Monthly Archives: May 2008

iPhone v2.0: What it needs to actually compete with a Blackberry

As the second version of the iPhone is anticipated to ship within the next few months, I am compelled to weigh in with what I would like to see in this new model. It is no secret that I am a huge fan of Apple products, noting my recent review of the MacBook Air, being 1 of 6 Macintosh computers which I use at home and in my businesses. I also own two of the latest generation iPods (the 160-GB Classic and video-capable Nano). So naturally, an Apple zealot such as myself would have an iPhone as part of my business (and toy) arsenal, right?

Wrong. In fact, spending a few minutes online reading about its features (or the lack thereof) along with 5 minutes of hands-on experience in an Apple retail store last summer was more than enough to convince me that the iPhone was not even close to serving my needs. Perhaps my needs are different than others who would buy an iPhone over an iPod Touch. I can understand the appeal of the latter: a wide-screen, multitouch, gorgeous multimedia appliance with Wi-Fi which further extends an already popular (and profitable) product line.

If the iPhone is to be an iPod Touch plus a revolutionary phone, I would expect it to incorporate (at a minimum) the standard set of basic cellphone features which have been commonplace for years in much less expensive, low-end devices. In fact, as a high-end phone (as determined by its price point) coupled with a revolutionary user interface, I would also expect it to incorporate all of the basic Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) or smartphone capabilities which have been around for more than 10 years. After all, PDA functions are just software, an aspect of which the iPhone has claimed to be king. Continue reading

Omega-3 fatty acids preserve life better than statin drugs

I am continually amazed by the degree to which statin drugs continue to be pushed by physicians as the best solution for preventing death by heart disease. It is understandable that the pharmaceutical companies who supply the drugs would naturally promote their products as the best solution for heart health, but one would hope that a personal physician would not pass this commercial bias onto his/her patients. The study below cited from the Archives of Internal Medicine indicates that supplementing with an optimal amount of omega-3 fatty acids has greater impact on reducing mortality risk due to heart disease than statin drugs, all for less cost and no harmful side effects. Continue reading

What’s so “niche” about the MacBook Air?

Since switching to Mac OS X in 2004, I’ve been a fan of Apple’s products. Prior to OS X, I wasn’t completely sold on the performance, interoperability, or “tweakability” of the operating system, with the latter elements being particularly important to individuals who are technically demanding and, not to sugar-coat it, a bit geeky regarding their electronic toys. With the advent of OS X, Apple reinvented itself with a product which accommodates both ends of the user spectrum: an operating system with the stability, performance, and development integrity offered by the open-source community (being UNIX-based) combined with the elegance, simplicity, and user-friendly experience which appeals to non-technical users. Couple this software with the slick industrial design which belies the entire Apple product line, and I was defenseless to Apple’s lure. I purchased the 12″ Powerbook model, appreciating its reasonable amount of power, beautiful simplicity, ergonomic comfort (in the form of a kinesthetically pleasing, full-size keyboard) and relatively compact size.

As newer laptop models began to emerge from the talented team in Cupertino, however, I was a bit disenchanted in not seeing an updated version of my 12″ Powerbook. I began dreaming of an ultra-lightweight, yet fully featured, version of this laptop to come about with greater power in a similar, if not even more portable, version. I knew I certainly wasn’t alone in this desire, as there had been many speculative posts on rumor boards indicating the same desire and/or anticipation of such a product.

Naturally, when I saw the announcement of Apple’s MacBook Air (MBA), I was elated. In watching Steve Jobs’s keynote address introducing the product, it seemed that Apple had been listening to all of my telepathic messages indicating exactly what I wanted in my dream 12″-Powerbook replacement: full-sized keyboard, improved display, reasonable power for the package, good battery life, and very light weight (i.e. backpack friendly–a must for me, as I use a motorcycle as my preferred form of transportation). What has surprised me since I had preordered my machine in January is the number of bloggers/reviewers who have regarded the MacBook Air only to serve a “niche” market and to be unsuitable as a sole or primary computer. While I am fortunate enough to make use of several computers at home, I fail to see why the MacBook Air would not be sufficient for most people even as a primary computer. As such, I’m providing my own hands-on review here, being a very satisfied owner after 3 months of daily usage. Disclaimer: I have no financial interest in promoting the MacBook Air or any other Apple products, but as a self-admitted technophile I derive great pleasure from using tools which increase the fun and efficiency with which I build and operate my businesses.

Why I love the MacBook Air

Before I begin addressing the commonly cited compromises of the computer, it seems appropriate to mention a bit about why I consider this to be my favorite laptop to date (my fourth, in total, and my second Apple laptop). First, it’s obviously thin and lightweight. Who wouldn’t enjoy a lightweight laptop? People buy laptops because they are portable (as opposed to springing for a larger-display wielding desktop models), so making a laptop as lightweight and thin as possible most capably meets this need.


One of my personal favorite uses of the MacBook Air is to enjoy my outdoor home office instead of being relegated to my indoor home office. The beautiful LED-backlit, “instant-on” display is crisp and clear with great visibility outdoors–far superior to that of my old Powerbook. The full-size keyboard is a must, for me, to spend any reasonable amount of time at the keys. Battery life is reasonable (I get 4-5 hours on a charge depending on backlight intensity, radio usage, etc.) and the Wi-fi antenna/radio performance offers great improvement in range and the higher bandwidth of 802.11n. From a mechanical and industrial design perspective, I am thoroughly impressed with the robust hinge and clasp-less closure… as simple and beautiful to view as it is functional. Last but not least is the large multi-touch trackpad, which has me so spoiled that when I transfer to work on either of my desktops I find myself yearning for the 3-finger page-turn or back/forward gesture frequently.

OK, enough with the obvious “coolness” which is expected of the MacBook Air. That alone does not justify the $1,800+ cost of the machine, especially for pragmatic small-business owners and other professionals. Business utility comes first, which is the reason I am still holding onto my Blackberry Curve until the iPhone (v2.0?) incorporates its business and high-end phone functionality, and I’m not referring to “push-email”… but that topic is another post all to itself. So what exactly are all of these compromises or “lacking features” in the MBA which the average person cannot live without? Continue reading