Tag Archives: performance

Mac or Windows – its upgrade time.

It’s almost decision time, but will it be Mac or will it be windows?

My original move to using a Mac was relatively indirect. I, like many people, had started my video editing with Windows MovieMaker. However soon upgraded to a basic budget priced editing package which did me for nearly a year. I could see it had a potential greater than what I was using it for, but there was very little support and virtually no tutorials around for it.

So time for something new. I hunted around on the web to find sites with good general video editing tutorials. Came across the IzzyVideo site where there was some excellent Final Cut Pro 7 and Final Cut Express examples. FCP 7 was both a bit of an overkill for my uses plus too expensive, however the education price of Express was within my budget. Next, what did Express run on; OS X. This coincided with a need for replacement hardware anyway, but as I couldn’t afford a new Mac I ended up with a second-hand MacBook. So began my Apple adventure. I’ve ended up with a 3GS iPhone, iPad, MacBook Air, and with an external monitor and keyboard attached, the MacBook used as a desktop machine.

However the MacBook is now seriously showing its age. One reason for using it as a desktop machine is that its battery is screwed. It has trouble running some programs and others won’t install because of its outdated graphics, its processor is constantly being hammered to death (cooling fan often freaking out!) and it’s got it’s fill of RAM but needs more.

Add to that my 3GS, as good as it is, is also showing its age. It’s battery still gives OK life however there are cracks creeping up its back cover, the On/Off button is missing, many new iOS features and more and more Apps coming out will not run on it… You get the idea.

So it’s decision time. Stay with Apple or move on? Apple does make some excellent products, but they are very overpriced (even after education discount). Are they worth the price premium?

The thing is Apple appears to be losing its innovative edge; at one time it was the undisputed leader in design an innovation, but now seems to be playing catch-up.
Going back a few years, the first iPod revolutionised the portable music scene (and helped to pull the company back from a very poor financial situation), the first iPhone showed what a difference a good interface can make, the iPad opened up the world of the tablet. The MacBook Air showed how to make a really nice portable laptop, iMacs had their own unique design.

However so many recent product releases have just been incremental rather than trend-setting. Android now more than competes with its smoothness of system operation. Many other screens give a better viewing experience that a Retina display. In numbers, Google’s Play store competes with Apple’s App store and is catching up in quality and range of Apps, Google’s Now voice search more than competes with Siri. A year or so ago Apple would never have released something like its Maps App in such a poor state of dysfunction.

My phone contract renewal time coincided with the Apple autumn announcement season, so I had been waiting with the proverbial bated breath to see what was coming up, and as a result I’m now the proud owner of a Samsung Galaxy Note 2.

There were two ‘final things’ that made me not stay iPhone. First, I had hoped the iPhone 5 would have been something exciting and new, not just a slightly stretched screen and updated processor. Second, iCloud. Over the last year I’ve moved from just being an internet user to that of using the cloud for more and more for my data storage and services, and iCloud just does not do it for me. Google was born in the cloud and inherently seems to do this sort of thing so much better than Apple.

This leaves me thinking about what may happen early next year when I look towards a computer upgrade.

The new iMacs look very tempting, but at a price. However I find myself using Adobe’s CS6 photo products more and more, so for video moving across to CS6 or even Avid’s Media Composer (both Adobe and Avid are cross-platform and both have competitive education prices) would give me the option to stay Mac, but not the absolute need which staying with FCP X would require.

For less than an iMac I can get a similarly specified non-Apple machine, either Adobe or Avid software, and have money to spare for extras like external back-ups. So, as much as I like Macs it’s far from certain that I’ll stay Mac for my computing.

(One final thing, I’ve been surprised at how quickly Macs age. I have a 10 year old Windows laptop which is still in regular productive use. Ten years ago means G3 powered iBooks. I wonder how many of them are still as useful?)

E-reader battery life.

Form over function; E-reader battery life.

I have a Kindle 3 e-reader, it’s a bit over 18 months old, mono screen, and as an ‘electronic book’ I think it’s great – far better than I was anticipating and a real pleasure to use. I’m not really too sure how long its battery life is between needing a recharge, but we are talking into the weeks (rather than days). A device that’s just designed to do one thing, and it does that really well.

Since the first Kindle came out and showed there was a potentially large market for this sort of thing there’s been a whole range of alternatives appearing, though recently they seem to be turning themselves into full colour, multi-function, touch screen devices. Some have been based on the manufacturers own proprietary operating system, but more and more appear based around a bastardised Android set-up. However regardless of the behind the scenes system, the manufacturers have still been pushing them principally as e-readers.

This I have no problem with whatsoever, but, and this is a big ‘but’ for me, my Kindle 3 lasts for ages off a full battery charge, I can quite happily take it away with me on holiday or long week-ends without having to worry about chargers and mains sockets and all that sort of stuff.

These new devices only give me a relatively few reading-hours before it’s go hunt the charger time, and depending where you are, go hunt a very illusive mains socket.

I do appreciate that active touch colour screen multi-function device will consume a greater amount of power compared to something more basic, however there’s also this great push to make these new devices thinner and lighter than ever before. That I also have no problem with whatsoever, but it would be so nice if there could be one model in any given range that could be that little bit thicker, just a mm or so, and fill that extra space with additional battery capacity.

That small extra thickness and weight should make no real difference to the handling and portability of the device, but having that extra usage, of having a device that I could confidently take away for a long week-end and not have to even think about cables and sockets and chargers and all that sort of crap would be ever so nice.

Camera Thoughts

Some camera thoughts.

It was a while ago when I started looking around for a nice but basic camera. I wanted something a bit better than point & shoot, but did not have the money for a digital SLR, so was looking at one or two of the cross-over type cameras.

I was in the city centre about to go into a camera shop (possibly to actually buy) when by chance I ended up talking  to someone I knew a little bit from internet / social networking but had never met in real life till now. In conversation he said he has a Canon 400D dSLR, two years old but hardly used which he was willing to sell. We came to a mutually agreeable price, and so began my love affair with Canon cameras. That was about 3 years ago.

Moving forward a bit, it was about this time last year I started seriously thinking about replacing / upgrading this 400D; the Canon range had progressed from the 400 to the 450 to the 500 and now everybody was raving on about the 550D. My old, second hand 400 was starting to show its age, technology had moved on, especially with the ability of these newer dSLRs to be able to do good quality video too. A 550D was quite tempting.

Then last summer the 60D came out, which though expensive, seriously got my attention. Then earlier on this year, the 600D.

So decisions and arguments with myself last autumn over wanting but not really having the money for a 60D. Then when the 600D came out do I go with it as a cheaper but similar specification alternative to the 60D. More arguments, more procrastination, and an eventual decision to go for the 60D. Physically more robust, a faster focusing system, faster frames per second, better viewfinder and a few other things tipped the scales in its favour. The one thing that made me hang back was its bulk. These digital SLRs are getting bigger and bigger. Compare a current high spec. dSLR to its equivalent spec. old style 35mm film SLR and the size (and weight) difference is considerable.

Then by chance I was looking at the Digitalrev.com site where they were comparing the micro four-thirds Panasonic GH2 to the Canon 60D. Both had their pros and cons, both produced great pictures (and video). The 60D had a slightly larger sensor, but the GH2 had more advanced electronics for processing the sensor data. However the GH2 may be digital but it is NOT an SLR, it does not rely on a mirror to reflect the light up to a viewfinder which then has to be flipped out of the way to let the light get to the sensor. Its viewfinder is electronic,  this image being fed directly from the sensor. Eliminating this mirror system really reduces the size and weight of the camera (and lenses) considerably.

This changed everything for me. More research done, more reviews read, more camera shops visited and now I am a happy Panasonic owner.

So a few camera thoughts for you. If someone wants to go the route of a dSLR, then get whichever of those Canon cameras you can afford and you won’t be disappointed. However just remember that there’s more out there than just dSLRs.