What I need in my next laptop

I use my laptop for work. I also use my iPad for work, but also for play. If my laptop is to remain my primary computing device, it needs the following as soon as possible.

  • It has to be lighter
  • It needs to transfer less heat to my lap, in spite of heavy use
  • It has to have a screen with a resolution of 200 PPI or better
  • It needs to have lots of physical memory, but be responsive when swapping to disk
  • It needs to run all my Windows apps
  • I need to be able to develop for the Mac and Linux, besides Windows

You may be reading this and saying, you can go out and buy a MacBook Pro with retina display. You will be right, a MacBook Pro has in fact been declared the best Windows laptop. Now, I so wish I could pay for that at Brazilian prices.


What my iPad needs

I love my iPad. The retina display is all I was hoping it would be. Print replica books and magazines appear really nice, and there is no need to perennially zoom in and out. I can see why Apple used the form factor it did. It makes a lot of sense.

Here’s what my iPad needs to become more useful to me.

More browsers

Safari is good. It just has a slower upgrade cycle than Chrome and Firefox. I think iPad deserves a more varied set of browsers, instead of browsers that just embed Safari. I am a big fan and user of Google services. Although most do a good job of supporting Safari, certain features are only supported in Chrome.

Bluetooth mouse

I know, iPad is touch-based and all that, but a mouse would make access to remote PCs a better experience. I don’t want to carry my PC everywhere I go. I also see the PC migrating to the cloud, eventually.

LogMeIn is one example of a remote client that does a good job of replacing a mouse with touch gestures, maybe I’ll get used to it someday. I still think a mouse has better accuracy and control for certain tasks.

Full-featured apps

I can understand why most apps adapted for the iPad suck, they are derived from the code base of their Smartphone brethren. I think it is time for the apps to better use the large screen estate and provide more features. I don’t want to switch between apps and their full-featured web counterparts, all the time. For social and communication apps where notifications are important, I can’t see myself using only the web interface either. Unless the browser apps some day integrate into the notification infrastructure of the operating system.

More flash memory

I can see the iPad replacing my laptop some day. The 64 GB flash memory limit is just not enough if and when that happens.

Phone app

I don’t have 3G or LTE on my iPad since I use it mostly at home with WiFi. I would if it had a phone app though. I don’t understand why it does not have a phone app. I don’t really use a phone that much but emergencies do happen. Who knows I may even just carry my iPad (with a headset) instead of both a phone and an iPad.

Apple needs a larger phone

…Or a smaller iPad. iPad Micro?

People are enamored with large-screen phones. Why carry a tablet and a phone when you can carry just one device that can be both? The problem is, the screen resolution on current devices is not enough, especially for print replica magazines and books.

If I were Apple, I would make a larger phone with the same pixel resolution as the retina iPad (4th Gen). If it had a PPI of 600, it would have a 4.3 inch screen. Text on it would look beautiful even without anti-aliasing. I heard print magazines use 1200 dpi for text, so it would be as good as print with some anti-aliasing still in use.

Developers would be able to scale their apps quickly, with only minor tweaks to touch widgets so they are not inconveniently small. The 4×3 aspect ratio could be a boon for readers I suppose. I wish I could hold and see such a device instead of having to imagine it…

While on the subject of screen resolution, I am so hoping Apple will come out with a retina display iPad Mini. It is a question of when, not if, I suppose.

iPhone 5 is an evolution, not revolution

The iPhone 5 has launched. It is evolutionary, not revolutionary, which is probably as it should be. As an iPhone 4S user, the bigger screen is the only thing that attracts me right now. Brazilian operators will not be getting it for a while, so Nano-SIMs are going to be hard to procure. LTE is another good reason to upgrade, but most Brazilian cities have no LTE. Maybe by the time of the FIFA World Cup of 2014, more cities will gain LTE coverage. I will not upgrade to an iPhone 5, probably an iPhone 6 (?) in 2014.

The iPod line, particularly the Touch, has received significant upgrades. At 5 mega-pixels, with flash and autofocus, the rear camera of Touch has gone beyond being a toy to seriously challenge older point-and-shoot digital cameras. With dual core A5 CPU and dual core graphics, it has also received a much needed performance boost. The $ 299 starting price is worth it considering that it gets you 32 GB of flash memory.

The iPod is clearly the winner of the day. I’ll be buying the new Touch as soon as I get the opportunity to do so, especially since the purported iPad Mini seems to be nowhere in sight. I am happy with the iOS ecosystem, maturity of the apps being my primary reason, followed closely by AirPlay. The iTunes store in Brazil lacks books, but is otherwise quite on par with the US store. Hopefully Google Play store the Android ecosystem will catch up in the near future, I may then consider buying Android devices.

It’s that day again

Apple knows how to build expectations, and during Steve Job’s tenure it frequently exceeded them. The media covers their events assiduously.

The tech community is not so happy with Apple though, especially those that hang around Google+. I have to admit that Steve Jobs going thermonuclear on Android, and the spate of lawsuits against Apple’s rivals, brought a particular distaste to my mouth. Can it be construed as a frustration of a dying man? I tend to think that if Jobs had several more years ahead of him to shape Apple’s products, they would have been less offensive.

Today is the kind of day Jobs was at his best. He would have taken the opportunity to launch terrific products, taken jibes at the competition, and buried the lawsuit hatchet so to say. Even without Jobs on stage, today brings anticipation. I am not new technology crazy, but Apple has made me anticipate.

A 7 inch tablet is a compelling device

It has been a while since I purchased an iPod Touch. That device has been a quiet success alongside the iPhone. I don’t have any research to quote but I suspect it is also responsible for leading casual gamers away from Nintendo DS and the Sony PSP.

I use my iPod Touch for reading mostly, on the Kindle and iBooks apps. Its 3.5 inch screen provides me with a compelling reading experience for casual text-only books. That experience does not extend to reading more dense PDF documents with figures, magazines, or typical desktop screen size web pages. For that an iPad is without doubt an interesting device.

At 10 inches, the iPad is a little over my preferred size for easy portability prolonged holding. I would prefer a 7 inch tablet that looks and feels like a scaled up iPod Touch, and includes a retina display. The iPad 2, sadly, looks and feels like a picture frame.

Figure – The iPod Touch with its dimensions

Figure – The iPad 2 for comparison

Microsoft buys Skype, advice for Google

I thought Google or Facebook would be the ones to buy Skype, after reading some news on the web to that effect. So, I was rather surprised to hear that Microsoft was in the fray and has now closed a deal.

Google has been historically an integrative force, breaking down silos with web search. It is then quite frustrating to see them creating walled gardens. One example, a total lack of a VoIP offering for iOS. Google Voice, currently for US customers only, does not count. It is sad to see them get so big that they don’t offer their wares across all the different platforms they could. In the process, they refuse to learn, and start marching towards being marginalized to a particular niche. I hate to think that that niche for Google is Android, it is too small compared to web search.

Here’s a list of Google services that could be everywhere (especially on iOS):

  • Chrome – I wouldn’t mind using Chrome on the iPad, more so if it allowed Flash. I know Apple may not approve of such an app, but it may be worth a try.
  • Google Maps – We need offline maps on Smartphones, all of them, not just Android. Not all of us can use Android because we want to, company policy can be one hindrance.
  • Google Reader – I rediscovered this after adding the Google Reader Notifier extension to Chrome. It would be so much more useful if it worked offline, on any smartphone.
  • Google Talk – Could be a fine competitor to Skype, Viber and such. I wonder what Google achieved by acquiring Gizmo5, besides shutting it down.
  • Google Voice – Come on Google, the whole world needs this. If it cannot be made to work all over the world, make something worthy of competing with Skype.

If I were to summarize the above, my message to Google would be: don’t ignore apps on non-Android devices, make your services omnipresent.