Apple’s Four-Year Product Rollout

Great piece by Shawn Blanc explaining Apple’s strategy on it’s product development. Not just a series of world class individual products, but the slow build to a unified ecosystem of aggregated systems, technologies and devices.

Apple has but one product: Their products. Their product lineup is, in a sense, one single product. The “walled garden” is the whole point.

Apple’s Four-Year Product Rollout — Shawn Blanc

Thoughts on the new MacBook Air

MacBook Air - Buy MacBook Air notebook computers - Apple Store (UK)-1.jpg

Let’s get this over with and I’ll say it straight out…

I’ve just ordered a new MacBook Air.

Now I know that my initial reaction to the MBA was that it was a great machine and I’d tweeted I’d pass for now, but I’ve had a change of heart.

This post isn’t really meant to justify my actions (honest, it isn’t!) but I thought it might be useful to explain how I reached my decision.

I popped into an Apple store on Friday and saw the machine in the flesh. I’d previously owned one of the original MacBook Airs, so the form factor was no real surprise, even though the new machine is even thinner.

The 11″ machine is cute but a bit too ultra portable for my needs, but the 13″ seems to be perfect. I really enjoyed my original MacBook Air but had eventually become frustrated with some of the limitations of the original machine and upgraded to a 15″ MacBook Pro (15″ 2.66GHz) about 18 months ago.

I still wasn’t convinced that the new MacBook Air was a good fit for me however, especially with the iPad fulfilling most of my mobile computing needs…

But by now, there were plenty of reviews of the MacBook Air on the web and three things really impressed me:

1 – The screen resolution of the 13″ MacBook Air is the same as my existing 15″ MacBook Pro. Seriously! One of the major reasons for swapping away from the original MBA to the MBP was the need for some additional screen real estate.

2 – The speed! The MacBook Air has a Core 2 Duo processor but only running at 1.4GHz for the 11″ or 1.86Ghz for the 13″ (with an optional 2.13GHz available as a BTO option).

A far cry from my 2.66 Core 2 Duo processor in my 18 month old MacBook Pro.

However, the Air doesn’t have a standard hard drive but uses Solid State memory, attached directly to the motherboard. From all accounts, this boosts performance significantly. In general day to day usage, it would appear that the MBA is faster that current MacBook Pros with the i5 and i7 chips. Not in heavy number crunching of course but in speed of response, opening apps, browsing etc,.

I did upgrade my current MacBook Pro to a 256GB SSD so I have some experience of the difference in using a solid state drive. I have to say though that allow the 3rd party SSD exhibited stunning performance initially, it does exhibit some performance degradation over time, something the Apple supplied Flash storage should not.

3 – The graphics chip has been improved and on spec is now faster than my existing MacBook Pro.

Now as you know, I’m a video editor by trade and as such, my recent thought process had been to upgrade to a 17″ MacBook Pro for off site video editing and use my iPad for all my mobile needs. I held off and held off upgrading to the 17″ MacBook Pro for reasons I couldn’t quite put my finger on. On reflection, it was most likely the price (which is significant for the 17″ MacBook Pro), and the realisation that I don’t actually do much editing when I’m away from my home studio. If I needed a portable machine to be my primary machine, then the 17″ MacBook Pro would probably be the one. As it is, I can’t really justify the expense, for the limited time I need to be able to edit on the move.

The MacBook Air will probably suffice for editing the occasional YouTube clip and I may experiment more with using the Elgato Turbo H.264  HD USB stick for encoding with the MacBook Air, as hey, there’s now two USB ports.

So the final spec I decided on was:

  • 13″ MacBook Air
  • 2.13Ghz Intel Core 2 Duo
  • 4 GB RAM
  • 256GB Flash Storage

The only thing that the MacBook Air is lacking is the backlit keyboard, something I really like on the MacBook Pro.

One other thing I need to point out is that I also had an Apple Developer Discount available from my Apple Developer Select membership. This got me around 10% discount off the price of the notebook plus I can claim back the VAT as it’s a business machine, making the additional options more affordable. If I didn’t use the discount by November, I’d have lost the discount and I’m not in the market for another Mac Pro!

So, the new MacBook Air is ordered and should be here in a week or so expect to see a review and some YouTube footage once it arrives.

MacBook Air - Buy MacBook Air notebook computers - Apple Store (UK)-2.jpg

Just one thing if your a ScreenCastsOnline Extra! member (or thinking of becoming one)…

It’s been a while since I did a members prize draw so I’ve decided to acquire an 11″ MacBook Air and give it away as during a members prize draw at the end of November.

If you’re and existing member (as long as you’re not on a complimentary membership) there’s no action to take, just make sure your membership is current on the 30th November and you’ll be enetered into the draw automatically. Any new members who sign up between now and the end of November will also be entered automatically. If you want to sign up as a member, you can do that here!