I've Moved

It took a long time to deliver but I’m finally there – I’ve moved to Mac. They say a picture is worth a thousand words…

iMac up and running

I’ve posted a full Flickr set of the unboxing of the iMac and iPod – not too many pics as it’s been done already. It’s too early to feel settled with OS X although I’ve so far managed to do everything I’ve wanted to, including an almighty struggle to get my iTunes library over to the mac from the pc. I ended up hacking the library xml file to get it to work. However the iMac hardware is stunning. Quiet, fast and bright – in fact too bright much like when you view a TV in a store and it’s set to 100%. I ended up reducing the brightness to just over half to make it easy on the eyes. Even then it was brighter than my last LCD. Still can’t get used to using the Apple key for cut, copy, paste and there are obviously lots of oddities that will take time to understand. Expose is stunning though and makes managing multiple windows a painless task – windows could learn a lot and that still hasn’t been addressed in Vista which is an issue as more people move to larger and larger desktops.

The iPod is as impressive as ever. Screen is bright, video’s look sharp although I still think it’s too small to watch TV episodes and movies on. Most noticeable are the new earbuds – comfy and sound good. Gapless playback is also welcome…at last.

Downsides. Only one at the moment – the Mighty Mouse. It is OK but not a patch on my old Logitech which will be pressed back into service. The virtual right mouse button is awkward and the side buttons require a lot of pressure to activate. Not for me and it defies logic as to why Apple couldn’t design something better.

Seeing as I’ve spent only a day with the iMac I’m surprised how easy it is to perform basic tasks although I do feel vulnerable due to my lack of knowledge. If something went wrong I would probably struggle badly. With Windows I felt comfortable that no matter what I did I could rectify the situation – it will take a while to get that feeling with the Mac. Hardware has also worked like a dream, both new and old. Joy of joys – I don’t have any dead pixels (well none that are obvious and although I’ve scanned a few times and can’t see any I ain’t going hunting). Thoroughly delighted that I finally made the move. It will be interesting to see how the next few weeks go as I scratch beneath the surface. To be honest I can’t wait.

Europe triumph again

The Ryder Cup has made for some great viewing over the past three days. I couldn’t believe the amount of putts that the Europeans sank, especially today – the Americans had no answer. Clarke’s emotion on winning and the respect that his fellow golfers had for him was good to see although I think the BBC saying that ‘Sweden’s Henrik Stenson robbed Darren Clarke of a fairytale ending’ was a bit strong. Highlights were Casey’s hole in one and Clarke’s chip in on the 16th yesterday.

High fives to Sky also – their HD coverage of the tournament was superb. Overall a tremendous tournament made better by us winning…and in some style too.

Mac Software

In around a weeks time I’ll hopefully taken receipt of my iMac. Really looking forward to it and I’m also thankful that I’ve kept some money aside for a few apps that I really want. Some are mentioned on Grahams list and other can be found on this ultimate Mac software list.

One in particular is Delicious Library. I’ve dabbled with pc based media libraries but none look to be as well crafted as this. Yep – I’m becoming a Mac bore.

Test Drive Unlimited

I’ve not mentioned 360 games for a while and there’s one that has come out recently that has been a major surprise – Test Drive Unlimited. I’ve never been a big fan of the Test Drive series….too arcadey, not enough challenge – just never sat well next to other racing games. The first demo released over Live didn’t promise too much either – ok graphics and pretty average handling. Demo 2 however was a big improvement but I still wasn’t sure.

I’ve now been playing this for the last week and it’s just great. Basically the game lets you do what you want on the island of Hawaii. There is around 1000 miles of road to explore and race on. The single player challenges allow you to earn money, buy houses and cars and test yourself against AI racers through a variety of challenges. Most of these have been excellent so far especially as the challenges involve weaving through and avoiding police – think a deeper Burnout and your almost there. However as you drive around the island you are permanently online with players from around the world and on your friends list racing alongside. You can challenge anyone at any time or be challenged yourself, take part in events set up by other users or join a car club and race fellow members or other clubs online.

The best part of this is that the races are fairly random. In challenge mode you can race from your current position, through traffic to any part of the island. The GPS guides you and it can get frantic with two or more weaving through traffic watching the map at the same time. The car choices are pretty wide ranging and although the game offers tune ups they are fairly limited with most opting for the highest tune up setting available.

Handling can still feel a bit iffy on some cars and I think the motorbikes are a waste of time but there are a massive amount of cars that are worth owning and racing. There is also some graphical pop up but not enough to make you stop playing and to be honest the graphics are good so it’s a minor gripe really.

The game really is a joy to play and has delivered one of my gaming wishes – a free terrain to race anywhere on with friends online. Due to the freedom allowed there is also no chance of ever learning ‘a track’ as you decide the start and finish points and if you can’t be bothered with picking a end point there are a couple of purpose built race tracks tucked away on the island. Surprisingly this is a must have title for the 360 – buy it.

Oh So Quiet

Not been in the mood to post recently. Combination of work (including trip to Bristol), a stinking cold (blame rests with Easyjet) and then a migraine yesterday means I’ve not had the inclination to write anything. This means I’ve made no comments on the PS3 slip (I think it’s good news to be honest) nor on Blair and New Labour or on Saints Row being more enjoyable than GTA.

The only blessing from the last week is that it’s over and tomorrow night is showtime. That 24-inch iMac is so so tempting that I may make the plunge tomorrow. I had pretty much settled on getting a Macbook Pro but I don’t need that type of power on the go. So it may be an iMac now and the gorgeousness that is 1920*1200 pixels with a Macbook early next year. Oh – and a new iPod. For once I’d love the spoof to turn out to be true.

Anyway, enjoy the show for those watching online – no doubt I’ll post with some news in the next few days.

Almost forgot…Lord of the Rings:Return of the King looked amazing in HD on Sky at the weekend. Quality of the picture was superb and looked so much better than DVD. The Proms and the live football have also been great. Sky even managed to get a decent firmware upgrade out which has fixed quite a few of the bugs. Only grumble is lack of disk space makes keeping films etc an issue, especially now that the original Star Wars movies will be broadcast in HD before Christmas. Might have to perform a sneaky disk upgrade before then.

Sunday Herald Talk

Just launched is Sunday Herald Talk where the journalists from the paper publish ‘blogs’ and invite comments from readers of the paper or around the globe – in fact it’s linked off their main site and described as it’s new discussion forum. It’s a fairly drab site but has a fair bit of content already and some chat. They are also inviting users to create their own blog on the site which is a great idea and they’ve also embraced linking to digg, del.icio.us etc although they’ve succumbed to Google adverts. Doh.

Has great potential especially if the keep the quality of the new blogs high.

Apple Special Event

September 12th could be an expensive day. Apple are doing another of their ‘special events’ which has everyone speculating on new products. Hot tips are a new iMac and an iTunes movie store and maybe a new iPod or replacement for the Nano.

I would love to see Macbook Pro updated with at least the new Intel chips – that would be enough for me to purchase. I also want, well, need a new iPod as my current one is full and I can’t be doing with picking and choosing what music I want on the player. I’m still not sold on a video iPod though especially if it’s larger than the current models. Would be nice to see a video and a music iPod developed.

One thing on the movie store – rumours are $14.99 for new titles and $9.99 for older movies – sounds a bit steep considering the movies will come with DRM restrictions. Surely that wouldn’t be the price for a movie sized only for a new iPod? That got me thinking – would we see hi-def movies sold for that price through iTunes? The movie’s would be large but would users be willing to download hi def movies and play then from their laptop or pc rather than buying an HD-DVD or Blu-ray player. Will probably never happen but the option would be nice.