01/20/2008 | Macbook Air
As was heavily predicted before its unveiling, Apple's new laptop, called the MacBook Air, is not quite an ultraportable but is still very small. Mimicking the 13-inch silhouette of the current MacBook line, it's .76-inch thick at its thickest part. Apple calls it the "world's thinnest notebook." Though the MacBook Air is not quite the thinnest laptop ever, it is among the thinnest we've seen (the Fujistu LifeBook Q2010 and the Toshiba Portege R500 both measure 0.8 inch thick, but neither tapers to 0.16 inch as the Air does).
The MacBook Air includes the usual iSight camera, an LED backlit display, an ambient light sensor, and a big touchpad that works with multitouch gestures, such as rotating a photo by twisting your fingers on the touchpad.
As for what's inside this slim laptop, we're looking at a 1.6GHz or 1.8GHz Intel Core 2 Duo CPU, custom-made by Intel to fit into the slim chassis, 2GB of RAM, and a choice of either an 80GB standard 1.8-inch hard drive or a 64GB SSD drive (which really should be standard for something so forward-looking). Moving up to the SSD drive and faster CPU drives the price up from $1,799 to a whopping $3,098.
Bluetooth and 802.11n were expected, but the lack of an optical drive is a surprise--it's a smart space- and power-saving move we expect to see in more ultraportable laptops. External drives will work, and the Air can connect wirelessly to an optical drive in another nearby computer. Missing features we're less happy about having to live without on include any kind of mobile broadband, an SD card slot, FireWire, an onboard Ethernet jack, and Express card slot.
Getting a chance to use a test system, we were extremely pleased with the new multitouch track pad, which incorporates a range of gesture controls that will be familiar to iPhone users. It's a smart move on Apple's part; not only are the gestures easy to learn, but they're difficult to forget. Writers and students will be pleased as well with the MacBook Air's keyboard, which is full size and similar to that of the standard MacBook. In terms of interaction, the MacBook Air is probably the first three-pound notebook that hasn't asked users to make some kind of compromise.
The MacBook Air is available for preorder now and should ship around the end of January.
The prerelease hype was already huge for Apple's next laptop, and it's hard to say if anything could really live up to it, but this seems at first glance like a solid addition to the MacBook lineup. However, we'll have to keep waiting for a true ultraportable, something that's been missing from the Apple lineup for several years.
12/20/2007 | Harmony 1000
When you think of a consumer focused remote control which doesn’t require an installer to put in, what comes to mind? A $20 universal remote from Radio Shack? Logitech is hoping you’ll think outside of the box with the recent unveiling of their latest Harmony remote control called the Logitech Harmony 1000 Advanced Universal Remote.
The Harmony 1000 trades in the plethora of buttons and stereotypical remote look for a sleek new industrial style design which consists mainly of an LCD and just a few basic controls. The overall design of the Harmony 1000 is fairly thin and rectangular in shape.
Images Courtesy of Logitech
The 3.5-inch color LCD screen is touch-sensitive, designed to replace the typical buttons common on other universal remotes and even the older Harmony remotes. The Harmony 1000 displays the most important, relevant controls to which device you are operating, according to Logitech. In an example they cited, “when watching TV using a digital video recorder (DVR), people will see on-screen the standard skip forward, skip back, record and pause buttons necessary to controlling a DVR. But when they are listening to CDs, they will see the track controls they need to navigate their music.”
Image Courtesy of Logitech
The Harmony 1000 has nine fixed buttons, such as volume up and down, channel up and down, and a directional navigation pad. The remote initially displays on-screen the activities its owner might commonly engage in, such as watching TV or a movie or playing video games. A selection of that particular choice then brings up the appropriate controls for the necessary device(s).
Speaking of devices, the Harmony 1000 makes use of an online database system to download codes of the more than 175,000 produced by more than 5,000 manufacturers by matching a component’s model number to the characteristics, discrete codes and infrared commands stored on Harmony’s Internet site. These codes are then programmed into the Harmony 1000 automatically through a USB connection.
The Harmony 1000 has two programming options to control your various home entertainment devices. One involves the traditional line-of-site method using standard infrared technology. The other, which works when the remote is used in conjunction with an optional wireless extender, lets a user control multi-room entertainment systems and high-end components hidden behind closed doors.
Other features of the Logitech Harmony 1000 include rechargeable batteries, a stylish charging stand, control of up to 15 separate components, activity based control via tracking the operations of the various components it controls, on screen contextual help for simple troubleshooting and a brushed aluminum surface.
More information on the Logitech Harmony 1000 can be found at Logitech’s Web site.
12/13/2007 | Amazon Kindle
This thing is absolutely one of the coolest things I have seen so far. If your a tech geek like me... you probably have tons of big heavy books that you carry around as references. Well with the Amazon Kindle you can carry all of your books in a device that is less than a pound and a few inches thick.
You can buy and download books from amazon using the wireless cellular (EVDO) network. You can also view magazines and newspapers on this device using the wireless network. There is no charge to use the wireless network. The only charges incurred are the charges for the books you buy.
Here's some info from the Amazon.com site about it.