In the past the best way to speed up your computer was to add more RAM. Typically the motto was “you can never have too much RAM”. Lately that has changed. The rise of reasonably priced solid state drives (SSD) to replace the hard drive in your computer has meant that we can all get a major speed-up for our slightly older machines.
Why the speed boost?
Modern computer operating systems have a concept called virtual memory (VM). VM is used when you push your computer beyond the physical RAM limit and it starts to use your hard drive as extended memory. This isn’t good – accessing data from RAM is thousands of times faster than accessing data from the hard drive. (Hard drives are just spinning – magnets similar to an old record player! A SSD looks like a hard drive, but is all memory chips, no moving parts and FAST).
When VM is used off an SSD – it is quick. So even a Macbook Air with 2GB of RAM can keep up with a Macbook Pro in your studio (obviously not in graphical tasks as the Macbook Air has a pretty weak graphics card compared to a Macbook Pro or iMac).
Something to think about
If you have a Macbook Air – you already have an SSD. If you have a Macbook, Macbook Pro, Mac Pro or some models of iMac, you can get an SSD retro fitted (get your tech guru to check it out for you). The performance gain is huge! It’ll give you a little bit more life out of your existing hardware. Applications launch quicker, files open faster, Mail/Safari/iCal all operate far more smoothly. All pluses. (The only downside is the price per GB – a 256GB SSD costs around $450). This is a highly recommended performance boost for any computer. If you already have 8GB of RAM and are looking for a bit more speed, an SSD will beat more RAM hands down.
In a nutshell, 21.5″ and 27″ iMacs bought in that timeframe had faulty Seagate drives inside that didn’t necessarily cause failures, but were operating in a way that could cause them to fail. Have we lost you?
All you need to know is that team DA have been identifying these iMacs, backing these up (something the Apple programme had no provision for so if you weren’t a DA customer you’d be paying an extra fee for this), sorting out drive replacements and voilà – operators have told us how much faster and stabler the machines have become!
If you have an affected iMac, you’re eligible to receive a free drive until 12 April 2013 (or 3 years after the original purchase date) – if you’re a client of ours, don’t worry we’ve taken care of everything! Still not sure what this might mean for you – send us an email.
Retina display. IPS. Full lamination. What does all this new speak mean?!
Lets try to demystify the new screen technology a bit and see which actually improves the user experience.
The biggest mover in the screen technology is the legendary “retina display”. This first appeared on the iPhone 4 and was a huge improvement over the iPhone 3 screen. Retina is defined as a display which, at a normal viewing distance, does not show any pixels. If you get close to a normal display, you can make out the pixels, or dots which make up the display. An exaggerated example of this is getting up close to your living room TV – you will certainly see the pixels there! If you have a look at an iPhone 4, you can get very close to the screen and not be able to make out the pixels – it is pretty amazing. For a phone, a retina screen is around 326ppi. If you look at the specifications of many Android phones, you will see that they have around 280-300ppi screens. Whilst not 326ppi, they are still very high resolution. Are they retina quality? It depends how far away you have to hold your phone from your eyes…
For an iPad or laptop screen, the resolution is less. The reason for this is that you generally hold these further away than you do with a phone. The iPad retina is 264ppi. The Macbook Pro retina is 220ppi.
So, we have established that a retina display is a high resolution screen in which the pixels are so fine that the human eye cannot make them out. Great. But what does this mean for a user? Here is an extreme closeup example which might give you a good idea. The left shot is from a iPhone 3GS, and the right shot is from a iPhone 4 retina display:
You can see the difference immediately, especially in the text. For users who spend a lot of time working with photography or kerning type, a retina display is a hot ticket.
One caveat – your software needs to be retina “ready” to take advantage of the screen. So if you use iPhoto, Aperture, Pixelmater, Microsoft Office 2011 – these are all ready to go. Adobe have announced support in Photoshop, but nothing is shipping yet. Clearly (pun intended) having a retina display along with retina ready software is a benefit.
IPS (In-Plane Switching) is a technology which improves LCD displays overall. It improves the response time, offers clearer imagery and less colour distortion over wide viewing angles. The creative director sitting alongside you will see the colours as you see them. If your screen has it – good news!
For the new iMac, Apple used a new bonding technique which brings the LED cell right up against the glass plane. It is called “full lamination”. For a user, this means a sharper display and better colour representation, and it means a much thinner computer! Apple also fully calibrates each iMac screen. This is from the Apple website for the iMac: “We put every single display through an exacting colour-calibration process using three state-of-the-art spectroradiometers: one to measure gamma, one to measure white point and one to check the work of the other two. This equipment is tuned to meet colour standards recognised around the world for precision and accuracy.”
All in all it is a good time to retire your old workhorse and check out some of the new machines with the exciting new display technologies onboard.
You have a 9.7 inch iPad – so why would you want a 7.9 inch model too? You probably don’t. To take Apple’s language, the iPad mini is not a “smaller” iPad – it is a “condensed” iPad. Very careful use of words there!
What we have with the iPad mini is a iPad 2 (A5 processor, 1024×768 non-Retina display) packed into a condensed 7.9 inch package. It runs iOS 6 and has all the expected assortment of cameras (front and rear) and Apple covers. This device was pretty clearly aimed at the growing crop of android tablets like the Nexus 7 and Amazon Kindle Fire which have been selling quite well despite criticism of the size by Steve Jobs. Of course, he did say Apple would never put video playback onto an iPod…
The iPad mini is targeted at education and casual users who don’t want to carry around the “bulk” of a full size iPad – but want the power of the iPad apps. The apps are a key point in this whole picture as not even the toughest Android advocate on the planet can defend the very poor selection of quality Android tablet apps vs the 220,000 iPad tailored apps on the Apple store. No real point getting into an argument about it – the App stores tell the whole story.
Early reviews on theverge.com call the iPad mini “the best small tablet” – but adds it certainly isn’t the cheapest (NZ$479 incl GST for the 16GB WIFI version)
Educational content and iBookStore content (along with Amazon Kindle app) gives the iPad mini a wealth of content for children and the selection of games is untouchable. A great gift for children heading into the next year of schooling – and the price point means it is not as dangerous as sending a child to school with a laptop which can easily get damaged.
As far as we can see, the iPad mini is a huge product for education and the casual user – but if you want a “laptop replacement” – the iPad gen 4 with all its retina display goodness is still the pick of the crop!
Apple has been busy releasing cool new toys this year, today they’ve been especially busy.
As expected the iPad mini was revealed today. The iPad mini has a 7.9 inch screen with the same resolution as the iPad 2. The iPad mini is everything that you expect from an iPad but in a “concentrated” form.
The full-sized iPad received an upgrade with a new, more powerful processor, upgraded WiFi and Camera.
Both iPads feature the new lightning connector.
The iMac has been given a redesign. The iMac received a processor upgrade and USB 3, but it is the new design that is taking the spotlight. It is now unbelievably thin, any thinner and you might lose it!
The MacBook Pro with Retina display now has a 13″ model with the same Thunderbolt, USB3 and HDMI ports as the 15″ model. The 13″ MacBook Pro with Retina display does not have ethernet, but you can get a Thunderbolt adapter for that.
Both the new iMac and MacBook Pro do not have an optical drive, so now CD or DVDs unless you get an external drive if you still need to use these.
The iPhone 5 is coming to NZ soon (28th September) – and it looks great.
While there are a few who say it isn’t innovative or it is just an iPhone 4 with a larger screen – we aren’t going to be lazy and say that. Lets have a closer look.
Starting with the exterior, the iPhone 5 is made from Aluminium and Glass. The front glass sits over a new 4 inch display and has the “touch sensor” layer built into the LCD giving a brighter display. This also means that it helps with battery life as you can run the screen at a lower brightness setting without compromise. The sides and back are made from aluminium with a small glass window top/back and bottom/back to keep the signal strength up. Overall it is 7.6mm thick and weighs 112grams. That’s crazy!
On the inside, they have used a custom Apple A6 processor, put in a better 8MP camera, and basically shrunk everything internally to fit it in. Overall, the device feels solid, yet very light.
The items to note before you jump in: The bottom connector is not the 30 pin connector you are used to. It is a new “Lightning” connector. Don’t worry, there is an adapter to the 30 pin which you can buy. The other thing is the nano-sim card. Make sure your provider has the nano-sim ready and waiting before you jump into your iPhone 5. Those of us who are brave will be able to cut down our micro-sims probably…time will tell.
Overall it is an amazing piece of engineering which we’re sure the competition are crying about!
Design, Quality, AppStore, Screensize, Lightweight, Fast
What to watch out for:
Make sure you get a “plastic film” for the back of the black model BEFORE you put a case on it. The black model has been reported to scratch easily, and putting a case on it will scratch it too. The only solution is to get white, or put on a back protector film.
All your 30 pin dock connector stuff, The Nano-sim, Your very jealous & abrasive Android friends – their Galaxy S3 is just an S2 with a bigger screen
(Just kidding, although we prefer the Galaxy Nexus…)
Tim Cook and his merry elves at Apple have delivered a flurry of updates, upgrades and new products.
iOS6. Coming out later in the year, iOS6 will feature an upgraded Siri that can recognize more commands, knows more about restaurants and sports results, understands more languages, Siri will also be able to tweet for you. Apple is also working with car manufacturers to bring a Siri button to their cars.
Facebook will also integrate into iOS6, much like Twitter does now. The Maps App will have the existing Google Maps replaced with Apple’s offering that includes turn-by-turn navigation. Passbook is a new App that will replace all of your loyalty cards, coupons, movie tickets and boarding passes.
OSX Mountain Lion. Most features have already been announced, however a “Power Nap” feature will allow compatible Macs to run backups and software updates when the Mac has been put into sleep mode. Also expect a greater set of voice for commands and dictation as well as Facebook integration.
iCloud. Apple’s iCloud has a few new features including the ability to synchronise your open tabs in Safari between iOS and OSX and will also be able to synchronize documents. Expect more features to appear in iCloud with the release of OSX Mountain Lion.
MacBook Pro with Retina display. Most interesting of the new hardware released is the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display, basically a beefed up MacBook Air. It will feature an amazing display, thin design, flash drives, but will come without a Superdrive or ethernet (though these can be purchased as external add-ons).
Apple has revised it’s existing notebook range with upgraded processors, USB3 and Thunderbolt ports across the range. The Mac Pro even received an upgrade with improved processors, including an option for two 6-core processors. The Airport Express has been given a make-over, it now looks like a white AppleTV. The 17-inch MacBook Pro has quietly left Apple’s product line.
Apple has released iOS 5.1.1 Software update for compatible iPhone and iPads. This update fixes numerous annoying bugs related to HDR photos, AirPlay playback, Safari syncing and App Store purchases.
You can install the update ‘over the air’ now by tapping on Settings, then General, then Software Update and tapping Download and Install. The update takes about 10 minutes to download and install, make sure your device has plenty of battery charge left before running the update.
Apple has surprised everyone and announced their next version of Mac OS X, or OS X Mountain Lion as it is known. Expect to see features of iOS5 ported over of the iPhone and iPad appearing on your Mac. New (for OS X) Apps to appear include Messages, Notification Centre, Game Centre, Reminders, Notes, Share Sheets, Twitter Integration and AirPlay Mirroring.
Mountain Lion comes just seven months after the release of Mac OS X Lion, it would appear that Apple is accelerating the release cycle of OS X.
We’ve developed a quick work flow guide for managing and publishing your digital photos to your iDevices and the web. Both iPhoto and Aperture work flows are similar, Aperture gives you more control over you photos, but has a steeper learning curve.
If you’re just beginning, then an iPhoto workflow is a good place to start with great integration with iLife Apps and iDevices. When you feel that you’ve outgrown iPhoto and are craving more control then it’s time to migrate to Aperture.
Click the image below for a full size PDF of the Digital Camera Workflow.
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