I’ve never owned a nice chair. In the past I’ve just bought stuff from an office supply store, or Ikea. Normally these chairs last a couple years, then they start making noises, or falling apart. My last chair, from Ikea was fake leather and it started to make loud popping noises when you’d shift your weight or stand up, the leather finish was also worn away on parts of the seat. The worst thing about these types of chairs is that they are usually just put together so that they are cheaply produced and not much time or money goes into the visual design or the ergonomics.
I never bought the original MacBook Air, but I did play with one in the Apple store a couple of times and it left me with a bad taste in my mouth. It was horrendously expensive at launch (around $1800 if memory serves me correctly), was crippled with heat problems, and worst of all it was slow (in no small part due to having to under-clock itself so that it wouldn’t overheat). With the new 2010 versions of the MacBook Air a lot has changed. The form factor isn’t vastly different, but the changes that have been made show a level of polish clearly lacking in the previous model.
Body and Case
The first thing you notice when you take the MacBook Air out of the box is that it’s incredibly slim. Even after a week of use I still marvel at its size and weight nearly every time I pick it up. The new unibody case feels solid and robust even though the screen isn’t much thicker than a couple of stacked DVDs. It feels quite rigid and gives you the sense that it could take a couple of dings without much of a problem. The screen is missing an ambient light sensor and the edge to edge glass of the MacBook Pro line, but in a form factor so small and light, the trade off hardly seems like an issue. Aesthetically I do miss the black bezel around the screen, but the MacBook Air feels like a Spartan version of a MacBook Pro so it’s aluminum bezel kind of fits.
The bottom of the computer is where most of the bulk is (if you can even call it that). The keyboard, though full-size, lacks a back-light. Not a deal breaker by any means, but something of note. The computer is divided internally front to back. The front 2/3 are occupied by the system’s batteries, and the back 1/3 is the rest of the internals. Because batteries are so heavy for their size, the MacBook air feels very well balanced front to back, which is sort of surprising given its tapered edge.
As far as ports go, the right side has an SD card slot, a USB 2.0 port, and a Mini Display Port. On the left, an omnidirectional microphone, a headphone jack, a second USB 2.0 port, and a MagSafe power port.
Not much can be said about the MacBook Air’s screen. It’s fantastic. The 1440×900 resolution found on the 15″ MacBook Pro crammed down onto a 13.3″ screen results in a picture that is extremely crisp and clear. The high pixel density makes text easy to read and makes images sharp and detailed.
One of the first things I noticed when I started really using the Air, and I did some video editing with iLife ’11 on the very first day, is that the thing is completely silent even when under decent load. Compressing a 720p movie barely phases the Macbook Air, and even though you could get the job done faster on a MacBook Pro, its performance is admirable and actually quite impressive given its size and weight. The only time the air even begins to show that its working is when a game is being played. Fans roar into action but aside from the fanfare there isn’t really any other signs of a struggle. I ran Team Fortress 2 for several minutes in a full 24 player server on native resolution and medium/high settings, and gameplay was smooth and fast. After even that, the MacBook Air’s external temperature only achieved mildly warm, never approaching the hot or surface-of-the-sun temps that the top of a core i7 iMac can achieve.
Under normal use like web browsing, streaming HD video, and the like the 13″ MacBook Air is a champ and feels zippy and responsive. Because of the built in flash storage (128GB by default) opening files feels impossibly fast and even turning the computer on only takes 10-15 seconds.
The official Apple line is that the 13″ MacBook Air gets 7 hours of battery life. For me though, I never use a laptop for 7 hours straight. If I’m on a trip or away somewhere I’d be using my Air exclusively it would most likely only be for a couple of minutes at a time to look something up, dump a bunch of photos onto it, compress a quick video, etc. and I think that it is for these types of tasks and intermittent use where the MacBook Air really shines. By default the MacBook Air is aggressively sleepy. If left alone for a couple of minutes the screen shuts off and the computer goes to sleep. This, coupled with such a long standby time means that if you’re away from the computer the battery really isn’t going to go deplete much at all. I’ve used it on and off for 2 days and had the battery still holding strong at 75% and that is a great feeling.
The MacBook Air, for all intents and purposes, is the notebook of my dreams – An extremely thin and light laptop that is ultra-portable, yet is powerful enough to roll up its sleeves and do some real computing when it needs to. I think that the MacBook Air may be one of the finest products that Apple has ever produced and I couldn’t be any happier with my purchase.
I haven’t posted anything on the ole’ blog for awhile so I figured I just do a quick rundown of some of the most recent things I’ve been reading/listening/watching/playing.
When You Are Engulfed In Flames – David Sedaris
Peter & Max – Bill Willingham
Green Lantern (Prelude to Blackest Night, and Blackest Night) – Geoff Johns
Batman and Robin – Grant Morrison
Fables – Bill Willingham
God of War III
Modern Warfare 2
Vampire Weekend – Contra
Girls – Album
Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes
My Brother, My Brother, and Me
Here are some of my favorite games and movies from the past year. They are in order of how much I liked them.
1. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
2. Modern Warfare 2
3. Batman Arkham Asylum
5. Demons Souls
1. Inglorious Basterds
2. Brothers Bloom
4. District 9
5. Sherlock Holmes
When you draw a shape in photoshop as a either as a shape or a path, you often get this lame fraction of a pixel situation that results in semi transparent, soft, stupid looking edges. It’s bugged me for years, but I’ve never taken the time to try and figure out a work around until today. After literally seconds of looking I found this article, which completely solves the problem. I dont know why this wouldn’t come enabled by default but its a freaking miracle that its there and that it works.
So I know that I haven’t been posting much recently. Worry not! I want to do a review of my new iMac at some point and perhaps a MW2 review. Im much much too lazy to do that right now, but stay tuned!
I have never really gotten into Monster Hunter. I’ve thought about it. I even downloaded the PSP demo, but shitty camera controls kind of threw me. After this week’s Co-Op and hearing what they had to say about the upcoming Lost Planet 2 I am now officially interested. Basically, it sounds like you’re playing a sci-fi version of Monster Hunter where you and a team of up to 3 other players take down huge monsters. Co-Op says that the control and aiming is solid which would be a welcome departure from Monster Hunter. Lost Planet 2 doesnt come out till next year, though. Poop.
Playing Arkham Asylum has gotten me really into the Batman comics. In the past few weeks I’ve read All-Star Batman & Robin, Batman Hush, Battle for the Cowl, Batman R.I.P., and just started reading The Long Halloween. I guess it doesn’t come as much of a surprise that the more I’ve read the more I wanted to draw a Batman picture. I tend to like the short ear style on Batman, so I went with a mix between Jim Lee and the animated series. Click on either the image above or here for a high rez version.
A lot of camera companies have RAW formats that are specific to that brand. Not only does it make interoperability a pain, but often these files are not really very well constructed and require an extra file to accompNy them in order to see any of the non destructive editing. Enter adobe’s DNG file format. DNG is an archival open standard which in addition to providing a 15-20% smaller file size, also contains any edit data within a wrapper so that it’s always accompanying your image. After I get home from vacation I’m going to convert all of my RAW files.
Shown last week at Gamescom Gran Turismo 5 was playable in an early build. In addition, many of the games upcoming features were also announced and they have me pretty excited. Among the normal stuff like 1000 cars, 80 tracks (60 confirmed), car damage, improved physics, and custom soundtracks lays a gem– Head tracking using the PlayStation Eye. What this means, is that much like TrackIR the PlayStation Eye will be able to detect your head’s movement and translate it to an amplified version of that movement in game. This means it will allow you to move your head inches and you’ll be able to check your mirrors, look to the sides of your car, lean into turns, etc. Not having used TrackIR in the past I cant really even guess how much this will add to the game, but if it works it should be pretty amazing. Since building my racing setup I haven’t really had any games to play with it so I cant wait till GT5 comes out so I can cut my teeth on it.
Today Sony announced the PS3 Slim. So whats different? The price for starters. The PS3 slim is now $299 (down from $399), has a 120GB hard drive, a matte finish, and actual power/eject buttons. What I am most excited about, however is the reduced power consumption. My current PS3 (a 40GB) uses 380W, the new Slim uses 250W. Quite a big drop, which gives me hope that I’ll be able to play games while the AC and gaming computer are on, ya know, without blowing a fuse. It’s good to see Sony finally getting into the game as far as price is concerned. I’d like to upgrade if I can get a decent trade in price for my current PS3… gotta remember to put the 40GB hard drive back in there. The slim is available for pre-order and will be released “The first week of September” shortly after firmware 3.0.
Firmware 3.0 was also announced today. The bulk of the update is to the UI. There are some additional features added to the themes menu including animated themes. I’d really love to see a theme of Old Snake smoking like the loading screen for MGS4. They finally fixed the clock/charge level overlay. They’ve also changed the layout of the friend’s list and replaced the Information Board with a “Whats New” which seems more useful.
I played the Batman Arkham Asylum demo. Lets do a list to explain what I thought of it!
- great setting
- graphics are sharp and detailed
- everyone is too buff
- very fun stealth gameplay
- awesome, brutal, counter-moves
- grappling hook <3
- fantastic voice acting – same as the cartoon!
I picked up Fat Princess the day that it came out and ended up playing it for about 5 hours, which is a clue of how fun it is. In the first week or so there was some server problems, and there are some bugs but over all the game is great and as the problems get patched out it will only get better and better.
The art style is awesome. I love the way the characters are modeled and textured. Its hilarious seeing big teams of butch stumpy dudes running around slaughtering each other. The backgrounds are simple but very stylized and detailed. The graphical overlays used in the game like the princess’s status, and the map tie everything together nicely.
Each of the game’s classes (Priest, Wizard, Worker, Archer, Warrior) has their own set of skills and 2 weapons which each play differently. You get the second tier by harvesting resources and upgrading hat factories. There are several modes from the simple team deathmatch, a slightly more advanced capture points mode, and the full blown capture the enemy’s princess. Capturing the princess is the best mode by far in my opinon and is pretty much all I play. There is also a soccer mode, which is oddly fun.
For $15 this game offers up an insane amount of playtime. I’ve already logged close to 40 hours and still find myself wanting to go home and play it while at work.
Quick! Do you like music?
Of course you do! If you don’t you’re probably either deaf or some barely functioning tree man. Anyway, as a music loving individual you probably want your music to be portable so that you can listen to it on the go. iPods are the solution for listening on the go and they are great, but they only have a limited amount of space (especially the solid state stuff like nanos and iPhones). A few days ago I signed up for this site called lala.com.
If you let it, it can look through your music folder and check against it servers, which then gives you the ability to listen to all of the music online. If their server’s don’t have the music, your computer then uploads it. Having a completely mobile library of literally ALL of your music is pretty rad. It’s free so go check it out. Less exciting, lala also gives you the ability to buy music from them.