Macbooks Are Sexy

The longer I write about technology, the more I realize I sound like an Apple fanboy. I’m sure some of you already feel that way about me. You’re wrong, but nothing in the Windows PC market has really come out to grab my attention. Let’s be honest, they’re just as much “clone” computers today as they were when the term meant a non-IBM PC. They just don’t invigorate the imaginations of people the way new Apple tech and designs do. (Except for maybe the early Alienware systems.)

Getting back to the point, Apple announced new Macbook and Macbook Pro laptops. The local Apple Store got them in last night and they were on display starting today for everyone to play with. I won’t bother going over the specs in detail. You can read about all of that elsewhere. Every blogger and news site out there has that covered. As for getting up close and personal with the new Macbook and Macbook Pro systems…they are every bit as awesome as the pictures lead you to hope they are. While they aren’t anywhere as light as the Air, they feel very solid without coming off as cumbersome or overweight. The magnetic closure works really really well, clasping tightly enough to hold the lid closed but without being so strong that it snaps closed that last little bit before the lid makes contact with the base. They found a perfect balance between holding the lid secure and allowing it to release easily.

The trackpad, which is what I’m sure you’re really interested in hearing about, is a joy to use. It truly takes very little time to get into the feel of using the three and four finger gestures for different functions. I did find that I clicked the trackpad a couple of times when I didn’t intend to which was slightly frustrating. Overall, though, the new trackpad is a winner in my book. The multitouch convenience is very likely to spread to the other OSes before much longer and soon we’ll all be using it without thinking.

Many people are griping about the 13″ Macbook losing the Firewire port. Get over it. There’s only so much room for device connectors and I’d much rather have two USB ports than one USB and one Firewire. I don’t own a single Firewire cable or device. I do, however, have enough USB devices to require multiple hubs. If you really need the speed of that port, get the Macbook Pro. Oh, and as for the price drop on the base model Macbook…it’s a half-step in the right direction but only half. It really should have been a $200 drop.

Conclusion? I love the new design. I love the feel and function of the glass multitouch trackpad. I want a Macbook by Christmas. Is that endorsement enough?

Mississippi Apple Store Opens

Apple’s first store in Mississippi opens today at 10:00am Central time. I’m going to be there updating this post from my iPhone as I can as things progress.

Edit: I moved the images to the bottom of the post and created thumbnails to speed load times.

Update 9:02 – I just arrived and there’s already a crowd.

Update 9:17 – Only one person in this crowd is here for an iPhone. Apparently Apple has a large userbase in Jackson, MS.

Update 9:28 – The line has stretched around the corner farther than I can see through the store windows. Also, we have two of Ridgeland’s finest supporting mall security at the entrance.

Update 9:39 – We’ve got a group in line singing “My Girl”.

Update 9:43 – The staff just came running up and cheering. They’re really getting the crowd energized.

Update 9:47 – The staff is now in the store and chanting. I can’t make out what they are saying so I’ll ask when I get in the store.

Update 9:58 – They just had the countdown and we’re headed in. And I’m the first one stopped…

Update 10:28 – They let me in with only a minor wait and I’ve been busy shopping. The service is great, which is what you expect from Apple stores. Photos will be added to this post when I get home.

Update 10:41 – The line still stretches out of sight from in the store. Apple, you have a winner.

Update 11:13 – Looks like the line finally went away and you can just stroll inside.

And there you have it. The first Apple Store in Mississippi is now officially open for business. I want to personally thank Jessica and Sara for all of the wonderful help they gave me while I was busily trying to spend my entire paycheck. Oh, WLBT, you so lose. Why on earth would you even bother showing up at all if you weren’t going to get there until an hour after the doors opened? You missed the best part of the opening.

Whoop De Doo, A New iPhone

Media is all atwitter (yep…a pun in the first sentence) about the launch of the 3G iPhone. Well I say whoop-de-doo. Apple finally released the device they should have unleashed upon the masses when it first hit the market a year ago. Seriously, why wouldn’t you make your ground-breaking new piece of hardware take advantage of the latest and greatest technology like 3G?

Think about it. One of the major selling points was online media a-la Youtube. What possessed the creators to settle for EDGE? We all know EDGE sucks. We all know 3G is much faster and makes the entire mobile online experience tolerable. We all accept 3G as the best thing to use next to WiFi and real broadband. But you settled for EDGE. 3G always wins because EDGE is dumb.

You touted how great it was to have online map lookups for places you might be interested in and yet you didn’t include GPS. So I can know where I’m going but not where I’m at? Who comes up with this stuff? If I’m using the map to find a place to eat, I am probably in a place unfamiliar to me so it would help to know where I’m sitting in relation to my destination. It makes it easier to determine my travel route. I don’t know. Maybe I’m just full of crazy talk.

You finally decided to let AT&T subsidize the price so more people can buy it. Why didn’t you do that before? Sure the whole profit sharing thing may have sounded interesting but did you not learn a lesson from Wal-Mart? It’s far better to get a dollar from thousands than ten dollars from hundreds. You make more in the long run that way. If you don’t believe that then you haven’t been to ebay lately.

You say it has wonderful Exchange integration. Like it or not they own the market. Why wouldn’t you support that right out of the gate? There are several clients that can talk to Exchange so it shouldn’t have been a huge deal to get working. Did you have some delusion that by offering this “must-have” device to the masses that corporate attitudes would change overnight? I certainly hope not. I really don’t understand what you were thinking there, Steve.

Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not an Apple hater. I adore my iMac and I use it far more than my Windows laptop. I really like the iPhone and I want to get one. But I think you goofed. You brought out a device that, while revolutionary, lacked in many key areas. You also flubbed the pricing and had to offer some compensation to stifle the ire of the masses. The intial offer seems more and more like a beta and popular opinion would say that doing such a thing is a Microsoft thing, not an Apple thing.

Then to top it all off you earn the Fail Whale trophy for activation. You had the stock out there. You really should have known what kind of bombardment you were going to have as AT&T doors opened. But it’s okay. You aren’t the only one that loused it up today. AT&T is right there with you. They had the gall to allocate every last store rep to iPhone sales. Every last one. I needed to get a phone for an employee today…a Nokia…before he left for a job out of town. I was told point blank that I couldn’t and I would have to wait until this afternoon or tomorrow. You know, AT&T, you aren’t the only game in town that offers standard ho-hum phones. I can get one somewhere else if my business isn’t worth 10 minutes of one rep’s time.

All in all I say that the Fail Whale award for today goes to Apple with support from AT&T.

AT&T Tilt

Well, I took the plunge and ordered my AT&T Tilt this evening. My old RAZR V3 has been on the fritz lately and I’m not entirely certain it isn’t because I’ve been planning to dump it. Technology has a way of being finicky when replacement is imminent. With luck, my new toy should be in by Tuesday. Suffice to say…I’m giddy.

Now one would think that the biggest problem with ordering a phone on the day of its release would be availability. New flagship products have a way of garnering a following far before the first unit hits the stock. However AT&T has found a wonderful way to circumvent that kind of problem. Unless you are an avid follower of new PocketPC technology, you probably haven’t heard of this device. That would be because AT&T has decided for unknown reasons to skip all the pomp and circumstance that surrounded the iPhone launch. This one slipped in under the radar.

And that leads us to the second problem of getting this phone. They released it so far under the radar that from all reports…more than half of their sales reps still have NEVER HEARD OF THIS PHONE. One would think that at least the people manning the Premier and National Business Services portions of the company would be briefed in some way about a new phone that will be the flagship of their business device line. One would be wrong. I spoke with three different people and only one of them had even heard of it…and that was because he was interested in the device and had been following posts at HowardForums and XDA-Developers. AT&T, your world connected clueless.

Luckily, I had those wonderful forum resources myself over the past few months to gather my own information from users of the unlocked version. Now let me take a quick moment to familiarize you with a few of the names this device has taken on (and sometimes shed). This unit started as the HTC Kaiser. It then became the HTC 4550 and finally the HTC TyTN II. At this point AT&T decided to use it to replace their 8525 (also known as the HTC TyTN) and it became potentially the AT&T 8925 or the AT&T Tilt. There was even a few posts mentioning that the internal AT&T name was the Pilgrim. So the Kaiser/P4550/TyTN II/8925/Pilgrim/Tilt has surprisingly little confusion surrounding it considering…

So here’s the basic rundown of features:

  • 256MB ROM/128MB RAM (twice that of the TyTN)
  • Windows Mobile 6 Professional
  • Pocket Word, Excel, Powerpoint
  • Built-In GPS (not locked to TeleNav, tested successfully with TomTom, Google, and Live)
  • 3MegaPixel Camera
  • TouchFlo (HTC’s version of iPhone’s flick to scroll feature)
  • 3.5G connectivity
  • 802.11 b/g WiFi
  • Bluetooth
  • MicroSDHC slot (yes, 6GB cards work, theoretically capable of up to 32GB)
  • Slide out keyboard

This list goes on but this should give you an idea of how amazing this device is. It is very slightly thinner than the TyTN/8525 but heavier by accounts of current owners. The battery life does leave a little to be desired but that will be remedied when the high capacity versions hit the market. I’ll post a bit more when mine finally arrives.

iPod Updates

And so Mr. Steve Jobs has once again graced the stage to usher in a new generation of sleek Apple tech goodies. The new iPods are here and they look good. Lots of minor adjustments, like available colors of the Shuffle. But there are also some bigger changes and announcements…

First off, the Nano has been redesigned to look like a midget (read: squished) iPod Classic. It has nearly the same beautiful color screen as the Classic (2″ instead of 2.5″) and can play video. The sizes are 4GB for $149 and 8GB for $199. Very reasonable considering I paid $250 for my 4GB Mini back when it was new.

Next up is the Classic. It has a size bump and is now available as either 80GB for $249 or 160GB for $349. That should take a bit longer to fill up. Oh, and it only comes in two colors, black and grey.

The big star, though, is the iPod Touch. Think iPhone without the phone part. The case is a near twin to the iPhone. It uses the same 3.5″ multitouch screen and has built in WiFi. Yes, you heard right. The iPod Touch has WiFi. Apple inked a deal with Starbucks. Now if you take your iPod Touch in range of their WiFi hotspot, you can access the iTunes Music Store for free. And yes, this works for the Mac and the iPhone as well. WiFi isn’t limited to iTunes. The Touch comes with the Safari browser and works just like the iPhone. Full page rendering and zooming with just a few flicks of the finger. Life can be sweet. So what’s the price for the goodness? 8GB for $299 and 16GB for $399.

If that isn’t enough, Apple decided to drop the 4GB iPhone. The 8GB is the only model and the price is … $399. Let me say that again … $399. According to AT&T‘s site, the 4GB model will sell for $299 while supplies last. I like the sound of that. I’d like it more if they had 3G. This price drop, however, puts the phone in range of a LOT more people. I expect AT&T will be getting a nice little boost in customers (probably followed quickly by a drop in customer satisfaction if the trend continues). So that’s it. There’s a whole lotta goodness packed into the new lineup and Steve is sure to push the envelope even further next refresh. But until then…enjoy the goodies.


(that’s Yet Another iPhone Blog Post…like we have a shortage of them)

Having played with one in the AT&T store right down the road, I can say that I wish I had the money to drop on the little morsel of technological geek candy. Sadly, Apple has opted to make it stylish only for those who have large salaries and almost no expenses. I don’t know about the rest of the world, but there’s no way I can just up and drop $500 on a phone…much less $600 for one with more storage. Add to that the higher monthly expense since the iPhone plans all need the unlimited data pack and you’ve got yourself a second mortgage.

Despite Apple’s extortionist ways and AT&T’s mafia-like control, I want one. I watched the Apple iMarketing machine with new iHype generator and even drank the iKool-aid. The device is very cool. It even works mostly as advertised and that’s no mean feat in today’s market where it is all too common to be promised the moon and given a block of moldy cheese.

The interface is extremely intuitive and simple. I would expect nothing less from Apple. The touch screen capabilities are absolutely some of the best geek candy I’ve managed to experience in a long time. The overall design, while definitely sleek, is also easily functional. I can’t say whether or not that opinion will hold up after a long call, but my trips to the AT&T store to play with something far out of my price range have convinced me that at least for my short average phone calls, this thing would work just fine.

Add to all of that the iPod capabilities and you’ve got a potential long term revenue for the little brother of the technology world. That is, if the batteries hold and the few software glitches get fixed while AT&T tries to beef up their network to handle the extra load. Oh…and while you’re at it…how ’bout some 3G? After all, you don’t go out and get a brand new Porche and drop a Yugo 3 cylinder engine in it…