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A Sad Day

October 6, 2011 Leave a comment

I’m sure everyone’s heard the news by now, but Steve Jobs passed away last night at the age of 56. He literally gave his life to Apple, to make Apple, and the rest of the technological world, what it is today. Rest in peace, Steve.

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Categories: Uncategorized

Here We Go

February 18, 2011 2 comments

With MacRumors independently confirming a February 24th launch for the MacBook Pro (supporting this morning’s evidence from the Italian blogs), and Appleinsider‘s sources suggesting that Apple is gearing up for a “significant product launch” as early as next week, it looks like the long-awaited 2011 MacBook Pros are finally going to get here.

Now, with so many independent sources pinning down a launch date, all we have to speculate about for the next week is the actual update. Will Apple unveil a brand new MBP design with Liquid Metal? Will Apple give us a simple spec bump to Sandy Bridge? I believe that if the 24th is truly the launch date, a significant design change will have Apple sending out invites to an event early next week. If we don’t see whispers of any event, I guess all we’re getting for 2011 is a spec bump, though a significant update without an event isn’t totally impossible.

I, for one, am ready to stop dwelling about the imminent MBP update. I just want to buy my machine, and move onto a different topic for a while. Let’s hope Apple gives us a nice surprise next week.

Categories: Uncategorized

A Bit of Apple Fanboyism

December 4, 2010 Leave a comment

I’m still pretty much playing catchup on reviews with all the tech I’ve gotten in the past couple months. Today I guess I’ll talk about two relatively small purchases some people may or may not approve of.

After buying a used Apple TV (2nd gen) off of someone last month for the family (mostly for AirPlay, but I’ll get into an Apple TV review later this weekend), I decided that I really like the remote. I got used to using the remote in the Apple TV interface, and I figured it would be fairly useful to buy another one since I have my MacBook Pro hooked up to a 1080p TV, and I watch movies and online TV almost nonstop. Clarification: I don’t plan to keep the Apple TV in my dorm room here at school; I bought it to let the family use back home. I also picked up an Apple Battery Charger.

Packaging. What can I say? I love Apple’s packaging. The charger came in a little tiny box barely larger than the charger itself; and the remote came in a little clear plastic shell adding almost no bulk to the package. Beautiful. Both came with some papers (instructions, warranty); nothing out of the ordinary.

Design. These two pieces of gear are really sleek. The Apple Remote is made of brushed aluminum with only the directional pad, and 3 buttons. It’s very thin, and while it’s pretty small and light, it’s got a nice heft to it for a piece of technology. I never owned the previous remote, but I have used it. This one wins. Period.

The battery charger is tiny. In pictures, I thought the charger would at least obscure 1 or 2 other plugs on my power strip, but it fits perfectly into one slot. To give you a sense of the size, it’s about 1-2 cm longer than an AA battery, and exactly as wide as two. It’s exactly as wide as the iPhone power adapter. I guess I can also describe the batteries: they’re wrapped in a metallic wrapping and very plain in true Apple fashion.

In usage, the remote runs into a couple of hiccups. This is really a fault of OS X, though. My main gripe is that while playing music and movies from individual applications (iTunes, Quicktime, VLC) work fine with the remote (it can play, pause, etc), activating Front Row gives me some trouble I really shouldn’t have to deal with. Front Row works seamlessly with the remote (almost identical to the Apple TV interface), but Front Row doesn’t have the option to display on my secondary monitor (the big one). This means that in order to view content in Front Row on my larger screen, I have to go into System Preferences each time and either set the displays to mirrored, or set the 1080p TV as my primary display. I don’t want to have to do this every time I want to watch a movie. Again, these are problems with the remote’s integration into OS X and not with the remote itself, which I do love quite a bit. I do hope Apple updates Front Row sometime soon, but I won’t be expecting that until Lion comes around.

Before I talk about the battery charger itself, I’ll take some time to defend my purchase. I’d been reading other reviews and saw that while the charger is very compact, there seem to be issues with the batteries not holding much of a charge, and also minor problems with the charger recognizing even Apple’s own batteries. Furthermore, some blogs pointed out that the Apple batteries are actually just rebranded Sanyo Eneloops. Seeing this, I’d actually set myself on picking up an Eneloop set that also included AAAs and adapters for those. The set cost the same as the Apple Battery Charger! Right when I made the decision, however, the price of the Eneloops on Amazon shot up, and at the time, shipping was added on as well (not Prime compatible as it was being sold by another merchant). I decided that for a couple of dollars cheaper, and with free 2-day shipping, that I would just pick up the more svelte Apple Battery Charger.

When I got the charger, I quickly unpacked it and plugged it in. The first set of batteries already inside started charging immediately, and the light turned green in less than an hour. I opened my second pack of batteries and put them in, only to find the orange light blinking. I fiddled with the batteries a little bit, and found that rotating the batteries got the orange light to stay solid. It could be that the batteries charge better when the charger contacts are touching a certain section of the battery contacts, despite the fact that there is no actual visual cue for such a preference. I call this a design flaw, since the entire end of the battery should be able to touch the charger contact and start charging. The third pair of batteries experienced the same issue, but again, fiddling around got them to work. Overall, I was pleased to find that to get the light to switch to green (supposedly charged), I only need about 1 hour tops. I do realize that the batteries were precharged to a certain degree beforehand, so I’d estimate the total charging time (to green) to take no more than 3 hours, which is fine.

Now comes the other issue: actually using the batteries. Upon getting the green light, I popped a pair of the batteries into my Magic Mouse. To my dismay, the battery level indicator showed only 88% (just like some reviewers had complained). This may be due to the fact that rechargeable NiMH batteries use 1.2 V while normal alkaline AAs use 1.5 V. Likewise, my Apple Bluetooth Keyboard only registered 76%. Having used both peripherals pretty heavily in the past two days, the battery levels have dropped to 73% and 62% for the mouse and keyboard, respectively. This does not bode well, as the batteries are lasting much less than my old alkalines. But, only time will tell.

I’d also left my 3rd pair of batteries in the charger after the light turned green. Interestingly enough, the green light turned off sometime in the night. I wonder if maybe the green light only means that an 85%-ish fast charge is done, and the light turning off is when the battery is truly full. When either of my peripherals runs out of juice, I will test this 3rd pair. Another reviewer actually mentioned that the battery performance stabilized and seemingly increased after a couple full charge/discharge cycles. I’ll be keeping an eye on that.

Overall, I’m very pleased with my Apple Remote, and the battery charger is fairly acceptable. For the $29 asking price of the charger, some AAA compatibility or even just another set of AAs would have been nice. Both products also seem to ┬áhave some kinks that need to be worked out.

Categories: Review, Uncategorized

Hello world!

November 29, 2010 Leave a comment
Here we go.
Categories: Uncategorized