Opinion: My cable subscription woes and the appeal of an ‘Apple Cable’ service

Apple TV HBO Now

My cable provider is pretty terrible. I don’t need to name any names because this likely applies to your cable provider as well. They are all horrible. I often experience drops on popular channels, get bonus filler channels that no one wants, and see indiscriminate additional subscription fees and charges without any real reason. This Onion article, though it is satire, doesn’t stray too far from the truth.

For a very casual TV watcher, it’s not a great experience – to put it mildly.

So the prospect of an Apple web TV service with a price tag of around $40, as the WSJ and others reported last night, is highly appealing to me if it means I can catch the few shows I watch now without the hassle of my cable subscription. I’ll still be tied to the monopolies for Internet service which isn’t terrific, but the theoretical ‘Apple Cable’ service has the potential to fix a number of problems for me.

Apple started off its March event with the announcement that HBO Now, the premium network’s new $15/month web service, will be available with 3-month exclusivity on the App Store and Apple TV at launch next month. While we’ve heard for quite some time that Apple is developing a web TV service, and the upcoming HBO Now channel seems to be the best taste of what that could offer. I’m hopeful that the potential ‘Apple Cable’ can solve my cable subscription woes. Here’s how:

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Brace yourself – Core M benchmarks illustrate likely low-end performance from new MacBook

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Lenovo’s Yoga 3 Pro convertible laptop–which uses the same Broadwell Core M processor as Apple’s new ultraportable MacBook–has provided the first look at its likely performance. AnandTech‘s numbers show that in overall performance terms, the Yoga 3 Pro was delivering a little over 90% of the performance of the early 2014 MacBook Air which has far fewer pixels than the Retina MacBook…

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Apple’s 2015 MacBook Pro and Air models now at US retailers Amazon, Best Buy, MacMall, B&H and others

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Refreshed 2015 MacBook Air and Pro models are now available at major US retailers following their announcement at Apple’s Spring Forward event on March 9th.

Currently, Amazon has all of the new MacBook Air models in stock and ready to ship, from $899. The new MacBook Pro models are also listed on Amazon as well, although supply is currently more limited. 2014 versions are discounted.

B&H offers $5 off and no tax at the time of purchase outside of New York on the new MacBook Airs and MacBook Pros as well as a free copy of Parallels. 2014 versions are discounted.

MacMall also offers $5 off the new MacBook Airs and Pros and tax only in a few states. 2014 models discounted.

Meanwhile if you want to get your hands on one today, Best Buy offers free site to store on the new MacBook Pro/Airs which will have stock varied by location. 2014 models discounted.

If you want to save some real money, 2014 models are seeing deep discounts at 9to5toys. At the Apple Refurb store you can pick up some heavy discounts on previous models while extraordinary savings are available at B&H and Best Buy on 2014 models including a student deal that chops the 2014 models down to $750 .

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Top 15 hidden Force Click features on the new 2015 MacBook (Video)

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Apple’s 2015 MacBook and 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro are both equipped with a new Force Touch trackpad that adds new features within certain apps on OS X. If you’re not familiar with Apple’s new Force Touch trackpad, it’s completely pressure sensitive and can detect a hard press from a soft press. With this, you now have the ability to Force Click (a click with a continued press) on specific items to perform different actions.

We’ve spent the last 24 hours searching through OS X on Apple’s new 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display to find all of the hidden Force Click features that Apple has yet to mention. There are a good amount of uses for Force Click, but these 15 happen to be our favorite…

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Poll: Which MacBook are you? Space Gray, Silver or Gold

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If you are like us, probably the toughest decision you are facing this year is figuring out which new Retina MacBook color you will be getting. The buying process otherwise is more like buying an iPad than a Mac with only 2 speed/storage models.

Will you match your Space Gray iPad and iPhone and now Apple Watch? Or, will you sport the same silver of the Macs that actually do some real work? Will you go off the grid and show your lawyer/banker colleagues who is boss with the gold model?

It is a tough and important call because you WILL be judged – you can’t just embarrassingly hide a MacBook in a wallet case like my Gold iPhone.  You’ve had a few days to mull it over. So what’s it going to be?

Apple supply chain buyers, this ^^^ data is on us. Feel free to send any leftover MacBooks as compensation. Read more

Belkin and Google debut USB-C cables, including low-priced Ethernet, DisplayPort, HDMI and micro-USB adapters

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Coinciding with today’s announcement of the dual USB-C port-equipped Chromebook Pixel 2 laptop, Google and Belkin today announced separate collections of new USB-C cables and adapters. These new options go well beyond Apple’s upcoming USB-C accessory lineup for the 12″ MacBook, while also including some familiar options at lower-than-Apple prices. They’re amongst the first USB-C accessories to be announced by major manufacturers, as inexpensive USB-C cables from smaller companies are beginning to make their way onto Amazon for pre-order…

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iFixit dismantles the early 2015 MacBook Airs, finds small changes to past designs

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iFixit has just dismantled the refreshed early 2015 11-inch and 13-inch MacBook Air models that Apple unveiled earlier this week, featuring new Intel Broadwell CPUs, improved graphics and other minor tweaks. Although the models mostly remain the same apart from the spec bumps Apple announced on stage, iFixit gives us its usual rundown on changes it discovered… Read more

USB-C cable gallery, compare to Lightning and Micro-USB, specs and Apple’s future

We’ve been poring over Apple’s change to the 8.4mm by 2.6mm USB Type C standard since we got tipped the design of the new MacBook late last year. It is a big change for Apple and puts the future of longstanding technologies like Thunderbolt and MagSafe into questionable status.  Even Lightning seems a whole lot more vulnerable when an adapter that is marginally bigger, but has the whole industry behind it, shows up in Apple’s future flagship laptop.

Some quick, fun facts on USB Type C that make it pretty amazing: Read more

LaCie’s new Porsche Design Mobile Drive USB-C will support 12″ Retina MacBook

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LaCie today announced that its upcoming Porsche Design Mobile Drive USB-C (USB 3.0) will be its first design with a “user-friendly USB-C connector,” compatible with Apple’s just-announced 12″ MacBook laptop. The USB-C connector will be built into the plastic edge of the distinctively boxy solid aluminum housing, with an included adapter cable for traditional USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 connector compatibility. Using USB-C or USB 3.0, the drive promises transfer speeds up to 100MB/second, with a speed reduction when using USB 2.0.

The drive will come in three capacities: a slim 500GB model (shown below) and regular-sized 1TB and 2TB units (shown above). LaCie has not yet announced pricing for the drives, but plans to release them in the second quarter of 2015. We would expect to see quite a few USB-C drives by then, as both Apple and its customers continue a transition away from Thunderbolt that seemed inevitable back in 2013.

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Roundup: All the news from Apple’s Spring Forward event

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Apple’s Spring Forward event on March 9 was packed with news, including everything from expected Apple Watch announcements to the debut of the Retina 12″ MacBook, a price drop for Apple TV, the announcement of ResearchKit, and the release of iOS 8.2. Here’s everything you need to know.

First, the Apple TV dropped in price from $99 to $69, and got a three-month exclusive window to launch HBO Now, a standalone $15/month to HBO TV content and on-demand library.

Second, Apple announced ResearchKit, enabling iPhone users to opt-in to large-scale medical research studies using all-new apps to track and provide health information. Five initial apps were released, including heart, glucose, breast cancer, asthma, and Parkinson’s research tools.

Third, Apple officially unveiled the all-new 12″ MacBook, its thinnest and lightest Mac laptop yet, with a Retina display, single USB-C port, and Force Touch trackpad, starting at $1,299. A collection of new USB-C adapters are required to connect the MacBook to traditional USB devices and wired displays. It also updated the older MacBook Air and 13″ Retina MacBook Pro with faster Intel Broadwell processors, faster SSDs, and battery improvements.

Fourth, the Apple Watch finally got its long-awaited battery life (18 hours) and pricing ($349/$549/$10,000/$17,000) details, plus preorder (April 10) and launch (April 24) dates. Additional details on real-world Apple Watch 38mm and 42mm battery life, as well as warranty details, were quietly released online. A small collection of Apple Watch apps were shown off, and accessories including bands and chargers also got priced ($29-$449). One of the accessories actually includes two separate bands in one package.

After the event, Apple released iOS 8.2 with Apple Watch support and Health improvements. It also published the official event video, as well as separate Jony Ive-narrated videos showing the aluminum, steel, and gold manufacturing processes for the Apple Watches. To help customers plan their Watch band purchases, Apple released a new band size guide showing the wrist sizes that will fit each of the numerous types of bands (in millimeters).