This week, we take a look at high-tech goings-on at the MTA (the agency that runs NYC's subways and buses), including an explanation about how those Metrocard readers work (or don't work. as the case may be) and why the agency is suddenly opening its data feeds to app makers.
We've also got a couple of new laptops to dish about, including the latest versions of Intel's Netbook-like Classmate PC and the eagerly awaited 13-inch MacBook Pro.
Finally, the U.S. Supreme Court is set to weigh in on a controversial California law restricting the sale … Read more
Apple gets lauded constantly for creating great products. But are its products really that phenomenal, or are rivals simply not competing?
Let's look at the MacBook Pros, the archetype of Apple industrial design (I'll focus on other product categories in future posts). As I've written before, they're the essence of chic: gorgeous, well-made, and well-equipped.
But are they really that good, or are PC makers like Hewlett-Packard--as an example of the most potent rival--simply dropping the ball?
HP sells a lot of business laptops. Its EliteBook line (and more recently its ProBook line) populate the desks of many large companies in the U.S. and abroad. That's undisputed. However, I'm not talking about conventional workhorse laptops. I'm talking about designs that create a buzz and, ultimately, define a company as truly different--like Apple's MacBook Pros.
So, what did HP come up with as a "different" design in response to the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air? The Envy (a kind of follow-on to the ultrathin Voodoo Envy). When I first saw the Envy 13 and 15 last fall (just after the line was announced) on display at a conference, I could see HP was on the right track and, in fact, the Envy 13 beat the Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro in some respects, as I spelled out.
But, now, about six months later, and just after a MacBook Pro refresh, it's apparent the Envy isn't winning the race. Yes, the 13-inch Envy is thin and light. But not remarkably so. Yes, it's attractive, but not different enough to send throngs of consumers scurrying away from the MacBook Pro. And the Envy 13 seems doomed to fail at $1,499. Most consumers compare it to the 13-inch MacBook Pro, which is priced at $1,199, a whopping $300 less. That's not competition, that's capitulation.… Read more
Docking stations tend to be expensive as the devices have to replicate common ports while being hooked up to the host computer via ExpressCard or USB slots. The Henge Dock however, is not only an elegant solution, but surprisingly affordable.
Designed to dock with a MacBook's left edge where all the connectors are, this peripheral has a pass-through system where the individual ports can be accessed via the dock. Don't need all the connectors? The Henge Dock's retractable ports allow you to select the ones to use.
The Henge Dock is currently available only for the 13.… Read more
Editors' note: In an effort to answer as many reader queries as possible, we turn to CNET Labs' Julie Rivera, who will tackle some of your more pressing laptop and portable computing questions in this public forum.
Dear Julie, I am trying to decide between getting one of the new [Intel Core i7] 15-inch MacBook Pro vs. a 27-inch iMac with a Core i7 processor. I find that my mid-2007 vintage MacBook Pro is really chugging when I try to make home movies using iMovie. Is there a significant difference in performance between these two computers? I would normally wait … Read more
We may publicly scoff at the Star Wars and Star Trek fanboys in our tech/games social circle, but still maintain our secret loyalty to a certain BBC-based time-traveling hero. Sadly, following the 47-year (on and off) run of "Doctor Who" has never paid off in the form of a decent mainstream video game. That may be about to change with the just-announced release date for the first episode of Doctor Who: The Adventure Games, a four-part DLC series that will be offered for free on the BBC Web site. The series kicks off with the June 5 … Read more
We have our hands on the new 13-inch MacBook Pro here at CNET, and have been putting it through its benchmark paces. In the meantime, we've been eager to see what differentiates this 2010 update from the 2009 version. While we had a wish list of features we wanted to see included and were disappointed that a handful were omitted, there are some key improvements that we're glad to see.
The 2009 13-inch MacBook Pro was one of our favorite laptops, and we were greatly hoping that the 2010 update would feature Intel's new Core processor series. It turned out that Core i5 and i7 CPUs are only in the 15-inch and 17-inch 2010 MacBook Pros, while the new 13-incher still has a Core 2 Duo processor that's been bumped to slightly faster versions.
It's a bit disappointing, as it puts the aluminum 13-incher a step behind its older brothers for the time being, and makes the 2010 MacBook Pro 15-inch the leader of the new MacBook pack.
On the other hand, there are other modest but notable improvements. The integrated Nvidia graphics have been updated to Nvidia's new GeForce 320M processor. It's an improvement over the already serviceable GeForce 9400M integrated graphics the 13-inch MacBook Pro has had since fall 2008, and should help this MacBook keep pace with current games. It's not a high-level processor, but it's far more than any thin portable laptop in this range usually has.
Most importantly, the battery life on this new MacBook Pro has been boosted again. This year's boosts, according to Apple, come from a combination of CPU efficiency and new battery chemistry, despite having a similar-size integrated battery in the same slim chassis. Our early benchmarks show six hours of run time on our video playback battery drain test, approaching an hour longer than last year's model. … Read more