Macbook Pro, You’ll be missed

Several months ago I got a brand new Macbook Pro 15″.  It was my first Mac computer and it was great. It was great for doing many of the basic things like browsing and presenting PowerPoint  and a few other things. But creating documents were a bit frustrating. I’ve used MS Office on a Windows PC for so long and it’s the only way I’ve done it.  It’s nothing against the Macbook Pro or MacOS its actually the MS Office Suite for Mac was just different.  Basic templates for it weren’t available and the ability to embed web videos isn’t available as it is on the Windows version, just to name a few.

I got VMWare Fusion 10 to enable my Macbook Pro to run Windows, but the slight sluggish performance was annoying. It was annoying when browsing, working on MS office suite apps, and other software I can only use in Windows.  I switched to Bootcamp, Apple’s tool to run Windows natively on their hardware. This solved the Windows performance issue. But that solution led to another problem.  Since the Macbook Pro has a discrete video card, a dedicated high performance video card, it was the primary video driver for Bootcamp.  Instead of using the Intel integrated video chip it used the discrete video card 100% of the time which dramatically decrease the battery life, and that was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Unable to live with those annoyances I sold the Macbook Pro and got the Surface Book 2, 15″ model.  The Surface Book 2 is an amazing device it does everything that I need it to do and the battery life is awesome. It’s just as good as the Macbook Pro, with MacOS, if not, better.

There are a few things that’ll I’ll miss from the Macbook Pro. First being the amazing trackpad. The smoothness and all the gestures built into MacOS makes it a joy to use.  The trackpad on the Surface Book 2 is also great. Windows 10 has a lot of great trackpad gestures but overall performance and smoothness the Macbook Pro edges it.  Secondly, the Macbook Pro’s build quality is top notch. Almost everything about it makes it feels and looks premium. The Surface Book 2 looks just as premium. The build quality is also great. Again, the Macbook Pro has a slight edge against the Surface Book 2.  I think its the Surface Book 2’s magnesium case. Maybe its just me, but it feels plasticky (is that a word?).  I know its all metal. I guess I’m not use the magnesium feel of it.   If I had to give it a score for build quality the Macbook Pro gets a 10 and the Surface Book 2 gets a 9.5. And Lastly, I will miss the Thunderbolt 3 ports.  The ability to charge the laptop from any port and use any of them to connect to a monitor or a Thunderbolt 3 hub makes it so flexible and future proof.  The Surface Book 2 doesn’t have a TB3 port. But it does have one USB-C port. You can charge the SB2 with it and output to a monitor, but not at the same time.

There are some trade offs between the two laptops, but overall the Surface Book 2 is the ultimate laptop.  I didn’t mention it yet, but the SB2 is a 2-in-1 device as it has a touch screen and the screen is detachable and it can be used with a Surface pen things the Macbook Pro can’t do.

Upgraded my laptop

I’ve been hauling around my Lenovo W520 laptop for almost 7 years.  The sound no longer works and I’ve replaced the battery. The sound does work through headphones or through the DisplayPort.  It was great powerful laptop that did everything I threw at it.  But it was overdue for a replacement, so I after being a lifelong Windows user I decided to pick up a Macbook Pro 15 (2017). I’ve always admired the Macbook’s design and build quality and this one is no exception.

It’s been a few days and so far it’s great.  The screen and battery on this machine is amazing.  I’m planning to get VMWare Fusion to run Windows 10, so I’m not missing out on my Windows specific apps and games.  This is probably one of my most expensive computers I’ve bought, and I’m hoping it’ll last just as long as my Thinkpad did, and if it does I feel it’ll be worth every penny of it.

Note 8 Hands-on

So I got my Note 8 a few days ago.  When I first held it in my hand the first thing I noticed was how heavy it was compared to the S7 I was currently using. It’s probably the heaviest smartphone I’ve ever held.  The size of the Note 8 is large as well, but it wasn’t a surprise as my wife has the S8+ which I get to play with it once in awhile.  Like the S8+, it’s fast and smooth. The camera is excellent.  The bokeh effect with the dual camera is a nice feature. It makes regular looking shots look like I took it with an expensive DSLR.  If you have an iPhone 7 Plus then you’ll understand what I mean.

The biggest concern about the Note 8 was the battery life since it has a 200mah small battery than the S8+.  With my first full day of normal use (after installing all the apps and configuring all my settings the day before) the phone was at 71% from 6:30am to 430pm.  This included Always-on-display, about 20-25 Hangout messages, about an hour of web browsing, a few minutes of videos, and about 20 emails. Typically my S7 would be around 40%.  That’s not bad at all.

So far I’m totally digging the phone. I could have done without the curved edge screen, but it doesn’t bother me much as I have a Spigen Tough Armor case where I can hold the phone without touching the screen.

Note 8 or V30?

Samsung announced their Note 8 last week. It was almost the perfect phone except for the 3300 mAh  battery. I was hoping it was going to at least match the S8+ 3500 mAh battery. With the Note7 owner discount offer ($425 off) I decided to use it and preorder the Note 8.

Then a couple of days ago LG announced their V30. The device is quite compelling and as of right now the V30 could be considered a better device. Until I see it in person the Note 8 will be my #1 choice.

iPhone 4S: Are you excited or disappointed?

Today, Apple announced their next generation iPhone called the “iPhone 4S”.  While many diehard fans and many tech enthusiasts were hoping for a radical redesign they are left scratching their heads, “What happen to the iPhone 5?”

It doesn’t come as a surprise to me at all that there was no iPhone 5 announcement. If you look back at history, Apple released the “3GS” just two years ago. So we can assume a completely new iPhone 5 would likely come next year. But don’t judge a book by it’s cover. The innards of the 4S is all new. New faster and powerful dual core processor and an 8 MP camera with 1080p video recording.  And other features will be in their upcoming iOS update coming on October 12th.

Like any other businesses out there Apple is taking advantage of their current supply chains and manufacture process. Keeping the same design also keeps theirs costs down. Similarly to Intel’s Tick-Tock model, Apple has an alternating cycle of development. Where they refine their current technology one year and revolutionize it the next.

With the announcement over and done with are you excited or disappointed?

Kindle Fire – Amazon jacks RIM’s Playbook…

Today Amazon announced 3 new Kindle devices.  A standard updated model of the original Kindle, a Kindle Touch, and the Kindle Fire.

The most intriguing device is the Kindle Fire.  As it’s Amazon’s foray into the tablet market that competes with other tablets such as the iPad, Playbook, and other Android tablets.  The Kindle Fire looks to be an exact replica of RIM’s Playbook, but the software that runs it is a customized Android OS. Its so customized you can’t even tell its an Android OS.  You can check out the Hands-On-Impressions on Engadget.  It is a sweet looking device.  And of course this Amazon tablet is built to consume many of the content provided by Amazon such as music, videos, books, and more.  After watching some of the hands on videos I think this may be a big hit for Amazon. With this tablet being under $200 dollars I bet it will be the #1 gift on many people’s wishlist for the upcoming holiday season.

I’m a Blackberry fan, and I love my Playbook and all the things it can do for me. But with the Kindle Fire it really shows how awesome a 7″ tablet can be with the right software. Their app store for the Kindle Fire looks to be loaded, and don’t forget all the other multimedia content that is ready for purchase.  RIM really shot themselves in the foot by not releasing an NDK for developers to create apps for the Playbook. The lack of a solid ecosystem doesn’t help RIM at all. And RIM’s app store pales in comparison to iOS, Android, and Amazon’s. In fact, its laughable for RIM to call it an app store in the first place.  One thing to consider is that the Kindle Fire looks so close to the Playbook. Will RIM pull out their legal guns and take Amazon to court?

Amazon is stepping onto Apple’s territory, a territory which no other competitor has yet to make a dent. I’m sure Apple is not worried about Amazon’s hardware, but the fact that Amazon has an ecosystem that is just as vast and bountiful should made Apple concern.

Thoughts on the Windows 8 Developer Preview

When the Windows 8 Developer Preview was available for download I immediately jumped on it.  I downloaded it and installed it as a virtual machine.  The install process is very similar to installing Windows 7, but the initial Windows 8 set up is very new. You answer a few questions about your network connection and whether or not you’d like to log in with your Windows Live account or create a local account.

It’s the Start screen that’ll blow you away. Microsoft has made some bold changes. First off, they carried over the Windows Phone tiles over to their Windows OS.  This new interface is definitely tailored towards the tablet form factor. Since I was running it as a virtual machine on my laptop I wasn’t unable to test any of it’s touch features. But from the looks of it I’m sure it’s as smooth and responsive as its Windows Phone OS.  Applications are launched by the selecting the tiles on the screen. Some tiles can display live data such as Stock info and the current weather.  There is also a tile to launch the classic Windows desktop as we’ve all come to know.  Microsoft has not departed from the standard desktop GUI, It’s still there and it still looks the same as Windows 7.  Microsoft is moving away from it’s traditional OS layout to a more consumer friendly interface.  In essence, Windows 8 is Windows 7 with a heavy tablet overlay, and this is a big step into getting their OS onto more tablets.  But unlike other tablets, you’ll actually be getting a full functional desktop experience when you need it.

For me, a tablet computers aren’t useful unless it can do everything a typical desktop/laptop computer can do. Up until now, the Windows OS was not optimized for tablets. The user interface wasn’t made for touch screens, the OS was bloated with code to support legacy devices and software, and the hardware that required to run it were power hungry.  Now with Windows 8 many of those issues will be a thing of the past.  And so far with what I’ve seen with this Windows 8 preview I’m very excited to see how Windows 8 progress.

Check out a few of the screen shots below. If you want to check out Windows 8 Developer Preview for yourself you can download it HERE.

Thoughts on the upcoming Blackberry Playbook

The Blackberry Playbook has been talked about for months. Ever since its announcement last September many Blackberry users have been waiting the Canadian company to release a tablet to compete with the popular and super successful iPad. It felt like an eternity, but finally a definite release date of April 19th has been confirmed.

I have the original iPad and it’s a great device. The form factor, long battery life, and the vast of available apps is why the iPad as sold millions world wide. Even though the iPad has established itself in the tablet market why should someone who is looking for one consider a Blackberry Playbook?

Here are a few things to consider:

  • Flash Support – Yes, that’s right the Playbook will be able to play all those flash animation on those websites you visit. If you want a desktop browser experience on a tablet then the Playbook is the device to get.
  • QNX OS – QNX is a robust and powerful operating system. The potential with QNX is tremendous. The fact that the OS is in many systems in many industries for many decades speaks volumes about the effectiveness of it. RIM owns QNX and it represents its future not just for the tablet market, but for their phones as well. QNX on the Playbook has been developed for the tablet first whereas others were ported or modified from a phone OS.
  • Android App Support – RIM just recently announced that they will be supporting Android 2.3 apps on the Playbook. That means it’ll instantly add thousands of apps into its portfolio. But a caveat is the lack of detail of how it will be handled. Will the apps just be emulated over a Java VM environment on the Playbook or do they mean that RIM will provide some kind of support to transfer existing Android apps to the Playbook without any major re-coding. Maybe someone can provide some more insight for me.
  • 7″ Size – Yes it’s a smaller size, but it doesn’t mean it’s a disadvantage compared to other larger size tablets. When it comes to carrying a tablet around the 7″ inch size is much more suitable. With my iPad it rarely leaves my bed room let alone leaving the house.

If you’re in the market for a tablet device than you’re in luck. A slew of new devices will be released in the next several months from Samsung, HP, LG, HTC and others. The Blackberry Playbook will be one of them vying for your hard earned cash and to chip away the large chunk of market share that Apple’s iPad now holds. RIM knows it will need to knock this product out of the park, its future depends on it. With QNX in their future RIM will have what it takes to compete and beat it’s competitors. I hope the Playbook becomes a big success, not because I’m a fan of Blackberry but because it’s always nice to have competition. And we, the consumer, gets to benefit from it.

Tech Tip: Smartphone contacts and calendar syncing

One of the more daunting task of getting a new cellphone is having to transfer all your contact information from your old one to your new phone. The contact info can be stored and transfered  in several ways; on a SIM card (For GSM phones), or it can be stored on your provider’s server, or have it backed up on a computer. For those smartphone users out there, there is a much easier and more efficient way of transferring your contact information or even your calendar entries to your new phone. You’ll only need one thing; get a Google Gmail account.

If you already have one then you’re set. In your Gmail account you’ll need to have or add all your contact information. If you have only a few contacts you can manually enter them in, but if you’re like me with over 300 contacts I recommend exporting your contacts from your phone then import them into your Gmail account. One way of exporting your contacts is to sync your info with Microsoft Outlook or any email client that your phone supports. Then use that email client to export the contact info into a CSV file. From there, you can import that CSV file into your Gmail account.

Smartphones today such as the iPhone, Blackberry, Android, and Nokia have the ability to sync their contacts directly with Google. Some phones can even sync with other services such as Yahoo or Hotmail. Setting up Google Sync is easy as downloading an App or change some settings on your phone.

Having your contact info sync with services like Google is great because it’s free. And if you ever lose your phone or get a new one you can easily restore your info without needing to tether it to a computer.

Does Microsoft have what it takes be the come-back kid in the mobile phone business?

Earlier this week Microsoft announced their new mobile platform, Windows Phone 7 . They are taking the same route similar to Google’s Android by having their platform be available for different manufacturers and on different mobile carriers (Except for Verizon). Saying Microsoft is late to the battle of mobile devices is the understatement of the year. A little more than 5 years ago Windows mobile was one of the dominating OSes in the mobile market. Now it represents a whimper of a market share compared to Apple’s iPhone, Google’s Android, and RIM’s Blackberry phones. For the past several years Microsoft sat on their laurels only to watched their competitors past them by. But will the new release of Windows Phone 7 be enough to put themselves back in the mix with the rest of the big dogs?

Many analysts have already noted that Microsoft is a little too late to the game and the best they can do is vie for 3rd place. And some believe MS’s new platform is the new Palm. With the recent failure of the Kin Microsoft doesn’t look to be in any kind of position to play around with this new platform. They need it to be a huge success and anything less is a failure.

I think it’s a little too early to count Microsoft out yet. They got something that none of the other guys have; a popular and powerful office suite, the Xbox Live service, and a huge install base of Windows users. If they are able to meld their products into something an end user can use effectively and efficiently they can bite a huge chunk of their market share back. From the preview of the devices MS is looking to differentiate itself from the rest by implementing a unique user interface. With large icons and widget style views it makes sense where MS is going: to providing quick access to information and apps.

So far they are taking the right measures by getting their platform onto many devices and carriers as possible. Billions of dollars have been pumped into marketing and getting developers on board and only time will tell if Microsoft can claw it’s way back to the top. Will you be getting a Windows Phone 7?