Blog Archives

Apple iMac with New Display and Fusion Drive, Mac mini update

The Apple iMac got an update announced todays “event” that improves the display, and storage options. The new display includes a special coating that reduces reflection along with updated NVIDIA graphics. They also updated the processor to include the new Intel chips and put it all in a thinner case. For storage they now include what they call Fusion Drive that is a combination of Flash memory, standard hard drives and special Mac OS software that makes the two drives look as one, along with manages what applications and information is stored on the Flash memory or hard drive based on use.

There was also a small update to the Mac mini that updates the processor with a Intel i5 chip. Both the iMac and Mac mini also have a reduced power usage. The Mac mini is available now, 21.5 inch iMac will be available in November, and the iMac 27 inch some time December. Prices start at $1,299 for the 21.6 inch iMac, $1,799 for the 27 inch iMac, and $799 for the Mac mini all at the base model.

Apple 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display

At the Apple “event” today one of the first announcements was an update to the 13-inch MacBook Pro to include a high resolution Retina display. The 13.3 inch IPS display has a native resolution of 2560 x 1600 and the Mac OS is updated to take advantage of this display. There is also an update to the processor and reduction in how thick the laptop is. To get it only 0.75 inch thick body, they removed the DVD drive. You can get this laptop in a standard 2.4 Ghz Intel Core i5 processor  8GB RAM, Flash storage, Intel HD Graphics 4000, and up to 7 hours of battery while using wireless internet. You can upgrade the system to include a 2.9 GHz Intel Core i7 and up to 768GB of Flash storage.

Below is a table of the two stock laptops:

Price $1699 $1999
Processor 2.5 GHz 2.5 GHz
Memory 8GB DDR3L 8GB DDR3L
Storage 128GB 256GB

Hands on With Windows 8 Release Preview on a Tablet

With the Windows 8 release looming for October 26th 2012 and Microsoft Surface pre-orders started I wanted to take some time and play with Windows 8 again and see if it made any more since to run. I had installed an older version of Windows 8 on my tablet a ASUS EP 121 that is running an Intel Core i5 with 4GB RAM and has both Touch and a Wacom pin. So this should be a good system for testing Windows 8 on.

After downloading the disk image of the OS I used the Windows 7 DVD/USB backup tool to put the installer on a 4GB flash drive after to install the files on my Tablet. The installer booted and offered to install Windows 8 I changed some settings and pushed the OS to upgrade Windows 7 and all it did was move all of Windows 7 and the apps installed to Windows.old folder.

When the system rebooted it asked me to connect to my Wi-Fi and then login to a Windows account and set the colors of my Start Screen. At this point you are dumped to the Tile interface that is the only real thing Microsoft is showing in all of the advertising of what Windows 8 is. So now on the Start Screen I was showing it to my Wife who is not a techie person and my Son who is 3 and we started looking through the Photos app because it was smart enough to look for photos that are on my main desktop and somehow it had access to them even though the Tablet had not connected to the HomeGroup or logged into my desktop, this may have to do with me being logged into a Microsoft account on my Windows 7 desktop and by logging in with the same user on the tablet that it lets me not have to use my desktops username and password to access files.

With photos showing up my Wife and Son took over and we’re having fun flipping through photos, at some points the app would crash and leave us back loading the app and then thumbnail images of the folders only showed up a gray boxes and would change to a thumbnail if you went into the folder for enough time that it would load every image. This is the first of many times the Tile apps would crash that night, and yes this is a “Preview” but if you are releasing it things shouldn’t be crashing when loading photos over a home network.

I wanted to try out some of my Windows 7 applications that are installed still under that Windows.old folder, after finding my copy of ArtRage Studio and long tapping to pin the program to Start, it opened up just fine and ran in the Desktop mode. This is when I started finding myself using the good old desktop mode more and more. Now that I see it works I install Google Chrome because I like using Chrome and how it works, so Internet Explorer took me to the desktop even though I used the link on the Start screen but whatever and I went about downloading chrome.

For ArtRage to work right I needed to put in my registration key that I had a screen shot of save in Google Drive so I installed the desktop application and went about opening the file in an Explorer window but it wanted to no preview it but open it in the Photos app, only problem is that takes over my screen and doesn’t let me have more than one window open so I can get the code, another fail for pushing me back to the Start tile interface. After long pressing and going to preview it went back to the Start menu and said that another program can open that file and I told it to use the desktop image preview application and got things done.

Chrome was nice enough to install both a Desktop application version and a different version that worked in the Start menu but they are different apps/applications, this is a restriction Microsoft put in making software makers build two different programs, this is another fail because you may have something open a link on the Start tile interface but then you need it on the Desktop and this can’t be done.

I also at this point found out that the driver for my Wacom pin was not working right from what was pre-installed and I had to find the Windows 7 drivers and after a restart the pin worked great.

So it’s getting more frustrating to use but I went ahead and loaded the Music app, but for this app it didn’t know to look on my desktop for music and couldn’t find anything I had, but sure did want to sell me music thanks for that, not really the preview was ok but not what I wanted. So I went ahead and though good time to setup the tablet on my HomeGroup because mentioned something about joining to show my music, cool so after going through to another interface and back and forth with the onscreen keyboard that you have to change views to get a number I was connected to my HomeGroup and could see my desktops music in the Desktop mode and if I was to load a specific file in the Music app it would play one song not a folder full. So thinking as I do I added my music library from the desktop system to the local music library and then things started showing up in the Music app.

The Music app does not do good with lots of files, I was able to crash it doing almost anything now, if I play all it will shuffle through my songs but crashes because the background to songs with no cover art is a bunch of other cover art so each time you skip songs it reloads this wall of images, and then crashes. Now if you want to look for an artist that will crash with my large collection of music it hangs on switching and doesn’t scroll and finally crash again.

With the Music app crashing when looking for an Artist I looked for them using the Desktop mode and had it play the folder of music I wanted to play and test out, fail again I had to go back to the old way of doing things to get things working fast and easy.

Now I was going to install some apps from the Store, after finding some they seemed to work out just fine SketchBook Express and Wikipedia loaded just fine and I was able to use them, Wikipedia needs some work to use up more white space and make it easier to read because when you are reading most people are used to scrolling down not to the side but it was still usable. The WordPress app had some problems with logging into my site, it kept asking for me to update the Jetpack plugin but there is no update that I can get.

Back to stock apps, I went and tried the Mail app this required me to login to my email account and it had Google as an option, the only problem was it would not connect. So thinking what about updates they may have fixed some problems, well there was 9 updates and I let it update and restarted the Tablet and I was able to login to my Google account and my mail did show up but the Mail app is a little hard to use, like when you switch messages you have to select the text not just the area that is around it making it hard to use with your finger. Also by logging into my Google account my calendar showed up but only the main calendar content not all of my sub-calendars or others I have joined from other people. I hope Google makes some apps for their products that work as if I was on Android or I would have to just use the websites.

New day new problems, so I could get screen shots of things I installed an application called Greenshot and found myself installing VLC Media Player but Windows 8 doesn’t know the publisher so it wanted me to be protected from installing the program. So I tried to do it again by running the installer as Administrator but got the same message, this time I thought well let’s see what the learn more link does, at that point it said nothing other than it was an Unknown Publisher and I could run it any way. Too bad that made no sense or wasn’t obvious to let me install it.

Another thing that seems to be a problem with the Music app, while writing this it is long and taking time, ok so my tablet screen goes blank, that’s ok because its saving power and not burning out my screen, but the Music app is now not signed in and can’t get my music from my local network even though I am still connected to the Wi-Fi. The only way to get my music back was to switch to another app, use the hard and unobvious way of closing a Start tile app by dragging the left edge of the screen and pulling down to the bottom to close it and have it reopen. Only then did it start to find my music again even though I did try the resign-in button on the app. I would have not known that it was even possible to close an app if I didn’t spend some time reading though a list of posts around the Internet of other people as confused on how to close an app.

To close this out, I am trying this new Windows 8 Start tile interface in its intended way on a touch screen tablet and not an a desktop because I already know that it was just a big fail, and found the operating system to be improved for touch but still lacking a full tablet experience and all in all not even close to being ready for a release. Microsoft should have just built a Tablet OS based on Windows Phone and not mess with the Windows Desktop OS but now they have screwed up both experiences once again. I wanted to see Windows 8 work out good on my tablet because Windows 7 is so hard to use on it, but there are so many shortcomings with the Apps and I just had to go back to the old Desktop interface to get things to work or make things easy. People are going to try things and just not upgrade ever to Windows 8, they will look at Android and iPad as the way to have a tablet that works all the time. This is going to be another situation like Windows XP and desktop users will not upgrade. Microsoft is betting big on this new interface, and they are getting pressure from PC makers and PC part makers such as Intel to help drive sales but this will not help, it will further stagnate the market.

All in all I would say Windows 8 is going to be a failure and it’s too late to change things. I will keep Windows 7 on my desktop for a long time, and I will just put this tablet away and not use it for much other than drawing once in a while, and just use my Nexus 7 for everything that I want.

Ubuntu 12.10 now Available

The popular Linux distribution Ubuntu has been updated to version 12.10 today. While most of the update is a roll up of most of the open source applications that are part of the distribution they had added some user interface additions. Users can now create Web Apps for things like Gmail and Facebook that don’t require you to open the web browser then go to the site it just shows up as an item on your launcher or desktop. You can also now search online files and stores for things such as music, photos, and video. This works with Flickr and Google Drive. Finally they have what they call Dash Previews; basically you can play music or apps from Ubuntu One before you buy or install them without having to open any additional applications.

I have the release preview installed on my laptop and all seemed to work good, still have a problem with the Intel graphics drivers not controlling the screen resolution right but that seems to be something that lots of people with different laptops and distributions are having for well over 3 years. But if you run Ubuntu its doesn’t cost anything to update, or if you want to try it out download the DVD image and boot a system without having to change anything and see if you can use it for your computer.

The new Google / Samsung Chromebook for $249

Google has updated the line of Chromebook laptops with a new Chromebook that will only cost $249. This is the point where these computers start to look like a good deal. They run Chrome OS, which is a Linux distribution that is focused on only running the Chrome Web Browser. It makes it secure and keeps the system always up-to-date because you are expected to be working online all the time with this system. Lots of people have said this is a great system for their parents so they can get online to check email, Facebook, and get info on the Internet but not have to worry about the system getting messed up. But by having a limited system they have made a lot of changes to the OS to make it more like a traditional OS. Also with the new price drop this makes the system seem like a good deal now.

The main difference with this new Chromebook is the change from an Intel processor to an ARM process that would account for the main reason why the price is so low now, along with reduced RAM down to 2GB from the 4GB of older devices. You also get 100GB of Google Drive storage along with the built in 16GB SSD that most of the storage would be used by the OS giving a smaller than expected storage area on the computer, Google expects you to be storing everything in the Cloud so you could just login on any Chrome OS device and it seems like you were always there.

The full specs are listed below, but this is only an 11.6 inch screen, gets 6.5 hours of battery, and runs on a Samsung Exynos 5 Dual Processor. Also check out the full gallery of what things look like.

Processor ARM Samsung Exynos 5 Dual Processor
RAM 2GB
Screen 11.6 inch (1366×768)
Battery 6.5 hours
Size and Weight 0.8 inch thick, 2.5 lbs
Storage 16 GB SSD with 100GB Google Drive for 2 years
Wireless Dual band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 3.0
Camera VGA
Ports 1 USB 3.0, 1 USB 2.0, HDMI

Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13, 11, Lynx, Twist

Lenovo announced the pre-order of four new Windows 8 mobile systems, the IdeaPad Yoga 13, Yoga 11, Lynx, and Twist. The Yoga is a convertible laptop tablet that hinges to fold the keyboard flat with the display going backward, this gives it the ability to be used as a tablet or stand up in interesting ways. This was first seen at CES 2012 and got lots of attention. It will come two sizes at 11.6 inch and 13.3 inches. The big difference between the two is the 13 has an Intel 3rd Generation i7 processor running Windows 8 Pro and it earns being a Ultrabook. Where the 11 runs on a NVIDIA Tegra 3 processor with Windows RT with less battery life and won’t run any old Windows applications because it runs the ARM processor. Full tech specs of the four systems below.

As for the Lynx, it is a low powered Dual Core Intel Atom powered 11.6 inch tablet that runs Windows 8 but has a keyboard that can be attached to transform it into a laptop type computer. They claim that with the 16 hours of batter you can use it all day and also use it for applications like the included Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.

The Twist is the only one specifically built for business users, it has an Intel Core i7 processor and is also a Ultrabook running Windows 8 Pro with the option to have 3G data and more storage options. They also make note that it will have a normal ThinkPad keyboard that so many people like to type on if they have a laptop. The display is also a high-definition IPS with multi-touch that twists around so you can use it like a tablet. This would be a good power user laptop if you are looking to get a Windows 8 Pro device.

IdeaPad: Yoga 13 Yoga 11 Lynx Twist
Screen 13.3″ 11.6″ 11.6″ 12.5″
Processor Intel Core i7 NVIDIA Tegra 3 Intel Dual Core Atom Intel Core i7
OS Windows 8 Pro Windows 8 RT Windows 8 Windows 8 Pro
Battery 8 Hours 13 Hours 16 Hours w/ Dock 7 Hours
Storage 256GB SSD 64GB eMMC 64GB eMMC 500GB HDD / 128GB SSD
Ultra Book YES NO NO YES
Price MSRP Starts At $1,099 $799 $649 $849

These specs are if you max out things such as getting the fastest processor or largest SSD, and they only gave prices for the lowest of the spec base systems so the prices will be way different. You can pre-order the Yoga 13 at Best Buy October 12 2012.

New Apple MacBook Pro with Retina Display

New Apple MacBook Pro with Retina Display

New MacBook Pro with Retina Display June 2012

A few weeks ago Apple had an update to their Mac Book Pro line of laptops, and with most other computer venders focusing on building Ultra Books they had to do something that would be different than what most new laptops are going to have in them by the holidays. There trick was an updated 15-inch display using what they call Retina, that has 220 pixels-per-inch to give it one of the best looking displays out. This same technology was used in there iPhone 4s to make the screen look better. One problem with this display is that most applications and websites do not have high enough resolutions to have this be worth much at this time.

The rest of the laptop is about the same as any other high end laptop, Intel Core i7, NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M, up to 16GB of 1600MHz RAM and up to 768GB flash based storage. As for ports it has Thunderbolt, USB 3.0, HDMI and an updated MagSafe 2 power plug. They claim 7 hours of battery life, HD webcam, 802.11n Wi-Fi, and a full size backlight keyboard.

For the base model the price starts at $2,199 USD and goes way up from there. For that price you can get a great Ultra Book or a Gaming class Windows 7 Laptop, but with Apple you always have the old Apple Tax for the name. If I had the extra money to drop I would get something else, maybe next year it would be great with the Retina Display. But if you’re in the market for an Apple laptop go ahead and get this it’s only more and comes with more memory in the base price.

CES 2012 Wrap Up

Now that CES 2012 is over lets look over what came from the show. There were a lot of new products introduced over the week, but it wasn’t anything all that new.

Some of the most innovative things out were the OLED TV’s that were 55″ from LG and [OTHER NAME]. These were very thin screens with great colors, and they were looking as if they were going to be put into production not just showing that they could make it but will be selling it soon. But I would have to say hold off on getting one of these screens when they first come out and give it one to two years from when they come out so that the price will drop, sizes will increase, and more options on who makes them will increase.

Another big deal at this CES was the Ultrabooks being introduced. These were thin and light laptops that are built to exceed the Ultrabook spec by Intel in most cases. What makes these different from normal laptops is that they are thin, light, long battery, and fast. Most of the laptops that were thin and light were slow and didn’t get much in the way of battery, but most of the ones shown looked very nice. If you were looking at a nice portable system then these would be one to get, and the prices weren’t all that much more than a normal laptop with the same specs.

There were a lot of Android phone announcements most having big screens, LTE, and having fast processers. One thing to look past on these when hearing the hype matchean is that they will be running Android 2.3, while this sounds bad because Android 4 just came out, it has to do with the fact that Android 4 is only a few months old and these were developed when Android 3 was a tablet only version and Android 2.3 was all there was. I’m sure by the end of the year a new set of phones will come out in the summer and will be all build running Android 4 and also be faster. But for now these phones will be running faster processers, have more storage, and be able to run on LTE 4G networks for the carrers who are working on setting them up. But one thing to know about LTE is that it is only avalible in a select set of Major Cities and you would want to see if your city is on their list.

Android tablets were also a big item, but not as much as last year, most of these will run Android 3.2 and be able to update to Android 4 at some point. There are a few good looking ones, and also a bunch of cheep tablets that are also lacking in a lot of specs. The less expensive, but better tablets are contract locked with phone companies.

Windows 8 was a big thing for some of the tablet makers and PC makers, they were showing it running and talking about products that will have it when it is out, but Microsoft talked only a little on it and how it is part of their phone stratigy coming up. But from what I see it may be good on a tablet but not so good on a desktop.

Windows Phone 7 had some press and also a few new phones including Nokia making a comeback, but we will have to see if anyone will every buy these phones. I think all the hype seems a lot like the Palm Pree [FIX NAME]. Most people only know the iPhone and they want an Android Smartphone, but that may change because Microsoft will be paying the people at stores commissions to sell the phones so who knows marketing is what sells products, that’s why the iPhone is doing good.

%d bloggers like this: