The arrival of iOS 9, and the pointlessness of user app reviews
This week, the MacNN Podcast takes a good look at some of the burning issues of the past week, including of course the release of iOS 9. We talk both about the entire downloading experience -- one of the smoothest we've seen in a long while -- and our first impressions on some of the new features and optimization of the release. We also talk about two of Apple's biggest court cases, the Move to iOS app on Google Play, and how useless most app store reviews are.
Big-budget biopic stars Michael Fassbender, will open to public on October 9
(Warning: minor film spoilers are contained in this article) Early reviews of Steve Jobs, the two-hour Danny Boyle-Aaron Sorkin collaboration for Universal Pictures that stars offbeat casting choice Michael Fassbender in the title role, are in and are uniformly positive about the film. The movie presents Apple co-founder and former CEO Jobs as "both an iconic visionary and a monster with a silicon chip where his heart should be," but uses history, Jobs' daughter Lisa, and an ensemble cast to create an "astonishingly brilliant" film that even won raves from another co-founder of Apple, Steve Wozniak.
Rip and flip this new two-in-one laptop and tablet combination by Lenovo
Technology is becoming hazier and hazier every day. There's tablets, phablets, notebooks, netbooks, laptops, and desktops -- all promising to do different things -- but what if you're torn? What if you want something portable, but full-featured? Then you might be in the market for a convertible tablet. The obvious choice that most people leap to is the Microsoft Surface, but it's certainly not the only option. We checked out the second-generationThinkPad Helix, a two-in-one tablet-turned-laptop by Lenovo -- see what we thought of it!
Slick looking Bluetooth keyboard that takes some getting used to
We like having a Bluetooth keyboard on hand, particularly when traveling or just around the house for when disaster strikes. Unfortunately, we've yet to find one we absolutely love to pieces. Generally, they're made smaller than laptop keyboards, but not quite small enough to make them perfect for lugging around comfortably. Enter the E6700 keyboard from Rapoo, which looks very cool -- but has a rather awkward design choice. Check out our full review for more info.
Reviews generally positive, with caveats on some teething issues
Reviews are starting to come in on the Apple Watch, but the overall consensus is what might have been predicted: that it is, by far, the best smartwatch in the world; that it redefines the bar for smartwatches in the same way that the iPhone did for mobile smartphones in 2007; that it makes nearly all other smartwatches look like toys. However -- much like the initial iPad reviews -- there is a lingering question of how much need there is for it.
New sources augment Yelp, may result from Spotsetter acquisition last year
New hotel reviews from TripAdvisor.com and Booking.com are now appearing alongside other local data from long-time partner Yelp in Apple Map search results, even though the two companies are not yet listed as official sources on the Maps attribution webpage. The feature expansion appears to have been implemented very recently, and reports say that some locations now offer additional photos and information on hotels from the two new sources.
Bill imposes fines on parties, businesses trying to enforce non-disparagement clauses
Last week, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill into law that would make it illegal for businesses that provide services or sell goods to impose a contract on consumers that would waive their right to make statements against it. Assembly Bill 2365 adds a section into the California Civil Code that makes it unlawful for a business to take action against a customer who decided to voice their displeasure, imposing penalties for each attempt to do so.
Will this leather bag manage to look good and be functional?
Messenger bags are not a one-size-fits-all type of market. From consumers looking for something that is picked from a shelf at random where materials don't matter, to constant travelers that keep their office with them every day -- the variation between the needs of the buyer can be quite large at times. But what if a discerning shopper is looking for a high-quality bag that will take sustained abuse without suddenly falling apart, wants a bag to keep looking good day after day, and is willing to pay for quality? Waterfield Designs, a company out of San Francisco, California which specializes in handcrafted bags, looks to fill that need with a new bag named the Rough Rider.
Soundfreaq's slimmed Sound Rise reviewed
There is no denying that the introduction of Apple's proprietary Lighting port changed the accessory market. It is becoming increasingly rare to see a company include a 30-pin dock with any sort of home speaker. What originally started out as a 30-pin dock-equipped alarm clock has now been slimmed down into a much smaller package with the shift to Lightning. The question is, have any of these reductions hurt what was originally a standout product? Electronista spent a few weeks with this new alarm clock and have posted our verdict in the full review.
LG goes for form factor tweaks to gain Android handset share
LG, the other South Korean tech giant, finds itself in a difficult position. Namely, it has to compete with Samsung, which has become an absolute behemoth in displays, processors, tablets, and smartphones. As many other Android manufacturers have found, there is really little to be done on the platform in order to differentiate one's handsets from the pack. HTC has taken the high build quality path, releasing the iPhone-quality HTC One flagship to mixed results. Others have gone the super low-end route, but very few are making money. With the G2, LG has decided to switch up the standard form factor while maintaining a solid-but-affordable build quality. How well have they pulled it off? Check out our full review of LG's new flagship in order to find out.
Small but powerful addition to the Play lineup
Improvements in wireless technology over the years has made it increasingly easier to offer music playback in every room of the home. Involved in this "music everywhere" movement since 2002, Sonos has long prided itself on providing customers with audio products that not only sound great, but are also incredibly simple to use. In our full review, we will test to see if the latest addition to the Sonos lineup, the Play:1, fits right into this plan -- while still remaining an affordable option.
Critics rave over battery life, weight, engineering, more
The initial wave of reviews of Apple's latest full-size iPad, the iPad Air, have pronounced the 9.7-inch tablet an unqualified hit. Reviewers from across a wide array of publications and sites found themselves hard-pressed to come up with any serious criticism of the device, and in particular praised the exceptional battery life and reduction of weight (by nearly a half-pound from the previous model). Without exception that we could find, reviewers called it a "must buy."
Laptop Mag's Mark Spoonaur gives 13-inch MBA 4 out of 5 stars
Mark Spoonaur of Laptop Mag published his thoughts on the latest 13-inch MacBook Air model Tuesday, giving the product four out of five stars. Battery life topped the list of favorable attributes as the MacBook Air lasted 9 hours and 34 minutes in Laptop's tests, a full hour and a half longer than its predecessor. In spite of not having the coveted Retina screen resolution, its screen's clarity and brightness was still praised. The 13-inch Air is one of the first ultraportable laptops to include HD5000 graphics, allowing for a high enough performance that gaming is feasible. In benchmark tests, the Air proved to be faster than the previous model, though some Windows 8 notebooks remain faster.
The new Note is quite noteworthy
When the Galaxy Note debuted last year, it did so largely to confused reviews from the tech press. Was this a phone? A tablet? Some misbegotten amalgamation of the two? Soon enough, a portmanteau emerged to describe Samsung's creation: phablet. The phablet quickly went on to solid sales, and Samsung expects no less from its follow-up, the Galaxy Note II. So is the new Note anything noteworthy? Check out Electronista's full review to find out.
Military-style gaming headphones
In the world of gaming headsets, headphone manufacturers lean towards using either a military-inspired design for a good looking product, or high-end components for a great audio experience. It is rare when a company tries to accomplish both, something that Razer is attempting to do with its aviation-styled BlackShark headset. Does it manage to sound as good as it looks? Read our review.
iPhone 5 reviews positive, despite some small reservations
Reviews for the iPhone 5 have started to roll-in ahead of bricks and motar sales that start this Friday. Leading the charge, as usual, are Walt Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal and David Pogue of the New York Times who have historically been afforded the opportunity to review Apple’s devices ahead of others. Mossberg says that ‘Apple has taken an already great product and made it better,’ while Pogue says that iPhone 5 buyers will be ‘in for a treat.’
DTS virtual surround via USB
Iogear recently released a USB sound adapter, the Theater Sound Xperience, that brings DTS virtual surround to Windows machines. The hardware accessory is paired with a software utility that provides further options for enhancing music and voice recordings. In our full review, we determine if the device lives up to the company's promises.
Affordable family or small business RAID unit
As household or small-business backups get larger, the need for an easy-to-use RAID array to serve as a master backup unit grows. MacNN takes a look at an entry from Weibetech, the RTX220-QR, that emphasizes easily-swapped, no-tools-required drive addition and seamless, fast, reliable operation -- with Prosoft's Data Backup software included for Mac and Windows users. In our exclusive review, we find out if the unit can become the centralized home (or home office) backup unit for power-users and first-time RAID buyers alike.
Latest Tab aimed directly at iPad 2
Although Apple's iPads have only been on the market for one year, the devices have served as the gold standard in the tablet arena. The most competitive alternatives are equipped with Google's Android operating system, however many of the tablets have failed to contend with the iPad's strengths without commanding a significantly higher price. Samsung has finally released the revised version of the Galaxy Tab 10.1, a tablet that aims to close the feature gap while matching Apple's pricing structure. In our full review, we'll take a look at how the new Tab stacks up against the iPad 2 and and the rest of the Android-based tablet crowd.
Bag offers good protection, has strap issues
Acme Made's The Clutch has been reviewed by MacNN. The lightweight, rectangular-style bag fits either a 13-inch MacBook Pro or a 13-inch MacBook Air. It folds a flap over the top and secures it with Velcro to keep the notebook secure, while a quilted lining provides further protection. It uses a mix of bicast leather and polyurethane -- PU Leather -- for a easier-to-clean but professional look with a brown/bronze finish.