The ultra-portable for the rest of us

The ultra-portable for the rest of us
While I was asleep Apple released their update to the MacBook Air, and I think it is shaping up to be a great solution for travellers who need to work in adhoc spaces. It is going to make in some instances for a tough decision between choosing this and the iPad when traveling — the 11.6″ looks impossibly tiny.
That decision gets harder when you realize that the Air takes a number of design cues from the iPad including instant on, passable battery life, multi-touch track pad, amazing standby time and rigid unibody construction. And finally the Air, in not including an optical drive, includes a restore disc on a flash drive instead of a dvd. Like the iPad much of your data is going to stored off the device with local storage only when absolutely needed.
Pre-iPad I was a big lover of the opportunities that Netbooks provided. Their size and low cost meant that we could bring our work with us anywhere we went (I realize this is not an entirely satisfactory development) but in the initial race to the bottom they often produced unsatisfactory experiences. With the exception of the models that approach the MacBook Airs price point, most were frustratingly slow, had poor screens and terrible build quality. If the MacBook Air is able to improve upon the performance of it’s prior iteration, it’s going to be a popular choice with those who care about the quality and usability of their tools.
Both models look fantastic but I am particularly enamoured with the 11.6″.
If you are looking for a sleeve Tom Bihn announced that their Size Air11 Cache is available for pre-order with delivery in November. All of Tom Bihn’s bags are of the highest quality.


Unibody MacBook

Unibody MacBook
Apples overdue update to its entry level Macbook may bring it up to speed with it’s pro counterparts but it’s those white smooth edges that have my attention. Beautiful. The new MacBook features a rugged polycarbonate unibody design, with a non-slip surface, which withstands the rough and tumble of your mobile lifestyle. Though I pay less attention than in the past, an LED-backlit 13.3-inch display, a 2.26GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, NVIDIA 9400M graphics and Apple’s latest built-in battery round out the tech. features. This for a price not much more than an unlocked iPhone in Asia.
Apple Unibody Macbook
I like the new 27-inch iMac as well. I can see that as a potential purchase in the coming spring.


The difficulties in choosing a Mac

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Lately Apple seems to make the process of choosing which Mac to purchase more and more difficult. They have this nasty habit of leaving out 1 essential feature in lower priced laptops in order to ‘encourage’ pros. to buy the more expensive model. Boo hoo.
Today was no different with the revamped MacBook and MacBook Pro lineup.
First it was the lack of a dedicated graphics card in the MacBook. Now that they have fixed that issue (in spades), they cripple an otherwise fine production machine by leaving out a firewire port. I’ll do some real world tests to ensure my assumption is correct but I can’t see using usb 2.0 for large file transfers or for reading large files from disc.
This was the month I was going to upgrade my studio equipment. It’s been 3 years since I purchased my venerable 12″ Powerbook and it’s starting to show it’s age. Replacing my Powerbook and Eizo monitor with a MacBook Pro and similar quality but larger display is not something I can budget this year.
With each successive MacBook crippled in some way, this might be the first time in 10 years that my main studio machine is a desktop. It looks like I see an iMac in my future (still a win for Apple).


MacBook Thinnovation

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It’s “ultrathin, ultraportable, and ultra unlike anything else” but it’s still not a fitting replacement for it’s stubby predecessor.
Typically for Apple the MacBook Air marries complicated engineering with a beautiful and easy to use form. Looking at the press photos one would think it’s almost impossible to make a notebook so thin and light. If able to handle the rigors of use I think it will be the option for those needing the ultimate in mobility.
But unfortunately I am still without a true replacement for my aging 12-inch Powerbook. I don’t need nor can I afford a secondary machine which is what this would be for me. I prefer to use laptops for everything and tend to take them everywhere. I need (almost) pro-level performance in a small package.
I’d have rather seen a true replacement for the 12-inch PowerBook — something as wide. I don’t need a large wide screen when I am on the road and I assume that when I am in the office I will be using my large screen display (a small screen is fine for text entry which is all I would ever do outside of the office). Though I appreciate the MacBook Air, for now I’ll aim for a MacBook pro and reluctantly live with it’s large size and weight.
Apple – MacBook Air


Laptop Cool Feet

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If it wasn’t for the din of the office air conditioner the whine from my Powerbook’s fan would be the loudest noise in the room. When the ambient temperature gets high I wonder if the machine will actually explode. This is the price we pay when we buy gear that works so hard, something my mum is discovering having just spent most of our usual regular Sunday night call grilling me on why her new MacBook ‘laptop’ was so hot she couldn’t use it on her lap. Bluelounge’s Cool Feet look like a simple answer to the problem.
Cool feet are 4 small ‘feet’ with suction cups at the end that attach to the bottom of your laptop, allowing the heat to be dispersed properly. An added benefit is that in raising your laptop they also allow for greater ease in typing. I think they might also be a safeguard against accidental spills when working at a café. $12.95 from BlueLounge.


Docking Stands for your MacBook

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Both of these products perform exactly the same function for exactly the same product but with a $265.00US difference between the two. While there are some obvious refinements apparent in the Floater, it’s pretty hard to justify the difference in price.
Floater

If you connect your notebook computer to a large screen, at work or home, Floater is designed for you. It combines high technology with elegant styling. Close your MacBook pro, connect a keyboard, a screen and a mouse, and you have created a perfect working environment.
The Floater is machined from a single block of aluminum, which lends it great stability and optimum cooling power by spreading the heat around.
The two small panels around your computer are of minimal height and width, but sufficient to meet the product’s two requirements; to hold your computer perfectly, and to let you set it up as easily as possible.

Fits MacBook 13″ MacBook Pro 15″,17″ and PowerBook 17″ – $305.00US
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Power Support stand

Features: The base of the unit is covered in a nonskid material keeping your laptop secure.
Carefully selected materials prevent scratching of your Mac Book. The interior surfaces that come in contact with your lap top are covered in scratch resistant polymer.
The Stand is adjustable to notebooks measuring 1 to 1.5 inches wide.
MacBook and Power Book G4 series are all compatible. The adjustable feature allows for utilization with most PC notebooks as well.

MacBook and Power Book G4 series are all compatible. The adjustable feature allows for utilization with most PC notebooks as well. $40.00US
Floater & Power Support


Apple Black MacBook

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The new MacBook is a 13-inch laptop that replaces both the iBook and the 12-inch PowerBook G4. I’m a fervent 12″ Powerbook user so in the future this product announcement will have a decided effect on my purchase of a replacement. The new black MacBook ($1,500US) comes with many of the same features as the MacBook Pro including a built-in iSight video camera, Apple’s MagSafe Power Adapter, Front Row, Apple Remote, DVI with dual display support (up to 23-inch), optical digital audio input and output, Gigabit Ethernet, Sudden Motion Sensor and a Scrolling TrackPad. Apple’s award-winning iLife software suite is included as well.
The new Glossy screens make for beautiful looking imagery but the glare makes them almost unusable but in the most controlled lighting environments. We can’t always choose an ideal environment for working when we are traveling so I see this as a potential deal breaker for many. Trying to read text on a screen with glare is not only difficult but causes eye strain. I wonder if the use of Intel Graphics will make it a no go for those of us who use graphic intensive applications.
While I am less than knocked out with their new portable strategy (I really don’t want to go back to carrying around a 15″ Powerbook MacBook Pro again) these new MacBooks look like winners and should look great sitting next to your black iPod Nano’s. Available at the Apple Store.