Would I be a Mac, if…?

It’s a great box and I love it, but…

For those of you that know me, you know that my love affair with the Apple ecosystem is very recent. I’ve been a Windows advocate most of my computing career.  In fact, most of my computing chops were earned in the Microsoft ecosystem – Windows, WindowsCE, PocketPC/ PocketPC Phone/ Windows Mobile and Windows Phone. I am still listed as a Sr. Content Editor for WUGNET, the Windows User’s Group Network and have been associated with them since 1997. For example, most of contents of their Windows and Computing Tips database are my work.

There’s been a bit of talk in the tech world about some changes Apple is making. Recently, Apple announced a decision to kill both Aperture and iPhoto. Jason Perlow over at ZDNet wrote a column about it.  It got me thinking about my own Mac journey.

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I bought my first Mac in 2006; and believe it or not, I bought it to be a Windows machine.  Boot Camp is a GREAT tool; and Intel-based Macs do a great job of running Windows (though I know Steve Jobs can hear me, and is definitely rolling over in his grave as I type this.)  I apologize, Mr. Jobs; but your hardware, IS the best in the business. Period…AND they make awesome Windows PC’s.

Since 2006, I’ve owned 3 different MacBook Pro’s or Unibody MacBooks.  However, it wasn’t until late 2010/ early 2011 that I made the complete switch over from Windows to OS X. This happened for a number of reasons.

1. I Invested in the Mac Ecosystem
It’s gotten better over time, but even though iPods were Windows compatible, they REALLY didn’t want to live there.  The differences in their operation were subtle – and still are – but if you have a chance to have an iPod or an iPhone pair up with a Mac, you will see they are much happier speaking their own language with their own people than they are living as an exile in a foreign country. In other words – you iDevice wants to pair up with an iTunes library on a Mac rather than on a Windows box. It’s easier to manage. It’s easier to sync content to, though that may not be as obvious today as it was back between 2004 to 2010.

It was also about this time, that I started buying more audio and video directly out of the iTunes Store rather than buying CD’s and ripping them myself.  As I began doing this, I decided to move my music library from the Windows side to the Mac side of my MBP. Since I knew that my iDevice life would be a better experience as a native Mac device AND I had a Mac to do this with, it simply made sense to move everything to the Mac side.
2. I Became Lazy
I don’t want to say that I made the permanent switch to OS X from Windows because I got tired of stopping and starting my PC when I wanted to watch a movie or sync my iPod/ iPhone; but stopping what I was doing and trying to quickly swap over was becoming a bit of a pain.  There wasn’t a real good way to reading or writing to an HSF or HSF+ volume from the Windows side of things, though you could at least read from an NTFS volume via OS X, natively at the time.

My biggest problem at the time was Office for Mac 2008 – it stunk. Period.  Word, Excel and PowerPoint were DEFINITELY behind in both technology and functionality with their counterparts from both Office 2007 and 2010. As I was (primarily) a Windows tech journalist/blogger at the time, and all of the GOOD tools that I was used to using were on the Windows end of things, it made sense to stay there, despite the fact that I had a Mac.

The other big problem I had was that despite how much I tried, despite how much I upgraded my Mac(s), running Windows as a VM with either Parallels Desktop or VMWare Fusion was a horrible experience.  The only way you could get good performance was to run Windows via Boot Camp, and that meant bopping back and forth between the two operating systems. Running Parallels or VMWare was painfully slow, and threw a boat anchor around the host OS, too.  So, I stayed a Mac owner running native Windows.  However, it was becoming clear that if things ever did improve, or if I ever did get a Mac that could run Windows in a VM with decent performance, I’d make the switch.

It was in late 2010 that Office for Mac 2011 became available and I jumped on early betas thanks to my TechNet subscription. It was also during this time that I was able to purchase an Early 2011 15″ MBP that had decent enough specs to push Windows as a VM via Parallels Desktop that it made sense to make the full switch over to OS X.  I’ve been a full-blown Mac ever since.  However, I do want to make one very important point.

I’m not made of money.  I love the Mac ecosystem; but the price of entry is WAY too high for the average consumer, in my opinion. While it may be easier to get there with iPhone and iPad, buying a Mac laptop or desktop costs a LOT of coin, and honestly, I wouldn’t own a Mac computer if I wasn’t a technology journalist.

Since I can VERY EASILY run OS X natively and Windows (as well as any variant of Linux) in a VM with decent performance thanks in no small part to Intel’s i7 processor and 16GB of RAM it makes sense for me to stay here. Running a VM of OS X or Linux on a PC hasn’t always been easy, and I gave up on tweaking and pushing hardware to do things they REALLY don’t wanna do (even though they should be able to) a few years ago. It’s just not worth the hassle, and I have better things to do with my time.

However, Jason Perlow brings up a very good point in his Aperture/iPhoto argument – would I be a Mac for any other reason?  Jason’s pull was digital photography. Mine was the need to easily run more than one computing OS at a time without having to reboot OR having to put up with crappy performance so I could write about apps, hardware, accessories, etc. used with those operating systems.  I was forced recently to admit – and rightly so – that if I weren’t getting paid to do that, I wouldn’t have purchased a Mac in 2006 in the first place.

It’s true. I really like my Mac, OS X and the way all of my iDevices work and integrate so well in their native environments and operating systems.  While it isn’t as “just works” as it used to be, owning and using a Mac is still a lot more elegant than anything that I’ve seen on the PC side.

Are you a Mac?  Have any of the recently announced changes to the Apple ecosystem turned you off to the Mac?  Why don’t you let me know your thoughts in the discussion area, below? I’d love to hear what you have to say.

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Windows 8 still a bit glitchy

Microsoft released the Windows 8 Release Preview on, 31-May-12. I’ve pulled down the preview, with all of the Metro Apps and installed it…and then I promptly nuked my Asus Eee T101MT Touch netbook and restored Windows 7 to it.

Why?  Well, that’s pretty simple…

The OS couldn’t turn on the Wi-Fi Radio.

I have Comcast cable internet coming into the house providing me with a speedy 50Mbps down/20Mbps up pipe.  I’ve got 802.11g/n Wi-Fi in the house as well, and I know that when things are humming right and cooking with gas, I can push 22-25MB/s of data across my home network (That’s equivalent to 176-200Mpbs, kids…).  Oh yes… It’s a beautiful thing.

Soft32 will continue to provide in depth, thought provoking analysis on all major platform upgrades and advances, and the summer of 2012 looks to be a very active season.  There’s a lot happening in the desktop operating system world right now. So after downloading the 2.65GB ISO image of the 32bit version of Windows 8 Release Preview, with Apps last night, I set out to install the revised OS on my T101MT so that I could begin evaluating the delta (or change) between it and the Consumer Preview.

I plugged the Eee PC into one of the five wired Ethernet ports of the network switch I have in my home office and turned off the Wi-Fi radio. Over the years, I’ve learned that having more than one active network adapter running at the same time on a single PC (like having the Wi-Fi radio on and connected to your wireless router or access point while having a network cable plugged into your wired Ethernet port) can cause network performance issues on Windows PC’s.  After many conversations with Microsoft technicians and technical beta team leads, I’ve learned that a Windows PC can become confused when trying to determine which network adapter to send and receive IP traffic through if more than one networking adapter is active in the same PC at once.  So, I turned the Wi-Fi radio in the Eee PC off after plugging in the Ethernet cable. It seemed reasonable, logical, and it’s what my experience has taught me to do over the years.

Yeah…someone please remind me not to do that again…Big mistake.

After Windows 8 Release Preview installed and I unplugged the Ethernet cable from the netbooks LAN port, I couldn’t get the wireless radio to turn on to save my life.  I fiddled with every setting and registry nugget I could find. I pulled the driver out, deleted the files and let the PC find everything again to no avail.

After a couple hours, I threw in the towel and activated the recovery partition on the netbook. I blew the entire contents of the PC and will start over from scratch this weekend…this time, leaving the wireless network adapter on after plugging in the Ethernet cable.

Come back next time, and I’ll give you the run down on what actually happened, why it happened and what this means to the Windows computing public in general.

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ASUS Eee Pad Transformer makes iPad look uncool

ASUS Eee Pad Transformer makes iPad look uncool, yes, I’ve said it.
Who would have thought that out in the world exits a pad that can make iPad look UNCOOL.

Just have a quick look..

Now let me quote somebody “doesn’t this look cool?”
This is contract free – “doesn’t this look cool?”
Lowest price on Honeycomb tablet – “doesn’t this look cool?”
Cheaper than lowest iPad2 – “doesn’t this look cool?”

Official SPECIFICATIONS for Asus Eee Pad Transformer

Display 10.1″ LED Backlight WXGA (1280×800) Screen*1
10 finger multi-touch support
Scratch resistant glass
CPU NVIDIA® Tegra™ 2
Android 3.0 Honeycomb
Memory 1GB
Storage 16GB/32GB

Unlimited ASUS Webstorage*2
Wireless Data Network WLAN 802.11 b/g/n@2.4GHz
Bluetooth V2.1+EDR
Camera 1.2 M Pixel Front Camera
5 M Pixel Rear Camera
Audio SRS Premium Sound
Stereo Speakers
High Quality Mic
Interface 1 x 2-in-1 Audio Jack (Headphone/Mic-in)
1 x mini HDMI 1.3a
1 x Card Reader (Micro SD)
Sensor G-Sensor
Light Sensor
Gyroscope
E-Compass

GPS
Application Multi-Task Support : Yes
Flash Support : Yes
Software :
– ASUS Launcher
– MyLibrary
– MyNet
– MyCloud
– File manager
– PC Sync
Battery 9.5 hours; 24.4Wh Li-Polymer Battery
16 hours with dock
Dimensions 271 x 171 x 12.98 mm
Weight 680 g
Mobile Docking Keyboard
Touch Pad
2 x USB 2.0
2 x Docking port (Host + Client)
1 x Card Reader (MMC/SD/SDHC)
1 x 24.4Wh Battery
Note *1 : IPS Panel, 178° wide view angle.

This pad does everything that an iPad user wishes for, every day.

Check out the full product ASUS Eee Pad Transformer TF101 page here.

“doesn’t this look cool?”

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ASUS Introduces the Xonar U3 Pocket-Sized Mobile USB Soundcard

Asus Xonar U3

The ASUS Xonar U3 is a portable, pocket-sized audio solution that delivers an upgraded audio experience for notebook users. Slightly larger than a standard USB flash drive, the U3 is designed for users looking to turn their notebooks into a personal high fidelity audio center complete with Dolby and GX2.5 support.

The onboard audio solution for most notebooks in the market offers just the bare minimum in sound quality and controls. The Xonar U3 with built-in headphone amplifier is the best solution for those users who use their notebooks as personal entertainment centers. Weighing only 25g and easily fitting in a pocket, the U3 enhances treble and bass while driving high fidelity headphones with impedance up to 150 ohms. Also built-in is Xonar exclusive hyper-grounding technology, which works like a watershed to separate audio signals from noise to provide clean and clear sound. Installation is easy and with multiple pre-set equalizer settings and modes for gaming, music, movies and headphone use, upgrading notebook sound is quick and simple.

The Xonar U3 offers a wide range of Dolby Home Theater Technology including: Dolby Headphone, Dolby Pro Logic IIx, Dolby Digital Virtual Speaker and Dolby Digital Live. Each plays its part in delivering cinema-quality sound so users can experience movies and music in high-quality and discrete multi-channel surround sound. The Xonar U3 is also ideal for gamers, with built-in GX 2.5 Gaming Audio Engine which is compatible with EAX 5.0 audio signals. This enables up to 128 different sound effects to be played simultaneously for a realistic 3D experience.

Unfortunately, the exact availability and pricing have not been released yet.

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ASUS reveals the motion-sensing experience for PC

Asus motion sensor for PC

An exciting new approach to PC entertainment on show at CeBIT 2011. WAVI Xtion (pronounced “way-vee action”) comprises two components – the WAVI wireless media streaming device, and the Xtion motion sensor. It streams high definition media wirelessly from a PC located in one room toa TV in another, while infrared gesture-based multimedia playback, games and applications introduce the first ever officially-supported motion-sensing PC interface.

Motion-sensing PC entertainment on big screen TV

WAVI Xtion integrates motion-sensing technology from PrimeSense® with the exclusive ASUS Xtion Portal user interface to bring consumers closer to technology through intuitive interaction with applications. Connections to both PCs and TVs via wireless HDMI(WHDI technology) deliver smooth transfers of high definition content such as movies, games and photos in 5GHz with a range of up to 25 meters.

Software products available on launch include MayaFit Cardio Lite, a motion-sensing fitness training game and BeatBooster™, a multiplayer racing adventure game where users maneuver jet aircraft with their body movements. Enjoying PC games on the living room big screen TV is possible; the proprietary Xtion engine supports the remapping of keyboard controls into motion gestures for a variety of popular third party games.

Online store offers diverse choice

WAVI Xtion enables a wide selection of multimedia content and entertainment applications, working seamlessly with the ASUS vibe online store to deliver music, games and apps, all through the cloud.

Xtion Pro developer kit

Developers interested in creating gesture-based PC entertainment content can make use of the ASUS Xtion PRO developer pack, the world’s first professional PC motion-sensing toolset. It opens up new opportunities for cost and time-efficient development of various applications, including games of every genre. ASUS plans to launch the Xtion Pro Developer Challenge in March, with attractive prizes and publishing deals for winning developers. Selected apps will be placed on the ASUS vibe online store. Further details available at www.asus.com.

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Asus Eee Pad MeMo

While tablet PC’s now seem to dominate the market, there are still uses for smaller devices that one can simply put into one’s pocket. While tablets may have substantially bigger displays, there are people who might wish for a device with similar features to what a tablet may have but one that does not always need to be carried around by hand. Hence there are tablets like the new Asus Eee Pad MeMo that are developed to fill up such needs.

The new Eee Pad MeMo from Asus features a 7.1″ capacitive touch screen display that makes it just small enough to fit into a jacket pocket, something that bigger tablets may not be able to do. It becomes quite a handy tablet to make handwritten notes as well as use for a variety of other features. Its features certainly do make it quite a capable tablet that can be comparable to its bigger relatives.

As displayed at CeBit in Hanover, Germany the upcoming Asus Eee Pad MeMo features a 1.2GHz Qualcomm 8260 processor, 1GB RAM and storage options of 8GB, 16GB, 32GB and 64GB. It also comes with a 5MP rear facing camera with Led flash, a 1.2MP front facing camera as well as HSPA, WiFi and Bluetooth support. Other features include a GPS, G-sensor, proximity sensor, e-compass and a micro HDMI port. Although the release date for the Asus Eee Pad MeMo is expected to be set around June of this year, the expected pricing has already been provided. The 8 and 16GB model is expected to cost around US$690 while the 32 to 64GB versions expected to go for around US$965.

[Via gadget.com]

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The hottest laptops on the planet that you can find

In my humble opinion, this are the 3 hottest laptops on the planet that you can find. It wasn’t easy but here we are.

ASUS G73SW

Specifications:

Processor: Intel® Core™ i7 2630QM / Intel® Core™ i5 2410M
Chipset: Intel® HM65 Express Chipset
Memory: DDR3 1333 MHz SDRAM,4 x SO-DIMM socket for expansion up to 16 G SDRAM Quad Core,2 x SO-DIMM socket for expansion up to 8 G SDRAM Dual Core
Display: 17.3″ 16:9 HD+ (1600×900)/Full HD (1920×1080)/Full HD 3D(1920×1080 120Hz) LED backlit
Graphic: NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 460M 1.5GB GDDR5 VRAM
Battery: 8Cells : 5200 mAh 74 Whrs
Storage: 750GB 7200rpm / 640GB 5400rpm /500GB 5400rpm/7200rpm / 500GB / 7200rpm; SSH Dual HDD Support*1

You can find more info here.

Alienware M11x

Specifications:

Processor: Intel® CoreTM i5 520UM (1.86GHz/3MB cache) / Intel® CoreTM 2 Duo SU7300 (1.3GHz/800Mhz FSB/3MB cache) / Intel® CoreTM i7 640UM (1.06GHz/3MB cache)
Chipset: Mobile Intel® GS45 Chipset
Memory: 2/4/8 GB Dual Channel DDR3 at 800MHz
Display: 11.6 inch display (1366×768)
Graphic: 1024 (MB) NVIDIA® GT335M GeForce®
Storage: Up to 640GB5 SATA II hard drive (7200RPM) / Up to 256GB5 Solid State hard drive / Up to 160GB5 SATA II hard drive (5400RPM)

You can find more info here.

Apple MacBook Air 13

Specifications:

Processor: 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor with 3MB on-chip shared L2 cache
Memory: 2GB (two 1GB SO-DIMMs) of 1066MHz DDR3 SDRAM; two SO-DIMM slots support up to 4GB
Display: 13.3-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit glossy widescreen display (1280 by 800)
Graphic: NVIDIA GeForce 320M graphics processor with 256MB of DDR3 SDRAM shared with main memory
Storage: 250GB 5400-rpm Serial ATA hard disk drive; optional 320GB or 500GB 5400-rpm drive

You can find more info here.

Note: The products specifications may differ from country to country or from dealer to dealer.

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