Touching Tribute to Steve

Apple’s homepage has a touching montage dedicated to founder Steve Jobs. Moody music and a Gretzky quote set the atmosphere for the “creator” of all things i. It’s hard to believe a year has passed since I got a knock on my door with the news of his passing.

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Mountain Lion 10.8.2 roars onto Macs. (courtesy ESPN title makers)

Truth be told, the last Mountain Lion update did little to rectify the battery issues that plagued the Retina Macbooks. 10.8.2 unofficially brings battery life on par with the 10.7.x build of Lion. Facebook and tighter integration of contacts with other apps accompany this update the same day that io6 is available.

Also, for Retina Macbook users, the latest Office 2011 update supports the dense pixel display. Looking forward to it as I’ve ditched MS Word in favor of Pages solely because of my inability to get over the jaggy edges of Retina un-aware applications. I resort to discarding my glasses in order to remove individual pixels from my sight, which results in the harsh gradient blur of surrounding reality. I start to believe I’m capable of impossible feats, such as flying or breaking a concrete slab with a left-handed Judo chop. Thank goodness for this update. It just saved me from gross injury.

This time.

Game Changers

So Apple has revolutionized the way we interact with technology and have a big iPhone unveiling tomorrow. Sony have their own announcements tomorrow that may make the same sized waves in the world of photography/videography. One major camera that’s to be publicly introduced tomorrow is the SLT a99. It’s Sony’s first Full Frame camera since the a900 was released in 2008.

The a99 was created with special attention made to video. Some things that stand out are:

1) Sony’s switch away from it’s propietary shoe mount into the universal mount. There are many microphones, lights and recorders that can now be mounted without clunky chinese adapters.

2) The video resolution seems to be sharper. Sony’s line of SLT cameras had pixel counts many times greater than what standard Full HD 1080p required so there was a downscaling process that produced some soft images. Panasonic did a better job of scaling HD video from its sensor in it’s GH2. Sony’s RX100 point and shoot produced some sharp images as well. The a99 seems to be on par.

3) Manual Audio Gain Controls! Plus there’s a headphone in jack to monitor your recordings.

4) There’s an aps-c crop mode that will automatically detect if you mount a lens designed for the a77. It will crop the image accordingly.

This seems like an amazing camera along with the other rumored Sony product announcements like the full frame point & shoot RX1 and a pro NEX ILC. Can Sony inspire people to switch away from Canon and Nikon and in the process save itself?

Mountain Lion Update

10.8.1 is live and fixes a few annoying bugs. Personally, I’ve noticed battery life diminished and audio was spotty when connecting to a Thunderbolt display upon upgrading to Mountain Lion. 10.8.1 aims to fix this.

Other key improvements:

• Resolve an issue that may cause Migration Assistant to unexpectedly quit
• Improve compatibility when connecting to a Microsoft Exchange server in Mail
• Resolve an issue that could prevent iMessages from being sent
• Address an issue that could cause the system to become unresponsive when using Pinyin input
• Resolve an issue when connecting to SMB servers with long names
• Address a issue that may prevent Safari from launching when using a Proxy Automatic Configuration (PAC) file
• Improve 802.1X authentication with Active Directory credentials.

 

Mountain Lion on the New Macbook with Retina Display Report

UPDATE 8/1/12: Quicktime in Mountain Lion now supports AVCHD, great for Sony and Panasonic users out there!

Took the plunge and can report that wifi has not been a problem. Updating took 20 minutes and was simple. Redeeming the update from the App Store was fun. You have to wait for an email with a code to open a pdf with a new code that needs to be entered for redemption.

Everything is much faster, from scrolling and zooming through Safari and general internet speed has been quicker than Lion. I haven’t seen a spinning beachball yet, not even in Final Cut! The new Safari +  Mountain Lion offers in window tab scrolling which I do find myself using. The dock is isn’t transparent anymore which looks modern in comparison. If you have an Apple TV then airplay mirroring works as flawlessly as it does with an iPad.

Apple doesn’t allow you to run apps downloaded outside of the App Store by default. You have to go to system preferences, security & privacy, and select anywhere under the general tab. There is already an SMC update for Retina users that improves stability issues from sleep/wake.

Finally, the fake stitching is gone from the calendar but the faux leather and digital torn pages remain. Progress not perfection.

Macbook Pro Retina Review – Should you buy?

There is only one Macbook Pro to consider getting this season and it’s the Retina Version. The question is if you need to. I’ve had enough time to exploit some real flaws of Apple’s new water cooler hit but make no mistake that I do believe that this is the best Mac ever. Now, let’s see if you need it.

The Macbook Pro Retina (MBPr) is a powerful machine loaded with the best combination of power and mobility. The base 2.3 ghz Ivy Bridge CPU is a beast capable of netting a Geekbench 64-bit score of 12,061 in my test and for some perspective there is not a desktop iMac on the list that scores higher. The Kepler nVidia GT 650m is clocked higher and has more memory than the new non-retina models that help it display that 5 megapixel or 2880 x 1900 screen. It’s also capable of driving 4 external monitors via 2 thunderbolt, 1 hdmi (a first for Apple) and it’s own. Newer games can run at the full resolution though expect frame rates to hover around 20fps at medium settings. I’ve loaded up Modern Warfare and Borderlands and this machine barely breaks a sweat at my old Macbook Pro’s resolution of 1440 x 900. It uses ram that’s twice as fast as previous models and the Samsung SSD (with probably to best/most stable controller for a Macbook) is also twice as fast as the Toshiba SSD Apple installed on my last Macbook Pro. The bottom line is this one of the most powerful computers period, consumer desktops included.

Do you need that power? To be honest, up until I started editing video in Final Cut, my last Macbook Pro was more computer than I needed. Any Macbook with a Core Series Intel chip and 4gb of ram will easily handle word processing, Photoshop, Aperture, and 1080p streaming. If the Macbook has a solid state drive like my old MBP then the system as a whole will feel lightening quick and iPad like with instant wake from sleep and a sub 18 second boot time. My move was going to be, and the one I would recommend if you have a similar workload, getting a Core Series Macbook Air.

Do you need to render HD videos longer that 5 minutes or pixel rich RAW images? When I began doing just that my 2010 Core i7 Macbook Pro would take nearly an hour to export a 10 minute video clip and the machine got hot as it was also pushing a 27 inch Cinema Display. It lagged even more if I wanted to stream Netflix while I waited for the video to finish. My machine was a first generation i7 with a dual core chip. All Macbook Airs at this point have dual core cpus, so expect similar export times and the eventual need for a Pro model. You can also eliminate the 13 inch version of the Macbook Pro as that’s a dual core as well. Ultimately, if you edit videos you’re looking at the 15 inch Macbook Pro that sport quad-core cpus.

Click here for my Macbook Showdown Video.

Did you know that the Macbook Pro Retina is the cheapest 15 inch Macbook Pro you can buy new? Let’s give this a walk through with the base models. SSD’s are the future of all computer storage so now or later you’ll have one. Besides that it’s the single greatest upgrade you can do for your computer. Plus 4gb ram is pushing it and becomes a bottle neck if you edit videos and large file photos. So a conservative 256gb SSD and 8gb ram upgrade from Apple will cost you $450 added to the $1799 base price, which come standard on the base model Retina version. So for $2399 you get a machine that’s slower (MBPr nVidia GPU is clocked 275 ghz higher with 512 mb more memory) and doesn’t have the Retina Display. Suddenly, that $2199 price tag for the Macbook Pro Retina looks more than reasonable, it looks good. Now you do lose the superdrive, gigabit ethernet, firewire 800 and future expandability/repairability (iFixit rates it 7/10 MBP and 1/10 MBPr, higher the better) but you do gain a sleeker design that runs significantly cooler. You can also buy an external super drive for $79 and a thunderbolt-to-ethernet adapter for $29, still putting you below a similar specced non-Retina MBP.

Sandy Bridge, Ivy Bridge, Haswell, Broadwell, and beyond. Sandy was a tick. a huge step forward for mobile computing basically doubling what was capable before as the first quad-core CPU to fit inside a Mac 15 inches or larger. Ivy is a tock, which takes Sandy and gives it a die shrink making it more power efficient. Intel has mapped out this tick tock sequence well into the future so we know a few things. We know the ticks are the major updates, the one that changes the game. We know Haswell is the next tick. We know Apple and Steve Jobs had been pushing Intel to get Intel into mobile GPUs, even threatening to run it’s own ARM processor at the Macbook Level. The Ivy Bridge CPU and it’s integrated GPU are still joined as two separate islands on one board. Haswell looks to have significantly increase internal graphics performance while residing on the same “island” as the CPU. This leaves extra space for a larger battery. Speaking of, battery life is the significant leap that makes Haswell the next “tick.” We’re talking 24 hour battery life, 10 days connected standby time, and general iPad-like charging is an after thought. Intel’s recent demo showed the Haswell chip running of the illumination from a single light bulb. It dispenses more power than what’s needed for it to run. If you have anything prior to Sandy Bridge, then upgrade away, this Ivy Bridge Macbook Pro Retina is going to be an unbelievably powerful machine to you. If you do have a Sandy Bridge then you might as well wait for the next release as they get more powerful, run for much longer without a charge and run without all the quirks of this year’s model.

On one hand, I’m indecisive; but on the other, I’m not.  Rehab is for quitters. The best Mac ever made has a lot of problems. The Retina display is the much ballyhooed feature of the this “next generation” Macbook. Why does Apple give it this nick name? Why aren’t they available across the board of Macbook Products? Well, Apple new it was going to be costly and they knew the IPS panels themselves are hard to make. It’s also the major culprit of performance issues. There are numerous reports of consumers seeing image ghosting where the residual outline of say Safari will remain on the screen upwards of 5 minutes. My personal performance experience was more pleasant with my older Macbook for everything but Video encoding. The current hardware is supremely powerful by today’s standards but those bars didn’t factor in driving a 2880 x 1800 display. This results in laggy web browsing as it has to load and then redraw pages. You get barely playable frame rates at full resolution with games like Diablo 3 and you want to because 2880 x 1800 is just stunning. There just aren’t enough things that take advantage of it as Developers are making a miserable turn scrambling to find scaling algorithms that make sense when factoring in a Retina Display. Apple’s own iWork Suite lacks Retina support and looks fugly upon close inspection. Scrolling and zooming on a web page now becomes CPU intensive and results in a less than smooth experience. I’ve also seen the spinning beach ball more times in the past week than I did in the year and a half I owned my last Macbook. Final Cut Pro X crashed twice on me. The screen is also dim. I used to be able to work with brightness set to half  and now I have no choice but to go full brightness during the day on my MBPr. So though the Ivy Bridge CPU is more power efficient than last years model, the fact that more of it, along with the the GPU, is being stressed to push a display that needs to be set at full brightness results in 5 hour battery life under a diet of youtube, word processing and light photo editing. You can get over 7 hours in a non-retina version and the Macbook Airs. Mountain Lion will address many of these issues on the software side utilizing more of the GPU and Haswell should clear up any hardware throttles, so it seems Apple had a purpose in designating it the “next generation” Macbook as it’s not really ready to exist now.

So it’s the best Mac ever made? It is. The design, while subtle, harbors enough changes that makes working with it for a full day a significantly better experience than the old model. It’s thinner yes, but it feel more solid, with the old one’s feeling like I had lots of empty space between my hands. The screen is gorgeous with apps that utilize it. It’s a glimpse at resolution independence. If everything was displayed at the full 2880 x 1800 icons would look tiny and text would be illegible. So everything looks like the standard 1400 x 900 setup but all the extra pixels are used to give insanely crisp images. I almost don’t want to use my Cinema Display because it’s just not as good. The real key is when an app like Final Cut Pro X gives you a user interface that gives you the standard layout in super sharp fashion and then processes the video footage as separate entity. Let me explain, in a standard Final Cut Pro X UI the video window is down-scaled to fit the pixels in that window. In the MBPr, there’s no need to down-scale, that little window can display a full 1080p resolution. The same goes for Aperture which is Retina ready. So instead of the entire app rescaling images to make them fit the available pixel space, a Retina Display can scale the UI elements to make them fit while other parts can be viewed without altering. In practice, it means I spend less time time going into full screen mode to see how a shot or a photo looks and more time editing scenes. Workflow is greatly reduced as I weed out good photos from bad ones because the thumbnails pack so much detail.

It is the little things that count. Things like the asymmetrically spaced fan blades that I can report indeed have a quieter effect, if they even get a chance to spin. The MBPr definitely runs cooler. Exporting a 1080p video yielded 100 degree celsius temperatures on the old model and I clocked the Retina version at 49 degrees rendering the same clip. The glare on the screen is reduced but the gloss still give colors that “pop.” The speakers sound fuller and slightly louder than before. HDMI was a surprise feature but the two USB 3.0 ports were sorely needed and appreciated. The SDXC card slot is reliable now and fuss-free, not the case in older ones. Importing 40 photos literally took half a second. At first glance, it doesn’t look all that much different but its after daily use that you truly start to appreciate its svelte physique. The amount of thought put into this machine is obviously high and the more I use it, the more grateful I am of it.

You should consider buying:
-video editing more than 5 minute clips
-photo editing large RAW files
-increase productivity via screen real estate otions

You should consider waiting for Haswell version:
-have a Sandy bridge version
-want the 13 inch version of a quad core chip

You should consider the new Macbook Air:
-if you don’t fit any of the above

I bought mine here and didn’t have to pay tax. Saved me $219 which I used to buy a $187 2tb external USB 3.0 drive here.

UPDATE 7/4/12: Base model Macbook Pro w/ Retina is $2,089.99 in stores at Best Buy and $2,089.99 at Amazon for preorder.

Need more tech info on the Macbook Pro Retina? Here.

Macbook Pro Retina: Showdown

My previous Macbook Pro was a beast and it wanted to go out fighting before finding a new home. Check it out:

I’m working on a review of the new Retina Macbook Pro and hope to have it up soon. I can confirm that you cannot see a pixel onscreen. If you want to upgrade your current monitor to achieve this and have vision like me, just take off your glasses…you can’t see a pixel. I know and you’re welcome.

WWDC: Why your computer sucks

That’s what I told myself when Apple announced the Macbook Pro refresh today at the Worldwide Developers Conference. I knew it was going to be a beast. Heck last year’s model was a monster and my first gen i7 still handles rendering tasks with relative ease. To read and see the new Macbook Pros as a total package just made me scramble seeing what goodies I could sell to justify the upgrade price. Your computer may not suck but the one I’m staring at does.

Here’s the rundown of key features for the 2012 Macbook Pro. It’s slim. Jobs demoed the iPod by saying it fits in your pocket. The Macbook Air was pulled out of a manilla envelope to show off it’s thin figure. The new Macbook Pro’s are said to be no bigger than a finger nail. It’s not tapered like the Air, most likely to house some surprising internals and a battery that lasts 7.5 hours with 30 day standby time (if you get one with an SSD). The Apple Store first asks you if you want standard or Retina displays with $400 separating the 15″ entry level versions of each The 13″ Macbook Pro doesn’t seem to have the Retina display option which comes in at a resolution of 2880 x 1800 or 220dpi or more pixels than that big HDTV you have in your living room.

Out with the old and in with the new. Old being optical drive and ethernet. New being the intriguing inclusion of HDMI, USB 3.0 AND two thunderbolt ports. 8gb of ram and 256 gb SSD hard rive come standard on the $2,199 base model Retina Macbook Pro. There is also a new cooling system which sucks air through three slim vents and and channels them into a non-symetrical fan that produces undulating frequencies almost imperceptible to the human ear. The new heat efficient (and unbelievably powered) Ivy Bridge quad core i7 cpu combined with this new form of heat dissipation should alleviate any heat issues with previous MacBooks. It’s also good to see nVidia and Intel reuniting on the Apple notebook with the 1GB GeForce GT 650M.

It looks like Apple had a pretty good day today and Siri did a nice job kicking the event off.

You will HATE Apple?

Everyone around me knows how I’ve gone off the deep end with my Apple fandom. I’ve gone as far as buying a mini-macbook air pocket mirror and photoshopped Call of Duty on the screen. Why? Because it makes me happy. Because the neurons in my brain don’t always fire correctly. So when an article comes across my lap with any message other than “Apple creates world peace and happy babies,” it gets my attention.

To summarize the opinion in question it’s – “you will hate Apple one day.” Now this person acknowledges that Apple can choose to sell pies and the masses will fall in line for a slice but one day this beloved company will make you angry. I respect the thought and to a degree we are witnessing small cases already. Tim Cook has had to deal with fallout from the overseas labor practice review and then there was the recent Greenpeace stunt. Scrutiny over the speed in which security updates to recent flash/java disguised trojans surfaced over the web. “So this is the ship they say is unsinkable.”

It’s easy to dole out an opinion that contains the words “one day.” This form of statement can be tossed into infiniteness where 250 years down the road one would still be able to say “just you watch, one day it’s going to happen.” Let’s shrink that view and say “you will hate Apple within the next 25 years.” Great that sounds more like a respectable opinion. And I disagree.

Apple is still in second place. This is a good thing. Target fed off Walmart’s shadow and continued to grow while the smiley face was hit with negative media reporting. The same goes for Lowe’s second fiddle to Home Depot and AMD’s silver to Intel’s gold standard. Being in second place allows the type of legroom to be original. AMD had to strengthen its server CPU business and continues to set the standard in GPU’s through its ATI division. Without the weight of maintaining a lead, Lowe’s continually impresses consumer polls with it’s attention to organization and customer service. With an accented pronunciation, Tarzhay’s innovation in design and use of celebrity often gets hyped when it’s competition is scrutinized over labor standards. That’s effort, energy and resources that Walmart could have used in preparation for a more important battle with online retailers. Taking into account the post-PC market the figures back-up Apple’s placing. Windows accounts for 40% of market share, Android 35%, iOS 22%, and Mac OS X 2%. Apple comes behind in both mobile and standard operating systems. Let’s face it, leaders in the market Apple competes in have plenty of problems that Apple doesn’t. This frees up the resources necessary for Apple to remain innovation and design leaders.

The once loved list of IBM, Walmart, Nokia, and more recently Facebook, Best Buy, and Netflix never had a guy named Steve Jobs. Do not underestimate his leadership within Apple posthumous. He was a legitimate rockstar. A model for Iron Man’s Tony Stark. He was a legend that died well before his time. Let’s look at that list. Kurt Cobain, Jerry Garcia, John Lennon and Bruce Lee all passed away at too young of an age and, in part, that’s the reason their enterprises are still strong. They remain above long lasting scrutiny. Game of Death was a shitty movie but the Dragon was in it and it’s an inspiration for movies today. Hollywood will make Steve the subject of several biopics which helps to further entrench his mystifying aura. I’m not saying Apple gets a free pass but they get a certain leeway and cult status that won’t evaporate anytime soon. Don’t underestimate Steve Jobs.

In another way, Job’s manic work ethic and control issues ensure that Apple’s pipeline is fully stocked. He notably delegated the iPhone 4S to another team so he’d be able to focus on the next iteration. In 2010 he locked up the rights to use Liquid Metal which will slowly be appearing in upcoming devices like the MacBook Pro refresh. Don’t forget about the vaunted Apple Television that will help the company completely take over the living room. Even on accident Job’s opened a pathway into becoming THE dominant player in the the gaming market. Do you think Microsoft and Sony are worried about each other? They’re captive to the plans outlined by Job’s before his death. This is the pipeline that piqued China’s interest, we all know how important they are and Apple is one of just a handful of American companies they like.

AAPL’s one of the few companies that zombifies it’s buyers. It’s a huge brand like Coca-Cola and Disney. People buy AAPL shares just to have it. Their happy when the stock goes up and they don’t worry when it does go down. Apple no longer needs a person like Guy Kawasaki to be an evangelist, the buyers do that. Write an anti-mac comment on a forum to see the flame war blaze. I’ll be one of them that come out of the woodworks with digital fatigues ready to defend the thing I type on. I think that’s why I’m compelled to write this. That and my brain not working right thing.

Now I’ll be realistic here and admit that labor practice standards are a significant issue. So is the Greenpeace stunt in protest of Apple’s coal use. Tim Cook, if history is correct, will be well suited to transform some of these issues into net positives. Nike had a similar situation when the sweatshops were exposed and they remain a top ten global brand today. Even if Cook chooses to do the bare minimum in responding to media concerns, Apple has positioned itself for longevity.

The hippy haircuts may be gone but so long as Apple maintains some core mantras the future looks bright. I’ll leave you with number 12 of Guy Kawasaki’s list of things he learned while working for Steve Jobs. “Some things need to be believed to be seen.” I believe I’m right, you’ll see…..one day.

Sony’s So-So Future at play

4th generation PlayStation dubbed "Orbis" is underway

Don’t let my disarming dimple and broad shoulders fool you. I am a trekkie. Wow that felt odd to type. Odder than my first AA meeting having to utter “I’m an alcoholic.” Even so, I am one and a huge fan of the holodeck. I NEED THAT THING! I remember watching episodes of the Next Generation with my dad imagining the gaming potential of such a device, donning a gi and lobbing hadoukens. I’m day dreaming right now, putting on a nanosuit, kicking an abandoned car off a cliff in full cloak mode. Now obviously we’re not there yet, but we can measure the estimated jump from current to next gen and determine if they will be viable platforms.

My first machine was the Commodore 64 and that was quickly replaced with the Master System, Sega’s own 8-bit rival to the NES. My video game life at the time was this, arcades for the latest cutting edge game and hope the home version is half as capable. The Master System turned into the Genesis turned into the 32x/Sega CD (don’t you dare laugh, don’t you dare) which turned into the Saturn and the Dreamcast. I finally, bit the bullet and went with the Playstation 2 and the PS3. By the time I reached Sony’s current system, consoles became the premiere destination for games, not the arcades. What this box was capable of doing graphically was unheard of and unseen before. It also became much more that a gaming system.

Over the previous generation of consoles, the current ones became a media box. Go on  Amazon right now and see their front page offering of Instant Prime Videos on the PS3. Netflix, Blu-Ray, YouTube, and Facebook are all available on your living room screen. Unless the same innovative leap can be made for the next generation then its too soon to release one and it will be too late for Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft in the gaming world.

From what i’ve heard the proposed next consoles have one positive and two negative bullet points. The good part, the graphics will blow your effing mind. Full 4K 3D support. The cost, it will not support your old library of games (i blame the success of HD remixes like the God of War Collection) and games will be locked into a single user account effectively killing the used game market. I rarely bought a game new and part of my justification for spending $40 to $60 on a game was that I’d be able to recoup at least half later. I’d then use that on a newer game. It was the circle of life. Hakuna Matata. No worries.

Let’s discuss that one positive. Sony’s rumored 4th Playstation the “Orbis” has claims of a Radeon 7700 equivalent GPU that will work in tandem with an integrated GPU/CPU hybrid. That’s great but living space is finite, which means screen size is limited in most homes to a 60 inch widescreen on the high end. I interpret that as a viewing distance pretty much set at 7.5 to 15 feet. Current 1080p sets at viewing distances 3 feet and further mean that the human eye cannot discern individual pixels and with the average living room approximately 250 square feet, I don’t see the future of 4K resolutions taking off the way Retina had become a household term. The display prior to them needed the added pixel density because viewing distances tended to be inches away from the eye. Speaking of Retina, the prevalence of iOS has changed the gaming landscape.

More than ever we’re convenience based consumers with short attention-spans. Hey you, focus! How else to explain the popularity of Netbooks, the iPad, Macbook Air, iPhone and Ultrabooks. These are not the pinnacle of the technical, graphical hardware heap. These are the perfect platforms for trendy, ten minutes at a time gameplay when and where you want to play. With the way we play games changing and devices like the Roku, Apple TV, and television adapters for smartphones and tablets, the media capabilities of become even less of a selling point. For some perspective, I sold my XBox 360 and Playstation 3 once I had a Macbook Pro with Windows 7 installed on BootCamp. Now when I want to game I use my iPad as a controller while the game streams through Apple TV. I personally feel confident I won’t ever buy a traditional gaming system ever again. That’s a little worrisome for an avid gamer to admit.

Really, the current generation of consoles remain surprisingly strong as is. The Wii was proof that the interface becomes more important than hardware capabilities (see: Apple). Now, Nintendo’s motion control was limited and eventually lost support from developers but lesson learned. We’ll see what the Wii U has in store for us at the next E3. Regardless, Nintendo’s Wii was risky, innovative and this new crop of systems must make a similar leap. Tweaking the graphics won’t cut it.

Finally, the Orbis sounds like a gum. A breath freshener. I know that paired with Sony’s new handled, the Playstation Vita, we get the latin phrase “orbis vitae.” Or the circle of life. Lest we forget that part of that circle includes death. Death of a video game empire, perhaps. Hakuna Mata.

Do you have a MacBook? Want one?

Can there be too much Apple?

Recommended reading SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS: OS – Apple fan boy or higher. CPU – Super Geek or higher  GPU – Mega Nerd or Higher 

I’ve gathered some confirmed and speculative rumors with an attempt to make sense of what this means going into the future. MacRumors reported a few weeks back that production already commenced on the new line of MacBook Pros with an initial batch of 100,000 to 150,000 units a month. With the PC market and the likes of Acer banking their business on UltraBooks, Apple has clearly started a REVolution with high-performance mega-mobile computing. Netbooks were a fad in a new market tablets now reside in, but the MacBook Air and UltraBooks are categories that may just be integrated into the standard laptop segment.

For now let’s discuss the evolution of the new MacBook Pros which are due to hit the market sometime this Fall. Legacy technology looks to be ditched in this incarnation so say goodbye to an optical drive, Ethernet and FireWire port. I don’t know about you but I haven’t touched either of the three in about a year. No wait, I watched five minutes of Redbelt to see if the drive still worked. Then I went over to Netflix to finish it. I hear the SD card slot and a new combination of SSD and HDD will get a starting nod though it’s unconfirmed if the disk drives will be a single unit hybrid like this, Apple proprietary, or standard laptop units. Apple continues to push thunderbolt being fully backed by Intel gives it a chance to succeed. It is after all faster than USB 3.0, does audio/video and is compatible with mini display-port. All this nerdy, geeky tech talk means brings us to this. The internal omissions will give the MacBook line a slimmer more Air-like profile. It may even be more dramatic of a tapered wedge due to its larger overall size than the Airs. Can’t wait to my finger board to the Apple Store!

Photo by GearPatrol

It’s still called the Pro. Not the MacBook 15” Air and not the Macbook Air Pro. So how is Apple going to differentiate the two? It starts with the new Ivy Bridge CPU. I’ll simplify what it means as best as I can. Slight boost in CPU performance, huge increase in the integrated GPU (about 30%) and ridiculous battery life due to the reduced 22nm architecture. Since it will be marketed towards the professional-level user Apple will also upgrade the dedicated graphics processor to something like the AMD Radeon 7700m family of chips. Games will look and run five times superior to PS3 offerings. Video encoding times will be something along the lines of an 8-core Mac Pro from a few years ago. I’m guessing raw GeekBench scores to clear 13000 easily as the current ones consistently hover around the 8,000 – 9,500 mark. Basically, you’ll be able to replace your desktop or iMac with this laptop and maybe an external display. Heck, I’ve been able to do that with the 2010 model i7 MacBook Pro paired with the Cinema Display.

Get ready for HiDPI. High Dots Per Inch. Not quite retina but close in other words. The iPhone 4S has 364 dots (or pixels) per square inch. Expect the new Macbook Pros to at least clear 200. Gizmodo also reports that these new computers will sport a surface trackpad. The entire palm rest will be touch-sensitive, gesture controllable, and I don’t think it will make this generation. The costs of the aforementioned seem to be broaching Apple’s standard product cost ratio so look for Tim Cook to keep this further down the pipeline.

The iPhone basically cannibalized the iPod market. A more powerful iPad plus iOS integration into Lion could certainly do the same to the 11 inch MacBook Air which already ate the entry level polycarbonate MacBook line. The Air’s genetic physical traits would pass upstream to the current line of MacBook Pros. The Mac Pros eventually will bow out to the iMac as the standard desktop power professional workstation. Finally, the Apple TV would be replaced by the umm Apple…Television. I know.

Photo from hindustantimes

Do you own a MacBook Pro? If so, I’d recommend backing up your data and start making plans to sell via Craigslist, Amazon or eBay. A visual refresh always kills market value as well as all the new power under that aluminum hood. My 15.4” MacBook Pro with 8GB ram and pre-Sandy Bridge 2.66GHZ i7 looks to be fetching $1,100 to $1,200 on the used market. This could go as low as $700 after the new line comes out. If you made it this far into the reading, slap another 100 points to your GeekBench score.

You deserve it.

“One more thing, is all Apple needs.”

Could this be the next must have design?

If my hunch is right, Apple HQ has that thing in the pipeline and it was supplied none other than by Steve Jobs in a Tupac-like role. When Jobs was forced out of Apple 27 years ago, nothing innovative was created by the company. John Scully had an opportunity to prove it was capable of producing something revolutionary while structuring an environment capable of competing with big brother and Microsoft. Time revealed that 1 Infinite Loop could not create without; however, Steve proved he could compete demolish the competition when he was asked back.

Father knows best and Steve’s first move was to strike a $150 million dollar deal with Microsoft. Add the iMac, iPod, iTunes, AppStore, iPad, Macbook Air, Pixar and the iPhone to the list that started with the Apple I, II and Macintosh. The man redefined our common conceptions and turned Apple into one of the wealthiest companies in the world.

Apple is now orphaned, however it can ride its fiscal success for the next few years without any significant technological innovation but it doesn’t last long (see Microsoft). Chief Apple Designer Sir Jonathon Ive said “if we can’t make something that is better, we won’t.” Without it’s creative father, just how is Apple going to do this? Like any good son taking over the family business, Cook will get a shot before confidence wanes. He’s going to need to do well immediately if one expects reasonable growth above the upper edges of the long term trading channel valued at $460. Plus, I think good ol pops had a gift to give.

Now we’re not at that point yet, though it’s clear creativity has stalled. The iPad got thicker and heavier. What’s next for us? Siri on the Nuevo New iPad? WooHoo! Retina on the Newer Nano? Oh, I know! Thunderbolt AND USB 3.0 on the Nearly Now Macbook Pro. No. No. And no. These moderate updates will not do regardless of inferior competition. Dig through the rumors and ask yourself if Jobs could’ve done better. Pushed harder. Got more.

Famous for creating the “I’m working 90 hours/wk and loving it” T-shirts to get the Macintosh team motivated, I think Steve Jobs worked his magic one last time. Rumor has it he did not work on the 4S. Rumor has it that he worked on a secret project yet to be released. Rumor has it that it’s the iPhone 5.

Masayoshi Son said, “I visited Apple for the announcement of the iPhone 4S [at Apple headquarters in Cupertino, California]. When I was having a meeting with Tim Cook, he said, ‘Oh Masa, sorry I have to quit our meeting.’ I said, ‘Where are you going?’ He said, ‘My boss is calling me.’ That was the day of the announcement of the iPhone 4S. He said that Steve is calling me because he wants to talk about their next product. And the next day, he died.”

I know. Wow. It’s mind blowing how passionate Steve Jobs was and I’m sure his creative juices were given huge electric jolts considering his time constraints due to failing health. The iPhone 4S was a logical progression and Steve knew the team he assembled for it would be self sufficient. So he worked on the followup in the days leading to his untimely death. Covert style. Whatever they choose to call the next iPhone is sure to be a cult classic based upon the idea it was his last project. An egomaniac like Jobs wouldn’t want to go out working on a moderately improved product, would he?

Summation time. Steve Jobs worked on the next iPhone. This will give Cook plenty of time to find the next creative genius and develop him without sacrificing reasonable growth to the shareholder. And I NEED this new device. I am a Machead, I realized. I have the Apple Cinema Display, an i7 Macbook Pro, an iPad 2, an Apple TV. They all work beautifully together. I now more than ever, understand I just need…one more thing.