In a matter of days, you’ll be able to make your own decision as to whether the Apple Watch is the real thing or hype. That is, if you can schedule an appointment, get your online pre-order in time and if the model you want is available for delivery on the 24th.
Or maybe you’re in the market for a new laptop. In which case, the question is do you want to get more of the same MacBook Air or MacBook Pro you’re, or do you want to liplock the future that is the retina MacBook with its single-port lifestyle?
No one’s touched and played with either yet. No one, that is, unless you’re one of those special few that Apple deems worthy of early access to their products for review purposes. (We aren’t one of those people. But we’d like to be. And if you’re someone who works for Apple PR and you happened to stumble on this page: Hi here! Give us a call. Do you like alcohol?) But here’s a quick rundown of reviews by people who are.
Not that we’re jealous.
Overall, John Gruber is positive about the device. He sees this as another case of Apple entering a market after its been established, like it did with MP3 players and smartphones, but offering something with the company’s refinement. He describes the Apple Watch as an “OK” watch but raves about the device when taken as a whole. He loves the fit and finish of the device. Interestingly, he’s impressed about the basic, fluoroelastomer bands: “I’ve rolled my eyes at Apple’s use of fluoroelastomer in lieu of rubber to describe the material of these bands, but it truly does have a premium, richly supple feel to it.” In addition, he sees the haptic feedback — the taps that the watch uses with its notifications — as an important factor in delivering information. He also sees the Digital Touch function as an innovative new way of communication though it requires knowing someone who also has an Apple Watch.
David Pogue sees the Apple Watch as an evolution of the watches we’re all presently used to. (Though even he wonders who the Apple Watch Edition is really for. Is it to make the $349 to $399 Apple Watch Sport and the stainless steel Apple Watch, which starts at $549, a deal? And is the Apple Watch Sucker Edition a more appropriate appellation for the gold watch?) It’s a very well thought-out, very well designed piece of equipment that seeks to answer why you’d want a smartwatch. He describes notification management as “excellent” and that the company’s attention to detail in hardware and software coming together. Learning the new gestures and using the digital crown and side button will take some time. But when it works, it’s “amazing,” he wrote.
“Of the half-dozen smartwatches I’ve tested in recent years, I’ve had the best experience with Apple Watch. If you’re an iPhone power user and you’re intrigued by the promises of wearable technology, you’ll like it, too”, Lauren Goode opens. However, she also points out the shortcomings — you’ll need an iPhone newer than a 5 and that not everyone will want to move the notifications they get on their phone to their wrist. Goode also used it as an exercise tracker and found it very useful for those who are geeks and who work out. Apps are also a work in progress, but Goode found the first party apps from Apple the most useful.
Jim Dalrymple, he of the single word “yep” and “nope” predictions regarding Apple, was happy with the 1.1 Ghz model Apple supplied him with. He said he didn’t touch his other two laptops and the MacBook was now fully integrated into his workflow. The new keyboard takes some getting used to because of its shallow travel, but he grew to like it. In real world use, the MacBook had a 40 percent charge after 6 hours of sporadic web browsing, blog posting and email sending/receiving. Another seven and a half hours of light video watching and other tasks brought it down to four percent. Dalrymple describes the retina display as gorgeous, of course. But on the more controversial point of the MacBook’s single USB-C port, he comes down as a supporter — but he also makes his preference for probability over expandability clear.
In a contrary view to Dalrymple, Jason Snell is upfront with his reservations to the single port: “Using a computer that feels like it fell through a time warp from the future is fun, but if that computer drops through the wormhole without any compatible accessories then there’s going to be some aggravation, too.” Like Dalrymple, Snell likes the new keyboard and gushes about the smaller package — smaller than the already diminutive MacBook Air. But with that size, there’s compromises and Snell, fairly, points them out: the display is gorgeous, but at 12 inches it’s “almost unusable”. The fanless processor is slow, but it didn’t stop him from getting his work done. He recommends it for people who don’t mind living on technology’s edge, but advises everyone else to wait for the world to catch up to the device.
Joanna Stern agrees with Snell that the MacBook is a time machine from the future. She asks why, and it’s not without reason, it can’t have biometric security measures built-in, especially since fingerprint scanners have been standard in iPhones for the last two generations. In contrast to Dalrymple, Stern takes the laptop to its extremes to test its battery life and she comes away unimpressed. Rather than seeing this as opportunity to get a jump on what’s new if you can afford it, Stern is much more cautionary in her advice. “Like the original MacBook Air, introduced in 2008, there are too many key compromises—in battery life, speed and port access—for the early-adopter price.”
Photo by Willem van Bergen/flickr.