Archive for the ‘Tech’ Category
Recently, after a sustained bout of swearing at my laptop, which I’d had for a good few years and which thus owed me nothing, I decided to replace it with a shiny new one. Something speedy and modern, I thought, but not too expensive. So, a trip to the shops was duly organised and I spent some considerable time comparing features and realising how little I wanted Windows 8 anywhere near me in case I caught something horrible from it. After a good deal of umming and ahhing (and shaking my head at appallingly low screen resolutions) it became apparent that I was going to have to bite the financial bullet and buy a decent machine rather than a cheapie. Once that decision was made it wasn’t too hard to pick the right machine – a 15 inch MacBook Pro.
The first thing to say is that the Retina display, running at a huge resolution of 2880 x 1800 pixels, is stunningly beautiful. Really, simply gorgeous. After only a couple of days’ use I couldn’t possibly use anything of a lesser quality. The monitors I use at work now appear decidedly ugly. The second thing is that, due to the 256GB SSD (solid state disk) and lack of a fan (as far as I can tell) the machine is utterly silent. You really notice the difference when whatever music you were playing to amuse yourself while you worked finishes.
On top of all this, the whole device is thin, beautifully simply designed and just feels right. The casing feels solid and the only vents are positioned in such a way that you don’t block them if you use the computer on your lap. Nor does it get too hot, so your thighs remain unburned and, if you’re male, your ability to procreate remains as it was. Even plugging the power supply in is a joy – it attaches with a satisfying magnetic click and a small LED on the plug (the laptop end, not the mains) indicates when the laptop is fully charged.
As for OSX, I’d used it before but not very much, but it hasn’t taken long to get comfortable with it. It’s essentially a flavour of UNIX, as was the Ubuntu Linux I was using on my old machine, but much, much prettier. No great surprises, just solid, easy to use and attractive, which seems to be the Apple way. I’ve never been a rabid Apple maniac and I’m still not, but I can see why some people are.
I recently took delivery of an iRobot Roomba 505 robot vacuum cleaner. It’s the most basic model in the range, coming in at 1p shy of £200, which I grant is a lot of money for a vacuum cleaner. Having said that, it’s cheaper than a Dyson.
In the box were the Roomba itself, a mains charger, a spare filter and a brush cleaner. The higher-end models come with a base station, to which the robot will return automatically for charging. Some models also include scheduling, but while I’d have liked that I just couldn’t justify the additional expense.
After a couple of hours’ charging the Roomba, which I have named Wanda, was ready to go. Cleaning the floor is a simple matter of placing the cleaner in the middle of the room, switching it on and pressing the big, glowing ‘Clean’ button in the centre of the device, at which point it plays a few notes and starts to move. I was initially impressed by how quiet it is, although I still needed to turn the TV up a bit. Ordinarily, of course, you’d set the Roomba off when you go out, so this isn’t an issue. As well as the brushes on the underside of the machine, there’s a rotating brush which protrudes from the side and does a good job of cleaning right up to the wall.
Initially, the Roomba moves in an outward spiral but this quickly changes to seemingly random motion. I noted a few spots on the floor and was pleased that the Roomba covered them all at some point. Obstacle avoidance is also very good; as the machine approaches table legs, walls and other fixed objects it slows down and gently bumps against them, ensuring that it cleans right up to them.
Once the Roomba judges that it has cleaned everywhere it switches itself off, ready for emptying and recharging. The bagless design is good and the bin, although not huge, is large enough (especially as you’ll be vacuuming more often). It’s easily removed and emptied, important in an appliance whose entire purpose is to save labour. Although it takes longer to clean a room than you would, the whole point is that you don’t have to do it at all.
Overall I’m very impressed and pleased with my Roomba and would happily recommend it to anyone, especially those who live in single-floor accommodation since the one place it can’t clean is stairs. The sheer pleasure involved in coming home to a freshly-vacuumed home can’t be overstated.