Intel Says Not to Expect Mainstream 10 Nm Chips Until Q2 2019 →

July 30, 2018 · 10:21

Peter Bright, writing for Ars Technica:

While the company’s 14nm manufacturing process is working well, with multiple revisions to improve performance or reduce power consumption, Intel has struggled to develop an effective 10nm process. Originally mass production was planned for as far back as 2015. In April, the company revised that to some time in 2019. The latest announcement is the most specific yet: PC systems with 10nm processors will be in the holiday season, with Xeon parts for servers following soon after. This puts mainstream, mass production still a year away.

Looking at the problems Intel has been having with their CPUs, we should reasonably wait until their second generation 10 nm series, which will probably arrive late 2020 (2021 in Macs?).

I wonder if my late 2016 MacBook Pro will last that long. I shouldn’t have to worry about this, and I normally wouldn’t, but the current generation isn’t very reliable.


Two Keyboards at a Bar →

June 27, 2018 · 11:06

Michael Lopp, writing on Rands in Repose:

The bar is full. Two keyboards sit at the bar: APPLE EXTENDED II and MACBOOK PRO. The front door opens, TOUCHBAR looks around, sees the two keyboards at the bar, grins, and heads their direction. Skipping.

APPLE EXTENDED II sits at the bar nursing a Macallan 18. Next to him is MACBOOK PRO who has not taken a sip of his glass of water.

Enter at your own peril. Laughter guaranteed.

via Daring Fireball


Keyboard Service Program for MacBook and MacBook Pro →

June 23, 2018 · 00:58

Apple Support:

Apple has determined that a small percentage of the keyboards in certain MacBook and MacBook Pro models may exhibit one or more of the following behaviors:

  • Letters or characters repeat unexpectedly
  • Letters or characters do not appear
  • Key(s) feel “sticky” or do not respond in a consistent manner

Apple or an Apple Authorized Service Provider will service eligible MacBook and MacBook Pro keyboards, free of charge. The type of service will be determined after the keyboard is examined and may involve the replacement of one or more keys or the whole keyboard.

This program applies to all MacBooks with the butterfly switch keyboards — 2015 or newer MacBooks and 2016 or newer MacBook Pros.


Surface Book 2: Six Months Later →

May 28, 2018 · 12:47

Brad Sams, for Petri IT Knowledgebase:

When the Surface Book 2 was announced late last year, I had high hopes that this was going to be among my favorite laptops, ever. All Microsoft had to do was take the original Book and address the few issues with the hardware and voila, a hero device for the category.

It’s a bit hard to believe but the device was released six months ago and since that time, I have taken the high-end 15in Surface Book 2 on the road to Vegas, NYC, Seattle, Chicago and a few other locations and after all that time with the hardware, here is my long term update.

This is one of the notebooks currently on the market which pose an interesting alternative to the MacBook Pro. I am especially interested in using it for retouching photos in Lightroom, using just the 15” screen in detached mode.

It’s hard to come by extended reviews such as Brad’s, but he conveys his pros and cons succinctly. The Surface Book’s biggest issue is the power button, which sometimes fails to turn the machine on. While this seems serious, the workaround (which shouldn’t be necessary) is extremely simple.

Just the simple fact that I am looking at alternatives to MacBooks, which I have been using for over 10 years now, should be worrying for Apple. While the Surface Book 2 could potentially be an excellent Lightroom hardware platform, I would miss macOS for everything else. Oh — the keyboard supposedly doesn’t die from dust specks. Ultimately the Surface Book 2 would be a compromise, like everything in life, but Microsoft is really trying to tempt users, and is probably succeeding in some cases.


A Collection of All the Stupid MacBook Pro Problems That Still Aren’t Fixed →

May 24, 2018 · 11:59

Owen Williams, on Charged:

I’ve spent a year explaining to people that while the current MacBook Pro is a design triumph, it’s a disaster of a product that you shouldn’t spend money you’re afraid to lose on — but it’s been difficult to articulate why, particularly when the sample set is small.

Instead, I’ve decided to maintain this post, which is an ever-growing collection of public complaints about the 2016 and 2017 MacBook Pro so I can just send it back in response to anyone who says they’re considering buying it.

almost tripped on my MacBook Pro’s power cord a few weeks ago and my first thought was that I really miss MagSafe, which saved my previous MacBooks a number of times. As it turns out from looking at Owen’s list, no MagSafe is one of the least important issues people are having.


Dell’s ‘Maglev’ Keyboard →

January 10, 2018 · 16:05

Jacob Kastrenakes, writing for The Verge:

Among the most interesting quirks is the laptop’s keyboard: though it looks and feels just like typical Dell keyboard, it’s built using a brand-new mechanism that relies on magnets. The keys are still physically held in place at their corners, but there are now magnets beneath them to provide feedback. By controlling the strength of their repulsion, Dell can create a deeper, clickier feeling for the keys than their 0.7mm travel would normally allow.

The new “maglev” keyboard felt perfectly normal, at least during my brief use of it. I wouldn’t say it’s among the best keyboards I’ve ever typed on, but I didn’t feel any issues related to key travel, either.

This sounds like something Apple should have implemented instead of their new failure-prone butterfly switches. I am however curious how much vertical space this ‘Maglev’ implementation takes up, in comparison to the latter.


The Mac Is Not at the Top of Its Game →

January 4, 2018 · 10:26

John Gruber:

But Apple has invested significant time and resources into the MacBook, MacBook Pro, iMac, and now iMac Pro as they are.

Why hasn’t Apple yet shipped the Kaby Lake Refresh quad-core 15 W parts in the 13” MacBook Pros? They used to be the first manufacturer to put out machines based on new CPUs, with everyone waiting their turn. Today? They’re months behind.

The Mac is not at the top of its game, even if we skip the Surface innovation angle. Apple really needs to get its shit together, because at this point, I don’t trust them to ever update anything again, whatever Tim Cook says. I’m not a fan of their current lineup either. The iMac is a huge compromise, as is the new iMac Pro. The Mac Pro is still dead and there is no word on when the new one will arrive. The Mac Mini hasn’t been updated in close to 1200 days. The MacBook Pros still haven’t gotten new CPUs and the Touch Bar is horrific to use. The MacBook is… cute.1

All I want is a Pro laptop, with a normal keyboard and a quad-core CPU, with a footprint no larger than the current 13” model. And a no-compromise, upgradeable desktop with a full GPU and Core-series CPU, not costing a fortune. This isn’t asking much.

  1. Its screen is too small for my aging eyes.

The Butterfly Effect (On The New MacBooks & MacBook Pros) →

October 18, 2017 · 09:17

Casey Johnston:

Perhaps it’s true that less dirt gets under butterfly switched-keys. But therein lies the problem — when dirt does get in, it cannot get out. A piece of dust is capable of rendering a butterfly switch nonfunctional. The key won’t click, and it won’t register whatever command it’s supposed to be typing. It’s effectively dead until someone can either shake loose the debris trapped under it or blow at the upside-down keyboard Nintendo-cartridge style. Meanwhile, Apple quietly put up a page with instructions expressly to try and help people with dead butterfly switch keys.

The problem with dead keys is that, unless you can stop what you’re doing mid-paper or report or email or game and have a physical tiff with your computer, the temptation to just slam a little harder on those delicate keys to get the N or B or period you need until you reach a stopping place is high. But there is no logical at-home remedy for the consumer; when one key on a butterfly switched-keyboard becomes nonfunctional, unless you can dislodge whatever dust or crumb is messing it up without being able to physically access it, the keyboard is effectively broken. If you remove the key to try and clean under it, you stand a high chance of breaking it permanently, but if you leave it there and continue to have to pound the key to type one measly letter, you also might break it permanently. A single piece of dust can literally fuck you over.

My 2016 MacBook Pro Escape keys like to get sticky when I’m hammering away at the keyboard in the sun, probably due to the key caps expanding from the heat.

This is bad design.


John Siracusa on Apple’s Butterfly Mechanism Keyboards →

May 26, 2017 · 14:11

John Siracusa on ATP.fm (episode 223):

I do not like thinking about these keyboards. Almost makes me long for a non-moving iPhone 7 home button style keyboard where nothing actually moves.

Looking at the iPhone, Apple steadily worked over the years to eliminate the physical Home button, waiting until all the pieces were in place (Taptic Engine) to finally do it. I’m a fan. But a whole physical keyboard?

I have been using the MacBook Pro Escape since it premiered and while the keyboard is mostly fine, I do share Marco Arment’s thoughts in regard to its reliability — heat (using it in the sun) is definitely an issue. While the keyboards in the previous models were perhaps more flimsy and mushy, they didn’t have any reliability issues (that I know of). Nothing widespread at least…

This is what Apple has to say about the butterfly mechanism on their MacBook page:

Traditional keyboards use a scissor mechanism, which tends to wobble around the edges. This creates a lack of precision when you strike anywhere except the center of the key. We needed to reduce key wobbling for a keyboard this thin; otherwise, striking a key off-center could result in the keycap hitting bottom before a keystroke registers. So we designed a unique butterfly mechanism, which is wider than the scissor mechanism and has a single assembly made from a stiffer material — allowing for a more stable, responsive key that takes up less vertical space. This innovative design improves stability, uniformity, and control — no matter where you press on the key.

They say less on the late 2016 MacBook Pro page:

The keyboard has been redesigned to include our new, second-generation butterfly mechanism — meticulously refined for greater comfort and responsiveness.

While I do like the feel of the new keyboard, it does have a design flaw — heat causes the keys to stick or clack even louder than normal when pressed. The following steps are what I imagine Apple’s thought process for eliminating the problem could be.

  1. Eliminate reliable but mushy keyboard — replace with butterfly mechanism series “because thinness.”
  2. Find no solution to sticky keys over next few years. Lose a lot of money on replacements and warranty repairs.
  3. “Hey guys! We solved this problem already, in the iPhone!”
  4. Add improved Taptic Engine. Replace current keyboard with a new one, with unmoveable keys.
  5. Profit?

The next step will surely be just a glass surface with keys displayed on it, right?

P.S. I truly hope none of the above comes about in my lifetime — I’m worried that it will, sooner than we expect it too though. Keep your eyes peeled when watching The Fate of the Furious / Fast & Furious 8 and you’ll know what I mean.


My Mac, Hackintosh, and iOS Setup →

April 24, 2017 · 21:11

Jeffrey Abbott, on The Sweet Setup:

Every week we post a new interview with someone about what software they use on their Mac, iPhone, or iPad. We do these interviews because not only are they fun, but a glimpse into what tools someone uses and how they use those tools can spark our imagination and give us an idea or insight into how we can do things better.

My Mac and iOS setup is up today, with detailed specs of my Hackintosh! Yay!


Dropping MacBook Airs Would Create a Hole in Apple’s Lineup →

September 4, 2016 · 08:40

John Gruber:

We might be getting that speed bump update (along with USB-C ports), but I would be very surprised if we get a major update with retina displays. I still think the future is just MacBooks and MacBook Pros.

I held the same view as John for quite a while. The MacBook Airs seem to be going the way of the 2012 non-Retina MacBook Pro. But this does create a hole in Apple’s lineup. The MacBooks have the slowest CPUs, which don’t need fans, while the MacBook Pros are getting the faster mobile units. The series of Intel chips used in the Airs would be missing if they were dropped.

What Apple could do:

  • leave the 12″ MacBook as is — fanless and ultraportable,
  • create new Retina MacBook Airs in 13″ and 15″ sizes, with dual-core fan-needing CPUs of the ULV variety,
  • switch both the 13″ and 15″ MacBook Pros over to quad-core CPUs — the 13-inch models have been using the more powerful dual-core Intels exclusively.

While I don’t for a moment imagine this will happen, it would create an extremely versatile lineup of MacBooks, which should fill everyone’s needs, while bringing the ‘Pro’ back to the 13″ MacBook Pro, and making the Airs an extremely versatile machine for people who don’t necessarily need the horsepower, but want nice, big screens.


Apple MacBook vs. HP Spectre →

June 21, 2016 · 23:32

Joanna Stern:

HP’s trackpad, on the other hand, feels claustrophobic. I also repeatedly encountered issues with it, including jumping cursors and unregistered clicks.

This doesn’t sound like much, but it’s a deal breaker for me. The keyboard and trackpad have to be perfect, and despite it being 2016, few laptops actually deliver a good experience in this regard.


LG’s USB-C-Enabled 4K Monitor Lends Single Cable Simplicity to 12″ MacBook →

June 7, 2016 · 08:12

Jeff Benjamin:

you’re looking for a 4K display that can be paired with your 12″ MacBook via a single USB-C cable, then your options are fairly limited. It seems that LG is one of the few display makers that has such a monitor available for sale.

LG’s 27UD88-W is a 27″ USB-C-enabled display. Its USB-C port allows MacBook owners to connect a single cable to drive the display, charge the machine, and facilitate data transfer.

This is actually quite cool. Too bad the colour’s not even close to that seen on the new Retina iMacs, but still. It does however need a hack to run at 60 Hz (see my next post).


New Early 2016 MacBooks Are Out, in Rose Gold No Less →

April 19, 2016 · 21:56

The new models have updated 14 nm Intel Core m3, m5 or m7 CPUs, with up to 25% fast graphics, faster PCIe storage, and longer battery life. Unfortunately, still no Thunderbolt 3 or 10 Gbps USB-C — these should arrive next year.

The new MacBooks appear to be about 15% faster overall in the synthetic Geekbench benchmark over last year’s model.

P.S. The 13″ MacBook Air now has 8 GB of RAM standard, instead of four.


LG’s 15″ MacBook in Gold →

January 6, 2016 · 18:05

Dan Seifert:

If you’re one of those people looking for a larger screen, but still want a slim and light computer, LG may have just what you’re looking for. Its new Gram 15 laptop has a 15-inch display, is only 0.6 inches thick, and weighs a scant 2.16 lbs. That’s light enough for LG to make the claim that the Gram 15 is the lightest laptop in its size class. Oh and it comes in a strikingly familiar gold finish.

I’ll hold out for the rose gold model.


MacBooks Most Reliable According to Consumer Reports →

December 3, 2015 · 08:33

Donna Tapellini:

Apple laptops are the most reliable brand out there, and by quite a margin, according to our latest survey of 58,000 subscribers who purchased laptops between 2010 and 2015.

Add one more satisfied customer to that list. They’re naturally not perfect, but at this point in time there isn’t anything else out there that I would even consider purchasing.

Also, whoever took that stock photo, which was used by Consumer Reports, should consider retaking it with a better manicure.


‘If journalists reviewed Macs like iPads’ →

November 30, 2015 · 22:00

Fraser Speirs:

There has been a lot of talk in recent weeks about the MacBook Pro and, in particular, whether it can replace an iPad Pro for getting real work done.

Firstly, consider the hardware. The huge issue with the MacBook Pro is its form factor. The fact that the keyboard and screen are limited to being held in an L-shaped configuration seriously limits its flexibility. It is basically impossible to use a MacBook pro while standing up and downright dangerous to use when walking around. Your computing is limited to times when you are able to find somewhere to sit down.

Not that you would want to use a MacBook Pro while standing anyway. The sheer weight of these devices means that your shoulder is going to take a beating if you switch from iOS to OS X. The current 15″ MacBook Pro tips the scales at 4.49 pounds – or three iPad Pros – despite having a lower-resolution screen and one less hour of battery life.

Only those with very specific workflows could realistically switch from iPad Pro to a MacBook Pro.

Pure gold.