MacBook Air (2012) Review
This is my 9th laptop, the MacBook Air 13″. Overall I have been wowed at the technological advancements in recent years. I’ve had iBooks, PowerBooks, MacBook Pros, you name it… By far this is fastest laptop I’ve ever owned. No hard drive, all solid state drives and gone are the days of needing a media drive for all my needs.
I really wanted to hold out until 2013 when Intel debuts Haswell, a radically new super low power cpu architecture to be used in Desktops and Mobile. Realistically though, my MacBook Pro 17″ Mid 2009 was way too heavy for my needs at nearly 7lb and generated excess amount of heat. Even with the SSD, it was still hampered by 3GB/sec SATA 2 architecture. SATA-3 is twice as fast and it shows. 403MB/s Write and 450 MB/s. The stock drive in the MBP got 53MB/s Write, 58 MB/s Read, SSD was 177 MB/s Write, 244 MB/s.
One of the big things that sold me was Ivy Bridge. A super low power consumption Intel Core 1.5GHz i5 CPU using a mere 17 watts of power at max. In addition, the Intel HD 4000 graphics processor packs a lot of might at up to 60% faster than the previous integrated graphics which were on par with the dedicated graphics in my 3 year old MacBook Pro. I’m not a heavy gamer, but so far I’ve been impressed with viewing full screen videos on an external monitor at 1080p. I plan to get Diablo 3 in the next month or two and al reports I’ve read is that the game runs fine on this with low to medium settings.
Thunderbolt / USB 3
Haven’t used much of either, but it does make this system a little more future-proof than a lot of other systems on the market. My MiniDisplayPort to DVI adaptor didn’t work so I ordered a new adaptor from monoprice.com. For a moment I panicked thinking there was something wrong with my laptop or I would need to purchase a new display. Thunderbolt hard drives still command a premium over USB 3 and I don’t think anyone but the most intense users will see that much of a difference.
This thing is under 3 pounds. Even less if you go with the 11″ model. I can comfortably carry it with me in one hand. It goes in a bag very easily and doesn’t really feel like I’m carrying around such a powerful system.
I really was leery of going the MacBook Air route again. The 2008 model I had was so painful to use for anything other than basic word processing. YouTube caused the fans to rev up high. The machine had a painfully slow 120gb 4200 rpm drive. That system ran at 1.6GHz and this one is 1.5. Just goes to show you the MHz / GHz wars are over. With hyperthreading, it’s rare that I ever peg out 100% cpu across each core / virtual core. My system is always snappy and I don’t need to think about it. I strongly recommend this machine to anyone else who has an older generation Mac looking to freshen things up a bit. I could have spent 50% more on a Retina Display MacBook Pro but why? The tech is going to trickle down to other machines and my needs don’t warrant it right now.
Price : 1494 plus shipping from B&H Photo, no tax.
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference. ” -Robert Frost
Passion, is one of the driving forces between everything I do. Whether it’s reading a book about some obscure topic only I will benefit from or learning a skill that I can tie into my career or a gig for a client.
Not everyone’s path in life is as cut and dry as it seems. Many of us are conditioned at a young age we will become a (insert well-respected career). Perhaps due to how many public schools were designed to create good factory workers, people who can follow orders and do it with a high level of efficiency. As those jobs are replaced by computers, the myth of a safe, stable secure profession has been under attack.
Each person should understand the systems at work in today’s economy, but also beat to the rhythm of his or her drum. Connecting the dots along the path of life isn’t always easy. There are surprises that happen when you least expect them. One person you meet could turn a hopeless situation into one of promise and empowerment.
I have friends who have majored in something like political science or philsophy and become IT consultants. Or English majors who become business managers. Why? Great question. Experience tells me it’s a mixture of both supply / demand and following your true calling. Opportunities come and go everyday in this fast-paced world and some of them are simply too good to pass up.
When you’ve committed all resources to a particular industry and that industry is dead, or you suddenly find yourself out of work, getting back into the flow can be quite the challenging feat. It can seem like all the chips are stacked up against you.
Everyone deals differently, and the some situations are more dire than others. Two pieces of advice worked for me to help get back on track. First, don’t get caught up in how bad things are. Being in a slump doesn’t get you any closer to getting a job and if you are in an interview, the interviewer will pick up on this easily. The second is to remember to live in the moment, change can happen in an instant. A fixation on the past or future will disempower your ability to take action now and that can have hardcore repercussions.
Passion to me is relative. No one should be doing a job that they absolutely hate, where they wake up in the morning and start counting how many hours remain until their day is over. Some lack a choice short-term, but long term people have way more power than they realize. Each path in life begins with a thought, followed by actions to make that path become a reality.
I’m a big believer in connecting with people. Online or in person, there are others who have been in your shoes before and have overcome the same very obstacles you may be facing right now. Not everyone is destined to be a big name celebrity, or world reknowned expert in their field, but we all have natural talents and abilities that can be developed over time.
Adapt and execute. Life is short. Give yourself a chance to be great.
I recently attended a meeting of the Social Media Club of Dallas, the guest speaker was Christopher Kopenec of Chili’s Grill & Bar. Chris is a great speaker and really connected with the audience.
Chili’s has done some amazing things with social media and integrating it into their business model. With over 1400 stores you can be a challenge to keep all of them on the same track. The current strategy integrates social media into every aspect of the customer experience.
One area mentioned was the Klout Score, a measure of influence based on one’s ability to drive action. The club score holds data from social networks in order to assess true reach (number people being influenced), amplification (who responds or shares the information) and network impact (how often do people you influence share and respond to your content). I assessed my own score and as of February 27 it was a 46. I aim to get this number up much higher in the near future, stay tuned… ?
On Facebook Chili’s has over 1.6 million fans, clocking over 1.4 million check-ins, both figures are quite impressive!
Another interesting tool that was mentioned was Wildfire, a tool that helps measure the performance of Facebook and twitter pages, track the competition and assess who the leaders are in social media.
The major common theme of this presentation was engagement. Anyone can create an account on a social network, but many companies don’t invest the time or the effort to get their followers to contribute their own thoughts in different areas.
While there are a number of brand engagement platforms available, one specifically highlighted is Fancorps. More and more companies are relying on word-of-mouth marketing and peer recommendations to drive their business. Just think of how many buying decisions or influence through Amazon.com reviews.
Creating positive sentiment has also been key to Chili’s success. Having a high number of active fans relative to total fans shows that people are paying attention to the content being generated. This indirectly helps business by keeping your company’s name in people’s minds and letting people know that someone is paying attention.
Using the right voice for specific social networks is another highlight. Hashtags for example make sense on twitter but not so much on Facebook. The same with like this buttons and QR codes.
Public relations is an area many companies can benefit from improving. There are times when people whose critical comments, and inevitable result when you’re dealing with a large company. Overall people just want their voice to be heard and may not ask for anything in return. Even when they do ask for something, by maintaining the customer relationship, the long-term payout is worth it.
Overall I enjoyed this meeting and I hope to attend another in the near future.
After years of being Apple-centric, I’ve ventured off into the outside world and bought a Kindle. Not the Fire, or the Touch, just the plain old Kindle.
At 79.99 and under 6 ounces, the Kindle 4 is a major game changer in the industry. It can store 1.25 GB worth of books and a single charge can last 3 weeks to a month on standby mode. It’s as thin as a pencil too.
The packaging is far more Green than Apple products I’ve used, they’ve passed on the cost savings to the consumer and other a few instructions on a cardboard cutout, there is no manual.
The readability of the e-ink screen is incredible. Text is crisp, high contrast, a matte finish display for great readability in sunlight. Even if I do get an iPad 3/4, this is the device I can see myself tossing around and taking with me almost anywhere. My only complaint is that the screen isn’t backlit. This is a non-issue for me most of the time.
Formats supported include Kindle (AZW), TXT, PDF, unprotected MOBI, PRC natively; HTML, DOC, DOCX, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP through conversion. There are plenty of converters available should you have a book that isn’t in one of these formats.
In my mind the Kindle 4 is *the device* for people who don’t like carrying books around, flipping through pages or simply want something lighter and cooler. If you want to read books on the go on the cheap, I don’t know of any more elegant option.
First a little bit of background. I’ve been using Apple laptops for the past 9 years. Overall they have served my needs remarkably well, with the exception of the 1st iBook/500 I had which was ungodly slow. My current system is a 17 inch MacBook Pro with a 2.8 GHz Core 2 Duo processor, a 500 GB 5400 RPM hard drive and an upgrade to 8 GB of memory (which I installed almost a year ago and March).
When I got the system, I was thinking that I could have a computer serve all my entertainment needs and didn’t actually have television or DVR in my room. Flash forward a few years, now I have and find the experience much more pleasurable than watching video on a computer screen.
I also discovered that having a 17 inch laptop is not all it’s cracked up to be, especially if you actually use it in your lap or plan to carry it around with you. Mine is bulky, somewhat heavy at 6.6 pounds and tends to get rather warm when I have the Nvidia GeForce 9600 graphics chip enabled, something I tend to do for higher performance.
Though the 800 pound gorilla in the room is performance, my hard drive it is definitely on the slow side, taking 30 bounces of GarageBand before I can open the program. Even with the extra RAM, I really notice a difference in programs that are constantly writing to the disk.
Results above are mine, drive is running at 1.5Gigabit, below are from a MacBook Air. A disk on a 6Gb SATA that reads 5x faster, affecting so many different aspects of my computing experience. Very compelling.
I would like to upgrade to solid-state technology, but am not entirely sure how much I’m sold for the capacity I want. I’m looking at a 256 GB unit from Crucial that runs about $339 USD. I’m also at a point in my life where I want to do the financially responsible thing and spending that much for a computer upgrade seems a little bit on the excessive side. Specifically with the CPU already being generation old and the graphics card about 2 generations old and incapable of being upgraded. On the reverse side, I could use his hard drive and another system and sell it with the original when the time comes.
Two other factors that process on my mind are Intel’s microprocessor roadmap and soon to come updates to the MacBook model line. There’s nothing worse than having buyer’s remorse right after buying a tech gadget because something else has eclipsed it. Of course there’ll always be something bigger faster or otherwise more enticing, it’s the nature of the beast.
Newer laptops will have 4K video acceleration built into the chipset (It sounds good in theory, but am not sure in practice with US high speed bandwidth already straining with current 1080P video), higher resolution ‘Retina’ displays, and as far as Macs go possibly a departure from the current unibody design. Some of the changes are over a year away and others even if they are available will command a high price premium. Either of which would not affect my decision very heavily. Shit happens, get a grip.
Does it make financial sense to switch from my current system to one of the smaller screen but higher overall perceived performance?
When I purchased the 17 inch MacBook Pro in summer of 2009, I paid approximately $2200 for it, not including the memory upgrade, a Speck case, an inexpensive SATA enclosure and PCI express card. Today February 2012 on eBay a system with similar specs will sell for approximately $1300, excluding shipping charges and eBay / PayPal fees. Between educational/corporate discounts and shopping I can get a MacBook Air 13 Core i5, 4gb, 256gb flash and Intel HD Graphics for 1498 with a $50 restaurant.com gift card and 2.5% cashback from FatWallet. I’m also pretty sure there would be no state sales tax for me.
Thoughts welcome. I’ve had way too many laptops over the years. This one will probably last me a year or two before I sell it and get something else. Also Macs hold their value pretty well. Probably more so on the low end than the high end percentage-wise. $150-200 for a new machine isn’t that much.
I did own a MacBook Air about 4 years ago, but sold it because its performance did not live up to my expectations. It had an 80 GB 4200 RPM hard drive, 2 GB of RAM 1.6 GHz core 2 Duo processor and a really paltry GMA X3100 graphics card. The fans would rev up into high gear whenever I would look at a video on YouTube. Other than that the machine was super quiet and felt like I wasn’t even using a computer.
Carrying 6.6lb around vs 2.96 is a pretty big difference. It may not sound like it, but when balancing the machine on your palm, or on your back there is a perceivable difference immediately. I’m still not sure what I want to do yet. Waiting and seeing does have its merits sometimes. A hardware refresh would also make it a much easier decision. I could also keep the drive I have now, pull out my SuperDrive and throw the SSD in my laptop and have two drives. Decisions…
There is always the possibility I’ll never be satisfied with my choice. So maybe it’s easier to accept there will always be something I don’t like and just hold onto my hw as long as it still makes sense.
Just to recap…
MacBook Pro 17:
Pros: 8gb ram, 500gb hard drive, room to put two hard drives if I want, beautiful display, will not lose any money if I upgrade the drive (can put it in another machine a year from now if I upgrade), high resolution 1080p display, great battery life.
Cons: Not very portable / heavy, slower SATA controller technology, system gets extremely hot when GeForce 9600m activated, hard to keep in lap because of bulk, Core 2 Duo lacks HyperThreading and uses much more power than i5/i7.
Pros: Super super fast SSD technology, lightweight, fits in any kind of bag, runs very cool, whisper quiet.
Cons: Even though it’s a new system, not much of a gaming machine, somewhat dated 2008 design. Four years have passed… Makes me wonder what’s next, Ivy Bridge is just around the corner. Screen resolution only 1440 x 900. Fine for 720p but scales down for 1080p.
Update: I opted to stay with my 17″ MacBook Pro, upgraded to a 128gb Crucial m4 from Micro Center for $180 and put my 5400 rpm drive in the optical bay slot using a cheapo kit from Amazon. So far satisfying until Haswell comes along.
Recently paid a visit to the NTX Car Museum in Richardson. Took a lot of great pics on my iPhone. Old Mercs and BMWs. I knew old cars were built like tanks, but it’s really something to see them in person. More pics in my Gallery.
I used to hate Flash with a passion. It’s only taken them a decade to get the performance right on the Mac. Not to mention that little news blurb about discontinuation on mobile devices such as Android phones and iPhone..
Build 220.127.116.11, or 11.2 Beta 2 has made leaps and bounds over previous versions.
“Multithreaded Video Decoding (Windows, Mac OS, Linux)* – This release introduces a new fully multithreaded video decoding pipeline which resolves a number of legacy playback issues. This modern architecture will also enable future performance enhancements across all platforms.”
I am only on a dual core system without hyper threading, but I have noticed CPU usage is down significantly. I can stream 1080p video using my Geforce 9400m graphics card using ~50% cpu. Before it would take almost 100%. 480p video playback is down to 30%. This will hopefully be release candidate by the end of the year. We need it.
If vehicles such as the GT-R and the Leaf weren’t enough to get you excited about motoring, Nissan has made some recent announcements that will.
Changes made to the XTronic CVT will result in it having as wider gear ratio, 10% better fuel economy, 40% less friction than previously, adaptive shift logic and lower cabin noise. This means a silky smooth driving experience with the transmission always taking advantage of the engine’s ideal power band. It also means which I predict will amount to best in class fuel economy. No other auto maker is using a CVT as widespread as Nissan and this I believe will prove to be a major competitive advantage going down the road.
Autoblog wrote a great story yesterday about this technology. When mated to a hybrid and a supercharged 2.5 cylinder motor (possibly completely different from the existing QR25 engine), we should see output matching the award-winning VQ series engine.
“Nissan developed a thinner pulley axle and a new aluminum belt that’s meticulously machined and stronger than the outgoing version, reducing flex. That, coupled with a more compact oil pump, means less pressure between the pulleys and belt, making for a more stout setup. All in, the gear ratio range is an impressive 7.0 for engines displacing anything above two liters, and when equipped with Nissan’s Adaptive Shift Control, engineers can program more than 1,000 different shift patterns to span the spectrum from city driving to sport. One engineer told us that the new CVT will continue to incorporate the faux ratios of previous vehicles, but at launch, this gearbox is likely to sport eight and, “if the market demands it, we could even do 10.” No, we have no idea why you’d want that, but when it comes to the average car buyer, sometimes it’s all about the specs.”
My car is 100% paid off, warranty is good till 100k/2015 for major components and 2018/120k miles for the transmission. In the interests of becoming debt-free and being practical, it doesn’t appear I’ll be upgrading anytime soon. As with computers, the technological improvements are fun to think about even if the impact on my daily life is minimal.
After getting an ECM update and beefier torsion rods installed per TSB, I’m pretty happy with the CVT. I thought it was gimmicky to have a ‘shiftless’ transmission in a car, but I really like it. My partner’s Honda has a 5 speed transmission just feels different. The extra second or however long it takes to switch a gear is perceivable. If it was a powerful v6 or v8 I might be more used to it, but with a 4, it just feels like power lag.
This new transmission along with a new hybrid system should debut in the 2013 model year.
Spam…One annoyance to running your own blog. I recently enabled Akismet to cut back on the amount of spam I receive. I was getting on average about 5-10 bogus comments to approve each week. Most of them had major typographical errors or were intelligible.
“How does it work?
Each time a new comment, trackback, or pingback is added to your site it’s submitted to the Akismet web service which runs hundreds of tests on the comment and returns a thumbs up or thumbs down. As a result, you don’t have to waste your time sorting through and deleting spammy comments from your blog.”
A lot of these spammers are using blackhat SEO techniques in order to improve their rankings on the search engines. Sounds to me like a lot of it is automated and very little human interaction is involved. I do wonder what the return of investment is in writing a script that just spams blogs.
Pursuing some new career leads and working on a few side gigs. Doing my best to make one of them pan out. That stated, taking a brief hiatus from the usual posts here while I commit my resources to more. Plan to post a more relevant update in the coming days.