Why?

Behold, the Windows 7 Phone. No, not Windows Phone 7 – this is a 4.8″ phone running full Windows 7. This is quite possibly the worst product I have ever seen. Didn’t netbooks have trouble fitting certain applications on a 7″ screen? Important ones, like Control Panel? Yes, they did. Just thinking about the battery life on this thing makes me shudder, as does that gallery picture of it running Word. I could totally write….nothing on that tiny keyboard. The plethora of ports around the sides is just fantastic too (I think it might have more USB ports than my laptop). Talk about filling a niche that never existed in anyone’s most vivid nightmares. What’s that? Engadget commenters fervently want one? Oh. In that case, it is a delightful product; I take back everything I’ve said.


Batteries

The new MacBook Pros have gotten universally positive reviews around the web. Well, if you don’t count the regular neckbeards on Gizmodo and Engadget comment boards, that is. And who really listens to them anyway? There is one part about the new machines that might disappoint buyers though, and that is the stated battery life.

After last year’s models claiming 10+ hours of battery life, a mere 7 hours seems so 2008. But, as usual, there’s a good reason. Apple, alone among computer manufacturers, actually uses normal activity as its metric. No longer are its estimates based on idling with the screen at its lowest brightness, but rather internet surfing of popular websites while playing music and videos.

This kind of honesty, presenting a lower number on paper while actually giving a more honest result, is what sets Apple apart. I know of no other major company that would make its product look bad at first glance and then follow that with a frank explanation of why.


Is LEGO Universe over already?

Sad news from Brickset today – apparently the majority of the development team that designed LEGO Universe has been either laid off or transferred. There seems to be some confusion as to whether the staff have been let go or simply relocated to LEGO to keep up development. NetDevil says the employees have gone to work for LEGO, but numerous facebook profile pictures for laid-off developers show a tombstone saying “R.I.P. NetDevil” – never a good sign.

We already knew that it wasn’t doing terribly well since the current price is only 25% of the launch price in October, but this is unexpected. I don’t know about anyone else, but I was looking forward to trying the game out once the areas and flexibility expanded some more. Now, I might never get that chance. A great game idea, but apparently not resonating with fans.

Strategy Informer via Brickset


MacBooks, iPads, and Lion – Oh My!

As you’ve probably heard, today marked the release of new MacBook Pro models with various enhancements as usual. The machines are turning into quite the little powerhouses, sporting quad-core i7s and spiffy new AMD graphics. Not to mention Thunderbolt! USBB 3.0 had better be on the lookout with Apple and Intel teaming up – these aren’t the days of FireWire when Apple was a tiny minority. Besides, Thunderbolt is in every way a better product (except the fact that it doesn’t use the standard USB jack). I do think LightPeak was a better name, but I’m not Apple’s marketing department.

Unfortunately, I was a little let down by the unveiling (who isn’t after all those crazy rumors). Steve was quite insistent last October when he declared the MacBook Air “the future of notebooks” and declared the company’s intentions to pursue similar designs with its other products. Realistically, it looks like this just isn’t far enough into the future yet. Without an SSD drive, the Pros will just be a bit faster than last year’s, and they aren’t any lighter either. I’m still hoping for a major redesign before I cave and get one of my own.

New laptops not exciting enough? Well, how about an iPad 2 and iOS 5? March 2nd will see Apple at its traditional Yerba Buena venue, talking about “what 2011 will be the year of.” If that doesn’t sound supremely confident, I don’t know what does. An iPad 2 almost goes without saying at this point, but the new model doesn’t thrill me either. Gruber may be on to something with his “iPad 3” theory, since this seems like a minor update to say the least. I can’t really argue with thinner and faster though.  I haven’t seen any leaks about iOS 5, but that might not mean anything. iOS versions are usually previewed right around now, and the release is usually kept safely under wraps until the last second. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see a tantalizing new mobile OS revealed next week.

For me, the big story of the day is OS X 10.7 Lion. OS X is really the reason I love Macs so much, and 10.7 is shaping up to be the best release since Tiger. Gestures galore, a new Exposé and Dashboard, full screen apps perfectly suited to smaller laptop screens…all good but old news. There’s a developer beta out now, throwing all secrecy to the wind. I can’t wait to see what everyone uncovers about the update – so far everything I’ve read is overwhelmingly positive. Let’s hope that more details leak onto the internet soon, since I can barely wait for WWDC to see the finished thing. I’ll have to write more about the beta soon because I just can’t fit it all at the end here. It definitely deserves its own post.


iMac

It just doesn’t get any more pertinent than this – a sleek light gray slab with a smooth black bezeled screen, razor thin keyboard and an iconically symmetrical white mouse. This isn’t Jony Ive’s work, but rather Chris McVeigh. I’ve featured his art before, and it really is artistry. You can’t get any better than his sly vignettes, and he was a guest artist on Gizmodo a while back (also designing an iPad). Now he’s designed the first LEGO Mac that really does justice to the svelte and stylish design put out by Cupertino. The best part is, the LDD file is freely available for download, so you can take a look at the build in all its detail. What the Flickr photo doesn’t show is that he even included the air vent and some ports on the back. Sadly, the rear apple logo didn’t make the cut, but I imagine it could be added with a minimum of fuss. Edit: he’s updated the LDD file to include the logo, as mentioned in the comments. The keyboard is pretty great too – all the tiles are properly proportioned for space, shift, and return keys, with a very appropriate and simple angle.

It far outstrips the previous LEGO iMac I’ve seen, although the disk drive on that one is a nice touch.


iPod Minimalism


Last September on my birthday, I received a silver iPod shuffle as a gift. This was by no means unprecedented. In September of 2006 I bought myself a color iPod as a gift to myself, and I received an iPod with video the following year for graduation. I got a free nano with my MacBook for college, and a touch a couple years ago. To put it lightly, I’ve had my share of iPods. What’s the best I ever got? Hands-down the shuffle.

Just about every reviewer has downplayed the shuffle as a “niche product.” But is it really so bad to fill a specific need? As any zoology major knows, the best way to succeed is to control a niche that nothing else attempts to fill. And that’s exactly what the shuffle does.

I use my iPod touch constantly to help with classes, to-do lists and games on the go (more on that later), but I’ve come to appreciate just how spectacularly bad the touch is at playing music. Sure, it has volume buttons, but I have to look at where I’m touching just to change the song. While the music is playing, I can’t use the touch to do anything else. iOS 4 still hasn’t gotten over its sluggish tendencies on my particular model.

The shuffle, on the other hand, isn’t designed to do any of the things the touch excels at. It can only play a few songs, without even a screen! And that’s just fine with me. There’s a very applicable rule here – the best devices for a certain task are always the ones that only do one simple thing. I forget the shuffle is even there at my belt, and the headphones are just long enough to reach it without constricting me or getting caught on things. When I walk to class, the last thing I want is a heavy feature-filled music player. When studying, something that browses Facebook or Twitter isn’t going to work as my music player. Quite simply, it does what I want from it with the minimum of fuss. Isn’t that what Apple products are famous for?


Velocity

I don’t even have words that can describe this. Frank Chimero just became a must-read for me. Strange that I’ve never subscribed before since I’ve read other articles, but this is just so far above and beyond everything else. Beautiful in form, phrase, and content. Anyone who still thinks that the internet doesn’t contain serious writing is not reading the right kind.

– Via ianhin.es