SEARCH

Entries in Review (3)

Thursday
Jan032013

Virginia Court Rules Customer Can Post Bad Online Review

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- If you feel like a business did you wrong, your online bad review should stand, the Virginia Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday.

Virginia resident Jane Perez claims she had problems with Dietz Development LLC and wrote on Yelp and Angie's List that the company stole items from her, among other things.

After the contractor sued Perez for $750,000, alleging that her bad reviews cost him hundreds of thousands of dollars, a judge in Fairfax County Circuit Court ordered Perez to edit her comments and forbade her from future posts.

However, the American Civil Liberties Union and Public Citizen stepped in on behalf of Perez and argued successfully before the high court that her free speech rights had been violated under the First Amendment and Virginia law.

The lawsuit against Perez is still pending and the contractor can try to convince a court that her comments were untrue and unwarranted.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jul252012

Apple OS X Mountain Lion Review: Should You Upgrade?

Justin Sullivan/Getty ImagesBy JOANNA STERN, ABC News Technology Editor

(NEW YORK) -- Let's be honest: updating your laptop or desktop with a new operating system isn't usually on your top list of priorities. It's a hassle. You have to pay for the upgrade, go through the process of downloading it and installing it, and then there's no saying the new software will be much better than what you've been using or if it will mess up your current settings.

Today, Apple is releasing the newest version of its OS X operating system -- Mountain Lion. And right off the bat two of those three issues have become, well, non-issues. (Mountain Lion will also come installed on all new Macs.) The operating system is beyond easy to install through the Mac App Store -- all you have to do is hit "install" and it will take care of moving over your files, programs, and settings to the new software. (It does take some time to download the 4GB of software over a stable home Internet connection and I still recommend backing up your stuff before going through the process.) And it only costs $19.99 to get the new OS. That's the same price as a dinner at some restaurants, a few cups of coffee at Starbucks, or a T-Shirt at the Gap.

Apple's taken the pain out of much of the process, but that leaves the third issue: how much better is the software than what you've had? Even if it isn't much of a hassle to upgrade, is it something you even want to do if your computer supports the new software? (Apple provides a list of requirements here; most systems purchased after 2008 are in the clear.) Mountain Lion is really an incremental update to Apple's existing Lion operating system -- meaning it isn't a total overhaul, just another step in Apple's strategy to bring some of the iPhone and iPad features to the Mac. But it adds some interesting components, which are in some ways more meaningful than giving the operating system a total makeover this time around. Here are some specifics:

video platform video management video solutions video player

Safari:  It has become habit for me to install an extra browser as soon as I get a new Mac laptop, because Apple's Safari has fallen behind Google's Chrome. The new Safari, though, included with Mountain Lion, is a big improvement.

The new Safari feels faster than Google's Chrome, and it has a series of new features that make it really compelling. First on the list: the address bar (finally!) doubles as a search bar; you can just type search terms into the address bar and hit enter to search Google. There is also a share button integrated right into the browser so you can easily share a link via Twitter or e-mail by just clicking it. No copy-and-paste job needed.

Additionally, with iOS 6 coming to the iPhone and iPad, you will be able to sync all your tabs with iCloud. Then, when you view a site on your laptop's Safari, Apple says you will automatically send it to your phone or tablet. (I couldn't test this, as iOS 6 isn't yet out.)

You can also now save a site to your reading list and look at it later, even when you don't have an Internet connection. Finally, Apple has jazzed up the interface; I particularly like how you can view all the open tabs in a carousel.

Messages:  Until now, it's been a bit hard to keep track of all of Apple's messaging systems. There's iChat, iMessage, and then FaceTime. Messages finally solves the problem by putting everything in one central app. And it's really that simple. I logged into my Apple account in the app and I was able to see all my chats across all three of those services. Even better, it syncs with your iPhone and iPad, so you can respond to your iMessages right on your laptop without having to pick up your iPhone. The whole app is intuitive and clean. (Messages is available for separate download for those not using Mountain Lion.)

Notification Center:  It's hard to use Mountain Lion, or even Lion for that matter, and not see the influence that the iPad and Apple's iOS has had on its laptop and desktop operating system. And Notification Center is a prime example of mobile-like features hitting OS X. Swipe two fingers from right to left on the edge of the trackpad and Notification Center, a panel with a list of notifications, will pop in from the right side of the screen. Emails, missed instant messages, iMessages, Tweets, etc. all show up in the notification tray, and Apple is working with third-party developers so their notifications will show up there too.

iCloud:  Apple has said the cloud is integral to its products and services, and now its iCloud service is integrated into the heart and soul of OS X. As soon as you boot up the new operating system you are asked to log into your iCloud account. That will then sync everything on your iCloud account, including your emails, notes, reminders, iMessages, etc. across all your devices.

As soon as I logged into my iCloud account on a MacBook Pro with Retina Display running Mountain Lion, my notes from my iPad and iPhone popped right up in the Notes application. Of course, this is really only a useful feature if you own more than one Apple product. Unfortunately, Apple doesn't offer Android or Windows versions of its iCloud apps. (For those unsure of what this cloud thing even is, check out our cloud primer here.)

Speaking of apps, I didn't have any issues installing third-party apps on two laptops running Mountain Lion. If there are specific apps you rely on you will want to check that they are compatible with the new software to be safe.

Sharing:  Also integrated into the operating system is the ability to share, and while it sounds basic, it's oen of the features that makes this a must-have upgrade. Apple lets you sign into your Twitter, Flickr, or Vimeo accounts right in Mountain Lion's System Preferences. Then you can share automatically from apps like Safari, iPhoto, etc.

I was easily able to tweet photos through iPhoto (it uploaded the photo to Twitter's photo sharing service) and then Tweet a website from Safari. But it requires you use the native Twitter client, rather than one of the third-party ones you might be running. Apple does plan to add Facebook integration this Fall.

Dictation:  I actually spoke these words when writing this review. Yes, these very words. Turn on the dictation function under System Preferences, press the function key twice, put your cursor where you want your text to appear and start talking.

The software worked very well, completing full paragraphs without errors and recognizing where to put spaces, though not punctuation. While the dictation function worked in the address bar of Safari and in Gmail, it didn't work in Google Docs.

Stability:  There are lots of other new features in the latest version of Mountain Lion -- like Game Center access and Airplay, which lets you stream what is on your computer to the latest Apple TV. But on top of those all Apple has cleaned up some of the small issues that one found in Lion. For instance, in Lion when I opened a number of photos at once in Preview, the thumbnails wouldn't always show; in Mountain Lion they do.

Another example: When I tried to hook up my laptop to a second display using Lion, I couldn't expand an app on the second display to full-screen. In Mountain Lion, I can. I didn't experience any application crashes when testing the software either.

And that's ultimately why Mountain Lion is worth your $20. Not only do you get a bevy of new features, which I found to enhance and speed up my day-to-day computing tasks, but it cleans up some flaky issues that lingered in Lion. For the price of those cups of coffee, you get a modern operating system, which more than any other right now gives you a continuous computing experience with your phone and tablet. Of course, whether you upgrade is up to you, but you cannot use the it's-a-hassle excuse.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jun142012

New MacBook Pro Review: Screens Don't Get More Beautiful

ApplePRODUCT REVIEW
By JOANNA STERN, ABC News Technology Editor


(NEW YORK) -- After 20 minutes of using Apple's new MacBook Pro with Retina Display, I switched back to my own six-month-old MacBook Pro to send an email. But when I looked at its screen, I thought my contact lenses had actually fallen out. For a second I was worried; everything on the screen looked less crisp and less bright. It's not an old machine, but it was really as if an optometrist had switched my prescription, or I'd been forced to use my old glasses. Everything just seemed blurry by comparison.

The biggest upgrade to the MacBook Pro laptop literally meets the eye. But despite its name, the new MacBook Pro with Retina Display has much more than a new, super-sharp 2280 x 1800-resolution, 15.4-inch display. It also has fastest mobile performance parts on the market, improved speakers, and a new selection of ports. Oh, and it still manages to be only .71 inches thick. Impressive indeed, but worth $2,199?

"This is the most beautiful MacBook Pro we've ever made," Apple's Phil Schiller said when he took a curtain off the new laptop this week. And Mr. Schiller wasn't lying. Apple hasn't changed the general aesthetic of the MacBook Pro line since 2008, when it introduced the unibody aluminum design with a glowing Apple embedded in the lid. They haven't wanted to mess with such a well-balanced, clean design.

The new MacBook Pro has one major change, though -- it's much thinner than previous Pros. It is only slightly (very slightly!) thicker than the MacBook Air and a handful of other Windows 7 ultrabooks on the market. (To the naked eye, the thickest part of the MacBook Air actually looks thicker than the new MacBook Pro.) That thinness also makes it much lighter than the other Pros.

The laptop weighs just 4.46 pounds now; .04 pounds less than my 13-inch MacBook Pro but 1.5 pounds more than the 13-inch MacBook Air. Obviously it doesn't feel as light as the Air, but it's much easier to hold in one hand than the 15-inch Pro and most other laptops. And yet, despite its thin stature, it still feels remarkably solid and sturdy.

To accommodate those thinner dimensions, Apple did remove the CD/DVD drive and Ethernet port from this model (they're still available on the 13- and 15-inch Pros). However, it still was able to add some new ports. The laptop has two Thunderbolt ports, two USB 3.0 ports, a 3.5mm headphone jack, SD card slot, and an HDMI port. It also put one USB port on the left edge and another on the right edge so you don't block the ports when you plug in a mouse or external hard drive.

Unfortunately, they did remove the tiny LEDs from the edge that told you the battery level when the laptop is closed. Apple also changed the charging port, or MagSafe. The new adaptor is flatter and because of the new size and shape won't take older versions, which is a bummer if you've accumulated the older chargers or happen to leave yours at home.

What has been kept intact, however, is the extremely comfortable chiclet keyboard. It is also backlit, which came in very handy for writing this review on the back of a dimly-lit plane. Similarly, the wide glass trackpad has been untouched. Using it to navigate Apple's Mac OS X Lion operating system was beyond smooth, and gestures like two-finger scrolling and three-finger swipes consistently worked throughout the operating system and software. That is something I cannot say of most trackpads on Windows 7 laptops. (The new Pros ship with OS X Lion, but will be available with the next version -- Mountain Lion -- next month.)

But, of course, you'll be starring at the screen as you work. And it's simply hard to describe the quality of the display in words. Even as I'm writing this review after 24 hours of use, I'm distracted by the crispness of the text and the icons on the bottom of the screen. And I'm continuously tempted to toggle over to YouTube and watch more 1080p clips, which look better on this display than on most HDTVs.

Perhaps the most amazing part about the display though is how crisp things look at every angle; turn the laptop to the side and you will see the same quality and presentation.

That experience isn't uniform across all applications just yet. Parts of the Firefox browser look a bit blurry and text isn't as crisp in third-party browsers as it is in Apple's own Safari, for example. In Safari, websites pop. It's really the type of thing you have to see for yourself, but with this display, images can be downright stunning. You will just want to call friends over to look at what you're seeing.

But just as impressive might be what is inside the laptop. With the screen at 65 percent brightness, the laptop's large battery still lasted six hours on a charge. I was able to work on the laptop for an entire 5.5 hour flight from San Francisco to Newark, and still had 20 percent left when I touched down. On a more grueling video playback test, which loops the same HD video clip, the laptop lasted 5 hours and 22 minutes. That's longer than most Windows 7 ultrabooks, though not as long as the 13-inch MacBook Air, which lasted an hour more on that same test.

All the while, you still get blazing fast performance thanks to the quad-core 2.3GHz Core i7 processor, Nvidia's latest GeForce graphics, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB flash drive inside the laptop. The power of the Pro is probably more than most people will need; the extra graphics and processing power are great for video editing and heavy graphics work, but most people who spend their time running a web browser, email, and some other desktop apps won't get close to challenging the machine's limits. Everything about it flies; it boots in under 20 seconds and resumes from sleep as soon as you open the lid. And if you're looking for even faster performance, you can configure it with a faster processor, more RAM (up to 16GB!), and a larger drive, but you'll spend over $3,000.

And there's the rub. It's pretty clear that the MacBook Pro with Retina Display is one of the finest laptops ever to grace this Earth; it's beautiful to look at in more ways than one. But you do have to pay a premium for what is all around the most premium laptop now on shelves.

Now, if you have the money for a high-end laptop, the answer is simple: this is the one to buy. The blend of the screen, size, and power is unmatched. Those who want something cheaper, and perhaps smaller, can pick up one of the other MacBook Pros or the 13-inch MacBook Air, which likely provides enough performance for most people in an even thinner and smaller package. It really depends on what your needs are.

But do yourself a favor: if you don't have any intention of picking up the MacBook Pro with Retina Display, avoid looking at its screen at all costs -- all that practical advice might just seem, well, very blurry.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio