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    Newsletter Issue #1022: So Much for Apple Silicon Being Cheaper

    October 19th, 2021

    Forgive me for being naive about it, but I honestly expected Apple to be able to reduce the price of new Macs as a result of the switchover to Apple Silicon. You see, they no longer have to pay a third-party provider for those CPUs, and thus they should not have to concern themselves with prices that were high enough to ensure a profit for the manufacturer, Intel.

    Instead, the new 16-inch MacBook Pro starts at $2,499 for the entry-level model, $100 more than its predecessor with Intel Inside. With all the goodies, which include the 32-core GPU, 64GB of unified memory (shared by the CPU and GPU), and an 8TB SSD, it maxes out at $6,099.

    Now to be fair to Apple, there are no doubt billions of dollars in development costs to build the new Mac processor family even though it’s based on the existing lineup of A-series chips for iPhones, iPads, and the Apple Watch. So I’m not begrudging Apple’s right to cover its costs and earn profits, but those higher-end Intel chips aren’t cheap.

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    Newsletter Issue #1018: Random Thoughts on the Upcoming Apple Silicon Macs

    May 25th, 2021

    As you might expect, the skeptics are looking hard to find problems with Apple’s first generation Macs with the M1 chip. They need something to do, but other than app developers who haven’t upgraded their goods to the new silicon, and a few glitches here and there, the rollout has been quite seamless. What’s more, high Mac sales clearly indicate customers are pleased, or at least the changes aren’t impediments to buying new gear.

    Now I’m sure most people who purchase new Macs aren’t concerned so much about the fine details of a new processor architecture. That’s all about we geeks getting involved in the nuts and bolts and Apple’s design choices.

    For the first release of the M1 Mac mini, MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro, Apple followed the same tact used in the transitions from Motorola to PowerPC and from PowerPC to Intel. The external designs were virtually identical to the models they replaced except for the new hardware. As a practical matter, most everything you did to make the new Macs run was the same as the older Mac. The 24-inch iMac represents the first change, to a thinner, lighter form factor — and they come in colors, which makes it sort of a throwback to the second generation iMacs from over 20 years ago.

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    Newsletter Issue #1012: About the Stuff Most of Us Don’t Care About

    December 1st, 2020

    I’ve worked for years as a tech journalist. I’ve written for a number of major publications, including a large national newspaper, USA Today, and thus I want to think that I have at least a passing idea of how the other half lives. In this case, other half means someone who can enjoy lots of tech gear without taking out the credit card or making monthly payments on it all.

    Now it’s not as if you actually get to keep the latest and most expensive gadgetry from Apple and other companies. Most expect you to return that stuff within a specified period of time. Apple, for example, has a loan program for reviewers. You — or the publication you work for — has to sign an agreement, and the gear must be returned on time. While extensions are sometimes granted, if you don’t return the items, you won’t be able to borrow any more. Despite having more money than many countries, Apple watches every dollar, and that certainly makes sense.

    Some companies let you hold onto the gear on an extended basis, meaning you probably don’t have to bother to return it. After all, it’s not as if the company will recondition and send the item to another reviewer, although some do that. So despite what some people think, I am not awash in tech gear. I have to actually pay for this stuff I own, so I have one iPhone, my wife has one iPhone and one dying iPad. My desktop gear consists of a 2010 MacBook Pro (regarded by Apple as “vintage” for several years), and a Late 2014 iMac (which has just been declared “vintage”).

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    Newsletter Issue #1011: The Apple Critic Report: Little Has Changed

    November 26th, 2020

    You’ve heard those claims. Whenever Apple takes a significant action with a new product, it is deemed to be endangering the company’s success. Whenever the company releases a modest or incremental update of a product, it’s accused of playing it safe.

    In other words, they can’t win.

    So let’s see where the Mac universe exists now: The first group of Macs with Apple Silicon, dubbed M1, has been released. They are entry-level models, such as the $699 Mac mini and the $999 MacBook Air, plus a $1,299 13-inch MacBook Pro. You can easily boost the prices substantially by customizing with more RAM and storage.

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