Apr 07

In September last year, I was excited about Samsung’s announcement of the Galaxy Tab 7.7. It had a Super AMOLED HD display at 1280×800 resolution without any of the crappy PenTile matrix faking. As is customary with Samsung, months passed by without the product actually making it onto store shelves. When it finally was available, there were a lot of rumors about a fabulous new iPad with a 2048×1536 resolution screen.

Due to the annoying patent war between Apple and Samsung, I had thought about not buying another iOS device before sense would prevail and the two companies would stop with their lawsuits and counter-lawsuits. Then came the new iPad, and I knew I had no hope resisting buying one. The only thing I wasn’t sure of was if I was going to buy it as soon as possible, or at some later date. As it turned out, I was a happy owner of a new iPad on the launch day.

It’s not that I had a pressing need for an iPad. It’s that the new display was just too gorgeous to pass by. And believe you me, it really does shine. But the screen is not the only positive thing about the device. I never owned an iPad 2 (I only once quickly tried out one in a shop), so I can’t make any comparisons with that, but I did buy the first generation device when it was released. The new iPad is quite a bit more joyous to use, especially because of the four times larger memory capacity. When browsing web pages, there’s no longer that annoying checkerboard effect that plagued the first generation device (and the iPad 2 as well to some extent; this was the reason, incidentally, why I didn’t upgrade back then).

Originally I had contemplated buying the new MacBook Pro when it comes out in early summer. I already have the early 2008 model, which is quite usable for my purposes, but you can’t beat the feeling of using a brand new, expensive, and exceptionally well operating machine. On the other hand, I’ve by now gotten used to the higher DPI displays, and it would therefore be probably quite useless to buy a new laptop with the same 1400×900 resolution. There will most likely be a 1680×1050 screen option for some extra cash, but that would still be nowhere near the high DPI of the new iPad. (Yes, I’m a spoiled brat now.) I could get the Air (and save quite a bit of money as well), but I don’t know if I’d be able to give up the extra power that a Pro provides.

Having said that, after using the new iPad for a couple of weeks, I increasingly feel that I could be able to skip the purchase of a new MacBook Pro/Air altogether. The iPad is just that good. I’m still learning he ropes with the typing experience, but it’s much better than I thought it would be. The autocorrect feature is a blast, although by no means perfect. One thing I’ve noticed, though: when typing on the iPad, I keep on watching the keyboard all the time, instead of looking at the text I’m producing. This is the complete opposite of what I do when typing on a real keyboard. It must be because of the lack of physical keys; I have no felling of which keys my fingers are on, so I need to constantly watch over them. The speed of typing (in this semi-awkward position of lying in bed) is actually surprisingly good. I must later assess my typing speed when sitting properly at a table.

I need my PC for playing games (Civilization 5 mostly), but it seems that at the moment I really don’t have a pressing need for a Mac laptop, at least not a new one. I do have, in addition to the aforementioned MBP, a Mac mini 2011 (2.5GHz), which I use sporadically, so I’m pretty well covered if I later want to do some iOS coding. Other than that, most of my time on a computer is nowadays spent on the iPad. I don’t know if there is going back. A laptop feels, by now, somehow old-fashioned. Physical keyboard has of course no parallel, but since I can do pretty much everything on this wonder slate, I ponder if I can now permanently move on to the post-PC era that Steve Jobs talked about when the first generation iPad was released.

By the way, when I purchased the iPad, I also grabbed the iPad Smart Cover (navy blue leather). It was a bit under 70 euros (a ridiculously high price), but at least it works quite well for what it is. I could have opted for a polycarbonate version, but they didn’t have one in my color, so I had to cough up 30 euros more (I can’t believe I just said that).

Jun 07

Working in an office environment isn’t always going to be quiet. There are often people coming and going, with the sound of footsteps and the doors opening and closing. In addition, you’re usually able to hear at least a couple of people talking, be it work-related stuff or something else. That said, I don’t mind at all people talking about non-work-related things at work; for me it’s a sign of a healthy work atmosphere.

In this line or work, I consider it essential to have a good pair of headphones. I prefer closed headphones for two reasons. First, they keep a lot of the external sounds from reaching your ears. You don’t even have to play any music if you don’t want to – in this case they work as glorified ear protectors. Second, they insulate the noise the other way as well; they don’t let the sound spread to your surroundings. Which means that you don’t have to bother others with your music even when you play it loud. You can even occasionally listen to those horrendous 90’s party hits just to remember how terrible they were – without giving anyone a clue about it.

I currently have a pair of Sennheiser HD 212 Pro’s at work, which do an amicable job. They’re not top of the line – and not top of the price ladder either. Whenever I need to do some serious thinking, I put on the headphones and select some music with no vocals either from Di.fm or Spotify. The no vocals part is essentially important; I feel that I absolutely can’t concentrate when someone’s yapping into my ear.

As a lighter alternative, I also have Sennheiser CX-300 II’s, which I usually use with my iPod at the gym (or when vacuuming!). For the price they’re pretty good as well, and the noise insulation is not bad either. In fact, I used them as ear protectors when I was at the Australian GP this year. They had a FM transmission that I could listen to at the same time while I had my ears adequately protected from the noise of the cars (the Renaults were the noisiest, mind you).

To complete the set, I have a pair of Sennheiser (anyone recognise a pattern ?) PX-100’s which I use at home. They’re lightweight, open headphones with decent sound. I previously used them at work, but since they provide no insulation and seep out sounds when playing at louder volumes, I decided to go for the closed headphones instead.

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