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  • Review: Apple's 2019 13-inch MacBook Pro is an excellent, inexpensive workhorse

    This new 13" is a major step up from the previous base model, which was only dual core. However, from what I've read elsewhere, this base model still has a single fan instead of the two fans of the higher versions. The old fan was noisy; would like to know what the single fan sounds like under load, the previous base model single fan was whiny and irritating. The dual fans have a more gentle sound.

    chasm said:
    What the hell do you old codgers actually do with the FUNCTION BAR part of the function keys?

    Oh that's right, nothing. You're also apparently ignorant of the fact that your precious function keys are literally one tap away on a touchbar. So sit down and shut up already! Your incredibly productive function keys haven't gone anywhere! #sosickofignorantwhiners #dosisdeadalready
    There isn't much true in what you wrote. And commentary hashtags? Seriously?

    I liked the function keys, and I used them in several applications that made good use of them, like Lightroom. The Esc key, I used even more, since it is a shortcut for clicking Cancel. I see where the Touch Bar could be quite useful in surfacing and encouraging discovery of important functions for beginning users.

    And I'll tell you what. I went into the Touch Bar with an open mind. I customized it using the controls in macOS. I found that in Keyboard Shortcuts, you can make a list of applications where the Touch Bar should appear as function keys. Then I customized it further with Better Touch Tool, to a point where I liked how it was set up for various programs I use. In theory, it was all figured out.

    Then I tried to actually use it.

    I found that because I'm a touch typist, I'm never looking at the keyboard. I'm hitting keys while I look at the screen. That means I'm never looking at the Touch Bar. And it's not tactile, so if I try to hit a Touch Bar button by touch, I can't do it. I have to do what I normally don't: Look down at the keyboard. Sometimes, it's worth it to redirect my gaze downwards to use the Touch Bar. But a lot of times, it is not worth it. But the net effect is that my wonderful Touch Bar customizations didn't get used because I'm keeping my eyes on what I'm doing on the screen.

    But there is another frustrating side to the Touch Bar.

    With function keys, if I press a key without looking thanks to muscle memory, it does what it is supposed to do. But since the Touch Bar constantly changes depending on the context, you cannot rely on muscle memory. You have to look at the Touch Bar to make sure that what you are about to hit is what you thought was going to be there, because it might be something else. Plus, you have to look carefully to hit the right button, because you can no longer orient by touch for the four-key groups of tactile function keys.

    It is too easy to brush against the Touch Bar and have something happen that you didn't want to happen because you didn't mean to activate a Touch Bar control. With function keys, if you accidentally brushed the key, it didn't depress because you didn't press hard enough; it resists. Well, with the Touch Bar there is no pushback, so if a finger accidentally brushes against a Touch Bar control it is simply going to execute that. And because the Touch Bar constantly changes appearance, if you hit it without looking, sometimes you're not sure what it is you just accidentally set off with the Touch Bar.

    So not all of us are old codgers resistant to change. Some of us like change, and cool new things...but only when they're ergonomic and intuitive. Not a shape-shifting muscle-memory-eluding no-feedback Touch Bar.

    I use a MacBook Pro but my favorite Mac keyboard right now is the one on the MacBook Air, which no other Mac has: You get a real tactile function key row plus Touch ID, which I find really useful.
  • Review: The M1 MacBook Air is nearly as transformative as the original

    AppleInsider is somehow one of my favorite Mac sites, yet here I am again commenting about the technical quality of a review.

    No one should be using superlatives to describe the "doubled" SSD speed of the MacBook Air. It is not a result of achievement, it is only a result of catching up! MacBook Pros and other Macs have, for several years now, achieved the very same SSD scores as the M1 Air, so the SSD speed of the M1 Air is absolutely unremarkable. Why do less informed journalists crow about "blistering" "remarkable" M1 SSD speeds? Because they are only comparing it to the old Intel Air, which has been using an older controller that was only half as fast as other Macs and Intel laptops too. It's nice that the M1 Air is in the 2500MB/sec range, 2020, that is exactly where it is supposed to be if it wants to compete.

    Also, the review insufficiently differentiates between the Air and the 13" M1 MB Pro. It isn't just a matter of the 13" M1 MBP being "a hair faster." As other, better reviews pointed out, the entire difference Is in heat management and throttling, which is not borne out until you do a long enough test, which the review doesn't mention ever doing. At full tilt, the M1 remarkably does not throttle until about 10 minutes. For most Mac users that is all they need. For Mac users who will run the CPU at full tilt for more than 10 minutes, that is the reason you buy the Pro, its fan prevents throttling and will sustain extended high loads better. If extended high loads are not part of the use case, the Air is a better deal because its M1 can cope with short periods of high CPU usage without throttling, far better than anything Intel has.

    The M1 Air is absolutely a killer deal for the price, just not for the reasons in the review.
  • Apple debuts new MacBook Air with Apple Silicon M1 chip

    elijahg said:
    I notice the price is the same as before, so rather than dropping the price due to cheaper CPU and increasing accessibility for people, they're just absorbing the extra profit. Great, that's the Cook Way. ߙ䦬t;/div>
    So we pay the same price as the lame Intel MBA, but now we get an 8-core CPU, an 8-core GPU, much longer battery life, much cooler operation meaning maybe less throttling for much faster sustained performance?

    What a...disappointment...?
  • Hands on: The 2019 MacBook Air is a bargain, but SSD speeds fall

    I wonder if the addition of the T2 chip affects this. Encryption on the fly could be the reason for the reduced write speeds.
    What you're wondering about is actually the opposite of what has happened.

    On older Macs without the T2 chip, only one component can encrypt/decrypt: The CPU. If you need the CPU for something else, it can be tied up by encryption. I would encrypt hard drives and it would tell me how many hours it would take to finish. It was always quite a few hours.

    On newer Macs with the T2 chip, encryption/decryption can be handed off to the T2 chip. This has resulted in fast background encryption plus zero load on the CPU, which no longer has to be concerned with encryption. With the T2 chip, volume encryption is basically painless now.

    So the addition of the T2 chip did affect encryption. It made it much, much faster and easier!
  • Review: Plugable Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C Docking Station adds 10 additional ports to your ...

    Some of the earlier posts seek to tar all docks (or the concept of docks, or the port situation) with the same brush of docks not providing enough power.
    That is misdirection. The problem is not with Apple or the concept of docks, the problem is docks that are not up to date.

    I bought an early OWC Thunderbolt 3 dock. I love it, one cable connects everything on the desk. It only provides 60 watts, but that was enough for my 13" MBP.
    OWC has upgraded that dock. The current version does provide enough power for all current MBP models.
    The current CalDigit dock mentioned by Wow321 also does provide enough power for all current MBP models.

    If you are criticizing docks because you only want to look at old models and ignore the good ones, that is certainly your own personal problem, not a real world one.

    As for this Plugable being reviewed, there is no excuse for a new Thunderbolt 3 dock to lack the power for a 16" MBP. Multiple other companies above do offer it.

    I like Plugable devices in general, and of course this dock has enough power for my own 13", but a dock sold at that price point should be able to power any current MBP. This dock also lacks HDMI, and says if you want to plug in HDMI through one of the two DisplayPort outlets you must use an active adapter. These are limitations and extra costs that do not apply to other docks. Also, it does not seem to have Thunderbolt 3 pass-through since there is only one TB3 port. And using the USB-C ports for displays appears to have limitations according to the specs. None of these limitations are mentioned in the review. I will stick with my OWC dock which has proved to be much more versatile for my needs.
  • Introduced on January 9, 2007, the iPhone was the 'computer for the rest of us'

    Samsung had been making smart phones since the 90's and later the things like the Palm Treo refined the product.  The only thing the iPhone really introduced was the larger screen and replacing the stylus with a finger.
    That is factually incorrect. The iPhone introduced several innovations that are not covered by your comment.
    The stylus was not merely replaced by “a finger.” The iPhone screen supported multi-touch gestures. That was huge. Nobody else had it. Because, the entire concept of multi-touch was just a tech demo that wowed everybody a year earlier (watch the 2006 TED talk video of it by Jeff Han) and that used an entire table. Everybody who saw that talk assumed multi-touch desktop screens would not be a reality for a few years. Yet 12-13 months later, here is Apple giving you a handset! A single point stylus cannot match multi-touch.

    Some other iPhone innovations were not in the hardware but were purely Apple recognizing that the entire ecosystem needed a major overhaul to really unleash the potential of the device. Before the iPhone, the OS and apps were controlled by the carriers. Nobody thought much about OS updates for their phones, especially major OS upgrades that would radically improve the phone. That came with iPhone, because Apple took the unprecedented step to negotiate ownership and control of the phone OS. The only reason the carriers agreed was they thought the iPhone was going to be some niche that would not affect the industry much, but when the iPhone blew up, the carriers found they did not have control over this hugely successful device, and Apple suddenly had all this leverage that Samsung etc. did not. Similarly, when the iPhone finally allowed apps, Apple took the unprecedented step of wresting apps away from the carriers.

    You might nitpick a point or two here and there, but the fact is that with the iPhone you had an overall new combination of innovation found nowhere else: A multitouch display, an OS that would get significant fixes and upgrades, and later a wide selection of third party apps that was not under the control of the any individual mobile carrier.
  • Elgato Stream Deck review: A Mac accessory you didn't realize you need

    I have other ElGato gear like the CamLink and the Key Lights, and they’re mostly good products. But I could not justify a Stream Deck. I don’t think the value is really there. I mean come on, all that money for just 12 buttons? With a USB-A cable that doesn’t plug directly into most current Macs? That the article says needs to be plugged directly into a Mac, when many Macs only have as few as 2 USB-C ports? (I run everything through the USB ports on my hub so I only have to plug 1 cable into my Mac) With no HomeKit integration whatsoever, a big complaint of mine with their wireless Key Lights?

    For those who have an iPad or iPhone, there are many better solutions that cost much less. I use Touch Portal, an iOS app offering a fully configurable programmable grid of buttons to control everything from OBS to Photoshop. You can set up many more buttons, they don’t have to be square, and can be much bigger than on a Stream Deck. As an iPad app, it works wirelessly, not using up any USB ports. The article says the StreamDeck doesn’t travel well, but Touch Portal is not a bulky box, it travels as thin as the iPad it is on. Sure there is a Stream Deck app, but Touch Portal is a cheap no subscription price. The iPad is already on my desk, the StreamDeck would compete for the space on my desk. The ONLY thing Touch Portal gives up to Stream Deck is the tactile feel of the real buttons. In all other respects, if you have an iOS  device, an app like Touch Portal is a much better deal.
  • Tim Cook's leadership style has 'reshaped how Apple staff work and think'

    bulk001 said:
    Apple needs a creative visionary who makes their products exciting again, not just thinner. I just bought a bunch of new iPad Pros. They are nice but they are just a tablet to our staff who appreciate new tools but were “meh, thanks” and went back to work. One person hasn’t even gotten around to opening the box yet. The AS thing is disruptive to the chip industry but most consumers are not going to care unless their favorite piece of software stops running on it. Safari opening 100th of a second faster is not a disruption to them. @"mr lizard" Some great observations there BTW. 
    There is no problem with the iPad. I used to be "meh" on it, I did not even care. But the iPad Pro and iOS 13 have changed everything. Over the last few months, my iPad usage has shot up, and I have discovered numerous ways that it augments my Mac which I use many more hours a day. I now often use my iPad together with my Mac because of the way Apple has integrated them. Today, I find the iPad immensely useful and exciting, even though I did not feel that way just 18 months ago. The problem is not in the iPad, but in how well Apple has let people know what they can do with it. I now think of myself as having one computer across three devices (Mac, iPad, iPhone). Of course, office drones who only think about computers in one traditional way will not see any of this, and go "meh".

    There is one more level to this that is extremely important here.

    Apple Silicon is being brought up as more evidence Tim Cook runs an unexciting Apple. But if you think about the big picture, it looks different. A company selling mainstream computers on its own CPUs is not something most computer companies could even think of attempting. Dell, Lenovo, and HP cannot start from zero and build world class, high performance, energy-efficient, tightly integrated CPU/GPU SOCs.

    So why can Apple do it? Because of that one thing a lot of people continue to dismiss: The iPad.

    Tim Cook has been running Apple throughout the years when Apple decided to design its own A series SOC for the iPhone and iPad.
    Over those Tim Cook years, that A-series SOC has become both extremely well tailored to Apple's specific needs, and performs very well and efficiently compared to the competition.
    Apple has been able to quietly work on the Ax SOC over the necessary number of years to grow, refine, and mature it into what it needs to be. They did this using the iPhone and iPad as the test beds. And they have pushed that SOC so far that we were able to complain that iOS was not taking full advantage of the power of iPad hardware.

    Now we come to Macs on Apple Silicon. Every previous time Apple switched CPUs, it was simply switching suppliers. This time, they are switching to an SOC that is their own, completely tailored to their needs. The only reason they have it nearly ready is because under Tim Cook's watch they had all those years to mature the silicon using the iPhone and iPad. And now it comes right at the time when Intel is letting them down the most, when Apple needs an alternative the most.

    Personally I think that Tim Cook playing the long game, over many years, investing many billions of dollars, meticulously setting up the company for a massive payoff available to no other competitors, is quite exciting.

    (Especially as a shareholder, watching my AAPL share value multiply 15x.)
  • Review: The M1 MacBook Air is nearly as transformative as the original

    bageljoey said:
    What is the word on compatibility with the Adobe Suite applications?  My son mostly uses those for his video and photo work. He has been limping along with a handed down Air.  Maybe it’s time to get a new machine. But I don’t want to go there if it’s going to introduce issues into his workflow...
  • Apple inadvertently confirms May 21 availability for iPad Pro, M1 iMac, Apple TV 4K

    My Apple Newsroom notification made it pretty clear it was the 21st. 
    That's because of exactly the reason in the story: All newsreaders get the article summary from the metadata, so the May 21 date that was still present in the summary metadata might not be in the actual article.