New iPads, Macs, Mac OS X 10.9 Mavericks

Apple had its media event at the Yerba Buena Center in San Francisco on Tuesday, Oct 22. Here’s a rundown of the new and noteworthy:

iPad Air: the new 5th generation full-sized iPad,

  • Offered in the new colors Space Grey or Silver
  • Slimmer, lighter, and faster than its predecessors, with the A7 64-bit chip
  • Expanded LTE support to cover more high-speed networks across the globe
  • 5MP iSight Camera, new FaceTime HD camera
  • Wi-Fi only: 16GB – $499; 32GB – $599; 64GB – $699; 128GB – $799
  • Wi-Fi + Cellular: 16GB – $629; 32GB – $729; 64GB – $829; 128GB – $929
  • new covers and cases

iPad mini with Retina display: in new colors Space Grey and Silver. We have finally got a great mid-sized 7.9″ tablet with Retina display!

  • Much faster with the A7 64-bit chip: up to 4x faster CPU and 8x faster graphics
  • Expanded LTE support to cover more high-speed networks across the globe
  • 5MP iSight Camera, new FaceTime HD camera
  • Wi-Fi only: 16GB – $399; 32GB – $499; 64GB – $599; 128GB – $699
  • Wi-Fi + Cellular: 16GB – $529; 32GB – $629; 64GB – $729; 128GB – $829
  • iPad Mini original, now reduced in price, $299 for 16GB Wi-Fi model
  • new  covers and cases

Mac OS X 10.9 “Maverics:” Looks like we don’t have an incredibly different system, but one with some new bells and whistles. NOTE: Watch out for compatibility issues — it’s a good idea to make sure all of your critical applications are Maverics-compatible before you upgrade. You don’t want to find out after the fact that your productivity is stunted because you upgraded before a business-critical application was ready. Here is Apple’s info page on Mavericks.

  • Mavericks is a free one-step upgrade to users of Snow Leopard, Lion or Mountain Lion (Mac OS X 10.6-10.8)
  • Machines capable of running Mavericks are:
    • MacBook (Late 2008 Aluminum, or Early 2009 or newer)
    • MacBook Pro (Mid/Late 2007 or newer)
    • Xserve (Early 2009)
    • MacBook Air (Late 2008 or newer)
    • Mac mini (Early 2009 or newer)
    • Mac Pro (Early 2008 or newer)
    • iMac (Mid 2007 or newer)
  • Better battery life for all machines capable of receiving the update
  • Compressed memory, allows better use of memory to run more applications without having the system slow down
  • Graphics: better graphics memory allocation. Image processing improvements.
  • Safari sports new features: shared links, new reader view, website Notifications
  • Notifications: you can respond in the notification pop-up. Also, you can now sign up for website notifications as well.
  • Finder now supports tags to help organize and retrieve documents
  • Multiple displays improvements
  • Maps application now on Mac OS X
  • iBooks application now on Mac OS X
  • iLife updates (iPhoto, Garage Band, iMovie) for Mac OS X, free with new hardware
  • iWork updates (Pages, Keynote, Numbers) for Mac OS X, free with new hardware
  • iCloud keychain: keeping your passwords and credit card information secure and accessible across all your devices
  • Calendar app, now is location aware, has driving times listed from previous appointments, maps app integration, weather.

New MacBook Pro 13″ and 15″: The MacBook Pro line has been refreshed, with some significant new improvements.

  • Now slimmer, faster, lighter, and more powerful
  • New Intel CPUs and Iris Graphics gives up to 90% faster graphics engine and faster, smarter core processing power
  • Improved battery life, up to 8 hrs (15″ rMBP) and 9 hrs (13″ rMBP) of battery life in iTunes video playback
  • Flash memory is now much faster
  • Thunderbolt 2 connectivity is much faster
  • Wi-Fi is improved and much faster, supporting 802.11ac standard
  • 13″ rMBP reduced in price to start at $1,299: 2.4GHz dual core i5, 4GB RAM, 128GB SSD, Iris graphics.
  • 15″ rMBP reduced in price to start at $1,999: 2.0 GHz quad core i7, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD, Iris Pro graphics.
  • The entry level machine does not come with a discrete graphics card, which is a step down from previous models. One shouldn’t be getting the entry level machine anyway — if you are paying this much for machine, you should get an appropriate amount of storage and RAM, and a faster processor with a discrete graphics card (I counsel my clients to purchase the maximum available storage and RAM because neither are upgradeable).
  • A well-appointed new 15″ rMBP might be: 2.3GHz quad core i7 with NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M discrete graphics card with 2GB GDDR5 memory, 1TB PCIe-based Flash Storage (SSD), and AppleCare: USD$3,099 plus tax.

MacPro: The new Pro Desktop has been completely revamped, as was announced last month:

  • New design: cylindrical tower, thermal core at the center
  • Faster cores, busses, graphics, and cooling systems.
  • All flash-based storage
  • Lots of ports: 6 Thunderbolt 2, 4 USB 3.0, 2 Gigabit Ethernet ports, 1 HDMI 1.4 UltraHD port
  • Lots more features
  • Starting at USD$2,999 plus tax

iWork and iLife updated for iOS, Mac OS X, and iCloud.

  • new iPhoto that allows you to create iBooks on the iPad
  • iMovie redesigned and more powerful, for iOS and Mac OS X
  • Garageband: 32 tracks creation now possible
  • colaboration is now possible in iWork documents via iWork for iCloud, no iCloud account required, and compatible with any browser
  • Pages, Keynote and Numbers redesigned and updated

You can watch the full keynote here. Contact us here for a purchasing consultation to determine what hardware will best suit your needs!

Solid State Drives & the rMBP

A client recently inquired about the value and performance differences between the current models of the MacBook Pro — i.e. Retina (rMBP) vs. non-Retina versions. The rMBP (as I’ve written about previously) has non-replaceable RAM, but in fact the SSD seems to indeed be replaceable. Here’s an excerpt from an interesting Mac Observer article on Other World Computing’s Aura Pro SSD as an upgrade option for rMBP owners who purchased the small SSD.

OWC Aura Pro SSD for Retina MBP: Maximum Speed, Great Upgrade

6:23 PM EDT, Sep. 25th, 2012 · Jim Tanous · In-Depth Review
When Apple announced the newly designed MacBook Pro with Retina Display (rMBP) at its Worldwide Developers Conference in June, many marveled at the power and speed that a completely custom design could bring. As Apple customers slowly stepped out of the “reality distortion field,” however, some were concerned that upgrading such a tightly-integrated beast would be impossible.

Shortly after its release, tear-downs of the rMBP revealed both good and bad news: RAM was soldered to the system, and would not be user-upgradeable, but the internal SSD, despite its custom design, was removable and potentially upgradeable.

About two months after the rMBP’s release, Other World Computing (OWC), a longtime member of the Apple community and the first to release upgrades for many Macs with non-industry standard parts, released the Aura Pro, the first and thus far only third party SSD for the rMBP.

Currently available in a single 480 GB capacity, the Aura Pro promises to increase rMBP storage speeds and provides a nice upgrade path for users who initially purchased their rMBP with a stock 256 GB drive and are now looking for more space.

Read the full article here, and leave your comments below!

iPad vs. MacBook Air shootout

A friend of mine is in the process of deciding between an iPad and a MacBook Air. Here are my three cents on the matter!

One of her concerns was that she couldn’t work on documents on the iPad…

Although it is not the iPad’s forte, one will be able to manipulate documents in the iPad, it just won’t be as easy, or the same, as on a computer. You’ll have the ability to open, read, edit, and create new docs, but it will not be in the native word application you are used to on your computer. There will be a “good” mobile application to do it, you’ll be able to type, make comments, and create documents, but the keyboard will be touch-screen (unless you buy the external keyboard for the iPad!). The touchscreen keyboard will be a biger version of the iPhone’s keyboard. So, it will not be as functional as a word processing machine as a computer.

Let’s compare specs (note, “depth” on the iPad is to be contrasted with “height” on the Air):

iPad specs: $729 (wi-fi + 3G, 32GB — minimum reasonable specs, in my opinion), or $829 (wi-fi + 3G, 64GB)

Height:  9.56 inches (242.8 mm)

Width:  7.47 inches (189.7 mm)

Depth:  0.5 inch (13.4 mm)

Weight:  1.6 pounds (0.73 kg) Wi-Fi + 3G model

MacBook Air specs: $1,499 (1.86 GHz base model)

Height:  0.16-0.76 inch (0.4-1.94 cm)

Width:  12.8 inches (32.5 cm)

Depth:  8.94 inches (22.7 cm)

Weight:  3.0 pounds (1.36 kg)

Physical comparison: the MacBook Air is a bit bigger in form factor (11 x 9 inches) as compared to the iPad (7.5 x 9.5 inches), and the Air weighs in at roughly twice as much (3 lbs) as opposed to the iPad at 1.6 lbs.

Functionally, the two are quite different. The Air is a computer, the iPad something less than a computer. This is not to say that the Air trumps all — the iPad comes with connectivity that that Air does not. Out of the box, the iPad gives you Wifi and 3G connectivity (assuming you get the iPad 3G, which it would be silly not to), so you are connected on the road, when you’ll be using it most (probably). The Air requires either a Wifi connection, ethernet connection, or a USB broadband mobile connection (which will run roughly $60/month, plus taxes, and is yet another thing to deal with, subscribe to, set up, etc.) in order to connect to the internet, browse, check email, etc.

The Air is a real computer, with a real keyboard, and it can run the same applications you use every day on your other computer(s). The iPad runs applications similar to those on the iPhone—mini-applications, light applications—although it will have added word processing functionality that the iPhone does not (yet?) have. Apple is designing a new word-processing suite to be able to deal with documents of all types on the iPad. It is a serious question, however, how native they will feel, how seamlessly they will integrate/sync with desktop versions, and how easy the touch-screen keyboard will be to use. That said, the $69 iPad Keyboard (external, a “real” keyboard) will presumably alleviate the keyboard problems, except for the fact that you have another piece of equipment to carry with you.

So, it’s a weighing of functionality, price, size, and feel. I suggest that you get both in your hands at an Apple store before jumping on one, unless it’s absolutely clear which is right for you. If you like the connectivity, think you will use the iPad as an e-reader (to read the NYT?), and to do some emailing and document creation/editing on the road (but not all that that much), then the iPad is probably the one. If it’s road-warrior computing you’re planning on doing, typing a lot, then the Air is probably your best bet.

That’s my take for the moment! Until we get real world reviews from users who are using the word-processing functionality on the iPad, we won’t really know how feasible the iPad is as a mobile work horse for document-manipulation. I’m convinced it’ll be good enough for browsing, reading websites, reading books, and doing simple email (though long typing will be troublesome without the external add-on keyboard I bet, just as it is on the iPhone, but requiring larger pecking motions!). 

#macbook pro battery life #istatpro

kindof amazing that my #macbook pro battery life has steadily improved with use. still have low cycle count, as I rotate two batteries. but i started this rotation with 87% battery health, and i’m up to 98% now after a month of use on this battery.

istatpro is a really fantastic dashboard widget for macosx. i can’t live without it now!