Shiny things for the easily distracted

In the last two weeks, Apple has announced two major, according to them, revisions of major product lines that the majority of tech pundits have drooled over to the strains of Bowie’s "Space Oddity." Kudos to the three of you who get that very mild joke.

First up, on February 24, was the long-awaited, somewhat-overdue updating of the Macbook Pro lineup. The MBPs became the first of Apple’s products to sport Intel’s Sandy Bridge line of i-whatever quad-core processors (unless you go cheap on the 13-incher and are left with dual cores). They’re fast. Really fast. Various sources show Geekbench scores over 10,000. Which is 1,500 to 2,000 geeks higher than my Hackintosh. Sweet. They also include the new Thunderbolt (formerly Light Peak) interface that sounds pretty cool, but I’ll reserve judgment until I’m forced to buy a bunch of adapters. Hopefully from Monoprice.com. New AMD Radeon graphics chips have up to one gig of VRAM. Oh, and the FaceTime camera now does 720p for those who like their Chatroulette surprises in sorta HD.

What the new MBPs don’t have are:

  • A new case.
  • A more ginormous trackpad made of glass handblown at Silver Dollar City.
  • An SSD for OS files to speed booting and waking from sleep.
  • More lasers (have to begrudgingly count the one in the optical drive).
  • Retinal scanning
  • A toaster slot for Pop Tarts.

In other words, it’s a failure. Call me when it has autololcatting.

The other big reveal, assuming you ignored every Mac-related site out there, was the iPad 2. Sporting a new, dual-core A5 chip and an even thinner case design, the latest iPad was deemed by all but the most hypnotized of Xoom lovers to be quite capable of doing the Electric Boogaloo. Blah, blah, FaceTime, front and rear cameras, blah, blah. But the best news is that it a white version will ship from day one. Which is tomorrow. Or not if you’re reading this after March 10, 2011. For some reason the white iPad reminds me of "A Clockwork Orange," so I don’t think I’d opt for it. Your droogian desires may differ.

Back when the iPad 1 came out in what seems like the early 90s, I said I wouldn’t buy one because it duplicated too much functionality of my iPhone and Macbook Pro. I stand by this assertion even the face (perhaps a fisheyed version of my own if running Photo Booth) of tablet sexiness that is the new iPad. Which doesn’t mean I don’t want one. I still can’t justify the cost in the wake of family members who insist on ingesting actual food over tweets. Layabouts.

In the end, the new Macbook Pros and iPad 2 are impressive. But they’re stopgaps until real re-engineered models emerge over the coming year (hopefully). The MBP line is due for a decent overhaul, and people keep hoping an iPad will show up with a Retina display. I also can’t wait to see how fast a Sandy Bridge Mac Pro will be. I’d like to devote at least six cores to autololcatting.

And don’t pretend you don’t want to, either.

Later,

Fox

Comments closed
    • derFunkenstein
    • 9 years ago

    I disagree that the unibody MBP line is due for a “redesign”. The Powerbook G4 redesign of 2003 lived on for 5+ years until the unibody designs took over entirely. That means we should have these until 2013 or 2014. And they’re still sexy.

    • kamikaziechameleon
    • 9 years ago

    I pad seems better now than ever mainly because you know that the android market for tablets is a flipping mess right now.

    • puppetworx
    • 9 years ago

    Like OHMYGAWSH. Apple you serially blow!

    You may make the best construction laptops but that doesn’t impress me. Get down and give me 20…and no dribbling!

    • derFunkenstein
    • 9 years ago

    I can’t justify it but I want one. Once I saw the Garage Band demo, it’s just something I feel like I have to have. LOOK MA I CAN TAP ON THE SCREEN AND MAKE MAH BEATZ!

    WTF is wrong with me?

    • xtreme2k
    • 9 years ago

    This has to be the most stupid and jealous blog post ever on this website. So bad it actually degrades the quality of the articles of the site.

      • prb123
      • 9 years ago

      Have you ever read the Mac Hole blog posts before? I think they make the site better, and actually appeal to us non-apple users. There are two entries on my Facebook wall from friends right now that make me cringe, regarding new Apple products.

    • HisDivineShadow
    • 9 years ago

    I agree. Both of these updates for these lines were merely evolutionary updates, not revolutionary ones. Retina for the iPad is revolutionary. New cases and better SSD options for Macbooks are revolutionary. I wanted to invest into the iPad, but I will NOT be the guy who has the low res version of the iPad next year when every app starts showing up in higher than high def. I already played that game with my still mostly awesome iPod Touch 3G 64GB.

    • KoolAidMan
    • 9 years ago

    What can be done to improve the MBP at this point? I honestly cannot think of anything aside from dropping the now useless DVD burner and switching over to all SSD storage. This plus a top end mobile CPU and fast discreet GPU would result in a crazy fast machine that is physically closer to the Macbook Air.

    I dunno, is there anything else we’re missing here? Until they dump the DVD and mechanical hard drives from the Macbook Pro (and it’ll happen), I can’t imagine what else could be improved in a MBP refresh.

      • Spurenleser
      • 9 years ago

      USB3?

        • KoolAidMan
        • 9 years ago

        Inferior and limited technology. Light Peak (I guess we’re calling it “Thunderbolt” now…) is much faster and more versatile. It makes a lot more sense than USB3 going forward.

          • sweatshopking
          • 9 years ago

          no it doesn’t. USB3 works with EVERY Device made in the last decade. Light peak currently works with 0

            • KoolAidMan
            • 9 years ago

            Can USB3 do this?

            [url<]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CCz_c_rDAXw[/url<] Simultaneously reading four HD video clips from an external RAID array into Final Cut and outputting them at once onto a display through the same signal path without ever hitching or stalling. That is some [i<]serious[/i<] shit. If you think that USB3 is the way forward when Thunderbolt is being deployed over the next year, is so much faster and capable, and is also backwards compatible with other data and video ports out there, you're insane. As for current support right this second, does it really matter? Devices are coming fast, and again it is backwards compatible and it works with DisplayPort monitors. People like you were arguing against USB 1.0 in the late 90s because everything used legacy connectors and nothing worked with USB right at the moment it came out. Things change very fast, stop being so conservative.

            • sweatshopking
            • 9 years ago

            display port 1.4 can drive 17 Gb/s. ATI has an implementation that will daisy chain monitors as well.

            As for being conservative, my point is just that I’d rather buy a system with USB 3 at this point. In a couple years, sure, im sure “thunderbolt” will be amazing. Right now, it’s no more useful than a serial port to me.

            • KoolAidMan
            • 9 years ago

            The point is being able to daisy chain monitors, and data storage, and input devices, and printers/scanners, and whatever else you have a USB/Firewire adapter for. You aren’t limited to just one or two sorts of devices.

            A combination of USB3 and Thunderbolt in the same device would be great. If it is an “either/or” situation looking towards the long term though, LightPeak/Thunderbolt all the way given that it is so much faster and more capable.

            The issue of “can I use Thunderbolt now” will be pointless very soon. In another year we’ll see it in PCs. I’m certain that the next PC I put together (my current one is an i7 860) will have a Light Peak connector in it.

            • sweatshopking
            • 9 years ago

            TBH, I don’t give a rats ass about daisy chaining. Why would i want to hook my hard drive up to my monitor? I can appreciate the speed boost, but that’s the only advantage. SCSI daisy chains, but it’s retarded. why would i want to hook random crap together? I like my stuff organized.

            • KoolAidMan
            • 9 years ago

            Well, you can presumably use a hub configuration if you’d like. The point is speed going in both directions is stupid fast. Having four HD feeds being read from a RAID array and simultaneously being output to a display at the same time is very impressive. Fast fast fast in both directions, nice.

            • mutarasector
            • 9 years ago

            ‘Conservatism’ is exactly what provides a degree of stability, and technological speciation with a higher degree of reliability/interoperability over a long period of time. The ‘out with the old, in with new’ paradigm could also be argued as having often been one of ‘fools rushing in where Angels fear to tread’. To get to ‘warp speed’ from horse-n-buggies, one needs just a >few< stages in between. USB 3.0 could be that stage.

            As for what TB can do (over USB 3.0) – it has/will have very little available for at least one year, and exactly >ZERO< legacy devices available _now_. IOW, TB is not going to be embraced over night. More than likely, TB and USB 3.0 will coexist for quite some time (at least for 5 years – probably closer to 10), and USB still has some room to scale up itself. I really don’t see these two technologies to be competing technologies, but rather complimentary.

            Having said all this, it would have been nice to see Apple provide USB 3.0 in addition to TB as a something of a transitional move for its general users instead of just for its niche market professional users. Not everyone who uses MBPs are artists, musicians, video/film folks needing to move massively large amounts of digital data or hi-QoS media transfers from P2 card enabled cameras.

            Oh well, the Wintel PC builders/mobo makers will likely introduce TB if it does well for Apple, but they will also support USB 3.0 (probably natively by then too), and meet the current demands/needs of their users, one of which is an ability to amortize their current hardware investments (which the ‘too-forward’ looking in this industry often overlook).

            If Apple/Intel fail to play their cards correctly, TB could become “Firewire redux”. And we all know how well the I/O screw-up kings (Apple, Sony) fared on that one…now Apple is partnering with another I/O screw-up king in Intel?

            Time will tell… until then TB is something of a solution in search of a problem. Why? Because it isn’t so much of a serial protocol as much as it is a _transport layer_.

            • tay
            • 9 years ago

            Right! Because looking back is what technology is all about.

            • KoolAidMan
            • 9 years ago

            You’d think that on a technology site of all places, that people would be freaking out over how cool Light Peak is.

            Nope, they cling to something slower and less capable, inferior in every way. Is it familiarity because of the name and the physical connector being similar to what they use now? So weird.

            • mutarasector
            • 9 years ago

            Not really. What technology is about is being a _solution_ to a _problem_, not one in search of a problem. This requires time for application speciation, rather than merely being in love with technology for technology’s sake, and erroneously labeling those simply not willing to move as quickly with the herd as being ‘conservative’ or backwards looking. Besides, a measure of backwards looking can be >good< thing. It’s called “hindsight”, and helps discourage the repeat of historical mistakes.

          • Spurenleser
          • 9 years ago

          I’d completely agree with you if it weren’t for the fact that Apple put USB2 on there. Now that’s inferior and limited technology. Why can’t we have both, Thunderbolt and USB3?

            • KoolAidMan
            • 9 years ago

            Good point. USB 3 and Thunderbolt on the same MBP would be cool. I believe Intel is why we aren’t seeing this, since they don’t have USB3 on their own motherboards. Apple is also obviously depreciating USB in favor of Thunderbolt over the next decade, but I reckon that if Intel supported USB3 more strongly, that we’d also have USB3 in the MBPs (and in even more PC motherboards for that matter).

            In any case, you have at least one other good interface in there with Firewire 800. I don’t think I’ve ever had a single external USB 2.0 hard drive for any of my PCs, it’s just way too slow compared to Firewire.

            • mutarasector
            • 9 years ago

            “Good point. USB 3 and Thunderbolt on the same MBP would be cool. I believe Intel is why we aren’t seeing this, since they don’t have USB3 on their own motherboards.”

            It’s not so much Intel not implementing it on their own motherboards, but them not implementing it _in_ their own chipset (at least until 2012). Apple can’t really blame their own lack of support for this on Intel either as PC mobos and laptop models have had them for over a year now, and the cost to include USB 3.0 controller IC is not that high. With Apple’s margins, this is simply inexcusable and is also an early warning indicator that the company may have a predelection for proving Einstein’s insanity axiom…

            • mutarasector
            • 9 years ago

            Exactly. Why didn’t they simply go one better and up USB from 2.0 to 3.0 if they are such a ‘progressive’ computer designer/builder simply trying to ‘build the best computer we can’ (according to a Mr. Jobs quote). Surely it couldn’t have been the _cost_ to implement USB 3.0, especially with their margins?

      • Corrado
      • 9 years ago

      IPS panels… um… more elegant way to put it into a docking station, being as theres such a large gap in price AND performance between their 2 headless systems. Thats about all I can think of. Maybe a mini PCI-E slot in it so I could add a WWAN card.

        • KoolAidMan
        • 9 years ago

        A great suggestion, you nailed it with IPS panels. Their TN+ is better than most notebooks on the market, but IPS would obviously be awesome. The new Lenovo x220 has IPS, and it looks fantastic from what I’ve seen.

        As for docking station, I think that Thunderbolt will take care of this issue. Think about it, one single cord that plugs into your notebook, which is daisychained to your monitor, mouse, keyboard, external hard drive, whatever you want.

          • Corrado
          • 9 years ago

          I hope so. I have a hengedock now, and it works fine, but it is essentially a shady hack.

          • derFunkenstein
          • 9 years ago

          Can the machine charge over Thundabolt? If not, it’s still two cables. They should have put the Magsafe and Thundabolt ports right next to each other and created some sort of universal single plug for the pair, in that case.

    • Irascible
    • 9 years ago

    Could one of the three that got the very mild joke please explain. I watched [url=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uhSYbRiYwTY<]Bowie.[/url<] It didn't help. It might have hurt.

      • Choz
      • 9 years ago

      He’s referring to the repetitve use of “major” in the opening paragraph and the way Apple treat these announcements as huge events. “Space Oddity” was largely inspired by 2001: A Space Odyssey, the theme music of which is commonly used in marketing for major announcements. Also the Song introduced the character “Major Tom.” So the EXTREMELY mild joke is loosly linked two-fold.

      Also the song is quite analogous with drug use much akin to the average Apple tech pundits’ addiction to anything and everything Apple related.

        • yogibbear
        • 9 years ago

        Plus I heard they like to dress and pretend like they take drugs but work respectable full time jobs.

        • Irascible
        • 9 years ago

        Major mildness in the extreme. Got it.

    • ShadowTiger
    • 9 years ago

    Awesome blog post, good writing, agree with all your points, they could at least ship the MBP with a laser pointer, no? Or would that 1$ eat too far into Apples gigantic profit margin?

    • Peffse
    • 9 years ago

    Yet another blog post marked as news.

      • wibeasley
      • 9 years ago

      Is the subheading: “a blog by Jason Fox” showing up in your browser? I don’t know why it wouldn’t, since it’s in the main graphic.

        • Peffse
        • 9 years ago

        Actually no, it’s not showing up in my browser. I use the RSS “news” feed. The one labeled “TR news”?

          • wibeasley
          • 9 years ago

          Can you submit comments from your RSS reader? Or do you need to switch over to a browser to interact with the comments?

      • derFunkenstein
      • 9 years ago

      It didn’t show up as “news” for me, only in the “blog” area on the right-hand side.

        • Peffse
        • 9 years ago

        if that were true, why am I here?

          • Kharnellius
          • 9 years ago

          A good question…

      • kamikaziechameleon
      • 9 years ago

      The Mac Hole staring you down when you loaded the page didn’t clue you in?

        • Peffse
        • 9 years ago

        Pictures don’t load until you open the article. Unless you are in a specific viewing mode that I obviously don’t use.

      • Peffse
      • 9 years ago

      …and the -9 is the nail in the casket.

      I can deal with a community of rampant unchecked jerks. I can deal with shoddy news every once in a while. I can’t deal with both at the same time. Time to take my ad-views elsewhere.
      If any staff members see this… here are some tips from somebody who can be candid:
      1) stop worrying about site layout and changing it every month.
      2) ban some of these people already. advertisement posts are not cool. trolls are not cool. opinionated jerks like these guys stifle good discussion.
      3) review some of your articles for quality control. personal opinion is not news. It’s a-okay to have blog posts, but put them in the right location.

      See you later TR. It’s been fun.

        • Meadows
        • 9 years ago

        You mean -11.

        • Irascible
        • 9 years ago

        -9 is the last straw? Really? I got -3 just for putting a period at the end of a question. Either that or they didn’t care for the implied insult to Bowie. Whatever. Get over it. The red thumb down attracts people, like raccoons to shiny things. Enjoy the negative attention. It’s better than neutral anonymity. 😉

        • Kharnellius
        • 9 years ago

        Loloz

    • ssidbroadcast
    • 9 years ago

    This blog post reminds me: My game is all done and it’s live on iTunes, guys! You should play it! It’s called [i<]Super Block Party[/i<] and it works on all 3GS or later Apple devices! ([i<]It also supports multiplayer via GameCenter[/i<]) Edit: Negative votes? Why so callous, guys?

      • dpaus
      • 9 years ago

      See? You quit obsessing over girls and you actually accomplish something.

        • ssidbroadcast
        • 9 years ago

        Yes, but it’s so that I can [i<]impress[/i<] the girls [s<]with video games.[/s<] Edit: Guys, I am JOKING! Why so serious??

      • Meadows
      • 9 years ago

      Negative votes because it works on Apple devices only. I’m not even sure what the game is, but thumbs down anyway.

    • thesmileman
    • 9 years ago

    You don’t justify the iPad. It isn’t justifiable. It is stupid, silly, and pretty pointless. With that said, I LOVE mine to death. I got the first one the day the 3G model came out and I will be first in line tomorrow morning at Stonebriar mall in Frisco, TX.

      • Corrado
      • 9 years ago

      I loved mine too. I gave it to my wife when I got my new 15″ MBP, but will most likely pick up a new one once the resolution is increased. Buying a 2 seems semi-redundant since the screen is the same and I never use facetime on my phone and wouldn’t on an iPad either.

        • thesmileman
        • 9 years ago

        I want the new one for personal graphics development and just because. I won’t give my wife my old one until I have three though I would buy her one if she just asked me to.

        • trackerben
        • 9 years ago

        My wife has convinced most of her friends to get one. It doesn’t hurt that it’s the only screen which looks like it belongs in a leather bag costing 10x as much. Seems to me their digital ecosystem appears to center around their leather devices…

      • TurtlePerson2
      • 9 years ago

      This is so very true. The device has no real design wins, but it’s a fun little thing to use.

      • trackerben
      • 9 years ago

      You know! Agreed although not on it being stupid, seeing that its design is cooly derived from mature iOS internals.

    • 5150
    • 9 years ago

    I don’t know what autololcatting is, but I’m pretty sure it can be done faster on a PC.

      • DrDillyBar
      • 9 years ago

      What the hell does it need input for?
      I don’t know; I guess it can’t triangulate its position.
      That’s a simple function.
      Can you triangulate YOUR position, Howard?
      No.
      Well, then – there you go!

      • demani
      • 9 years ago

      Yeah but the font antialiasing will be off 😉

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