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Posts Tagged ‘itunes’

From the moment I touched a computer, I’ve been a Windows man. Actually, I was a DOS man and then I was a Windows man, mainly because my 8086 didn’t support Windows and it wasn’t until I upgraded to a 386 with 49 Mhz Turbo Speed and 8 MB RAM that I got Windows. I digress though… I’ve been a Microsoft man.

I hated Macintosh. Oh, there were cool programs on it that Windows didn’t have a consumer equivalent for, like Photoshop (and if there was one, I surely couldn’t get it at age 10 or 11 or 12 or anytime before I turned 16 for that matter). But I hated them. They didn’t play games. They didn’t have all the other applications I liked. They didn’t even properly support file types that I used. Why would I want one?

That all changed in 2007. I suddenly… liked… Apple. I suppose it wasn’t as sudden as I make it sound. There was a lead up, to be sure. I’d stopped programming, I’d stopped tweaking my computers and building them from scratch, I’d even stopped fooling around with my OS. I’d tried Linux and that was even more tweaking and fine-tuning. I really didn’t want to throw down a lot of money for an OS and computer and I was becoming increasingly disinterested in technology at large. I was drifting away from the things that I had once found very exciting.

Then the iPod came and it made me take notice. I’d played around with MP3 players before but none of them warranted spending $250 to $350. They were pretty clunky, they were pretty ugly, and they weren’t very portable. Apple introduced the iPod and even though I didn’t go out and buy one (and still don’t own one), I thought that it was pretty ingenious. You pick it up, you play with the wheel, and it works. I didn’t really need to know anything else but that.

My brush with Apple happened before that moment though. My girlfriend at the time, an avid Mac fan, owned an iMac… the ones that were candy colored. I remember seeing it and thinking that it was a pretty neat thing… a computer, contained all inside that monitor. And she could play games with me like Warcraft. She played them just as fast and just as easily as I did. Her Mac worked and it worked well. My Mac hating heart was beginning to soften. The iPod would just help speed things along later in life.

After this combined assault on my senses, I started looking at some of the things Apple offered, but I wasn’t a fan yet. I no longer hated Apple but I wasn’t interested in purchasing their line of computers. They didn’t yet do the things I wanted them to do. I was still tweaking here and there, still playing around with technology, though it was quickly becoming apparent that I was losing interest in that side of myself. No, I wasn’t yet a fan.

Then a strange thing happened. In 2007, the iPhone came. I didn’t need it and I didn’t want it, but damn did it look sleek. I still have no desire to own one but when I saw it I thought that perhaps Apple was onto something. Perhaps the UI and the applications combined with a simplistic, intituitive interface was where technology needed to go. I thought back on all of the other technological revolutions that had caught on and not a one of them had catered to a hardcore mindset or a tech-savvy mindset… they had all been simplistic, refined extensions of something that had come before it. Apple seemed to be doing that with the iPhone, a cross between a cellphone and a smartphone. And they made it stylish.

As my life changed and I started spending less time on the computer, I realized that desktops tethered me in a way that was very restrictive to the work I wanted to do. I needed a new computer. Since Apple had started to catch my eye, I figured it only prudent to check them out. One thing that had stopped me was the price but it seemed that had changed… they weren’t anymore expensive than an equivalent Windows machine. In fact, in my ways they were cheaper (the software package is so much more robust on Macs than PCs and so much less expensive to boot). They were also sleek and stylish with a fantastic UI. Maybe it was Windows fatigue or maybe it was because I’m tired of wasting time messing with my Windows-based machines, but I turned to OSX and I took a long hard look at it. Would it be able to do everything I needed it to do? Would it be able to do it quickly? Would I be able to save and backup my work quickly and easily? How much time would I waste trying to learn a new OS? I’d never played with a Mac beyond early high school, before my school district replaced all of our Macs with Windows PCs, so I wasn’t certain what I’d be losing and what I’d be gaining. But I knew that I was turning to a new camp. After all this time, I was actually starting down a different path.

Before I looked at hardware, I decided to look at OSX. I watched tour videos, read reviews, checked all of its features. I learned it before I even touched it, then I went to the store and played with it for a solid couple hours (all the while being pestered by the Apple Store sales folks). I came away happy. With iLife 08, I could easily do things that I still can’t do with my PC, either because I don’t have the software or because I don’t have the built in hardware. Some of the things I could do, especially video related, I wouldn’t be able to do unless I had a pretty pricey piece of software to boot. That intrigued me. iWork 08 was a complete replacement to my Office suite, which is in serious need of an update. The prospects of just these two pieces of software almost sold me on OSX. But there was more. After learning about things like Spaces and Time Machine, I knew that OSX was doing things that even Vista wasn’t doing. And it seemed, at least for me during my play time, to work and work fast. Above all else, that was something I needed.

I came back and decided I needed a laptop. At first I was going to get the white Macbook. Clean, nice, simple. Then I realized that no matter who I thought I was kidding, I was going to end up playing games at some point in time, even if I haven’t touched a PC game in months and have no desire to actually play PC games anymore. This had been one of the reasons I hated Macs originally… but all of that changed when I realized that with nearly equivalent specs, my girlfriend with the iMac was playing at the same resolution, the same frames per second, with the same ease as I was on my Windows PC. That was native Mac software though. What about PC emulated software?

I decided to read up on the gaming aspect of the Macs and I learned something startling. In most cases, unless it was the most brute force PC game (and by brute force, I mean high end only, which are usually high end tech demo FPS which I don’t play anyway), the Mac suffered only a 10-15% drop in performance. Most of the time, less than that. A couple frames per second… which, at anything above 25 becomes a moot point. I’ve played games running at 15 FPS and done things on those games few of my peers could possibly do. I used to think I was doing well when my computer could run the latest game at 25 FPS after being a few years old. A Mac running the latest games at 5 or 10 FPS lower than a PC wouldn’t affect me in the slightest.

It was decided. I needed a Macbook Pro.I was going to play games at some point in time. I didn’t know when or where but I would. I didn’t need the fastest one. I didn’t need the most powerful. I simply needed a computer that could play games and was speedy enough to run 720p/1080p video content as well as produce the myriad of things I knew I would eventually produce. I decided on the 15″ version, going with a glossy screen, 2.2Ghz processor, and everything else it came with. I’d buy additional memory online for a price cheaper than what Apple charges and equip it. I had switched (or, I will when I order this beast). It was as simple as that. I suddenly felt excited about technology again, not because of the “Wow, cool” features that are generally shown but because I would own a computer that integrated easily into my life and wasn’t a monstrosity or eye-sore. I wouldn’t need to change anything I did and it would free me to do all of the things I can’t do with a desktop.

Then it dawned on me. If Apple had a laptop that fit my needs, wouldn’t they have other things? I still don’t own an iPod, though I’ll eventually get a Touch when a 32 GB SSD version is released, but I knew that they had to have routers. I was in need of a new one of those with Draft N that was also still supported by its maker (since Buffalo can’t support my router any longer due to legal issues).

Enter Macworld Expo 2008 and the Timecapsule. It was everything I needed… full functioning router with a hard drive built inside. Why the hard drive? Even though I would be dismantling all of my PC desktops and putting the drives into enclosures, the idea of a central file system connected to my router appealed to me. It would hold all of my media, while the other drives held other, less important things. I would get the 500 GB version. I have a little more than 300 GB at the moment (2×120 GB, 1×80 GB, 1×30 G, 1×12 GB, 1×4 GB) and I haven’t used all of the space. I have at least 200 GB free, easily. With the combined amount of space from the enclosure and Time Capsule, I would easily have enough space to fill my foreseeable needs for the next couple of years. And if I ever need more space… I’ll buy a small 500 GB drive and put it into an enclosure.

But what about my other needs? I don’t have cable and I typically get my media from the internet. Did Apple have a solution for me?

Turns out they did… Macworld Expo 2008 introduced the improved Apple TV, which features HD content without the need for a computer. Simply plug it in, sync it to your router, and go. Wow… did they ever have me covered or what?

I hate to say we’re becoming an Apple household, but it looks like we are. Perhaps there are other solutions out there. I don’t doubt it. They probably also offer so much variety that it would take me months to research them and figure out if they actually work for me. I realized a long time ago that I really don’t have time for technology anymore. I just need it to work and work well. If it doesn’t fit my needs, I don’t care how many bells and whistles it has, I’m not going to use it. So over the course of the next year, all signs point to Apple for me. I will get the laptop first, the router second, and the TV accessory last. Oh, and a new iMac 24″ for the missus. She likes art and after playing with one in the store, she definitely feels that the switch is for her. Who knows, maybe it’s just time for a change. Or maybe there’s one technology company in the world that’s actually catering towards my lifestyle. Either way, I’m switching.

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It’s been a good MacWorld this year. Nothing as mind-blowing as the iPhone, but, really, what would beat the iPhone announcement other than Apple saying that they were slashing the prices of all of their products by 75%. No, nothing will beat the iPhone announcement because that was industry changing. However, don’t get confused and think that this MacWorld wasn’t still phenomenal, because it was.

Steve Jobs’s keynote speech is always the centerpiece to MacWorld and it’s famous for it’s “One More Thing” hook. (Though, truth be told, that isn’t always incorporated into the keynote) The fervor for the keynote had built into a frenzy by the night before, with all of the rumors flowing out of such prestigious (and often times right) sites like  MacWorld and MacRumors. Fortunately, this means that zealots couldn’t sleep in anticipation of the coming events… unfortunately, it means that by the time everything had been revealed, there wasn’t a “megaton” announcement because we already knew what was coming. But we were still happy with what was showcased.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t be there for the festivities and I was asleep during the keynote, so I had to get my news at the same time as everyone else. For that reason, I’m a bit behind in posting this. I’ll give a run down of all the most important items, however. Two of these items I’ll be purchasing myself relatively soon.

Time Capsule:  This is one of those items that should have a “No, duh” tag attached to it. Not that someone hasn’t thought of this before (and I’m certain with some searching you could find an equivalent) but it’s amazing that it’s taken this long to get an integrated router/hard drive solution for the average user. It’s a fully functional Airport Extreme Base Station (router) with a 500Gb or 1Tb SATA HDD inside. It has 3 Gigabit Ethernet ports for wired LAN, a single Gigabit Ethernet for your modem, and a USB port for additional external HDDs or printers. Purchase a low cost USB2.0 Hub and you’re in business with a “server farm”. What’s more is that it sports Draft N wireless protocols as well as the standard A/B/G. It also has two frequency bands, 2.4GHz and 5.0GHz. Like I said, it’s a full-fledged router with a 500Gb or 1Tb SATA hard drive all in one.

iPhone/iPod Touch Upgrades: iPhone got a software update today. Included in the package, for free, are Google Maps with Location, Webclips, Chapter Options and Language Capability in iPod mode, and Multi-chat SMS. Great features that, admittedly, should have shipped with the phone but it’s great that iPhone users are getting this for free. iPod Touch is also getting an upgrade but it’ll set you back an additional $20.00. There are legal reasons for this, so don’t pout too much. Your new applications are Mail, Stocks, Notes, Weather, and Maps. Apple will also be releasing the iPhone SDK in February, so programmers and fiddlers, start your fingers, there’s apps in these here waters!

iTunes Movie Rental and Apple TV Revamp: One of the BIGGEST announcements today  concerns renting movies from iTunes. iTunes is the defacto place to go for music. Apple is angling to make it the defacto place to go for movies as well. They have managed to wrangle every major studio into their grasp. This is a major victory because it means you won’t be missing out on any movies like you would with another service. Pricing for movie rentals are $2.99 for old releases, $3.99 for new releases, and $4.99 for HD… wait… did I just say HD? You bet your sweet Sally I did. 720p with 5.1 Dolby surround sound. But there’s a catch… HD is only available with the Apple TV.

Oh, that thing… it got a revamp. Now you don’t need a computer to access iTunes. In fact, chances are you’ll want to simply hook it up to your TV and go. You can now browse the store and your library without the need for a computer. If you want to use a computer, be our guest, but it’s no longer a necessity as it was before. The price was also dropped from $299 to $229 for the entry level model. This is one product definitely worth buying into now.

Macbook Air: The biggest moment of the show, however, was reserved for Apple’s new laptop, a sub-notebook affectionately called Macbook Air. For those unfamiliar with sub-notebooks, they are used to fill a niche that really hasn’t been hit before, mostly because of the limitation of consumer level technology. They serve the niche between a PDA and equivalent device and a laptop, with the ease of portability of the former and the functionality of the latter. There have been some good introductions into the market, like the Asus eeePC, but many of these have fallen flat for one reason or another.

With the Macbook Air, Apple is entering the arena with a sleek, stylish sub-notebook that uses the power of OSX but the ease of portability of, say, the iPhone. Not that you can slip it into your pocket, because it would be ridiculous to think such a thing, but it’s a lighter alternative to the Macbook and Macbook Pro series.

Starting at $1799 (which is actually in range and cheaper than some competing sub-notebooks), you can get this beauty. It comes with a single USB2.0 port, micro-DVI, and headphone jack, multi-gesture trackpad, backlit LED display, backlit keyboard, iSight Camera, 80GB 1.8″ hard drive (64 GB SSD optional), and more. It doesn’t come with an optical drive, but in this day and change, who uses their optical drive constantly? If you do need one, you can buy a $99 Superdrive or use the Remote Disk software to let you use one on the same network. It’s that easy.

This sub-notebook isn’t for everyone. It was designed to fill a niche between power and portability. It works perfectly for those folks who already have a great desktop and need a suitable laptop or those students who need something for class but don’t need to go all out with a Macbook Pro. Great little computer for those who need it. Very stylish. Here’s hoping to see future Apple products looking this stylish.

Overall, MacWorld 2008 keynote was great. There’s, of course, many other things to come. Lots of software and lots of hands-on. This is only the beginning.

As a side note, I’ll be picking up the Time Capsule and the Apple TV in the coming six to eight months. I’ve needed a new router for awhile and since I’m diving into the Apple waters with an iMac and a Macbook Pro in the coming couple of months, I could really take advantage of the Draft N technology (especially considering I love to watch streaming media). I also don’t have cable and until cable services let me subscribe a la carte, I won’t. The Apple TV fits this niche since I can stream media from one of my computers to it and I can rent HD movies. It will look great on my HDTV, which currently doesn’t get a lot of HD content since the technology is too expensive and the choices are too limiting (thank god HD-DVD is dying) .

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