The Oculus Rift era has arrived, the revolution hasn’t

The reviews for the final, consumer version of the Oculus Rift are all over the media, and there are mixed comments. Above all I perceive some kind of disappointment: where is the miracle? Where is the revolution?

It’s hard to surprise with something that has been in the works publicly for so long. The miracle and the revolution started years ago, when we astounded ourselves with a device that finally showed that Virtual Reality experiences were indeed possible.

Being able to enjoy those experiences seems now something almost boring. Of course the Oculus Rift has arrived: it had to, at some point. Those reviewers have written prettydull, unimpressive pieces about a product that was so well known it had no chances to impress us.

That is the next step for the Oculus Rift and the rest of its competitors, of course. But at least they’ve given the first and most difficult step.

iPad Pro review time: a great product that you shouldn’t buy?

Walt Mossberg on The Verge has written an impressive, sincere and up to the point review. Three problems arises according to that piece: it’s “too big and bulky“, the keyboard case (just one angle, no backlightning, not many shortcuts) is disappointing (“I kept wishing for a trackpad, so I didn’t have to keep reaching for the screen“, something that Lauren Goode, the other reviewer, also misses there), and few apps take advantage of the greater screen state.

The Apple Pencil is great but not perfect either according to Mossberg, who points out the fact that “there’s no place to store it, or even to magnetically attach it when it’s not in use

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Those reviewers agree on one thing: the hardware is there, the software not so much. That’s important: the apps are not ready for the iPad Pro. I guess they will be at some point, but that could be a problem for early users. The new dual-window mode seems nice but it’s not a real replacement for multi-window management on a desktop OS. Andrew Cunningham at Ars Technica goes deeper on this and explains how many apps don’t render well on the new screen resolution, and reveals that “iOS 9’s multitasking still needs a lot of work“. The conclusions about the software are pretty evident:

There’s no exposed filesystem, no easy official way to install apps from outside the App Store, no iOS version of Xcode for developers. Connecting external accessories (cameras or SD cards, mics or audio interfaces) requires dongles and adapters and, occasionally, external power supplies. There’s no true multi-display support to speak of.

Cunningham goes further and tells us he feels the iPad Pro is a “sometimes computer“, which is probably a good definition of a product that wants precisely to be that. And although that could be enough for some people -artists and designers, for example-, I read the reviews and I can’t help but thinking about what a great product this seems and how no one reviewer really recommends it.

By the way, take a look at TechCrunch’s Matthew Panzarino review: he gives a different perspective, one in which he understands that Apple is just exploring the future with this device, as the company did with the MacBook previously this year. I’d say the former is the future for tablets, and the latter, the future for laptops. Fortunately, we’ll have many things in between.

 

Surface Book vs. MacBook Pro: on apples and oranges

The reviews are there, and there are more and more coming, but PC World has tried to make the same comparison that Microsoft talked about in the launch event.

Of course comparing one machine to another is a little bit unfair, but every comparison is that. The MacBook Pro (13 inch, Core i5-5752U) is slightly faster than the Surface Book (Intel Core i5 -6300U ) on CPU-related tests, but 1) that’s a comparison between a 28W and 14W TDP chips and 2) these are chips from different generations.

And then there’s the comparison between an integrated GPU (Intel HD 6100 on the MacBook) and a discrete GPU (supposedly, a special version of a GTX 940M on the Surface Book). And the result is pretty clear. Which confirms again that the comparison is unfair. In any case:

The Surface Book’s premium price is what a premium is about. You can’t get discrete graphics in any MacBook Pro, but you can on the Surface Book. And the payoff is clear.

True.

Update (10/23/2015): another comparison, not that realistic either. I can’t understand how a tech reviewer can’t understand the difference between processors. Comparing machines by their price can really give us some surprises. Processors on both machines are absolutely different, (dual core Core i7-6600U with a 15W TDP on the SB vs a quad-core Core i7-4870HQ with a 47W TDP). Of course the MacBook crushes the Surface Book. C’mon.

Source: Surface Book vs. MacBook Pro: It isn’t twice as fast. It’s three times as fast | PCWorld

Nexus 5X & 6P reviews coming: worthy successors with surprising cameras

Reviews on the new Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P are coming. Ars Technica (both in one review, interesting but please, Ars, pagination in 2015? Really?) Engadget (5X, 6P) and TechCrunch (5X, 6P), are amongst the first ones to publish them, but we’ve got also first (I’d say ‘second’) impressions from Wired.

According to Ars, “all other Android devices are second class citizens“. I think this is an overstatement, because the later admit that there is no quick charging or wireless charging support, and the cameras are not comparable but the cameras seem even better tan their rivals’ and they are no longer the typical limited Nexus cameras.

I don’t like the fingerprint position, and as I told previously, Google should use this phones to show what Android 6.0 (and future versions for that matter) can do. That, by the way, is clearly the big pro of both smartphones.

The devices have nice prices in the US. That’s not the case in Spain and the euro zone, where the Nexus 5X ($379) will have a price of 479 euro. The same happens with the Nexus 6P ($499 != 649 euro) .

Not bad phones, but not specially good on the features/price ratio.

OS X El Capitan doesn’t deserve this long review. It’s not worthy.

Apple brings refinement and under-the-hood changes to Yosemite’s new design.

Ars Technica has been publishing the best, more detailed and more complete reviews of OS X since its first version 14 years ago. John Siracusa became a legend in this scenario, and he decided to stop reviewing it last April:

There is no single, dramatic reason behind this. It’s an accumulation of small things—the time investment, the (admittedly, self-imposed) mental anguish, the pressure to meet my own expectations and those of my readers year after year—but it all boils down to a simple, pervasive feeling that this is the time to stop. I’ve done this. It is done.

I’d say there is more than that. I’d say that Siracusa was just tired of reviewing new versions with so little to review. OS X El Capitan is a good example of that, but even realizing that reality, Ars Technica has again published a pretty long review that shouldn’t have been that long. The conclusions make this clear:

After Apple’s WWDC keynote, a friend texted me to tell me she couldn’t figure out what was supposed to be so great about El Capitan. It’s an understandable question to ask, especially after Yosemite’s big, immediately obvious changes (and an admittedly grandiose new name).

And the reason is simple. There’s not much to talk about, and Apple doesn’t deserve that kind of review when the changes to OS X have been stingy in the last few years. OS X 10.11 isn’t worthy of this.

Now go and read it. It’s not a bad review at all.

Source: OS X 10.11 El Capitan: The Ars Technica Review

iPhone 6s reviews: size matters. More than anything else.

The reviews are coming. Nilay Patel calls the iPhone 6S Plus the best phone in the market –he’s not alone– , but he adds: “Note that I said the 6S Plus, not the 6S.

The main camera is “not so much intensely better than you’ll notice a difference if you’re just sharing them on Facebook“, and the front camera that matters more according to him (excuse me?).

On 3D Touch, “there aren’t a ton of rules for how anyone should use it outside of the peek and pop and quick action APIs” so he expect developers get the real sense of it.

I’m not sold to 3D Touch -let’s see if it really saves times and makes everything more convenient as it seems- and the camera isn’t that gorgeous (it was already great  anyway), so as Patel says, don’t upgrade from the iPhone 6/Plus.

If you’ve got an older model, though, the update makes sense for iOS lovers. But not for the camera or the 3D Touch technology.

It’s because the size. 

That’s the only compelling reason to jump to the new iPhones. It was the reason too for the previous models, so no big news here.

Update: Take a look at John Gruber’s review of the iPhone 6s. It’s really good. Honest, consistent.

Source: iPhone 6S review | The Verge