Note: The site described in this blog entry no longer exists. The market has
diversified a great deal meaning that there was more than one obvious choice
for people in a catagory, and no one used this site. So I took it down.
Which cell phone to buy has become an increasingly difficult question to answer.
Not because there are more options now than ever before, but because it matters
now in the age of smartphones. 6 years ago, all phones sucked, full stop. If you
wanted a smartphone, your options were a device running Windows Mobile,
Blackberry OS, or Palm OS, all of which had terrible user experiences. You were
also in a fairly elite category of users, and likely had the resources to
properly research your purchase. For everyone else, there were crummy
feature-phones that didn't do anything well, save voice and SMS.
That all changed in 2007 with the advent of the iPhone. The smartphone was
elevated to a level of polish, simplicity, and approachability that they'd never
seen before. Ordinary, non-nerd users started wanting smartphones. And with the
advent of Android, there were tons to choose from, most of them terrible. So I
created "Which Phone do I Buy?", a tool to help non-nerds choose a cell phone.
There's really only a couple choices worth considering for each carrier based on
a few simple criteria. Are you a non-nerd who wants a great smartphone? Give it
a try—it'll only take you 3 minutes or less.
There are a couple of caveats. I don't care about price, because American
carriers subsidize everything so any phone worth having costs around $200 out of
pocket with a 2-year contract. It's never worth going for a cheaper phone; if
you go the $100 route, you will have either an old device or a crummy, low-end
device that will make you miserable for the better part of 2 years. Isn't $4.17
a month worth your personal happiness?
Also, if you have opinions about whether or not a phone's radio has full receive
diversity, a replaceable battery, access to your filesystem, is easily
unlockable, has a great selection of third-party ROMs, supports your favorite
wireless charging standard, has an NFC radio, has OpenCL drivers, etc., you're a
nerd. In fact, if you understand any of the above, this guide is not for you.
This is for people that just want a quality phone to use day to day, and don't
want to devote the time poring over tech journals, such as The
Verge and Anandtech, and
trying out a dozen handsets before making a purchase.
I consider camera quality, hardware build quality, software, app ecosystem,
speed, polish, and reliability. There's only 4 phones I currently recommend to
non-nerds, and these change month to month. Most people at the time of writing
are better off with an iPhone 5—it's simple, high quality, and if anything
goes wrong, you bring it to the Apple store to have it serviced, often for free.
That's hard to beat. It's not my personal choice for myself. In fact, my phone
isn't even on the list of 4 phones I currently recommend to normals. But in case
you haven't noticed, I'm a bit of a nerd.
It's been a long time coming, but as an
activity related to my recent job hunt, I sought to redesign and rebuild this
humble web site. The original design served me well, but it was the best design
I was capable of in 2005, and my abilities have progressed. I hope my handful of
readers find this format more pleasant.
Since it's safe to rely on @font-face
support in browsers today, I wanted to try a very modern, clean, type-driven
design. I initially started with Helvetica
Neue: a classic,
attractive sans-serif font that still manages to look modern after all these
years. However, particularly on Windows PC's, it doesn't render well. It's also
so very common and recognizable, and it would cost me at least $10 a month for
access to it as a web font. As I'm a fan of Google's Android OS, I decided to go
with Roboto, a
Grotesk font that certainly borrows a lot from Helvetica, but is distinctly
different, and freely served from Google Font
API. Plus, it's available in 6
different weights, including light weights which I wanted to use on my
This is the first site I've built with a mobile-first perspective, and it's
responsive with 5 distinct breakpoints. The HTML and CSS code have been tuned
for scrolling performance, small transfer size, and speed in general. It should
behave very nicely on modern phones and tablets, and scale up well in a desktop
browser. If you are using a fairly current version of Chrome or Firefox or
Safari, feel free to resize the browser window. There's some fun stuff there.
I've also added invisible skip links for accessibility purposes, though I'd
still like to do more testing with a screen reader.
Along with this site, I've also built
resume.traas.org, a responsive, HTML5 résumé
that prints very nicely. It has a similar aesthetic to traas.org, and works
nicely on all sorts of devices and sizes.
The back-end has also been completely rebuilt from scratch, and I'm happy to say
that it's roughly 1/20th the number of lines of PHP code. This has been a strong
trend from version 3, where I decided to stop maintaining my own blogging engine
and outsource that to blogger. In fact, the only code from 3.0 that lives on is
the piece that parses the XML from the RSS feed that Blogger publishes to
present the content on the front page of the main site. The big reduction in
version 4 is the removal of the database-driven CMS_—_no longer is the page
content stored in a database. Instead, most of it (save the complicated bits)
are stored in static Markdown files, which are checked into my Mercurial
repository and deployed via my Ant/Python build scripts.
The build/deploy system is most exciting to me; it's removed the human factor
from deploying to the staging and production servers, and allows me to iterate
more quickly without the worry of breaking something.
In my quest for lightness, I ditched CodeIgniter for a super-lightweight custom
framework that I've been using for a number of simple projects that I call Basic
Site Template. I plan on open-sourcing it when it becomes a little more mature.
minification, scriptable sprite building, resource cacheing, some ultra-basic
unit tests, a deploy system, and a framework that provides a very loose MVC
structure that just gets out of the way.
The most interesting new feature I added was the ability to call me with an
online form using Google Voice. Google offers a widget to do this, but it's ugly
and built in Flash. I did a little research, and found that there's an
undocumented, unofficial API that a few people have tinkered with, and with
about two days worth of trial and error, I was able to get it to work.
The Twitter widget in the contact page, on the other hand, was stupidly easy.
And the email component I've done a thousand times.
Though I feel a great sense of accomplishment, there's still a lot I want to do:
Modify the config system to use JSON rather than hard-coded PHP objects.
Remove the dependency on Ant; use or make a full Python-based deploy system.
Agressive use of sprites for the Portfolio page.
Optimize the caching system_—_I think I'm stating files more often than is necessary.
Clean up CSS, particularly the forms stuff. I think I have a bit more in there that's unused.
Add more pre/post-deployment tests, so I can see if something went wrong during deployment.
Automated PDF generation for my résumé.
Build a subset of Font Awesome for the handful of icons I use on the page.
Do you have any suggestions? I'd love to hear them.
The short version: if you're on T-Mobile, or wish to switch, this is the
only phone worth buying, period. It blows away the competition, including
the Galaxy S III, and my previous pick, the Galaxy Nexus. It's also $300
off-contract, which is absolutely nuts for a high-end cellphone, most of which
retail for $600 and up off-contract.
The longer version is much more nuanced. This phone is so amazing that its many
minor flaws jump to the surface. I'm going to be incredibly critical in this
review of its flaws, but please don't think this implies that I do not like the
device. Indeed, I'm very, very happy with it, and wouldn't trade it for any
other phone that has been created at time of writing.
Looking at the Nexus 4 and the Galaxy Nexus side-by-side when laid face up on a
table, there are very few differences. They are both elegant, unadorned black
slabs, with the same fairly unique rounded top and bottom featured on the Nexus
S. They both have a roughly 4.7" screen with no hardware buttons. Google has
defined how a Nexus phone ought to look.
When you pick up the device, however, the difference in build quality is
incredible. Though the Galaxy Nexus was a fair step up in this regard compared
to the utterly cheap-feeling Nexus S that preceded it, the Nexus 4 is in a
different class. It feels incredibly sturdy and rigid in the hand. The glass
back and rigid frame surrounding it look and feel great, if a hair heavier than
its predecessor. I like the feel better than the iPhone 4/4S, as the edges are
tapered rather than straight, and covered by an extremely pleasant soft-touch
material. The front glass is curved on the edges, and is wedded to the frame
with a dark glossy plastic rim. The curved edges of the glass feel really great,
and make swipe gestures feel a little more natural. This is in a similar (but
not quite equal) class of design that we're used to seeing by Apple, HTC, and
Not everything is an improvement over the Galaxy Nexus, however. The power and
volume buttons, though in the same locations on either side of the device that
have been the same since the Nexus S, have a cheap, plasticky feel, and are more
difficult to actuate. The headphone jack has been moved to the top, which is
awkward when I want to have both a USB cable and headphones plugged into the
device at the same time (which I do almost every day on my commute to
work—tethered to my laptop to provide internet access while I'm listening
to a podcast). Like the Galaxy Nexus, the Nexus 4 has its speaker
(unfortunately) on the rear of the device. However, as the Nexus 4 has a
perfectly flat back, when sitting on a table, the speaker is almost completely
muted. Why do no high-end phones have front-facing loudspeakers? This is
preposterous to me.
And though the whole device looks and feels fantastic, it really could be
better. The glass back, while adding rigidity and maintaining RF transparency,
makes the device more fragile, and more slippery. I've caught it several times
slipping off a not-too-level smooth table. Why couldn't Google have opted to
ditch the glass rear, and have a milled polycarbonate back that continued the
soft-touch material it used for the perimeter of the device?
The shiny plastic rim that provides a transition between the front glass the
soft-touch sides is completely unnecessary, and makes the device feel cheaper
than it ought, and looks like it will eventually scratch/chip the layer of paint
that keeps it glossy.
Finally, while I was pleasantly surprised to find the large size of the Galaxy
Nexus comfortable, the added size to the Nexus 4 is actually a detractor. Google
made the screen wider in portrait view, and it now is just barely uncomfortable
to use in one hand. As the entire industry seems to race for larger and larger
devices, a trend which I've generally applauded, my hands are dictating a
The screen on the Nexus 4 is really incredible. It's crisp and clear, and feels
even closer to the surface of the glass than the screen of the Galaxy Nexus.
Though I raved about the Galaxy Nexus screen in my review last
year, after a few
additional months, the weaknesses of the screen just became more noticeable,
primarily the Pentile (RGBG) subpixel arrangement. Though I still prefer the
contrast and deep blacks on AMOLED screens, the LG Nexus 4's screen is truly
excellent. It's crisp and sharp. The viewing angles are very good. The iPhone
4/4S/5 and the HTC One X still have slightly better screens, but the screen on
the Nexus 4 is excellent by any measure. The biggest complaint I have is the
somewhat muted, washed-out colors. My guess is this is due to poor post-assembly
calibration. I'm hoping that future builds of CyanogenMod will allow me to
adjust this myself, but it's a shame that an otherwise great screen shipped with
such an easy-to-fix problem.
The touch sensitivity of the screen seems to be a hair lower than the Galaxy
Nexus, particularly around the edges of the device. I find it takes more effort
to pull down the notifications tray than it does on other devices.
The screen is slightly wider (in portrait mode) than the Galaxy Nexus, making it
impossible for me to reach across the device with my thumb. Adding an additional
58 columns of pixels really hampered the usability of the device. However,
everyone's hands are different, so your mileage may vary.
Performance and battery life
This is the one place that I will have absolutely zero complaints. Whereas the
Galaxy Nexus was possibly the first Android phone to feel "fast enough", the
Nexus 4 is simply fast. The Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro is really, really fast.
Like iOS fast. Zero lag. Qualcomm's Krait, an out-of-order, 4-issue ARMv7
implementation, is not only incredibly quick, but it also sips power. The
bundled Adreno 320 is an excellent GPU, finally providing Qualcomm with a part
that can stand up against Exynos 4 and Tegra 3 on all counts. The only SoC's
that can really stand up to the S4 Pro are Samsung's Exynos 5 (ARM Cortex A15 +
Mali T-604) series and Apple's A6 (Apple Swift + PowerVR SGX-544MP).
The battery life is very, very good. On an average day, I have more than 30%
charge left when I go to bed. On heavy use days, it's about the same as the
Galaxy Nexus. On light usage days, it's worlds better. This is partially due to
the 2100 mAh battery in the Nexus 4—it's just got a lot of juice. But also
due to the Snapdragon S4, which sleeps very well. On the three nights that I'd
forgotten to plug the phone in before bed, I woke up and found the phone lost
only 2 or 3 percent of its charge. On the Galaxy Nexus, this would have been
about 20%. It's far from the insane battery life of phones like the Motorola
RAZR MAXX HD and the Samsung Galaxy Note 2, but it's good enough for the average
work day in NYC, at least for me.
The camera, much like the Galaxy Nexus, takes fairly mediocre pictures, but does
so extremely quickly. Although I really don't take many pictures from my phone,
it's unfortunate that Google didn't choose to up their game in the face of
competition with the Galaxy SIII, One X, and iPhone 4S/5. However, the phone is
$300 on contract, so I guess something had to give.
Like the Galaxy Nexus, the Nexus 4 has a pentaband HSPA radio, and operates on
T-Mobile, AT&T, and the majority of GSM carriers worldwide. This is the best
phone to travel with in existence. The downside that it doesn't support LTE. For
T-Mobile and most international users, this is fine, as T-Mobile doesn't have an
LTE network yet, and its HSPA+ speeds are quite good. For AT&T user, that
means this phone is all but useless in major metropolitan areas, as HSPA is
mostly useless. Well, with premium parts like the screen and SoC, to hit the
$300 price point something had to give.
T-Mobile is, however, promising to roll out LTE to 200 million users in 2013,
and some have found that the Nexus 4 has a latent LTE radio that supports at
least one of T-Mobile's bands. We'll see what becomes of this in the coming
Software — Android 4.2 Jellybean
Jellybean is a nice upgrade over Ice Cream Sandwich. It's much faster and more
responsive, and gets rid of the animation jitter, primarily by implementing
system-wide triple-buffering and vsync.
The real star feature of Jellybean is Google Now. Some people have billed this
as Google's answer to Apple's Siri, and while that's somewhat apt, it doesn't
tell the whole story. Google has had voice recognition, dictation, and search in
Android since Android 1.5, and it was always a major competitive advantage.
Apple's Siri, released last year with the iPhone 4S, not only filled that gap in
its own ecosystem, it also aimed to become more of a personal assistant. Whereas
Google Voice Search simply returned search results, Siri would try and actually
answer questions and do things for you. Google Now is also a take on the
"personal assistant" role, but it goes about the task very differently. It
integrates multiple data sources Google already has access to, such as Gmail
archives and your browsing history, but also logs different things you do and
places you go. When I first upgraded to Jellybean (4.1) on the Galaxy Nexus, it
took 3 days for Google Now to figure out where I live and work, without me
telling it anything. It just used my real-time location data to figure it out.
It perpetually tells me how long it will take to get home by train, warns me of
weather alerts, tells me when I have to leave the house to get to my first
meeting of the day, and many other incredibly useful things. Useful, but a
little creepy. It's really, really handy.
The voice that the whole system speaks in, whether in Google Now, Google Maps
turn-by-turn directions, or text dictation, is really, really good. It sounds
significantly clearer than Apple's Siri, and speaks quickly, so an impatient,
chronically busy North Jersian like myself gets a bit less frustrated.
And that's basically it. Sure, there are tweaks all over the system, and nice
little conveniences, but there isn't much that will surprise you if you've
already used Ice Cream Sandwich. The most remarkable thing about the software on
this phone is that it's just plain Android—no carrier or OEM bloatware.
That really shouldn't be remarkable, but it is. The crap shoveled onto Android
by Samsung, HTC, Motorola, et al., is just big, bloated, and obnoxious. Though
this phone loses in some synthetic benchmarks against the likes of the HTC One X
and the Galaxy SIII, the whole experience feels so faster on the Nexus 4.
The biggest improvement on the software side over the last year has been the app
ecosystem for Android, largely due to Google's new focus on design with the Holo
theme, improvements in the developer tools, and the Android Design
Guidelines. Android applications on
average aren't as high-quality as their iOS counterparts, but the gap is
narrowing. I don't see it truly catching up soon, mostly because Android users
seem much less willing to pay for apps than iOS users. Plenty of great games are
coming to Android and play very well on ICS and later with decent hardware.
New entrants, like
and Eye in the
Sky take the
Android design guidelines to heart and build cohesive, native applications,
whilst existing apps like
redesigned to follow the UI/UX direction that Google is traversing now, and to
great effect. Press, in particular, really sets the bar for fit and finish in a
non-Google app in the Android ecosystem; it's the first Google Reader client
that is as attractive and functional as the legendary
Reeder for iOS. The
only area where I'm constantly disappointed is Twitter apps. There's really
nothing on Android that can compete with
The best I've found is Tweet
which is excellent but incomplete, and sadly was abandoned by its developer due
to Twitter's new terms of service which basically prevent anyone from making any
reasonable amount of money selling a Twitter client.
As I stated earlier, if you're on T-Mobile, this is the only phone you should
buy, period. T-Mobile, as of this writing, there is no model of the iPhone that
supports AWS, so your choices are Android, Windows Phone, and Blackberry. Let's
be honest: only one of those is worth considering for a primary phone. It is not
a perfect device by any means. Unlike last year's Galaxy Nexus, it's not
available on every carrier, it does not have LTE, and it isn't the only Android
phone out there with competitive hardware.
Twitter as a company is in a bit of a bind. When they came onto the scene 6
years ago, it exploded beyond anyone's expectation. It turned fairly quickly
from a tool used by nerds to communicate to a mainstream tool used by moms,
accountants, celebrities, and anyone else. I personally rely on it primarily to
follow experts in technologies that I care about such as
@siricusa, but also personalities like
Application developers, particularly for smartphones, have supported the
platform's API for a long time, and it's really the secret to the platform's
success. Tweetie for the iPhone is responsible for kicking off the trend, and
they were purchased by Twitter and made into the official Twitter client. And
there have been many, many quality Twitter clients for iOS and Android (where
Tweet Lanes is my current favorite). This has made
the experience of using Twitter on a phone much more pleasant than browsing the
mobile website, or posting tweets via SMS. That, and it's created a wealth of
different implementations with different ideas, and different usage patterns for
different people. Clients like Tweetdeck and
HootSuite shine for people that manage multiple
accounts and do this sort of thing for a living. Clients like
Osfoora are more minimalist and simple in
design. Clients like Tweetbot,
Boid, and Tweet Lanes
straddle the line between the power user and the basic user.
This sounds great, right? What's the problem? Well, their problem is making
money. They made a great service that's loved by millions of people. It's a free
service, so they're not getting money directly from their users. They've
tinkered with selling "promoted tweets". They've sold hash tag trending. They do
"expanded tweets" for commercial customers. The problem with all of these is
that they have a pretty clean, open protocol that the third-party clients
consume, and such clients can filter these things out.
More recently, Twitter has been threatening
developers that in
the future, they'll disallow third part clients that attempt to allow people to
read their timelines without using one of the official clients.
The root of this problem is that many companies on the web, in order to provide
a free service to end users, have to beholden themselves to advertisers. Thus,
their users aren't their customers, the advertisers are.
Recently, App.net has come up with an alternative
solution. They launched a Kickstarter-like campaign to raise $500,000 to make a
Twitter competitor that isn't free to use, and they succeeded. The backers,
going in at $50 a pop, get accounts for one year of service from App.net. The
API is similar to Twitter's, the capabilities are similar. It wouldn't be too
hard for many Twitter clients to support both. But the price of entry is
problematic; it's unlikely they'll get to the critical mass to make it as
valuable a tool as Twitter.
Though I applaud them for trying, I doubt it will catch on. Twitter, on the
other hand, already has critical mass, and is extremely popular, and could
probably make a decent living charging power users a yearly fee to use
third-party clients, and this would be better.
Better still would be replacing Twitter with a decentralized protocol that
nobody owns and that many vendors can provide as a service. I'd personally
prefer it based on OpenID for authentication and email address for
identification, as pretty much everyone already has one of those. Google,
Facebook, Microsoft, and—heck—even Twitter could offer the service.
Sure, it's more tedious to type in a reply
@aarontraas, but the benefits of
decentralization would far, far outweigh the consequences.
What about spam? Isn't that a big problem for decentralized services like email?
Well, it's already a problem on Twitter. Plus, there are potential solutions in
place that are largely impractical for email, such as having each OpenID
provider have its own digital signature, and cryptographically sign all status
messages from a given server. If a server allowed a lot of spam, its peers could
block it. This would also make spoofing very difficult, so you can't just
pretend you're another user than you really are.
I don't intend to make this sound simple; it's not an easy task. A centralized
service is much, much easier than a decentralized one. There's a lot of
decisions to be made, like do we completely rely on the DNS system like email
does for pulling feeds and locating others, or do we have some sort of discovery
mechanism that isn't linked to the domain of the OpenID provider? Does the
client constantly poll all of your followers, or is there some sort of
server-side aggregation? Does the provider of the service know if a user is
being followed by another person, and push all updates to the followers, and if
so, what are the ramifications in terms of bandwidth and privacy? How do we get
everyone on board?
I do believe, however, for this sort of social platform to enjoy any sort of
longevity, there will have to be some sort of decentralization and thus
competition among providers. That way, when, say, Twitter or Google or whoever
decides to dick over their customers, those customers can just leave and go
That all being said, if Twitter wanted to charge me $25 per year for the
privilege of using arbitrary third-party clients and not seeing ads, I'd do it.
And at least for now, you can follow me at
After months of waiting for the Ivy Bridge refresh of all of the Mac Laptops, I
was finally able to order a new workstation: an 11" Macbook Pro. It's such a
radical departure for me.
I've owned a Mac before as my workstation, but it was a big hinkin' G5 PowerMac.
It was a great machine for the time, but it aged poorly. As the Apple switched
from the PowerPC architecture to Intel x86, more and more software wouldn't work
on it. Then I got married, went on an expensive honeymoon, and had a kid in a
short period. So buying another Mac didn't seem like a great option. I hobbled
together a new Linux PC with $400 worth of parts. It got the job done, but the
annoying situation with sound drivers and the like that plague Linux systems was
just more than I wanted to deal with. That, combined with the fact that I got a
smartphone, they got me an iPad at
work, I started working more hours, and travelling more, and had a wonderful
young child that needed spending time with, meant that I spent less and less
time on my PC. What I needed from a workstation was a laptop.
I'd owned laptops before. I have a crappy old Dell laptop running Ubuntu. It did
OK. But it was a beast. It was a 15" model with a big but slow hard drive. It
weighed like 9 lbs. I did actually wind up using it more than my desktop,
because I could use it anywhere. Well, anywhere I had a lot of space and a
power outlet. It got virtually zero battery life (less than an hour with light
use), and the slow hard drive made it somewhat annoying to use. The trackpad was
a basic one, barely usable, so I always had to use a mouse. So I didn't use it
much. I did all my browsing and email on my phone and iPad by this point,
largely because I could do that anywhere -- on the couch while my daughter was
napping, in bed first thing in the morning, in line at the DMV, at one of those
under-sized tables in Starbucks, etc.
And then I got my current job, which is much more of a management role. I'm in a
LOT of meetings, and if I want to get any coding done, I need to be able to do
it on the go. I now travel a bit more, and the bulky HP laptop I have as my
temporary workstation is terrible. I got a Kindle Fire on which I installed
CyanogenMod, and started bringing that to meetings for note taking. That was a
perfectly OK solution, but I couldn't do much more than I could on my phone.
I decided a while ago that my next workstation would be a Macbook
Air. But as I
previously mentioned, I was waiting for the Ivy Bridge refresh because 4GB of
RAM was too little for my needs. Lo and behold, a few weeks ago at WWDC, Apple
announced they were refreshing all of their Macbooks to use Ivy Bridge, and all
of the Air's could be upgraded to 8GB of RAM! So I ordered an 11" model, and it
came in about 2 weeks ago. I was scared, though. It's the first machine I've
ever ordered that wasn't upgradable. I couldn't even change the battery without
resorting to extreme measures. Would 2 USB ports be enough? What about the tiny
screen size? What about the crappy Intel on-board graphics?
2 weeks later, I still love it. It's faster for most things that aren't
compiling large codebases and crazy Photoshop filters than my old desktop
workstation. It gets great battery life -- between 4-5 hours. It's really
snappy, and wakes from sleep in less than 3 seconds. It's super-light, and tiny
enough that I take it to every meeting and pretty much everywhere I go without
cramping my style. I get real development work done on it. I've used it,
tethered to my phone, to make emergency fixes on the train and bus.
It's also changed my usage patterns. I never pick up my iPad or Kindle Fire any
more. The only thing it doesn't replace them for is Netflix streaming, because
Microsoft's Silverlight plugin consistently crashes, locks up the system, and
requires a reinstall of the plugin every time I use it (launching Netflix in
Firefox, Chrome, and Safari yield the same results). I use my phone a bit less
too, as I always have the Air with me, so I use it when appropriate. The near
instant wake from sleep is honestly the biggest feature of the device. If I have
5 minutes to bang out an email or write a snippet of code, I can.
Most surprisingly to me, I've rarely plugged in a mouse to it. I've never owned
a device that had a non-shitty trackpad before. People who know me know that I'm
a keyboard and mouse snob. When I do station the thing at my desk, I hook it up
to an old IBM Model-M style buckling-spring keyboard, and a fairly high-end (if
old) Logitech optical mouse, and a 24" Dell IPS display. It's really nice when I
can do that. But the built-in keyboard and trackpad are, dare I say, acceptable?
That's really high praise from me. Yes, I prefer mechanical keyswitches with a
LOT more travel, and a full-sized, heavy, wired optical mouse to a
trackpad—those are objectively superior input devices—but I can do
just fine in extended sessions with the built in stuff on the Air.
There's a lot to love about the Air—it's attractive, fast, convenient,
thin, light, and portable. I'm happy to be rid of the optical drive. I'm hopeful
that Thunderbolt peripherals will start to fill the marketplace. I'm desperately
hoping that within a year or two my battery won't be useless, and when it
finally does start dying, I can have it replaced. The price was a little more
than I wanted to pay for it—I build a desktop Linux machine with the same
specs for about a third the cost. But, honestly, the PC manufacturers can't make
a similar device of similar quality at a similar cost, so I don't feel Apple is
ripping me off. And OS X is nice. There's a bit I miss from Linux, but not a
whole lot. Oh, and both Finder and the Dock suck, but that's always been the