Thursday, May 31, 2007

On the horns of a dilemma

My first blog post in two weeks, and I'm distracted. Why? I'm going on vacation in a couple of days, and there's a Woot-off taking place right now (I'm auto-reloading the page every few seconds) - almost 48 hours into the Woot-off and still no Blinged-Out Cabbage! The suspense is killing me!

There's also no Palm Treo 700p MR yet, though there is still one day left in the week (I guess when Palm said "the week of 5/28" they planned to milk it right up until the end). Palm has, however, introduced "Foleo", which is a 2.5 pound Linux-running laptop with wifi and Bluetooth that had 5 hours of battery life, instant-on, and relies on your smartphone for virtually all its brains.

In other words, start shorting your Palm stock. This is a bad PowerPoint mashup given plastic form.

(in other news, woot just sold out the latest HD set and put up a crappy Athlon PC. I may just go to bed soon...)

And Apple's only product news of the week is that now AppleTV is available with 4x the storage (160GB) for $100 more. Santa Rosa systems coming in 2 weeks, max (at WWDC).

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Phoney business

In a week or so the Treo 700p Maintenance Release (as Palm is calling it) will be available. It will supposedly carry the major improvements from the new Treo 755 (which is basically a 700p in the 750 case, with fixed software), though not all the new features. It will probably improve my phone a lot.

But I've been thinking about it. And I've come to a decision. If/when it is released with HSDPA support (the 3G standard for GSM) I will buy an iPhone. It's not because I love Cingular - I actually like CDMA voice quality better than GSM. It's not because I'll save money - since iPhone will not work as a modem I'll have to get a separate $60/month data account with either Verizon or Sprint.

What it is for is the little things. Things like the horrible multiple-call interface all CDMA phones share. For the way EVDO data transmission can't happen alongside CDMA voice calls. Because my voicemail doesn't recognize when I'm calling it from my handset and makes me use a PIN even then (yes, I've programmed a macro to make it auto-dial the PIN, but that doesn't always work). And because when I call someone from my cell the caller ID reports me as "MASSACHUSETTS", even though other carriers can carry my actual name in the caller ID. True, Verizon has generally better voice quality, but enough things suck about the service that I won't hesitate when I can get an iPhone with 3G support.

(I'd actually jump now, but there's no phone worth jumping for on the GSM side yet - and iPhone is all but certain to only include EDGE support in the first rev)

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Why didn't Apple update MacBook Pros yesterday?

I was asked this by a couple of people yesterday. The answer is actually pretty simple. With rare exceptions, Apple never announces a computer system before it can ship it in quantity anymore. Santa Rosa-based Core 2 Duo machines were announced from most vendors last week, but if you check their availability online, you'll typically have to wait around a month to get your new Santa Rosa laptop.

This works OK for the Dells, HPs, and Lenovos of the world because they will still be selling plenty of other laptop models with the current tech - standard operating procedure for them is to just designate a slightly different model number and then phase out the old one over time. In Apple-land, not so much. Apple's only got three laptops total (MacBooks, and two sizes of MacBook Pro), so if they preannounce a MacBook Pro without chips to ship them immediately they'll Osbourne themselves for an extended period. Has Apple preannounced systems before? Sure, when it makes sense for them. For instance, Xserves were preannounced four months before they were available - and the G5 version was only available for about a month after the initial announcement, so for almost three months you couldn't buy any Xserves at all! Xserve is a niche product for Apple, so they figured the ability to announce that the whole Intel transition was complete outweighed the impact of deferred sales.

So anyhow, I still expect to see a MacBook Pro announcement possibly as soon as next week, but maybe another week or so later. And at some point after that we'll get a move of the MacBook itself to Santa Rosa - but not before the MacBook Pro is on the market. And even though it's only a minor speedbump, I still may well wind up with one in the office at some point - with three employees who need a computer all the time, I really should buy something to have as a spare. And price-wise, I'm way better off with a MacBook than letting a MacBook Pro rot on the shelf.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Minor bump

Just a minor MacBook speedbump - each model moved up one speed notch, and they got the next HD size up for each model (and they all now have 1GB RAM - the cheapest one used to just have 512MB). Prices stayed the same.

Expect MacBook Pros within 2 weeks, probably next week is my best guess. Santa Rosa iMacs to follow soon after.

Sure enough...

As I type this, the Apple Store online is down... Rumormill tells us that today will be MacBooks, with MacBook Pros soon to follow.

More later today, perhaps...

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Minor clarification

Reading tea leaves is starting to make me thing that the first Santa Rosa-based MacBook Pros may arrive in the next week or so. But I still don't think there will be anything compelling about them as far as new features - I think it'll be more of the same with a faster FSB and the ability to access all 4GB of RAM that you can physically install in a MacBook Pro now (current ones, like all Wintel notebooks on the current Core 2 chipset can only access 3GB of RAM due to limitations in 32-bit addressing - Santa Rosa supports true 64-bit goodness). I've got 3GB in mine now even though I don't really need that much.

If I'm right, expect max speeds to go up to 2.4GHz (from the current 2.33) and no other base changes. I don't think they'll even bump up the video preocessor.

When MacBooks come out with Santa Rosa, though, you'll get both the ability to run more RAM (current ones are limited to 2GB) and 3D graphics performance that, while still not as good as a dedicated GPU will at least be competitive.

Weekend was pretty good. I had the boy all day yesterday and we went to the Museum of Science for a long day of experimenting and Finding Stuff Out. He even sat through the lightning show for the first time ever. Today was quieter - we took Jane out for Mom's day to a place in Marblehead then did a couple of errands on the way home - and then she went out for a few hours by herself while David and I hung out, played games, and watched the race. Then I cooked my famous broiled cod for dinner and it was gobbled by all.

I think another growth spurt is starting - today the kid ate 2 bananas (one in the morning and one in the afternoon), a big late breakfast of 2 slices of toast, scambled eggs, a couple of slices of ham, and home fries, then dinner of cod with rice and broccoli (plus a few other things not listed here). After going to bed, he immediately announced he was still hungry, so after some debate we gave him a half peanut butter and jelly sandwich on top of everything else. That seems to have quieted him for now.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Apple prognostication

As I sit here, typing on my dented but happy 17" MacBook Pro Core 2 Duo (soon to go into the shop for a replacement SuperDrive - mine stopped burning CDs for some reason but otherwise is OK), I can't help but think ahead to the next generation of Apple gear, and when I think we should expect it. As always, I have no special sources of information that you, the reader, lack. I simply have a pretty good track record of tea leaf reading and a good knowledge of industry roadmaps. Do not make life-and-death decisions based on this:

First of all, the 800 pound gorilla. The iPhone. Unless something goes horribly wrong, it'll ship in mid-June as planned. Probably announced at WWDC, along with an initial SDK and plans to certify applications for use on it. Unless they add UTMS support into the final version (which would not surprise me), expect a rev. 2 of iPhone by year-end with more RAM (probably 8GB standard, 12 or 16GB extended for the same price) and UTMS support.

Then, with Leopard having slipped to October, we should see some hardware shortly. There hasn't been a new Mac config (excepting the 8-way Mac Pro) since the initial Core 2 revs of the laptops late last year. I'm expecting a MacBook Pro revision in the next month that'll be incremental - probably just faster processors and maybe a chipset refresh. I don't think any major upgrades are in stock until right around Leopard.

My timetables for updates:
MacBook Pro - June
MacBook - July
iMac - July
mini - June (just a Core 2 refresh)
Mac Pro - July/August

As for redesigns and new form factors:

iMac - October
MacBook Pro - October (with LED backlit screens)
MacBook and mini - Not any time soon!
Mac Pro - January

And I figure the next iPod refresh will be in August - in time for back-to-school and after the initial iPhone rush is over.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

If you don't have something good to say...

Then don't say it. It's always been part of my basic social skillset. So, although I'm mainly happy with my work and kid, I've been pretty quiet lately. My own parents asked me today when I was going to post again - and I talk to them almost every day!

(you know your blog is missed when your own mom e-mails you asking for a post...)

Anyhow, there's a lot of things that I'm grumpy about lately, rest assured that my usual moderately entertaining stuff will return sometime in the not-too-distant future.