Damn you, Indecision!


Saying Goodbye to My iPod nano

Saying goodbye to my old iPod nano… It’s getting sent back to Apple this week for the recall. Poor little guy! Even though it’s unlikely I would really use it again, I’ll still miss having it in my gadget collection. 😦



Seen at Westfield Valley Fair Mall in Santa Clara: Microsoft vs. Apple

And I mean literally across the way from the Apple Store:


We were amused by the sight. 🙂 

When the news first came out that Microsoft was going to make their own retail stores, I really didn’t care about it. I wasn’t interested in any of their latest products then, except maybe the Xbox 360 and the Zune, sort of. I had already moved on from a Tablet PC to a unibody aluminum MacBook (which I’m still using now). But now, Windows 8 devices, Windows Phone phones, and even some of the upcoming Ultrabooks have me pretty eager to see what they’ll have to offer at the Microsoft Store. I’ll at least enjoy being able to play around with some Windows Phone phones and Windows 8 tablets at a venue nicer than Fry’s. I like going to a Sony Style store to check out all Sony’s products, so I expect the Microsoft Store will be a similar experience. 

Seeing some of the Windows 8 demos at IDF has really gotten me eager to see whether it finally delivers on the promise that Tablet PCs and UMPCs tried to deliver on years ago. I like that Windows 8 finally seems to take touch input seriously. And the demos look damn slick. Of course, demos can be tightly controlled to look slick, so I reserve final judgment for when the real products are out. But the concepts behind Windows 8 seem quite solid. I’ll enjoy watching this next phase of Microsoft and Apple in competition. 

Though I think it’s kind of lame that the banner announcing the Microsoft Store definitely looks Apple-like, even the way the employees are dressed, with their name tags on lanyards like Apple Store employees. *shaking my head*

Some thoughts about yesterday’s Back to the Mac announcement

While it wasn't a super-exciting announcement, there were quite a few interesting things revealed during Apple's Back to the Mac event yesterday morning.  One thing that's getting lots of press is the next generation of MacBook Air.  I have always admired the Air, but could never justify purchasing one since it was quite expensive for what you got.  Sure, it was sexy, sleek, and thin, but the hardware specs were kind of weak.  Since I'm not made of money, I wouldn't have been able to afford getting a MacBook Air as a supplement to a MacBook or MacBook Pro.  So I admired it from afar, and for a while the iPad completely wiped the MacBook Air off my wishlist, but with the new 11" and 13" versions out, plus the announcement of iLife '11 and OS X Lion, the Air is back on my radar. 🙂

Steve Jobs said that multi-touch wouldn't be added to Macs via a touchscreen.  It's too awkward to use touch on a vertical surface, and works much better on horizontal surfaces like touchpads and the Magic Mouse.  I agree with this.  When I used convertible Tablet PCs, I would flip them around to slate mode whenever I wanted to interact with the touchscreen (or active digitizer) for an extended period of time.  The hinges on my convertible TPCs weren't sturdy enough to hold the screen steady when touching or inking on them, and it did feel unnatural to interact with a touchscreen this way.  (I never really liked writing on chalkboards or whiteboards, either, so YMMV. 🙂 )  Message received: no touchscreen Mac notebooks.  But then I got to thinking a convertible MacBook Air would be an awesome way of getting around this problem. You'd get a full-featured OS X notebook in an iPad-esque form factor when it's in slate mode.  Flip the screen around to notebook mode for times you need a keyboard, or just want to work in "notebook mode".  It would be awesome to use desktop-level apps like Photoshop, iPhoto, or iMovie in slate mode.  We already know from the iPhone and iPad that people are used to using more complex photo, drawing, and music apps via touchscreen, so it would be a natural transition.  I know it's the Tablet PC enthusiast in me talking, but I don't think it's a completely wacky idea for a Mac product. 🙂  

More realistically, I don't think it's taking a big leap to predict we'll be seeing touchscreen Mac devices.  They'll just likely be in a slate form factor, a la iOS devices.  With OS X Lion getting more multi-touch support, and iLife apps adopting better full-screen modes, it seems that touchscreen Macs that act a lot like iOS devices are inevitable.  For most users who want the ease of use of the iPad 95% of the time, but still need desktop-level apps for the other 5%, a "hybrid" Mac device would be ideal.  If Apple doesn't want to do a convertible notebook, you can still connect BT keyboards or keyboard docks, and use external monitors, like a lot of people already do with their MacBooks.

I also don't think it's a big leap to say OS X could likely merge completely with iOS to become one OS for mobile and desktop devices.  Instead of a dual-boot solution where a device is running something like Windows 7 and Android, future Macs and iPhones/iPads could just run an optimized OS X that adapts to the situation, depending on what the user is doing, what apps are being used, etc.  Engineers much smarter than I am can work out the details on how to do this. 🙂  There might not need to be so much switching between mobile and desktop performance profiles if most future Macs end up being mobile devices anyway.  There will still be a need for desktop machines like the iMac and Mac Pro, but even the iMac could get a touchscreen makeover in the future.

I know a lot of people scoff at the idea that the iPad is what future computing devices are going to look like, but after seeing all of the iOS features that are going back into OS X Lion, I think the path is clear, not only for "desktop" machines that will be as easy to use as an iPad, but also for a desktop OS truly built for touch.

Something to think about…

So here’s the tradeoff in my mind: Get a brand new iPhone at the end of June – but with the cost of another two years with AT&T – or wait six months just to see if the iPhone shows up on another carrier.

Six months really isn’t that long.

I’m seriously leaning toward the latter.

Please go read the article at Webomatica linked above. It totally voices my concerns about AT&T and iPhone 4. However, I feel like I will be unable to wait to upgrade as Jason says he might. I’m a classic early-adopter, so I’m quite impatient given gadget releases, but over time I have been able to rein myself in and do staggered upgrade cycles. I passed on the first iPhone, but finally bought the iPhone 3G. And while I was super annoyed that I couldn’t upgrade cheaply to the 3Gs because my 2-year contract was still in play, waiting to upgrade until now has made getting an iPhone 4 kind of a given (I tweeted yesterday to someone that I figured current 3Gs owners would have to think hard about whether the hardware updates in the iPhone 4 are worth it for them, whereas current 3G owners like Jason and me are probably just chomping at the bit now). I am totally ready to get the iPhone 4 because of its 5MP camera with HD video capabilities and the high-res display. There are a lot of other great features coming in iOS 4, but the two features I mentioned are the ones most important/appealing to me.

However as Jason mentioned, AT&T is a big obstacle to the upgrade path. His concerns about AT&T mirror mine. And in this new place that we’re renting in the south Bay Area, making/receiving calls is definitely hit or miss. We basically have to be upstairs to get a decent signal, and even then the threat of a dropped call still looms and/or strikes. So I am even more soured on the prospect of having to deal with AT&T for another 2 years (at least). We knew that when we moved out to the Bay Area from Chicago that AT&T coverage would just get worse, but knowing it and experiencing it are two different things. It is quite frustrating to have so many dropped calls when I actually didn’t have nearly as much trouble with that back in Chicago.

Yeah, it’s possible that Verizon or T-Mobile will get the iPhone 4 in a few months. But I am not really a Verizon fan, so I don’t think that they’d be any better to deal with, even if on the surface their coverage seems better in this area. I used to be a longtime T-Mobile customer, and they were alright. I just moved away from them because of the iPhone. I also prefer GSM over CDMA for various reasons. So I guess I’d prefer it if T-Mobile would get the iPhone over Verizon. T-Mobile have a decent track record with customer service and not nickel-and-diming people on things like data tethering (example: free tethering with the Nexus One and Froyo). In an ideal world, T-Mobile would break AT&T’s hold over the iPhone, preferably sooner rather than later. The idealist side of me would love to wait to get a non-AT&T-backed iPhone. And yet I will probably just suck it up and pre-order now (well, June 15) because my instant gratification side will win over my “I hate AT&T” side. :-/ I hope for Jason’s sake that AT&T exclusivity breaks sooner than his predicted 6 months, though. 🙂

Apple iPad: a skeptic’s review – SlashGear

I didn’t intend to get an iPad. For a start, I’m in the UK, and – even before the recent news that Apple would be delaying the tablet’s international release – there’s no sign of them at my local Apple Store. Beyond that, though, while I could appreciate the design and the glowing feedback Vincent proffered from the iPad’s launch, it just didn’t seem like the device for me. And yet, when on Saturday April 3rd my US colleagues asked “would you like us to send you one?” I said yes. Since it arrived, around two weeks ago, I’ve gone through marvelling at the industrial design, puzzling over how to fit it into my daily routine, and finally – perhaps grudgingly – recognising its strengths (and, of course, its weaknesses).

Great moderate review of the iPad. I agree with many of the points in this review. While the iPad has become my primary mobile device, I still spend a decent amount of time on my laptop (I’m using it right now) and my iPhone depending on the situation. The iPad App Store is still filling out, and I feel we’re still missing a few “killer apps” in certain categories. The accessory market is still lagging behind right now, but I think by summertime, there’ll be a much larger selection of docks, stands, cases, etc.

Anyway, while it totally irritates me when people dismiss the iPad as no big deal (ahem, it is a big deal for people who were once intimidated by regular computers but can now enjoy casual computing, just as one example), I don’t expect everyone to think it’s the awesomest computing device ever. It has limitations, and though people like to forget this, it’s meant to fit squarely between the laptop and smartphone categories, so this means it’s not going to be appropriate for every situation that might call for a laptop/smartphone. But by the same token, it could very well replace laptops for people whose computing needs don’t go beyond basic e-mailing, browsing, and media consumption…I digress.

Hit up the Slashgear link above to read the whole review article. Do it now! 🙂