All posts by Macmint

iPad vs. iPad Mini

If you’re considering buying an iPad, you’ve got quite a few options open to you. They range from simple – choosing between black and white – to more complicated – 16GB, 32GB or 64GB? Wi-Fi only or Wi-Fi plus 3G? But perhaps the most thought provoking question for some is whether to pick a regular iPad or an iPad Mini. Both have their advantages, so, which one might suit you best?

The current “regular” iPad model is 9.7 inches and comes at a starting price of $499.00. In contrast, the iPad Mini is just 7.9 inches and starts at $329.00. Size and price are two of the biggest factors in deciding which to go for.

The iPad Mini, being smaller, is also lighter and much more portable. It can easily fit into the pocket of a knapsack or even a handbag and hardly be noticed. Its compact size makes it easy to use with one hand and ideal for reading on. That being said, the regular iPad is still thin, lightweight and portable.

It’s also worth noting that if size and price are your sticking points, the iPad Mini is still a fully featured iPad. It uses the same apps and offers the same features, just in a tinier package.

Or perhaps the technical specifications are more important to you than size or price? If that’s the case, it’s worth noting that the iPad has a faster processor than the Mini. It also boasts Apple’s new retina screen, which is sharper than the display on a 1080P television.

Another factor in determining which iPad to purchase is what you plan on using it for. If you’re after a portable entertainment device that is ideal for playing simple games, watching video and reading on, then the Mini is a great choice. It’s bigger than your iPhone, making it easier to see.

There are a few drawbacks to the iPad Mini, although they may not matter to some. It’s not as easy to type on as a full-sized iPad, although it is still completely capable if you choose to use iWork and type emails on it. Furthermore, since there are still websites in existence that aren’t optimized for mobile devices, you may encounter sites that require you to do a lot of scrolling in order to navigate them. If that doesn’t matter to you and you don’t see yourself using it to work on frequently, then an iPad Mini should be a perfect fit.

If you do intend to check email, use iWork and complete other work-related tasks on your iPad, you’ll like want to opt for the regular version. It’s ideal for productivity and in some ways can be used as a laptop replacement. It’s also much better for web browsing and offers greater visibility and clearer text size than the Mini.

Before you rush out and purchase your new gadget, carefully consider what you’ll use it for most often and how much you can afford to spend. With those questions answered, you’ll have an easier time picking between the iPad and the iPad Mini. There are certainly merits to both.

Apple may be testing larger iPad

Smartphones, tablets, and now even phablets – there is no denying that mobile computing devices are hot items that have changed the way we work, socialize and share information.

Manufacturers are constantly working on creating newer, better devices that offer more features in a variety of different sizes. We have the iPhone 4s, the bigger iPhone 5, a wide range of Android phone sizes, especially from companies like Samsung, tablets like the iPad, iPad Mini and Galaxy Tab and even phone-tablet crossover “phablets” like the Galaxy Note.

With the emphasis on having a device that is both incredibly high-tech and still very portable, is there room in the market for larger devices? In years past the emphasis was on creating smaller and smaller cell phones, but now the opposite seems to be true.

In that regard, it is rumored that in addition to various iPhone sizes, the iPad and the new iPad Mini, Apple may be testing an even larger, 13-inch iPad. Could the super sized tablet be a reality? And is there a market for it?

According to reliable sources at the Wall Street Journal, a 12.9-inch prototype iPad is being tested by Apple at the moment. But before any Apple fans who’d favor the larger tablet get too excited, it’s important to keep in mind that the computing giant tests many different prototype devices before a select few make it into production and are launched to the public.

It is believed that, if chosen to be put into the marketplace, the “mega iPad” will feature retina display and in-cell touch technology, making it thinner and lighter. That would balance the larger overall size nicely. But despite the technology to make it lighter and thinner, would a big iPad be hard to handle? The current model is 9.7 inches, with the Mini at 7.9 inches.

Perhaps a “mega iPad” could be seen as a tablet-laptop hybrid, similar to the Lenovo Yoga. Apple CEO Tim Cooks believes that consumers are after, and even expect, larger screens, bucking that trend from the early 2000s for smaller and smaller devices. Having larger, yet portable, technology could provide the public with the proper photo color, white balance, reflectivity, brightness, longevity of display and battery life they’re after, according to Cook.

For Apple, a third size of tablet would be another step in the right direction towards competing with companies like Samsung, their main rivals. If the “mega iPad” is released to the public, it could be as soon as late Fall 2013, after the new iPhone 5s, the rumored iPhone “light” and possibly the Apple phablet device.

Only time will tell if Tim Cook and Apple decide to release the 12.9-inch iPad. In addition, only more time will determine if a bigger iPad will be as popular as the original, or anything else Apple has released in the last few years. While the iPad Mini has been fairly popular, there will still critics who questioned whether there was any point to it. It’s likely there will be those who question the usefulness of a bigger version as well.

iCloud Keychain: The Latest in Password Management

Imagine you’re shopping online using your MacBook when you get called away from your desk. Later in the day, you’re waiting for an appointment and have a moment to wrap up the task. You pull out your iPhone and pick up where you left off, with the website password and even your credit card number synced securely for your convenience. It’s possible with the new iCloud Keychain.

Amidst the many exciting bits of news that came out of the Apple Worldwide Developer Conference last week was an announcement about the new iCloud Keychain, a password manager for Safari. While it didn’t generate a lot of immediate buzz, this latest development has the potential to significantly impact consumer habits online.

For those of us who utilize iCloud across different Apple devices, the addition of the iCloud Keychain is welcome news. It is yet another way to keep synced and organized, regardless of whether we’re using our MacBooks or our iPads.

iCloud Keychain has a number of remarkable features. It will store and sync website login data, credit card numbers and even preferred Wi-Fi networks and their passwords, across all systems. It can even auto-fill information in online forms.

In an era where we all have more login credentials than we can easily manage, we are scared off the practice of using one password for everything (or even worse, writing our passwords down somewhere.) Yet studies show two thirds of North Americans still use the same password for multiple websites and services, leaving them vulnerable to phishing attacks. In this regard, iCloud Keychain will make our technology-driven lives a little easier. It will even generate and suggest new passwords for users, then store and use them from that point on, if preferred.

iCloud Keychain is Apple’s answer to services like LastPass or 1Password, which integrate with browsers across devices, enabling subscribers to access all their accounts once they’ve entered a master password. The main advantage over competitors’ products, of course, is that iCloud Keychain is free.

Not only is it free, it’s safe, too. To keep your most sensitive data secure, it utilizes 256-bit AES encryption, only syncs on trusted devices, and doesn’t store credit card security codes.

What is a hackintosh?

iMacs, MacBooks – we all know a Macintosh computer when we see one. But just what, then, is a Hackintosh? A Hackintosh is, quite simply, a PC computer that is configured to run a Macintosh operating system and Mac software on it. They’ve been dubbed “Hackintosh” as a portmanteau of the Apple computers and the fact that they’re set up illegally using Macintosh software – hence, hacked.

Just how do you go about creating a Hackintosh? It used to require extremely restrictive hardware choices and considerable computing expertise. However, it’s become easier to do lately. There are a wealth of resources that guide computer users through setting up a Hackintosh as well as address related concerns and questions. Furthermore, there are even manufacturers who will set up Hackintosh computers for consumers. However, if you’re determined to build one yourself, there are a few important points to keep in mind.

First, consider carefully whether you’re truly comfortable with building your own machine and having to rely on yourself for troubleshooting and support. There are no hotlines you can call or shops you can bring your “hacked” computer into if something goes wrong.

If you feel you can handle the risks that come along with building a Hackintosh, then you should research and determine which hardware will best suit your needs. This has been compared to putting together a puzzle where it seems like many of the pieces are interchangeable, but in fact aren’t. Selecting the appropriate hardware can be the most daunting part of this project.

The parts that Apple uses to create their computers aren’t unique. Many are the same as what gets used in PCs. What differentiates them are the software drivers created to interact with the Macintosh operating system and cause the hardware to function correctly. By doing your research, you can select hardware with the correct drivers or even obtain open-source drivers online that will function with your Hackintosh.

Once you have your hardware together, it’s time to assemble the actual computer. Follow one of the many online guides regarding building a Hackintosh carefully, and read your motherboard manual word for word. By doing so, you should avoid any major issues and have a functioning computer in no time.

Next, it’s time to install the operating system so you can actually use your new machine. First, you must correctly configure the BIOS to make its settings Hackintosh-friendly. Next, you can create a partition and install the operating system. The latest guides online give specific steps for installing OS X Mountain Lion.

After the BIOS is configured and the operating system installed, you can install the drivers. From there, you should be “in” and able to do any Macintosh software updates and otherwise set up your computer for personal use!
So, with such an extensive process, what’s the point of creating a Hackintosh computer? For some computing enthusiasts, it’s merely s project or hobby, the idea of being able to handle such a significant undertaking. However, for many people the benefit lies in being able to essentially have a Macintosh computer at a fraction of the cost of buying an iMac or MacBook with comparable specifications.

While it has become easier lately, it must be stressed that building a Hackintosh is not a simple project. While the benefit is having an extremely powerful computer for a small amount of money, the trade-off for some is the amount of effort that must go into the build and the level of tinkering and troubleshooting that will always be involved.

If the idea of going it solo and having bugs to work out isn’t daunting to you, then creating a Hackintosh may be a fun project.

Google Reader alternatives

Google Reader is no more. But while the popular RSS reader has been shut down, there are actually many other alternatives, including ones with excellent iOS apps. Since Google announced they were discontinuing the service, several lesser-known readers have been gaining attention, and other already-popular services have refined their offerings to capture even more users.

Here are a few of the most popular alternatives to Google Reader, all available through the app store so you can read your favorite blogs on your iPhone or iPad.

1. Feedly

By far the most popular alternative to Google Reader, Feedly is simple to use and has a clean, beautiful interface. It’s easily customizable to work similarly – and even better – than Google Reader did. Since Google announced the death of Reader, they’ve been adding new features, updating their iOS app and acquiring even more users. The great thing about Feedly is the number of options it provides, from social media sharing to integration with other services. Feedly has already been named “the service that everyone else will be using” and it’s not hard to understand why.

2. NewsBlur

Originally a web-based feed reader, NewsBlur now offers an app as well. You can read stories through it or on their original website, create categories and tags that help highlight the stories and topics you’re interested in and even create a “Blurblog” which will share your favorite stories in a blog type feed for others to read. NewsBlur is Free for up to 64 sites, but you can pay $24.00 a year for a premium account that gets you unlimited access and more frequent updates.

3. Pulse

For a different approach to RSS reading, try this visually appealing reader app. Instead of trying to imitate Google Reader or follow the usual RSS layout, Pulse makes your feed more image-driven. It also pushes the stories it thinks you’ll like the most to the top. For those who especially appreciate pictures and a visually stimulating user experience, Pulse is worth checking out.

4. Flipboard

Another unique take on an RSS reader, Flipboard is a magazine-like option ideal for those who love to read on their iPad. It’s also very image-driven, much like Pulse, but with an entirely different layout. Flipboard isn’t for everyone, but those who love it swear by it.

5. Zite

With a clean, newspaper-like look and feel, Zite has iPhone and iPad apps as well as the option to read it online via your computer. If you like a few images but an overall straightforward feed view, Zite might be your best bet.

Another option for keeping up with the blogs and websites you most enjoy is by following them on Twitter or Facebook. Some people don’t enjoy using social media, and others read the blogs they like through an RSS reader program even though they’re also a “fan” through social media. With a little effort, it is possible to set up an excellent newsfeed on Facebook or Twitter and keep up with it on your iPhone or iPad, especially if you use a social media client like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite.
For some purists, none of the current options will ever quite take the place of Google Reader, although there are excellent alternatives. The best way to see which is for you is to download a few and check out how your favorite blogs appear on them. With so many reader services available, you’re likely to find something that will work for you.