25-M for some Windows 7 Gaming. When I get around to doing that I will post the process here.

Overall, this year’s MacBook Pros are probably the biggest upgrade Apple has put into its machines ever. Both the CPU and GPU (at least in the high-end models) have been improved greatly, and it definitely shows. With no Windows machines on the market using these CPUs just yet, for once in a long time, Apple literally has the most powerful notebooks on the market. At all. We will see how the competition responds, but while they may match/beat Apple in specs, I doubt that anyone will be able to match Apple in overall package (design, battery life, etc). The biggest downside of the MacBook Pro is once again price, but if one can afford it, at least this year, a MacBook Pro is the way to go.

Categories: Review

Moshi PalmGuard

February 19, 2011 Leave a comment

I got my Moshi PalmGuard in the mail today. Surprise surprise, it came in a giant package again. Anyway, the palmrest cover was very easy to attach, and has an interesting textured feel. This product is not just a film that sticks on, it’s actually a thin piece of plastic (not sure about the material) with some no-residue adhesive. Overall, the PalmGuard feels fairly nice, and this seems like it’ll definitely protect the palmrest from regular wear and tear. I’ll see how the PalmGuard itself holds up, though.

The package also came with the TrackGuard which I applied and quickly removed. The texture is the same as the PalmGuard, which makes the trackpad a little bit hard to use. I liked the texture when tracking, but tapping to click was a nightmare. I had to tap 3 or 4 times with just the right duration for it to register. I guess the cover is just a little too thick.

Here are some pictures (the final picture is the one with the trackguard removed):

 

Categories: Review