Unboxing the Henge Docks Horizontal Dock for 15″ MacBook Pro Retina

It’s here! It’s here! It’s here! It’s just like Christmas!!

I’ve been waiting for this product for well over three years. The Henge Docks Horizontal Dock for 15″ MacBook Pro has finally been released to Henge Docks Early Adopter program users.

The unboxing, shown above, goes over a few key features of the Horizontal Dock as well as gives a brief background on the project’s timeline. Here are some interesting elements I’ve learned after using the Dock for a short period of time and after having an Apple FaceTime call with Henge Docks itself:

  1. You can’t use any kind of hard shell case with version 1.0 Horizontal Dock Hardware
    Cases vary too much, and there was no way to insure that the dock would line up all of the ports when any kind of hard shell case is used
  2. The Dock’s button doesn’t turn the Mac on
    Apple doesn’t permit access to power through any of its ports, according to Henge Docks, so you have to dock the Mac, then open it up to turn it on, then close the lid if you want to run your Mac with ONLY external displays
  3. Dock App is very basic right now
    It doesn’t do much, but it should with additional releases of the app and with Dock firmware updates, scheduled for the coming weeks

I’ll have a full review of the Henge Dock’s Horizontal Dock for 15″ MacBook Pro Retina in the coming days and weeks. I’d like to wait until I’ve had a chance to get into the Dock a bit and Henge Docks has released a new version of Dock App and perhaps a new Dock firmware.

Between now and then, you can watch the unboxing or you can check out the pictures of my before and after setup, below.

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All the cords… The desk… A better view of the desk…
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All the plug and chug When its all turned on The end result…

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OS X 10.10 Yosemite – Continuity is Cool

…but it’s not for everyone.   There are one or two key points that Apple didn’t mention.

The Apple WWDC Keynote provided a great look at Apple’s two very important, upcoming operating system releases – OS X 10.10 Yosemite on the desktop and iOS 8 on their mobile devices.   There are a number of new features that are pretty cool on each, but one feature on the desktop stood out, at least to me, and I wanted to take a few moments to touch base on it.

OS X Yosemite-578-80

Continuity.

If you’ve got a (recent/ compatible) Mac and a (recent/ compatible) iDevice, then Apple is going to give you a cool way of working where you want, when you want on any and all of their devices, regardless of platform.   However, there are a couple of gotchas that Apple really didn’t expound upon during the Keynote.

First and foremost, this is a Mac OS only feature. If you use Windows, even Windows via Boot Camp, you won’t get any kind of Continuity support at all. Continuity is a Yosemite feature, and support for it comes from the Mac OS, and not from the iDevice you’re using. There are also some Mac specific (as well as iDevice specific), hardware requirements that you’ll need to make certain you’ve got covered before the feature will work.

Continuity requires BT-LE or Bluetooth Low Energy in order to work, which is part of the Bluetooth 4 specification.   Not every Bluetooth equipped Mac that can run Yosemite or iDevice running iOS 8 will have this hardware built in; and then not every Bluetooth 4.0 equipped Mac supports BT-LE.   Generally speaking if you have a 2011 or later Mac, and an iPhone 5 or later, you have a chance of getting Continuity to work.   Specifically, Apple is supporting Continuity on the following Macs:
·    MacBook Air (mid-2011 and above)
·    MacBook Pro (mid-2012 and above)
·    Retina MacBook Pro (mid-2012 and above)
·    iMac (late 2012 and above)
·    Mac mini (mid-2011 and above)
·    Mac Pro (2013 and above)
Conversely, as I mentioned, the iDevice you want to use Continuity with will also need to support BT-LE. You’ll find BT-LE compatible iDevice hardware in the iPhone 5 and later devices. You have to have both sides of the hardware equation in order to make the feature work.

Some sites are reporting that you MIGHT be able to get Continuity to work on other Macs running Yosemite if you use a Mac compatible Bluetooth 4.0 dongle that also supports BT-LE; but this is unproven and untested as of this writing. If you’re running Yosemite Beta on an older Mac, you can try it throughout the beta period, but don’t be surprised or disappointed if it doesn’t work.   Currently, it’s recommended to wait until a few months after Yosemite is released. At that point, there may be a hack available if Yosemite doesn’t support Continuity via a dongle out of the box.

Continuity is one of the better features of the new Mac OS. It allows you to work with whatever (supported) app you want on whatever document you want, on any (supported) device. Theoretically, you can start on one device, close it down, and pick up exactly where you left off on any other supported device. The whole sync piece is handled via iCloud.   All you had to do was save the changes before you shut the first device down. It’s really that easy.

There’s a GREAT deal here to like about Yosemite – and Continuity in particular.   Unfortunately, most legacy Macs won’t be able to take advantage of these, or other hardware specific features within the as yet to be released, new OS from Apple.   You’re going to need to have all the right components in order to make it all work together, but it’s nice that anyone with the right equipment or anyone buying new equipment in the ecosystem will be able to take advantage of it all.

Are you a Mac user?   Will you be able to make Continuity work on your legacy Mac? If you’re not a Mac user, is something like Continuity enough to push you over the edge and make you buy into the Apple ecosystem if you’re Mac curious; or is something like Continuity just fluff and frosting and not something that most people are likely to use in the real world? Is the Mac ecosystem just too expensive to buy into regardless of how appealing it might be? Do you think that Apple will actually be able to make Continuity work as designed and as intended with any kind of consistency, or are features like Continuity just pedantic marketing, techno-babble that will turn into vaporware?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on all of this.   Why don’t you join me in the discussion in the Comments section and tell me what you think of all of this.

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Take complete control of your multiple monitor configured PC with DisplayFusion

displayfusion_iconToday, Windows compatible displays are actually very affordable. You can get yourself a decent HD setup for as little as $199 USD if you watch the sales and play your cards right. For that kind of money, it’s very easy to set yourself up with more than one monitor. Multiple monitors give you the ability to run a number of apps windowed while running a few key apps full screen. This is especially important when one key app or document requires full use of your screen real estate to be effective.  This is why DisplayFusion is an important utility to have. It helps you manage your multiple monitor setup on your Windows box.

DisplayFusion has powerful features to make your multi-monitor, Windows configuration easier to manage and use.  With tools like its Multi-Monitor Taskbars, TitleBar Buttons and its other customizable functions, it’s a no brainer.  The utility will make managing your multiple monitors easy for everyone.

DF-002

With DisplayFusion’s Multi-Monitor Taskbars, you can keep your windows easily organized by adding a taskbar to each of your monitors. The taskbar on each monitor can be configured to show all of your computer’s open windows, or only the windows that are running on that monitor. You can use button grouping, auto-hide, window previews, shortcuts, as well as a Start Button to help make working with your apps on each monitor, easier.

If wallpaper is your thing, then you’re in for a treat.  DisplayFusion has powerful wallpaper management features that let you use images from your own computer, or load images from online sources. You can tile, stretch, scale, crop, position and even tint your images If you’re looking for a way to completely customize the look of your desktop, this is one of the best ways to do it.

Speaking of customizing your PC, when it comes to screen savers, DisplayFusion can help you there as well.  You can span your screen saver across all of your monitors, or even display a different screen saver on each monitor. You can use default Windows screen savers, or you can install your own screen savers.

If you have more than one monitor, this is a must have utility. DisplayFusion makes working with what has traditionally been a complex, custom setup easy and painless. Its licensing terms are really very reasonable.  If you have more than one PC at home with more than one monitor, for $35 USD (a standard Pro license is $25 as of this writing), you can license any and all of your at home PC’s. Its very reasonable and one of the best reasons to register the software.

download DisplayFusion

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Apple’s Disposable MacBooks

I have seen the new MacBook Pro with Retina Display, and I’m not buying one.

I really like Apple’s products. I do. Really; but I don’t like the new MacBook Pro with Retina Display. Believe me when I say, it’s not the display that’s the problem.

I made a recent trip to the Apple Store and was able to look at, handle, pick it up, etc. It’s very thin for a 15″ laptop. I was impressed with the build quality and the form factor. The display…was STUNNING. However, nothing is physically wrong with the PC…other than “once you buy the prize, it’s yours to keep.” In other words, you can’t upgrade it, in any way… EVER.

Due to a number of different tear downs that were performed on the device, it’s clear that the new notebook contains:

  • RAM soldered to a logic board
  • A Proprietary SSD
  • A unified display assembly
  • A battery that’s glued to the case

There are no user serviceable components. You can’t upgrade ANYTHING in this notebook. If you can’t afford to buy the max configured unit, which costs a max amount of $3857.00 USD, before tax and shipping, if you max out all components, including the processor as well as purchase a USB SuperDrive and Thunderbolt Gigabit Ethernet Adapter. If you add AppleCare to the package, which I would HIGHLY recommend based on how the PC is manufactured and the fact that nothing is upgradable, the price tops $4206.00 USD.

My Early 2011 15″ MBP is the top of the line 15″ MBP. It was $2799. The new MBP is $1058 USD ($1407 USD with AppleCare) MORE than the previous generation top of the line MBP.

Paying that is pure insanity unless you’re part of the so called 1%, here in the US.

The biggest problem with the device is not the price. It’s not the lack of end-user upgradable components, per se. It’s the fact that the devices really aren’t recyclable, despite what Apple says.

None of the internal components can be recycled, according to some articles I’ve seen. It may be possible to “shred” the device once it reaches end of life and won’t work any longer; but it’s unclear whether the refuse can be recycled. It depends on the resins and glues used.

When you combine the price point of the unit with the non-upgradeability and current recycling status, you get a disposable PC.

That’s sad.

A neighbor of mine is looking for a new MacBook and is interested in the high end 13″ MBP; but those units are currently only available in 4GB or 8GB RAM configurations. I called the Apple Store to ask them about this and while the PC’s (any of the new non-retina MBP’s) MAY be able to support more than 8GB of RAM or 1TB HDD/512GB proprietary SSD, Apple doesn’t support it, and may not honor warranties IF your PC comes in for repair with greater than 8GB of ram or the any other HDD/SSD configuration other than their configurator contains.

Apple simply doesn’t want to support non-standard configurations; and it appears that most users won’t care, as most just turn the switch on and use what they purchased. They don’t tweak or play with the hardware.

However, this is problematic due to the high price point of the laptops. You want to be able to grow the laptop a bit and at least upgrade the RAM and hard drive so you can store and do more over a longer period of time. The PC is too expensive NOT to do, or want to do, that.

I’m not going to purchase a new laptop for a while yet. The one I purchased last year should do me for at LEAST another couple of years. However, what to purchase after that isn’t as clear cut a choice as it used to be.

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What’s hot in the second edition of the iPad 2

The new iPad 2 has arrived and “redefines the category Apple created less than two years ago, delivering the most amazing experience people have ever had with technology,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. Let’s take a look at the most important improvements.

First of all, there is a gorgeous high-resolution (2048 x 1536) Retina Display which  makes web pages, text, images and video look incredibly sharp and realistic and with 44 percent increased saturation, the colors are unbelievably richer, deeper and more vivid.

Second, the new iPad has a new A5 chip (A5x) with quad-core graphics which makes the iPad faster and more responsive to enjoy the benefits of the stunning new full 1080p HD-resolution.

The camera has been also improved (5MP) and it can now record full HD video and take better picture in low-light conditions. There is also a new video image stabilization feature which  removes the bumps and shakes typically seen when filming with a hand-held device.

iPad Wi-Fi + 4G has built-in next generation 4G LTE  for fast networks worldwide including HSPA+ and DC-HSDPA, and now both CDMA and GSM iPad users have the ability to easily roam internationally.

About battery life,  Apple announced that the new iPad will have 10 hours of battery life, same for the iPad2, and 9 hours when being used on AT&T’s or Verizon’s 4G LTE networks.

Pricing

The new iPad Wi-Fi models will be available in black or white on Friday, March 16 for a suggested retail price of $499 (US) for the 16 GB model, $599 (US) for the 32 GB model and $699 (US) for the 64 GB model.

iPad Wi-Fi + 4G for either AT&T or Verizon will be available for a suggested retail price of $629 (US) for the 16 GB model, $729 (US) for the 32 GB model and $829 (US) for the 64 GB model.

One more thing, the first edition iPad 2 is now offered at a more affordable price of $399 (US) for the 16 GB Wi-Fi model and just $529 (US) for the 16 GB Wi-Fi + 3G model.

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