Macbook Pro Retina a treatise in patience


So what’s all the noise about this new Apple laptop? For me it was more about modern processors, better video processors, and well memory.. 16GB of memory to be exact. The realization that my 30″ Cinema HD display could really get it’s game on. So what’s the reality?

The waiting process, baseline estimates of 3-4 weeks with delivery dates in the 4-5 week timeframe. Payed for expedited shipping only to have Apple refund that after complaining about the waiting and poor communication. Apple also gave away super drives (a $78 value) to those dedicated customers who ordered early and complained.

Laptop arrived and I found several things to be fascinating;

1) The Macbook Pro Retina does not appear that it was ever intended to run OSX Lion, as basic things like USB3 did not work when shipped. (More on USB3 later)

2) If you have the Apple 30″ Display it really does matter if you have the dual-link dvi connector versus just the mini-display to dvi connector. With the later you only get 1024×768 and on that display its quite awkward.

3) 16GB of ram really does matter.

4) I am still core dumping from time to time with hard resets or lockups. Seems mostly I/O related. Doing heavy lifting with iPhoto… iPhoto crashes from time to time.

5) USB3 is really a great alternative to Thunderbolt. While most cost effective drives don’t have throughput over 5Gb/s, USB3 does 6Gb/s much better than USB2 that does 480Mb/s. Thunderbolt is overkill with it’s 10Gb/s+ ratings. My 7,200rpm drives do just fine (screaming fast) on USB3.

6) It’s all about the Retina, well not really.. I am concerned about Retina actually it seems that the GPU is maxed with the resolution requirements, and while that never really bothers me the main issue is the drives don’t really let you decrease resolution. So yes, you get really great built-in screen but there is kind of a so what factor. I was greatly disappointed that there was not a matt screen option for dealing with usage in direct sunlight. While the Retina is not as bad as the old glossy displays on the MBP, by no means do they match the Matt displays.

7) I am most disappointed in the lack of a Thunderbolt hub and firewire (yes I know Firewire is dead but I still have an old external iSight). The Thunderbolt to firewire is due out in “July” or so the stores don’t really know but thats the online rumors. I have yet to use my Thunderbolt to Gigabit Ethernet. And my initial attempt at using HDMI for an external display resulted in using the Mini-display to DVI cable instead for a much better picture.

Overall, I am excited for the release of the Mountain Lion on July 25th, 2012. It is my expectation that this was the intended OS for the Retina and we should see little annoyances go away. With the incremental patches from last week many annoyances (like USB3) already have been fixed. The upgrade using a Time Machine backup was pretty easy (as have been recovery in the past). I did have a problem where I had to manually restore the Applications directory but that was the only hiccup.

So far Time Machine backups on a GoFlex using USB3 has made backups much faster. I find myself more productive with the new capabilities. A common remark among friends that rings true… I never realized just how slow my old laptop really was and just how much that slowed everything down.

Netflix Increases Prices 76% in past year!!

It was back in January that my Netflix prices increased 18% from the increase a year earlier. An email earlier this week (July 12, 2011) from Netflix indicated that September 1, 2011 prices were increasing again, this time an additional 50%.  The real news is that Netflix is basically doubling their prices from January 2011. Currently I pay a standard rate for 4 DVD out-at-a-time plus streaming, starting on September 1, 2011 Netflix will increase and standardize their prices to split them into the Mailer services and the Streaming service. No discounts if you combine the two they just add both services together. This to me feels like a great deal of arrogance on the part of Netflix and frankly I assume this is more a move to encourage people to cancel the Mailer service and replace it with the streaming service. A little bothered by this email I called the phone number provided in the email, only to get a recorded messsage, “We are experiencing high call volume, please try your call again later <CLICK>.” A little frustrated, I wrote and email. The auto-response returns “Your email has reached an automated mailbox. Email sent to this address does not reach our Customer Service team and will not receive a personal response.” So I venture onto the “Contact Us” portion of the website where I find a different 800 number and call it with my special “I’m a customer” number and over 10 minutes later on-hold, I get to a speak with a representative. After explaining that I had a been a customer for a while, it takes him a few minutes to determine I have been a customer for over 11 years (Netflix started offering their services in 1999, do the math!). I proceed to say that this increase is outrageous and that I was not feeling appreciated as a long time customer. I admitted that if Netflix could not show me some appreciatation I was not going to cancel one or the other plans that I was intent on cancelling my entire account the rep only replied, “Well that’s your choice.” He later tells me he can cancel my account in only a few seconds. Outraged not, I ask to speak to a manager a few moments later I have a new person on the phone who basically tells me there is nobody else to appeal to, this is the policy, they don’t care if I want to cancel. It would seem that Netflix thinks they have it all figured out and that they have proven to me they have zero loyalty to existing or long standing customers. Their customer service is pretty horrible and this latest move is pretty arrogant. I am sure some product manager thought all of this was really great; and for their corporate goals that might be the case. What they failed to understand is that I I have Cable, a Tivo, and subscribe to Amazon & Hulu and that acrosss the libraries there is much overlap. I have enough devices that have integration with multiple services that at some point price and quality of service will be the differentiation,  NOT size of content library (as is the case right now). Sadly, because of the poor customer service, arrogance, and a 76% price increase in less than a year, I will cancel this service later this year and stop supporting a company I once admired for their technical excellence and innovation.