Tomtoc Ultra Slim Sleeve for 13 inch MacBook Pro

Choosing a suitable sleeve for a MacBook Pro can be a headache, especially when the variety out there is endless. There are so many different kinds of sleeves for different needs. When I bought my MacBook Pro, I initially did not consider the need to get one. I imagine myself putting the laptop in my AER Backpack and it would be sufficient.

As I received my new MacBook Pro, I forgot how gorgeous the laptop looked like. And having blemishes on the aluminium exterior right about when I’ve gotten hands on it, would be a disaster. Every scratch, dent, or any other blemishes through some other means would be very obvious against the pristine, space gray build of my MacBook Pro.

So I sought out online to find a simple, but good looking sleeve to safely house my new Laptop. That was when I spotted the Tomtoc Ultra Slim Sleeve for the 13 inch MacBook Pro.

The Tomtoc sleeve is not available in Singapore. So I ordered online on Amazon. But even that, Amazon doesn’t ship the sleeve overseas, to Singapore. So I had to employ the services of EZbuy to receive my package and ship to Singapore for a small shipping fee.

It didn’t take too long to arrive and I wasn’t in a hurry to get one since I had to serve my annual ICT for about a week. This means that I would not around to recieve the package and enjoy the product. But the timing was impeccable. As soon as I reached home upon completion of my ICT, it arrived.

My first impression of the Tomtoc sleeve was that it feels better than it looks. I mean it looks gorgeous already. Anyone holding this sleeve is bound to turn heads. It’s not a design that you see every day when it comes to laptop sleeves. Most of them are generic black, or gray with no character at all. All function, leaving not much room for aesthetics. The Tomtoc sleeve is different. Very different.

Workmanship is pretty solid. Stitching is straight and consistent, with not a single stray thread at the end of a stitch. The thread matches the leather or the gray felt material, where ever those materials are present on the sleeve, which is a nice touch and shows the attention to detail when it comes to designing the product. The felt material feels luxurious, without having too much fibre strands sticking out and all wooly-like in texture.

The size of the sleeve that I bought fits perfectly with my new mid-2017 13-inch MacBook Pro. The sleeve offers a snug fit, without feeling too tight, although it can be a little bit tight if you fill or squeeze stuff inside a separate, easy-access pocket. I tried putting my Moleskin notebook in the separate sleeve in addition to the laptop in the main compartment and it works wonders. The additional sleeve allows you to put thin objects, like cables, tablets, e-readers, notebooks, or even small magazines and stationaries. The additional sleeve is definitely handy and adds quite a bit of functionality to the sleeve.

The sleeve is closed by 2 magnets places on the left and right side of the sleeve. It’s not too strong or too weak, giving a nice solid latch. The magnets are also covered by a felt mesh which will definitely add longevity to the use of the sleeve, and also to prevent any unintended scratches you might get when putting your notebook inside.

Overall, I really love the sleeve and I made a terrific purchase for my MacBook Pro. The overall design of the sleeve provides a highly unique, yet subtle style when carrying my laptop.

ProMotion display on the new iPad Pro.

ipad pro 10.5Although I do not have the new iPad Pro 10.5 inch in my hand right now, I had the opportunity to check it out at the official Apple Store at Orchard Road. Of all the many new features touted by Apple on the new iPad Pro, I was most intrigued by the new display, specifically the ProMotion technology.

The ProMotion technology advertised by Apple on its latest iPad pro is just a term conjured up by the marketing department to give the technology substance. Basically the LCD display on Apple’s new lineup of iPad Pro (both the 10.5 and 12.9 inch version) features a 120hz refresh rate. Conventional LCD display on all tablets released thus far only goes up to 60hz. The faster refresh rate apparently makes every UI animation within the iPad Pro butter smooth. I never got the chance to see first hand until I saw an actual iPad Pro at the Apple Store. All the reviews on YouTube about the new iPad Pro’s incredible display couldn’t capture the butter-smoothness animation because of the slow FPS when watching videos. Truly, this is one feature that despite its awesome rave reviews, you have to see it live in person with the new iPad Pro in front of you to understand why it’s amazing.

As I was at the store and holding the iPad Pro for the first time, the first thing that immediate struck me was how sexy the device looked like. The thinner bezels on the sides made the iPad Pro so much more sleeker. The bigger display (without considerably increasing the overall size of the tablet) is now even more capable of absorbing you in, focusing on it’s colour accurate display without distractions from the other parts of the iPad.

Colour accurate and wide colour gamut display is the main stay of the iPad Pro’s feature. But once I interacted with the tablet, swiping left, right, up and down, going through the various menus, website and general UI, I was truly amazed how smooth the interaction was. 120hz display really does makes a profound difference in the overall experience when using the iPad. Again, you really have to try it out for yourself to really understand what I am saying. There is no competition out there so far. The faster refresh rate is to me, personally what stands out from the rest of the competing tablet makers out there.

For some reason, in addition for the display to capture your attention due to its overall area occupied on the tablet, the faster refresh rate of the display now really really absorbs you in completely. While you interact with the screen, your eyes just cannot peel away from it’s butter smoothness operation.

At the store as I played around with the new iPad Pro, I was quite surprised (though not unexpected, since Apple products always sell like hotcakes regardless) that there were a lot of iPad Pro purchases. Everywhere around me in the midst of the crowd in the store, there were all the Apple Geniuses tending to some customers’ purchases. And under their arms, there will almost always be a box (or two or some accompanying accessories) of the new iPad Pro. The iPad Pro was selling like hotcakes!

Hyperdrive, Thunderbolt USB-C hub for MacBook Pro

Ever since I got my swanking new MacBook Pro about a week ago, I had to deal with Thunderbolt 3 ports. The problem is, there is nothing I can do with Thunderbolt 3 ports on my MacBook Pro, since I have no peripherals at hand that uses them. So I can’t connect my external drives, my SD cards, charge my iPhone, or use my thumbdrives.

Getting the Hyperdrive Thunderbolt USB-C hub for the MacBook Pro seems like the most economical way to expand my ability to connect my ‘legacy’ devices using ‘legacy’ ports.

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I purchased off from their Indiegogo website and within a week and a half it arrived at my doorstep. The Thunderbolt USB-C hub allows me to connect to an external monitor via HDMI, has an SD card and MicroSD card slot, and offers 2 USB 3.0 ports in addition to Thunderbolt 3/USB-C ports just like what the MacBook Pro originally provided. The good thing about this hub is that it allows power passthrough, meaning you can charge the laptop while this hub is connected directly to it. The strange thing however, is that the hub uses both Thunderbolt ports to connect the hub. Once connected, only the top Thunderbolt port allows for charging and not the bottom one.

But still this hub greatly expanded my abilty to connect with other devices like I mentioned just now.

Another aspect of this hub that I really like is that the design of the hub is such that it sits flushed right next to the laptop. Buy the hub that matches the colour of your laptop, and it looked pretty natural – like an extension to your already great looking laptop. It doesn’t look bulky, or out of place and the build quality is pretty good, all aluminium, with pretty decent parts. Plus, it comes with a nice, snugly little leather pouch to safety store your hub away when not in use.

Dealing with such hubs can be annoying, but it is a necessity if you wish to walk down a path, using a laptop with nothing but Thunderbolt Ports. So for those who wish to walk down this path, know that you need a little bit more investment in choosing the right dongles or hub so that all your devices you currently have play nice with your new Macbook laptops. The Hyperdrive Thunderbolt USB-C hub manages to tick all the right things when it comes to portability, design and build quality without breaking the bank (US$69).

coconutBattery

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CoconutBattery is a must have app for any mobile Mac users out there. It provides a comprehensive look at the overall health of your mac laptops, be it MacBook, MacBook Air or MacBook Pro. In addition to telling the amount of juice you have left, it also tells you the temperature, number of charge cycles the battery’s been through and overall condition of the battery. The app doesn’t just tell you the stats, it can also record the battery health on a regular basis, providing a longitudinal snapshot of the battery’s condition over time.

Personally, the neatest part of the app is that it also tells you the age of your laptop and the battery separately. From the moment the laptop was assembled and left the factory floor, coconutBattery is able to tell you the age of your device. For my MacBook Pro that I recently purchase a few days ago, as of today, it is telling me that my MacBook Pro is 27 days old. Meaning that the MacBook Pro was assembled 2 to 3 weeks before being shipped out and sold to me. The battery on the other hand is 38 days old, a little older than the MacBook Pro. It sounds logical, considering that the battery is just one of many components that makes the laptop and parts have to be ordered, produced and shipped to the factory (somewhere in China no doubt) only to be assembled into the final product. The battery that I have comes from a battery maker, Simplo. A simple Google search tells me that it is a taiwanese company specialising in battery manufacturing for small and large devices.

I used the same app for my MacBook Air many years ago. I tracked the battery condition over time. I noticed it deterioated after a year due to my extensive use over time back during my undergraduate days. I used it the whole day, every day without bringing the power adapter with me, often draining the battery from 100% all the way down to 10%-15%. Naturally, that kind of torture wears out the battery really fast. And because of coconutBattery, I was able to replace the battery before it does further harm to my laptop. All in all, I logged more than 1100 days with the laptop. I used that laptop for more than 3 years, before passing it on to my dad to use. Today, it is still very much in use, all thanks to the SSDs, that helped in keeping the laptop fast enough for normal use despite its age.

The rationale behind the Macbook Pro purchase.

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Yesterday my Macbook Pro arrived. I ordered the laptop 2 days ago, which is just a couple of days after it was officially announced. On the day I placed my order for the new laptop, I put my Lenovo laptop up for sale on Carousell. I was pleasantly surprised to receive multiple offers to buy my laptop second hand. I finalised the deal with one of the buyer and decided to meet later during the night to complete the transaction. Meanwhile, it was a race against time to backup all my data and reset the laptop to its original factory settings. I had around 3 hours to do all that before our agreed upon meeting time and place.

Ever since getting my laptop, I have been reflecting deeply behind the true motivations in clicking that buy button. Why did I click it? My Lenovo laptop was perfecting fine. I like that laptop quite a lot, especially the keyboard. The keyboard is a joy to type on, and no doubt one of the best keyboard available out there on a mobile device. So what compelled me to click on that buy button?

Impulse is definitely at play here. It was a snap decision. Rarely do I make large purchases without thinking through it carefully first. It will take me weeks, sometimes months to finally make my decision, going through carefully every pros and cons. This time however, I immediately bought it after the official announcement at WWDC. But then again, one can argue that I buy because I know that Mac products are top notch. You can’t go wrong when it comes to Apple products. Having owned and used the Mac Mini (my first foray into the Mac ecosystem) and then upgrading to the MacBook Air, it feels natural to finally be part of the big league and get for myself a MacBook Pro. My gut instincts told me that this is a great time to get a new one. Despite only a spec bump and a new generation of CPU, the overall design of the MacBook Pro, in my opinion, is already highly refined. And the machine does look extremely beautiful and elegant. I had no problem with the weight, as the design philosophy has been adopted from that of the MacBook Air. So it seemed natural to sacrifice just a little bit of weight for a rather large increase in overall computing power.

Another reason might be the fact that deep down, I miss the Mac. It has been a couple of years since I passed on my Macbook Air for my dad to use. Ever since then, I’ve never used that laptop any longer. Then I got myself a DIY gaming rig, which I love it to death till this day because it was built with my own two hands. I have no intention of upgrading that PC or getting a new one anytime soon and expect that PC to last a very long while. So as far as a desktop PC is concerned, I have it covered even though its a Windows based PC.

My Lenovo was bought on a budget, with the rationale that it would only be used for school. Ever since I started my Master’s Programme in NUS, that laptop has served me well. The laptop is just 7 months old when I decided to sell it off. Like I said it’s perfectly fine. It’s all plastic, which is again, fine, but now that I have the Macbook Pro, the design and build quality is miles apart. Holding the MacBook Pro in hand in hands and on my lap, reminded me once again at the level of care and attention to detail when designing their products. There is just something magical about their devices. It may not be the most powerful devices and it don’t come cheap, but you are well assured that its a quality product. That X-factor of art and technology coming together to create a product not just to use but to enjoy and experience. That is something you don’t encounter everyday with other tech gadgets and products.

Will I regret splashing two thousand dollars on a laptop on impulse? Probably not, since I know Mac products really well and they have never disappointed me so far. Will I enjoy this laptop for many years to come? Hell yeah.

Sold my Lenovo, Bought Macbook Pro

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After using my Lenovo ThinkPad 13 for 7 months, I decided to sell it away. I came back to the Mac. When it was announced at this year’s WWDC that Apple is going to refresh the entire Macbook Pro line with the new Kaby Lake processors, I just could not resist it. I put my Lenovo ThinkPad 13 on Carousell and within minutes I had several offers of wanting to buy my 7-month old laptop. I barely even started to do a factory reset of my laptop including file backup when I started receiving several offers online. I sold the Lenovo within 2 hours, ordered the new 13 inch MacBook Pro (without Touchbar) online and within 2 days, it arrived at my doorstep.

Now, as I type this entry, I am already using my new Macbook Pro. So what were my first impressions?

Right off the bat, you are immediately struck by the beauty of this device. It’s absolutely gorgeous. The level of workmanship and design meticulousness is, to this day, unrivalled.  The Macbook Pro is a work of art, truly. When I opened the laptop and switched it on for the very first time, the next thing you noticed was how gorgeous the screen is. Colour just pops, everything is super sharp and it is really really bright when you max out the brightness setting.

That is the two most prominent feature I noticed the moment I started unboxing the laptop.

I am no stranger to using the Mac. My last laptop was the classic MacBook Air. Back then, it was considered a revolutionary device, known for its ultra portability and thinness that competing brands found it hard to replicate with grace.

But now, the Macbook Air has adopted some of the design principles of what made Macbook Air so great. You now get a far more powerful computer, but none of the added bulk, with a great, sharp, colourful screen to boot.

I got the non-TouchBar version. I figured that it is still largely a gimmicky feature that, while it adds some useful functions depending on the application that you are using, I am still not convinced that it would increase my productivity in incorporating the use of the TouchBar in my daily workflow. Add to the fact that a majority of reviewers on YouTube lamented the fact that they themselves don’t use the TouchBar extensively and you are better off saving a few hundred dollars and get the non-TouchBar version. They assured viewers of those reviews that you are not missing out on anything fundamentally important with regards to how you use the laptop.

I still cannot believe that I have a new laptop in my hands. Apple just announced the new refresh MacBook Pros and here it is right in front of my just days later. There are a few more accessories that I have ordered recently that have yet to arrive. One, is a sleeve by Tomtoc to safely store my laptop away and inside my backpack for use outside. Second, is a Thunderbolt 3 hub that would give me access to USB slots, SD card slots and additional Thunderbolt connections. Right now I cannot connect any peripherals to my laptop because none of them uses either the USB-C or Thunderbolt connections. I will have to wait for the dongle hub to arrive.

With tablets getting cheaper, it becomes delegated to impulse purchases.

New and upcoming tablets to take on Apple’s offers of tablets big and small are getting cheaper that they sometimes resort to impulse purchases. Look at Amazon with their Kindle Fire HD tablet lineups. It’s so darn friggin cheap! Top of the line specs are not important for me, especially one who is drawn to a small tablet that is easy to hold and is used mainly for reading stuff. All I need is a high pixel density screen and a decent amount of storage. I don’t play games on my tablets and thus it doesnt matter if the tablet sports a dual core cpu or an octa core cpu. So long as the screen is sharp and crisp, with great colour accuracy and sells at a fraction of what Apple offers, I am sold.

I can think of a few tablets out on the market that fits the bill. Cheaper than Apple’s iPad or iPad mini, but with a great looking screen. Asus Zenpad 3 8.0 comes to mind, including Huawei Mediapad M3. The Huawei Mediapad M3 looks really slick in my opinion, sporting an 8 inch, 2K resolution screen. That is a perfect size to hold and read stuff from the screen.

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The latest tablet from Huawei costs less than SGD500, which is pretty compelling for a nicely designed tablet. I recently tried looking for it at various tech stores here, but none seemed to be carrying it. Im not sure if this tablet actually does sell in Singapore. Even Huawei’s store at Plaza Singapura doesnt seem to be showcasing it. Which is strange, because as I was compelled to try out this tablet as a strong successor to the popular Nexus 7 tablet released years ago, I need to physically feel and touch this device. I need to hold it in my hands and have a good feel before deciding to buy it.

But at the back of my mind, I would certainly be asking the same question again and again; do you really need it? I gave up my iPad mini 4 after a year to my mum because I rarely used it, other than reading. For such a nice, but expensive device, you’d think you use it for some other purposes other than just reading, but no, its heavily underutilised. While it is without a doubt the best tablet to own and I miss having it from time to time, the iPad mini 4 is much better suited for my mum who uses social media alot and play games on occasions. She is a heavy tablet user and she was using the iPad mini 2 (if I remember correctly), the one without retina display and it was definitnely ageing in terms of screen quality and spec performance. Seeing her use the iPad mini 4 was like a breath of fresh air; everything became smooth and snappy and it certainly helped her alot.