Apple

Google Duo. A Better Facetime? Perhaps.

I’m kind of surprised it’s taken Google this long to get it’s Facetime for iOS challenger up and running. If you are interested you can get it here for iOS and Android. I’ve installed the iOS version but haven’t really tried it out yet. The real killer component of this, and something Apple should have done with Facetime quite a while ago, is the fact that this app is cross platform. It works with any Android or iOS phone across carriers. In other words, everyone can use it to call anyone. The app is extremely simple and easy to use, which I like. It’ll be interesting to see how fast this takes off in the next month, and if it will force Apple to open up the Facetime walled garden.

 

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Dock It.

One thing that has always baffled me about my iPhone is the why it comes with a wall charger but no dock. Actually I know why it is. It’s all about the money, and by not giving you a dock they ask you to buy one for 40 bucks. The thing is, when I am shelling out the kind of money Apple want’s for a phone, the least they could do is toss in a dock. I hate the wall plug with the power cord snaking out of the wall across my counter or desk.

Thankfully though, if you want a dock you don’t have to give your money to Apple or whoever made your smartphone. You can instead opt for Native Union’s which costs about the same and frankly looks better, especially when it is bundled with their belt cable. I also like the fact that this design gives your phone additional support so the weight of your phone isn’t placed exclusively on the lightning connector and the port on your phone. (I’m pretty sure this is what eventually caused my old phone to stop charging and the port to eventually fail)

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Leasing a Mac Pro Sounded Like a Good Idea Until I Did Some Math.

315W+orw5gL._SY355_I have been debating whether to buy a new Mac Pro or do the Apple business lease for a few weeks now. Last week I finally pulled the trigger and called the 800 number listed on the Apple site and spoke with a really nice guy who connected me with Direct Capital the company that handles the business leases for Apple equipment. The conversation went smoothly, I was approved for much more money than I needed, which was followed by an email asking me to “Choose my Terms” for credit. In other words 24, or 36 month lease, or the option of 2 payments to buy the Mac Pro out right. Now, here is where things started to fall apart.

A lease as I understand it, (at least with the lease on my car) pays down the deprecated value of the item over the length of the lease. The residual value is what the item is worth if you choose to purchase at the end of your term. In the case of my car, the face value to buy was 25k. The guaranteed residual value that VW has written into my contract is 19k. At the end of 36 months, if I want to buy my car, I must renegotiate a new loan with VW, or pay cash for the 19k residual amount.

Here is where the Apple deal is for lack of a better term “Fucked”.  I configured the following system for a 24 month, 0% interest business lease.

Mac Pro no monitor, no keyboard, no mouse. Just the CPU.

  • 3.7GHz quad-core with 10MB of L3 cache
  • 16GB (4x4GB) of 1866MHz DDR3 ECC
  • 1TB PCIe-based flash storage
  • Dual AMD FirePro D300 GPUs with 2GB of GDDR5 VRAM each

This is an entry level Mac Pro with a list price of $3899.00. Since I want to lease, I should just be paying the depreciation on the hardware. Since this is 0% interest loan on 24 a month lease, my payment should be pretty straight forward. 3899.00 plus tax divided by 24. Lets do a little math.

Lets do a little math.

$3899.00 times 0.07 cents in sales tax equals $272.93 in taxes. $3899.00 plus $272.93 equals $4171.93. $4171.93 divided by 24 months equals 24 payments of $173.83, assuming that the value of the system at the end of the lease is $0.00. That’s right assuming that the hardware has no residual value at all after just 2 years.

If the Mac Pro is as good as Apple claims, I would think the residual value would be at least 30% of the $3899.00 sticker price. That is $1169.70. So really my lease payment should be around $125.00 a month for 24 months coming to a total of $3002.00. Not perfect, but still cheaper than the purchase price of $3899.00. I could save close to a grand if the lease is structured with the hardware maintaining some residual value.

The problem is that when I ran the payment calculator on the “Select Your Terms” page I got a payment of $171.00 dollars a month. This adds up to $4617.00 in payments over the 24 month term of the lease, meaning the Mac Pro has a negative residual value of $718.00. That’s right if I lease,  a Mac Pro I end up paying $718.00 more than the value of the system if I just bought it outright. The thing that really chaps my ass is the fact that if I turn the computer in at the end of my lease, just like I would with my car,  Apple, or Direct Capital is going to take it, resell it and make additional money.

Then there is the end of lease agreement. Like a car, when you turn the item in, there is a processing fee that gets billed to you. The leasing company uses this as an incentive to get you to roll into a new car, computer, or other item that they offer.  The objective is to get you to lease a new item, continue to pay them and stick with their program. To do this they often wave the end of lease fees, and other associated costs. The problem that I have with Apple and Direct Capital’s lease structure is that you, the leaser will just continue to dig a deeper financial hole because you will still be paying more than the face value of the system over time.

So, at this point I called my accountant and asked him for some sage advice on the matter. This is what he told me.

“You’d be better off to buy a system with 24 to 36 months of differed interest. Pay it off before the end of the interest terms are reached, and when you need a new computer, sell the old one and use that cost to offset the purchase of the new system. You can deduct some of the initial purchase costs from your taxes the first year since it is a purchase for your business, and in the long run you aren’t getting screwed by a lease agreement that seems a little stacked against you.” This was the paraphrased version. My accountant likes to talk. You get his point though, and so do I.

Hub+ from NONDA

As laptop computers, especially laptops like the new MacBook or MacBook Air get smaller lighter and thinner, they have to give up hardware features. Specifically things like the number of USB ports, HDSC, card slots and more. To solve this problem, Palo Alto based tech company NONDA has developed a pocket sized hub with some serious features. 

  
HUB+ is a portable pocketable hub that has 2?USB-C ports a mini display port, SDX card reader, 3 USB charging ports, and HDSC reader. The device also has a built in Lithium Ion battery so it can be used to charge any phone when there is no power available. 

  
Crafted from aluminum, the design is sleek and modern matching the look of your latest Computing devices. The lightweight box is small enough to pocket, taking up about as much space as half of an iPhone 6. And even though this was designed to match the look of your shiny new MacBook, the clean minimal design would look good with what ever device it’s next to.

  
At $79.00 it’s not cheap, but the functionality it brings offsets the cost in my opinion. Right now you can jump on the Kickstarter site and preorder if you are so inclined. I think this is a must have for me.

   

  

  

  

   

Minimalist Design in the Lampion Vacuum Amp For Your iPad.

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Danish audio maker Låmpion has released a new tube amplifier designed by Stefan Radev. The minimalist tube amplifier is one stylish piece of hardware with a clean aesthetic blending aluminum, wood, and glass to create a clean, simple, functional design. The amp is compatible with both Apple and Android devices and can be used with  stand alone audio equipment as well.

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There is something timeless about the look of this object, and it feels like the design team really took into account how the amp will look when paired with an iPhone or an iPad. The rounded edges and materials mirror what is going on with the Apple products so well, and the look of the build quality screams premium audio. The design team  applied a well balanced choice of proportions, materials, and accents to create the clean look of this amplifier without introducing to much technological clutter.

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Beyond the look, this amp  is solid on specs as well featuring two twenty watt custom tube driven amps, with a frequency response of 5Hz to 50Khz, multiple inputs ranging from RCA output, micro USB input, WiFi audio, an Apple Lighting dock connector, 1/4 inch headphone jack as well as mini jacks.

No word on pricing and availability, but I suspect this will be Europe only and carry a hefty price tag when it’s all said and done.

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Ben Canales, Three Days with the iPhone 6.

Five years ago, the idea of producing a video like the one below with your mobile phone was a pipe dream. The technology simply wasn’t there yet. Roll the clock forward though and look at just how far we have come. How far we have come in just the last couple of years. The video below was produced by Ben Canales a pro shooter who owns Uncage the Soul Productions. Yes the guy knows what he is doing with a camera, but even though he has serious skills shooting video, don’t fool yourself and say that is why this video looks this good. This video looks good because the hardware and software in smart phones has gotten that good. Canales film a fun three minute run through the Siera Nevada mountains as he learns all the new features of the phone and software. For more info you can read all about it on Vimeo here.

Apple’s New Perspective.

Below is the new two and a half minute online spot for Apple. If you are not one of the 750,000 people that have already seen it, you are in for a treat. The video features tons of forced perspective, optical illusions, a little animated type, and one hell of a script. As always, Apple advertising is a total winner.