laptop

Maine laptop in schools program ten years later

Would a Laptop for Every Student Help? In Maine It Certainly Did

One of the many reasons Angus King and others in Maine chose Macs was the more mature “universal access” features on Macs. What Maine did with laptops remains one of the best implementations of computers in schools to date.

Given that writing is a large component of what these laptops are used for and a high percentage of students learn to touch type, iPads probably won’t be folded into the mix any time soon.

Apple’s new MacBook Air

The new MacBook Air

Marco Arment has a great post on Apple’s new computers and how they might be used by a variety of people. This post is exactly what I needed to read although it got me no closer to figuring out if I want one of these new computers. Scratch that. I want one of these new computers. I’m not sure exactly how it would fit into my life yet.

Here’s The new MacBook Air at Apple’s site.

If I got one it would be instead of an iPad because I want an iPad-like device with a built in keyboard.

Also, as Marco says, the Air isn’t powerful enough to be a sole computer for many people, especially those of us who need to run applications like Lightroom, Aperture, or Photoshop. It just doesn’t have the horsepower for that kind of work. So, do you go with a two computer setup: one for desktop use like an iMac or a 15″ MacBook Pro with a big screen and use the Air for travel, or, might you go with a 13″ MacBook Pro maxed out connected to a big screen that you can also travel more easily with.

The big screen is going to sit on your desk anyway so why not save some money and make that screen the actual computer (iMac). Makes sense and the iMac is cheaper, runs faster, and is more reliable than a portable computer because it’s got bigger faster components. AppleCare on an iMac is half the price of a MacBook Pro. However, doing this means that one’s workhorse computer is in one place and can’t easily move if one wants to do a lot of work in another room or another country. One needs a MacBook Pro for this and preferably, a 15″ model with a screen big enough to do real work on.

I flip flop on this daily: the iMac makes great sense, then I think about sitting in LA as I am now and whether I’d want an iPad or an Air here without all of my tools installed with an iMac at home. I do like having my now 2.5 year old 15″ MacBook Pro here with me. Still works quite well.

There is something very satisfying about having a portable computer as one’s main computer; being able to take it anywhere knowing that your entire setup is with you. I’ve worked like this for many years and a change from this would be tough for me.

And, one more thing… I am now using my iPhone4 for a lot of on the road reading of RSS feeds and emails and it’s working very well for that. So, the iPhone takes some of the pressure off of the need for an iPad or an Air. Not all the pressure, I’d still like to have this ultra portable Air with a full size keyboard, but I’m not absolutely sure I’d make great use of it.

Guess I’ll have to get over to an Apple store and do some serious playing and drooling. Stay tuned.

[via Daring Fireball]

Converging operating systems, the MacBook Air and appliances

Converging Operating Systems, the MacBook Air and Appliances

Kyle Baxter has written an excellent post, using the new MacBook Air coupled with iOS devices (iPad and iPhone) to hypothesize about Apple’s future direction.

I’m reading his post and posting this from 39,000 feet flying home on a plane with wifi where I’m one of a shrinking group using full size laptop computers. On the plane are at least 30 iPads, many smartphones of all types including iPhones online right now, netbooks and two new MacBook Airs that must have been bought yesterday at Apple retail stores in LA and are now on their way to NY.

I think the iPad is the iPod of computers: I’m willing to bet that many of the iPad users on this plane are Windows users in the computing world. The iPad with iTunes on their computers allows them to use an Apple iOS device without having to switch to the Mac. As Mac OS and iOS merge, these distinctions will become less meaningful. This is where Kyle gets it exactly right when he talks about the “appliance” nature of iOS devices creeping into the “computer” world with the Air and also, Mac OS X Lion (the next version of Mac OS). It’s not there yet but it’s coming, you can see it.

I must say, after struggling to put this computer away when the food service came through (I’m flying business class on a mileage upgrade) I noticed that my neighbor who’s got an iPad and two blackberries just tucked them away on his lap or beside him on the seat. No worries about power where I’m plugged in. If I had a MacBook Air that would solve a few things but in fact, just in the past few hours since I posted my thoughts on how the MacBook Air might or might not affect what I do next, I’m moving closer to an iPad for this kind of thing. I can see it more clearly now and while it won’t give me a hardware keyboard on a plane, I can always pull a computer like this one out if I need to do some serious writing. Other than that, for email and RSS feeds the iPad is the way to go. On the other hand, the new MacBook Air has enough battery life and is thin enough to tuck away when a meal comes and has a full size keyboard.

Argh! My head is going to explode!

New MacBook Pros

New MacBook Pros today

Apple is doing a “notebook event” today and it looks like the MacBook Pro line is getting an overhaul.

A new iMac-style black border around the display.
A single-piece aluminum frame. No more chintzy plastic trim along the edges and seams.
No more physical latch.
MacBook Air-style black keyboard.

The new frame is something I’ve been pushing for years as the fit and finish on the current frame has been going downhill. I’m delighted they’re doing this.

There is a new graphics card in this MacBook Pro and possibly the ability to add a second one. And, it’s glossy screen only. This is an obvious push for those of us using the built in screen for image editing to get on the bus and get an external display. Hopefully they’ll have new displays at some point too and make them affordable.

It may be that they’ve dropped the 17″ model. If so, this too would support the push to external monitors for video and image editing.

It’s all good news and while I don’t need a new machine at the moment, this is the shape of things to come and it looks good to me.