Unison would be perfect if we found ourselves time traveling to the ’80s and needing to look up job listings, download software, or pose questions to an online community. That’s because Unison browses Usenet, the text-based precursor to the modern internet. Once the cutting edge of online interactivity, Usenet is now the domain of niche topics and downloads of varying degrees of legality. Unison makes it easy to grab video files, music, and other media, and its interface lets you smoothly navigate Usenet’s bulletin-board depths. Unfortunately, the web, the iTunes Store, streaming Netflix, email groups, and other, better services now limit Usenet’s appeal. Time travel remains elusive, so there’s little reason for others to get started on Usenet now, but Unison makes a great browser for Usenet regulars.
When Apple revealed the newly redesigned MacBook Air at a press event in Cupertino, Steve skipped the theatrics of pulling one out of a manila envelope or any other “gee whiz, that’s thin!” gimmicks. But once the new machines arrived at the office (one of each size, hooray!), their improvements--both in design and performance--made a bigger impression than any Steve stunts could’ve.
The other day I was working on my laptop at home while my wife was browsing the web from hers. Our son was in the living room chatting with his buddies and listening to something catchy I’d never heard before. When I asked him for a copy, it took him a while to locate a flash drive, search his library for the tune, load the file onto the drive, and hand it to me so I could add it to my iTunes library. A few minutes later, we had to repeat the process for my wife. I thought “Isn’t this 2010? Shouldn’t there be a better solution to this problem?”
Tacking “Magic” onto the name of this new external trackpad is grandiose in that typical Apple way, but we have a feeling that this nifty device actually is performing one genuine feat of magic: peering into the future. At least a little, anyway. Between the proliferation of touch-based iOS devices and Apple’s patents for touchscreen iMacs surfacing recently on the web, it’s reasonable to speculate that Mac OS is going to want you to reach out and touch it someday soon. If that’s even a little true, we can see why Apple might hope that the Magic Trackpad will help us get a little more accustomed to “touching” iMacs, minis, and Mac Pros--not just MacBooks.
Once upon a time, only the fastest computers--and the wealthy Mac users who owned them--could afford to edit video on their machines. The rest of us had to do manual edits with two VCRs and twitchy fingers on the pause button. Those were dark times indeed. Fast-forward a decade, and there are more video-editing programs than you can shake a Media 100 at. Adobe’s Premiere Elements is aimed at advanced consumers looking to elevate their edits beyond iMovie’s capabilities, borrowing some firepower from more advanced editors.
Photoshop Elements is the perfect image-editing program if you’ve outgrown iPhoto but aren’t quite ready to take on the complexity (and cost) of Photoshop. It offers a great blend of beginner-friendly guidance and sophisticated manual adjustments for the more experienced user. In fact, when you get down to it, there’s not that much you can do in Photoshop that you can’t also do in Elements.
We’ve learned to expect big, wonderful things from Apple’s tiny little boxes. But unlike a Mac mini or iPod nano--which both do a lot in a relatively small space--the Apple TV doesn’t do much more than its 3.9x3.9x0.9-inch form factor and $99 price would suggest. That’s because it’s primarily a cloud-focused streaming device…but it only connects to a small, wispy tendril of the cloud, rather than the thunderstorm of awesome streaming content that can easily be accessed on other devices.
This entry-level Mac Pro is fast. Very fast. At 2.8GHz, its Intel Xeon processor might look slow compared to the 3GHz-plus chips offered by most of the current iMac range, but its clock speed belies its true performance. Like the Core-i series, Hyper-Threading allows two threads to run on each of its cores, giving this model eight virtual cores. And like the Core i5 and i7 chips, Turbo Boost shuts down unused cores and boosts those that are active to a maximum of 3.06GHz. In our Cinebench rendering test, its single-processor score was just under 3 percent down from the 3.2GHz mid-2010 iMacs, but when all processors were brought into play, it outperformed the all-in-one by an incredible 67.5 percent. The Mac Pro’s new ATI Radeon HD 5770 is up to five times faster than the standard graphics cards offered by the previous Mac Pro generation and even outperforms its speediest configure-to-order option. It ran our Doom 3 test at almost 180 frames a second, and our five-minute test movie encoded to iPod format in just 129 seconds. What’s that boil down to? Although it’s designed for professionals, there’s clearly an advantage in having a Mac Pro as a home machine.
After dropping a few hundred dollars on an iPod or iPhone, then raiding the App Store for all the great tower-defense games, it’s hard to come up with the scratch to drop on decent earbuds. And even if you do have deep enough pockets, it’s difficult for some folks to go hog wild and buy $100 earbuds that’ll eventually end up forgotten in the pocket of your hoodie and take a ride in the washing machine. Ouch! Of course there are tons of inexpensive earbuds overflowing from the shelves of your local gadget emporium, but most of those end up sounding like you stole your great grandfather’s transistor radio, shrunk it down with some sort of shrink-a-fying ray, and shoved it in your ears. Tinny sound with absolutely no bass.