Sunday, July 29, 2012

After ~1 week of using Windows 8

Here are some updates on my experience using Windows 8 Release Preview, Evaluation copy build 8400, now that it's been a little while. You can download, install, and use the same build for free courtesy of MS (google it).

I still like it better than 7, although I have had it freeze on me once (7 never did this). If it does so again I will swap back to my 7 ssd most likely until it's ready for prime-time.

I noticed that if you swipe in from the very left or right edge of the touchpad, it opens the tile/metro-styled app manager or the charms bar, respectively, in a similar fashion to mobile OSes (think dragging down notification bar from the top with Android).

This is the charms bar, in case you don't know:

I tried plugging in a foreign (not previously installed) printer, and it installed without any notifications and was immediately available for printing.

I also hooked up my bluetooth earphones (Motorola S305s, which cost ~$25) pretty much instantaneously. (Aside: for other cool gadgets I carry with me, check out this post).

Being a heavy user of the start button to initiate a gnome-do//spotlight search for programs and files, I do find it somewhat annoying that instead of a small bar on the left I am forced to see the metro-style search view. However, after a little while I started getting used to it and the benefit of a larger search results screen has started to outweigh the original aesthetic nuisance.

The main thing I'm excited about is the full-circle cloud integration to enable a ChromeOS-esque consistency of data AND settings. Take a look at this page:

It seems with Windows 8, you will only need to customize your settings ONCE, and for the rest of your life you can pull down said saved settings from the MS cloud, regardless of how many new computers you go through. Combine this with SkyDrive/SugarSync/Dropbox and you will never have to worry about losing files, transferring data to a new computer, or any other such nonsense again. As long as you have internet access, everything you do and save is redundant (in a good way). Woot.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Windows 8 Release Date & Running on Samsung Series 9 np900x4c

I attended a Windows 8 Dev Boot camp this morning so put the newest developer edition on my np900x4c last night.

I last used Windows 8 on an Asus EP121 Slate (tablet) back in September, 2011. It seems even sleeker and more robust now, so much so that I decided to leave it on my machine permanently.

The MS rep at the seminar today also told us the official release date for Windows 8 and gave us a link to sign up early to be a developer and publish apps on the new Windows appstore.

Here's what Windows 8 looks like on the 15" Samsung Series 9:

You can see more videos on my youtube channel.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Electree has arrived!

I helped fund an art project called electree back in September, 2011, and after about 10 months of waiting, seeing updates, etc., it finally arrived yesterday (July 9th, 2012)!

See my unboxing video here:

Here's what it looks like assembled!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Should you buy a Macbook Air with 8gB RAM or Something Smaller9?

Yesterday, my brother asked me which ultrabook I'd recommend for his next machine. He was thinking about buying an Apple computer for the first time~ specifically, the 13" Macbook Air with 8gB RAM.

This is a tough question. Unfortunately, the 13" MBA is the only 13" ultrabook that can handle 8gB RAM. 

However, is it really the best option? If you've seen my previous posts you know that I have gone hands-on with a number of ultrabooks, after selecting the cream of the crop from CES in January.

 If you're in the market for a shiny new ultrabook, here are the main bullets between what many would consider the top two contenders, the Apple Macbook Air and the Samsung Series 9 (np900x3c):

MBA Pros:

  • 8gB RAM 
  • Idiot-proof Mac software with some nice software suites 
  • Magnetic power connection 

MBA Cons:

  • 16% heavier (2.96 pounds vs. 2.55 pounds) 
  • 30% less battery (7 hrs vs 9 hours) 
  • Much quieter speakers 
  • Worse resolution (1440x900 vs 1600x900) 
  • 15% dimmer screen (350 nits vs 400) - this is actually quite noticeable (I brought my SS9 to the Apple store to compare in person, and it was clearly better than the Air. All the employees were crowded around, it was funny) 
  • Non-matte screen (harder to see outside) 
  • 50% slower SSD than SS9 (200 mB read/write /s vs 440+ mB/s) 
Overall, I think RAM is probably the greatest consideration for me, as I constantly multitask, have 100s of tabs open, and run Virtual Machines. However, I'm not sure it's worth trading superior weight, screen brightness, battery, speakers, resolution, and SSD speed.

 In the end, I would wait for a better 13" to come to market or get the 15" Samsung Series 9 (NP900X4C or NP900X4D) like I did.

UPDATE: 7/12/2012-------------
Here's an email reply from my brother:

Here are some other thoughts after comparing a MBA 13'' against a 15'' series 9 NP900X4C-A01US...

Screen brightness - SS wins, able to produce almost painfully bright screen, though for all intents and purposes, the MBA is plenty bright
Screen resolution - SS wins though not handily.  the MBA feels crisper despite lower resolution
Screen display angles - MBA annihilates SS, particularly vertically
Processor - MBA wins 1.8Ghz vs. 1.7, both i5s (note the A03 is an i7 though that's not a fair comparison as it's a higher price point)
Ram - tied, though the SS can be upgraded to 16GB

Keyboard - the MBA keyboard is much more pleasing to type on, better depth of key press and backlighting is better (vs. the barely perceptible SS)

OS - I hate OSX.  It is really annoying how you can't easily resize and move around windows (or do anything for that matter) via keyboard shortcuts alone and need to click around like a n00b to do most stuff unless you custom configure everything.  If it weren't for this fact and the mac came with a windows keyboard, I would run windows on mac 100%.

Touchpad - the SS has this weird thing where if you click on the bottom right side, it counts it as a right click.  The touchpad in general feels looser, less responsive, and does not make the same satisfying click of the mba.  Also the scrolling is much more jerky on the SS vs. the MBA.

Speakers - I thought the SS would win hands down but the MBA actually seems just as loud and, when on a table, it doesn't get muffled as does the SS due to bottom-facing speakers

Chrome page load - this was another surprise- every website I tested loaded significantly faster in chrome on MBA vs. on SS.  The youtube video for cee lo fuck you would consistently start 3 seconds before the SS loading the same video.  This is also comparing a newly unboxed SS with nothing installed and norton removed against the MBA running IRC, excel, and powerpoint in the background.

Other aesthetics - i know this is dumb but the charger on a mac is just "better".  i won't penalize SS for this since my understanding is that Apple patented the hell out of this and so it is also their fault why the rest of the industry hasn't adopted but the MBA charger is way better.  Also the MBA passes the "One-hand-open-screen" test while the SS does not.  Why is it so hard to do this stuff right?

All in all, I'd rate the MBA a 9.5 in hardware while the samsung is around an 8.5.

I disagree with a few things (one-hand-open-screen works for me, speakers work better on table, touchpad works for me and I like the right click, I don't believe the page load claim), but I think it's good to offer the opinion of someone who used the MBA for a while.