Tag Archives: New hardware

Tuesday Talk ~ Are we happy yet? Yes we are!


Brilliant! (Image from Apple NZ’s iMac page)

For months now, commentators have been  lambasting Apple for not updating Macs and for ignoring the pro users. I have regularly been a minor part of that pool of despond in this column.
No more! We’re (mostly) happy. Apple’s June 5th WWDC hardware announcements delivered a  gulp of elixir – the Apple Koolaid was back and we were slugging it down. For a heady day or two, anyway. I immediately, gleefully ordered a 15-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar. The Kaby Lake CPU was the tipping point I was waiting for. It wasn’t even that Kaby Lake gives a significant increase of power – it doesn’t. It’s just that I didn’t want to drop cNZ$5k onto a new Mac without Kaby Lake when I knew it was available, and already populating many PC models. I can hardly wait for my new Mac to arrive, since my current model is 5 years old – that’s a very long life for a Mac for me (and truth be told, it’s still a wonderful laptop).

But the really big news, for the pros, was the iMac Pro. Although this will cost over NZ$8000, by current exchange rates, it’s not for the typical iMac users – they have been catered to with new iMacs anyway, with even better screens and Kaby Lake and at much more affordable prices. Even these will very handily handle major Apple Final Cut and Adobe Premiere tasks without breaking a sweat.
But the iMac Pro is aimed at the very serious user, as the bedrock to, for example, an audio, audio visual or video/TV/film editing studio, and although that’s a lot of money, hey, it already has a fantastic screen and has real grunt. Even more interesting, perhaps, is that unlike the current Mac Pro (tower), it’s almost impossible to put together a similar PC and monitor setup for less than what the iMac Pro will cost – in fact, Apple’s new machine, due in December, is actually a bargain. And despite it, Apple has also announced it is working on a new, user-upgradeable Mac Pro tower.
Good timing, too, since for the first time in a long time, it looks like the PC market will start growing again.
So yes, Apple, were happy – and, sincerely, thank you!

But … no word on the Mac mini. If Apple’s keeping it in the Mac lineup, surely it deserves Kaby Lake? 
No mention of AirPort, which I think Apple is mad to drop if  the company wants us to have seamless wifi connectivity with our Apple devices to the new HomePod it also announced, and if Apple is thinking of palming this off to a third part5y router supplier, then I visit the ghost of the LG 4k monitor debacle on you, Apple! (If you want something done properly …)
No Magic Keyboard with Touch Bar – this looks like a brilliant idea, and you’d expect it if the Touch Bar is appreciated on MacBook Pro, but I suspect the connectivity and functionality over Bluetooth might be the stumbling block. I still want one, though! If you have one on your MacBook Pro and then go to use, say, Final Cut on a Mac, surely you want that feature?
And no iBooks Author update. Apple has let its brilliant and dreadfully under-appreciated eBooks platform languish far too long.

Still — a new iPhone has still to emerge (September, people reckon). Apple will doubtless have more news for us as the year progresses. For Mac users, the happy times are here again.

New hardware, Surface vs MacBook Pro, great Pages update, Notes vs Evernote, 1Password, Apple Music, Amtrak Maps, China environment


(Image from Apple's hardware page.)
(Image from Apple’s hardware page.)

Apple’s new Mouse, Trackpad and Keyboard — Apple’s new Magic Mouse 2 isn’t really that much different from the original Magic Mouse. It has major changes that affect how the mouse moves and a new built-in battery but nothing to make you ditch your current mouse.
The Magic Trackpad 2 is shockingly large and blindingly white and looks kind of a like a futuristic thing you’d find in a high-tech kitchen.
The Magic Keyboard is, is a pretty nice Bluetooth keyboard that charges with a Lightning cable. Whether that’s worth Apple’s somewhat steep US$99 (NZ$189!) asking price is up to you (keep in mind Apple’s older, now-defunct Wireless Keyboard was only US$69), but the Magic Keyboard is slim, compact, and pleasant to type on. [Can’t beat my Apple wired extended keyboard. That numeric trackpad is great for gaming and Final Cut, Logic, and it never runs out of batteries or needs recharging – and it costs NZ$95.]

Spec showdown: Surface Book vs. MacBook Pro, from cheapest to priciest — If there was any doubt which product Microsoft was gunning for, the spec sheet makes it abundantly clear.  A look at each device’s tech specs reveal plenty of similarities, including price points, screen size, battery life, and storage. It’s almost as if Microsoft designed the Surface Book to match the speeds and feeds of Apple’s pro-grade laptops — and then go just a bit further with a detachable touch screen and stylus support. [But the biggest difference isn’t noted: only one of those systems can run Mac OS; both can run Windows.]

Apple’s Pages upgrade for Mac OS X is better than hoped — Dennis Sellers reckons Apple did a fine job in upgrading its iWork apps — Pages, Numbers and Keynote — for Mac OS X. “I was beginning to fear the utilities were suffering from neglect, but, thankfully, I’ve been proven wrong. The Pages upgrade is especially sweet (of course, it is the iWork app I use the most).”

Six reasons Apple Notes still can’t replace Evernote — With iOS 9 and OS X El Capitan, Apple finally bulked up its minimalist note-taking apps. The upgrades are welcome, but the latest Notes apps aren’t going to persuade many people to give up Evernote, OneNote or even Google Keep.

1Password to change file formats after key file found to contain unencrypted data — 1Password makers AgileBits have promised to change one of the default file formats in the software in response to a blog post by Microsoft engineer Dale Myers, who revealed an AgileKeychain file was displaying unencrypted metadata.

Earning a third as many paid users as Spotify in under 4 months, Apple Music already a hit, FBR says — Less than four months after it launched, Apple Music already has 6.5 million paid subscribers, or nearly a third of the 20 million who pay for Spotify, a service that has been around since 2008, investment firm FBR & Co. said on Tuesday.

Apple Maps integrates select Amtrak routes, Boston area transit directions — A month after Apple debuted transit directions in its Apple Maps service for US and Chinese (mostly) locations, the company has added selected Amtrak train arrival and departure data as well as local support for Boston.

Apple’s Tim Cook to join group of corporate leaders tackling Chinese environmental problems — Apple CEO Tim Cook is joining the CEO Council for Sustainable Urbanization, a group formed by the Paulson Institute and the China Center for International Economic Exchanges in order to divert the environmental impact of China’s urban growth.