A Tale of Two Ultrabooks

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Readers of this site may feel I am all about being critical of Apple. This is not true. In many ways, Apple has innovated. The iPhone is truly innovative and slavishly imitated. I still feel it is the best smart phone, though this gap is narrowing. If you have read my blog, you will know that I abhor punditry. I try to discuss the facts. I also have opinions, which come from 15 years of working in the technology industry as an enterprise software developer. I am taking the approach of a consumer advocate. I was an Apple fanboy for about two years, until I saw some cracks in the façade.

Not everything I write is critical of Apple, and today’s post is an example. Apple created the ultrabook market (these are not the same as netbooks). Imitators have arisen, to no avail. It is no longer true that Apple products are overpriced. The MacBook Air is less expensive than comparable ultrabooks. When you have less storage the compact nature of OS X gets you even more bang for your buck, making the MacBook Air superior. Add to that, all the free software, such as iLife. It is quality software that most consumers will find useful, and it comes with a Mac. These are not trial versions or watered down “Home and Student” editions. That said, GarageBand ain’t gonna win you a Grammy.

Ultrabooks are super-compact and rugged notebook computers. They have a solid state drive (SSD) which is able to take much more punishment than a hard drive. SSD’s also allow for a more compact footprint. They are thin, light, extremely portable, and have long battery life. The iPad is hyped as the future of computing, but there are so many activities that still need to be done on a proper computer. Ultrabooks are the ultimate solution to fully functional portable computing.

Apple invented the ultrabook, although it does bear some resemblance to the netbook. I bought a very inexpensive Asus EEE PC 701SD netbook that ran Xandros Linux. I purchased it for $140. I installed Ubuntu for Netbooks, which is a much better operating system. It can do a lot, but it is slow, underpowered, and can only last about 3 hours on a charge. It was nice to take with me when traveling, before I had an iPhone.

Ultrabooks are different from netbooks. Ultrabooks are not underpowered. They offer about the same computing power as a regular notebook. The only compromise is storage. SSD’s are more expensive than hard drives — the more storage you need, the more you pay. With cloud based storage and inexpensive wi-fi-compatible external hard drives, this is less of an issue. Furthermore, OS X is more compact than Windows. The operating system takes up less space, as do the apps. OS X shares the same efficiencies as all *nix operating systems — it uses less disk space and memory than Windows. (continue…)

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  1. Just to correct you, one of my favourite bands, Justice won a grammy and they use garageband 🙂 I also would like say that I enjoy your blog!

    1. Supposedly, the Adult Swim app was done with GarageBand on an iPad. I actually dig GarageBand, but the vast majority of pro audio folks use ProTools. One of my favorite albums of all time, Mudhoney’s “Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge” was recorded on an 8-track reel-to-reel. I guess Bon Iver did his stuff on a 4 track in some hunting cabin. Yeah, it’s a bit of a generalization, and I stand corrected! Well, sort of… They use Cubase SX too.

      I guess my point was more that GarageBand on its own is unlikely to win someone a Grammy, due to its limitations. It is intended for the home hobbyist user. I’m sure they shipped it off to a mastering engineer who mastered it with ProTools or the like. But hey, if it is the middle of the night, and I wake up with a tune in my head, grabbing the iPad and riffing it out on GarageBand is the way to go… Great for working on music in transit as well. It turns the iPad into a pretty decent music studio. I also like Music Studio. But if I had to pick one, it would be GarageBand.

      I plan on writing a glowing review of GarageBand for iOS. The string section is amazing. It can produce “canned” results, but if one goes into the note editor, one can produce something more original. It would be great if Apple put that much attention to detail and quality into their default apps, like Reminders. That app needs fixin’! First and foremost, one needs to be able to re-order items on a list. That’s a basic necessity. Still, I use it because of the cloud-based convenience.

      Thanks for liking the site! Spread the word…

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