New MacBooks revealed – Faster, stronger, better

The new iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina display weren’t the only juicy things revealed at Tuesday’s product rollout in San Francisco; there were also upgraded versions of the 13-inch and 15-inch Retina display MacBook Pro.

Apple’s 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pros as announced on October 22, 2013
Apple’s new MacBook Pros, 13-incher on the left, 15-incher on the right.
The most notable upgrade to the laptops is their processors. The 13-inch model now comes standard with a dual-core 2.4GHz Intel fourth-generation Core i5 processor, while the 15-incher’s base-model processor is a quad-core 2.0GHz Haswell Core i7. The smaller model can be upgraded to a dual-core 2.6GHz dual-core Intel Core i5, and the larger to a quad-core 2.3GHz Intel Core i7.

The 13-inch MacBook Pro has lost a bit of heft – it now weighs in at 3.46 pounds, down from 3.57 pounds in its previous incarnation. It’s also marginally thinner at 0.71 inches, down from 0.75 inches. The 15-incher went on no such diet – it still weighs 4.46 pounds and remains 0.71 inches thick.

The fourth-generation Core processor in the 13-incher has Intel’s Iris Graphics, while the 15-incher has Intel’s Iris Pro Graphics. The larger of the two MacBook Pros can also be equipped with Nvidia GeForce GT 750M discrete graphics with 2GB of GDDR5 graphics memory.

Apple’s new MacBook line as of October 22, 2013
Apple’s marketing lead Phil Schiller, speaking at the rollout event, claims that the 13-inch model now gets up to nine hours battery life. “So if you’re a fan of The Black Knight as I am, you can watch the entire trilogy on one charge,” he said. The 15-incher’s battery life is rated at eight hours.

Both models have been upgraded to PCIe flash, which Schiller claims is 60 per cent faster than “the previous generation.” Wi-Fi has been upgraded to 802.11ac (802.11a/b/g/n compatible) in both, and the previous generations’ Thunderbolt ports have been upgraded to Thunderbolt 2.

The base model of the 13-inch MacBook Pro runs $1,299, down from $1,499 for its predecessor; the base 15-incher will cost you $1,999, down from $2,199. Both models are available beginning Tuesday.


How To Set Up Dual External Monitors On Your MacBook, MacBook Pro or Mac Mini

I’ve always been a bigger is better kind of guy. The biggest hard drive, biggest laptop screen, biggest monitor on my desktop, etc. It really has no end. What’s funny about me, though, is every 6 months or so I go through this big life cleaning thing and start downsizing everything. I suppose it’s some kind of self-preservation mechanism that keeps me from getting overrun by too much crap in my life.

Recently, on the tail end of a big declutter phase, I decided it would be very handy to have two 24″ monitors on my desk. Let me pause to say my dream system is a MacPro with dual 30″ Apple Display monitors connected to it. Some day, I’m going to get this setup. Course the $7,000 to $8,000 price tag to go with such a setup will definitely require me to be in a different tax bracket before I can even consider it.

Needless to say, I wanted dual monitors, which I happened to have at my disposal. The only problem is I sold both of my MacPro machines a couple of “declutter” cycles ago. I’ve got a new MacBook Pro that I use for everything. So I set out to see if I could somehow drive 2 external displays from the Mini DisplayPort on the MacBook Pro 15″.

To my surprise, it’s not only doable, it’s darn easy. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Matrox Dual Head 2 Go DP Edition (here’s a link to it on Matrox Dual Head 2 Go DP Edition)
  • DisplayPort to Mini DisplayPort Cable
  • 2 DisplayPort to DVI Cables

That’s it. That setup will let you connect two monitors of all different sizes to your single MacBook, MacBook Pro or Mac Mini display port connection.

Setup of the device and monitors is pretty easy and straightforward. Once you unpack the Matrox DualHead2Go device, you plug in the cables and your hardware is ready to go. No power cable needed since it will pull power from the USB port on your laptop.

Next you install the Matrox PowerDesk software. This allows you to control settings across the monitors and handles a single stretched image across both monitors. I didn’t run the laptop display alongside the dual monitors. I just used the 2 external Dell 24″ displays and was very pleased. The picture was gorgeous and it was just like other dual monitor setups I’d used on desktop machines in the past. Here are a couple of pictures of where I placed the Matrox and MBP under my desk:

There were, however, a few wrinkles. First, your Mac won’t see the external displays as separate devices. Instead it sees it as one monster monitor. My displays were each running at 1920×1200, but as far as the Mac was concerned, it was just one device. This kills the ability to dock applications or other windows onto a particular display. You have to manually move things around most times. Also, the dock, which I typically have centered at the bottom was in the middle…..of the one monster display. This means it was half on one monitor and half on the other. Moving it to the left-hand side fixed that though.

The other problem I’ve run in to is some weird issue where my MacBook Pro loses the ability to display to the monitors. I have to go through a painful unplugging, plugging in and sometimes restart process to get things working again. Of course it comes at the worst times too. I finally broke down and called tech support (which I HATE doing) because I thought there might be an issue with the Matrox device itself. Turns out DisplayPort connections are some of the most finicky. Didn’t really get that problem solved.

Overall, this was a cool experiment, but not a realistic long term setup. If you’re desperate, give it a try, but keep your expectations realistic. It’s not without it’s faults.

Also, there are different Matrox devices for analog, DVI and even a triple display device.


Hands On With the New Macbook, Macbook Pro, and 24″ LED Cinema Display

The new MacBooks, MacBook Pros, and 24″ Cinema Display (floor model only) showed up at our Apple store, so we popped in and gave them a good lookin’ over to see if there was anything we couldn’t live without. After nearly getting the book when Ryan set off the anti-theft alarm on the MacBook he was fondling, we noted the following impressions.


Paul says: – I like the new, more Air-like design in both shape and finish. Also, this machine definitely feels peppier than our previous-gen MacBook. Still stuck with the same 1280×800 resolution as before, which is a little bit disappointing.

Ryan says: – I really like the new design, more than I thought I would based on the initial pictures.  I, like Paul, wish the display resolution was tighter. Noticeably quicker than previous models and felt like it blew the MacBook Air out of the water speed-wise. This is almost a MacBook Air replacement for my light and portable machine, but not quite. An interesting note, I didn’t find the new trackpad much different than the current one. It’s bigger, but all they’ve really done is created the bottom edge so it tips down effectively hiding the button. That feature wasn’t as impressive to me hands on as it was when Jobs pitched it.

MacBook Pro

Paul says: – I could be drinking the dual video card Kool-aid, but the new MBP definitely feels peppy with all apps that I could open. Again, I like the new sleeker look, and really like the easy access to the hard drive. Since I currently use the 17″ high resolution model, I’m not sure I could move down to the lower resolution of the 15″, but that size factor is always tempting.

Ryan says: – I have similar comments to how I felt about the MacBook. Great design. Gorgeous screen. Love all the connectors on one side. I also like the new keyboard style, picking up the Air and MacBook design. If I were buying today, I think this is what I’d go with given the nice balance between portability and power.

24″ LED Cinema Display

Paul says: – Apple is calling this display ‘the must-have MacBook accessory,’ and I think I’m buying the hype. The new display is bright and crisp, and looks good from a design perspective. I also like the new three-in-one mag safe connector that has power, usb, and mini display port connectors in one dock-like cable. Built in camera, mic, speakers and usb ports are definitely handy, and my wife will love that it’s ‘the greenest display’ from Apple yet.

Ryan says: – Let me just say, I’m in love with Apple displays…yet I don’t own one. I don’t know that this will be the one I’ll buy. It’s a beautiful display. I also love the new connector cable on one hand, and am disappointed on the other. I can’t use this display, out of the box, with any of my current Macs. Also, no 30″ option (my current dream display)…yet.

Hands On Conclusion

Paul says: – When the 24″ displays hit in November, I could be tempted to try them out alongside a MacBook. (You have to get one with the other, since the new displays only use the mini displayport at this time.) Until the MacBook Pros get the 17″ refresh as was noted in the announcement, I probably would not be tempted to go with the 15″ at this time.

Ryan says: – All in all, I was a little disappointed on announcement day. Steve spoke and I was left wanting more. I love the refresh on some of the products, but I really wanted something substantially new. I suppose I could be tempted by a refreshed 17″ MacBook Pro and possibly the 24″ LED display to go on my desk at the office where I’d only use the notebook/display combo, but other than that, there’s not a lot that makes me want to move out of current Macs and into new gear. Other than the usual “new gear happy” feeling of cracking open something fresh


Apple MacBook, MacBook Pros

MacBook Pros

After a day with leaked product numbers showing up across different websites, the fairly obvious rumor has finally come true.  The Macbook Pro has been updated as well as the regular Macbook.  While no new form factor or eye catching changes, the Macbook Pro now includes a multi-touch trackpad and has benefited from increases in processor speed and more powerful graphics chips.  Of note, the apple remote is no longer included and is to be purchased seperately.  Head over to the apple store for more.



Keep Your Macbook Cooler

The increased power of the newer mackbooks can cause them to get pretty hot on your lap when working. Because of this many people resort to only working with their macbook on a desk or resting it on a pillow on their lap. This works fine in the office or at home but if you are like us and need to use your macbook while traveling, the heat can become quite annoying at the least.

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