Review: Henge Dock (15″ Model)

Christmas came a little early this year, as a long forgotten pre-order for the 15″ Unibody Henge Dock arrived at my door. Henge Docks has been a little late to the party with the 15″ model, but they are filling back orders and should have new stock on hand soon. So, is the $70 dock for your Mac notebook all it’s cracked up to be? Let’s see.

Construction

The Henge Dock is constructed out of white plastic. It’s not the classiest finish for a aluminum Macbook Pro, but it does the job. It’s obviously a much better match for the 13″ Macbook, but lets not split hairs. Apple’s keyboard and mouse peripherals make heavy use of white plastic, so the dock is not out of place in an Apple ecosystem.

My first concern with the Henge Dock was how well it would be able to support a 15″ Macbook Pro positioned vertically. I’m happy to say that the dock provides plenty of support. The base features a 2.5″ extension on each side that prevents the entire dock from wobbling or tipping over.

The Henge Dock provides cables that are specifically sized for the dock. These cables are threaded it to the dock, and tightened with a small allen wrench (included). On my particular model, the cables/ports covered are:

  • Ethernet
  • Mini DisplayPort
  • Firewire 800
  • USB 2.0 (2)
  • Audio In
  • Audio Out

Henge Docks provides 3 different clip adapters to handle whichever variation of the Magsafe adapter you are using. the USB cables have extenders on the ends, so you can plug your USB cables right in to the cable wired through the dock. Unfortuately, the Firewire cable is not an extender, so be prepared to have a Firewire Hub or your Firewire device in close proximity to the dock itself. One thing that is not included is a SD card adapter. The Henge Dock will block access to the SD card reader, so if you use this port frequently, you will either have to purchase a seperate SD card reader, or un dock your Macbook Pro to use your built in SD slot. For a device that paid close attention to the small details, this was a unfortunate ommission.

5264507676 7a36919f38 Review: Henge Dock (15 Model)

One other note about the cable setup: If you are using a DisplayPort adapter to connect to your monitor, your cable grouping will be tight. There’s just enough room (barely) to accomodate the adapter. If you are connecting to Apple’s Cinema Display with a built in DisplayPort connector, your cabling will have more then enough room.

Once you have assembled the Henge Dock, it’s a simple matter of closing your Macbook Pro, and inserting it in to the dock. By clicking a connected mouse or keyboard, your Macbook Pro will awaken and you’ll be ready to go.

A couple of things to consider when using the Henge Dock:

  • With the Macbook Pro closed, the internal speakers, while still audible, will not be very loud. Be prepared to have an external audio solution when docked.
  • When closed, you won’t have access to your SD card slot. If you use this alot, be prepared to purchase an external SD card reader, or you will need to undock your computer to use it.
  • If you use a Macbook Pro hard shell, like the Speck case, it will not fit inside the Henge Dock unless you remove the shell.

All those issues aside, if you are looking for a more organized solution when using your portable at a desk, the Henge Dock delivers.

Conclusion: A well built docking solution for $70 ($60 for Macbook users) provides a quick and easy way to connect all your cables to your Mac notebook, while keeping your desk organized and cable clutter hidden from view.

Rating: Highly recommended (especially if you are a neat freak).

Link: Henge Docks Website


Category: Hardware

Back to the Mac Event: Predictions

Apple is hosting their “Back to the Mac” tomorrow. Obviously, this will be an event focused primarily on the Mac. Here’s my take on what we’ll see.

1. Preview of OS X 10.7 “Lion”. The invitation clearly shows a Lion behind the cut out Apple logo, so I think it’s safe to say 10.7 will be called “Lion”. I believe Apple will show us some of the main features slated to be in 10.7, and announce that it will ship sometime next summer.

Expect more UI elements from iOS to pop up in 10.7. Many of the rumors focus on the retirement of the Aqua scrollbars, in favor of iOS style scrollbars that are only displayed when necessary. Yes, please.

2. iLife and iWorks updates. I peg the updates of these apps as highly likely. Both are long overdue, and all signs from vendors point to their imminent release.

3. Macbook Air updates. Evidence points to a new model. I would love to see an 11.6 inch version of the Air, but I’m skeptical Apple would release such a product. I’ll place it’s release at 40%, while the revamped 13.3 inch Air is a lock.

4. Hopefully we’ll see a revamp or revision of MobileMe. Apple used to update DotMac every September. Apart from a Calendar revamp, we haven’t seen many MobileMe updates in the last 12 months.


Category: Rumor

Apple Reports Fourth Quarter Results.

Here’s the money quote that will have the rumor mill working overtime:

“We are blown away to report over $20 billion in revenue and over $4 billion in after-tax earnings—both all-time records for Apple,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “iPhone sales of 14.1 million were up 91 percent year-over-year, handily beating the 12.1 million phones RIM sold in their most recent quarter. We still have a few surprises left for the remainder of this calendar year.

Conventional logic has the Verizon iPhone appearing in January. Could this teaser mean it’s coming this year?


Category: Opinion

Glif – iPhone 4 Tripod Mount & Stand

New Kickstarter project for a tripod mount/kickstand for the iPhone 4. $20 pledge will get you a Glif shipped to you when the goal of $10,000 is attained (of which, nearly half is already pledged).


Category: Hardware,Links

Apple may surpass Exxon as most valuable company

Conventional wisdom is that it will happen, it’s just a matter of when. What I found interesting about this AP article is this passage:

That helps Apple in another way, too. Because users of iPads and iPhones are tapped into Apple’s iTunes store, where the company rents and sells movies and television shows, you could easily consider Apple a cable company as well. If you look at it that way, its base of 200 million customers makes it five times larger than Comcast Corp., the largest cable company in the United States.

Wow. I doubt Apple’s iTunes customers have the same average monthly recurring charges (MRC) as Comcast’s customers, but it is still a staggering number.

This is Apple’s ace in the hole for future growth. It’s also a competitive advantage that I don’t think will be trumped anytime soon by their competition in the mobile space.


Category: Opinion

Wget for Snow Leopard

For the Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard release, Apple removed and/or deprecated a number of command line tools. One of these is Wget. Wget is a command line tool for retrieving files from HTTP, HTTPS and FTP. Apple’s logic in removing Wget lies around the command line tool, Curl, which does pretty much the same thing as Wget.

However, if you need Wget, you’re in luck. Andrew Merenbach has created a package installer for Mac OS X 10.5 or higher. You can download it here.


Category: UNIX

My last Photoshop upgrade?

Like most professionals in the web development industry, I have tools that I’m required to know and use. For platforms, I have a choice between Mac OS X, Windows or Linux. Each has it’s advantages and disadvantages, but any of these options can get the job done. As you can guess from the name of this site, I’m a Mac user. I have been since 1992.

Being a longtime Mac user also means that I’m a longtime Adobe user. When I used my first Mac in 1992, the software I used was mostly Adobe (with the exception of Freehand and MacDraw). Illustrator and Photoshop have been part of my toolbox for nearly 18 years.

I’ve owned Adobe products for nearly as long as I’ve owned Apple products. Even when I couldn’t really afford them (and while many in my age bracket were just pirating them), I’ve purchased Adobe’s software. I started with Adobe Photoshop 3, and purchased every upgrade through 7. I bought Adobe Illustrator 5 in 1995 and owned every version through CS3 (AI 13).

The last Adobe purchase I made was for Creative Suite 3 in 2007. I upgraded from my copy of Macromedia Studio MX 2004, which was the least expensive upgrade option available to me. Ironic, isn’t it? To get the best upgrade price to CS3, I had to use my license for a non Adobe product (Macromedia Studio MX 2004) over my license for Adobe Photoshop. Go figure.

Jump to 2010. To upgrade to Creative Suite 5 Web Premium from the Creative Suite 3 Web Premium is a whopping $799. I understand that covers upgrades for 9 applications, but really I only want upgrades for the core set. I don’t use Flash anymore, so I have no need to upgrade to the latest versions. I don’t use Contribute, so I don’t care about that either. I haven’t used Dreamweaver in years, so I don’t really want that either.

Really, all I want is Photoshop, Fireworks and Illustrator. You would think that I’d be able to upgrade just those applications.

You’d be wrong.

Adobe will not let you upgrade from a suite to an individual product. This essentially leaves me with no affordable upgrade path for my Adobe products.

So, with this new reality, I’m forced to re-evaluate my Adobe needs. Do I need Fireworks? No. The number of people who send me Fireworks files are zero. I used Fireworks as a quick prototyping tool. But to be honest, the Mac version has been buggy/crashy, and long standing bugs have yet to be addressed. In short, Fireworks was a want, not a need. So, it’s removed from the equation.

Then there is Illustrator. I do receive Adobe Illustrator files from time to time from people. Thankfully, most of them are on versions even older than CS3 (what does that tell you?), so I can probably make due with CS3 for a bit longer. So, it’s removed from the equation.

Which brings us to Photoshop. More than any other application, Photoshop has been the cornerstone of my career for as long as I can remember. When I was a print designer, to when I moved over to web design, Photoshop has been the tool that was almost always open on my computer.

Lately, that has changed a bit.

Mac OS X native image editors like Acorn and Pixelmator have come a long way in the last 2 years. Pixelmator, especially, has added some great features that I use daily, like Slices and Web Export. In basic image editing usage, Pixelmator:

1. Opens quicker.
2. Is easier to navigate.
3. Integrates better with standard Apple technologies (media bin, Aperture library)

Not to mention that Pixelmator’s developers aren’t behind some great big wall. You can email them directly. You will receive a response. You can log bugs with them. And amazingly – the bugs even get fixed!

A company the size of Adobe’s should have world class customer service. Instead, Adobe has some of the worst customer experiences in the software field. Hell, just ordering their products is an ordeal in figuring out which version you are eligible for an upgrade to, and what price you’ll pay.

Adobe has gone from a company that I want to give my money to, to a company that I will delay giving money to as long as I can.

At some point in the future, I will probably need to purchase Photoshop CS5 or it’s successor. But until I absolutely need to, I will hobble along with Photoshop CS3, and continue to use Pixelmator for every task it’s suited for. That currently stands at about 80% of what I used to use Photoshop for. If Pixelmator were to add vector tools and improve their text editing tool, that would probably reach 95%. At that point, I have little need for a bloated, aging dinosaur of an application like Photoshop.

Part of me is saddened by this. Adobe has become that friend that I used to hang out with on a daily basis, to a friend that I only call on when I absolutely, positively need something that only they can provide. And they are currently working themselves out of that position as well.

The only solace I find is in the new friend, who doesn’t do everything I need of him yet, but does enough that I think less and less of the old friend every time I use it.


Category: Opinion

Coda Notes

And speaking of Safari and Extensions… The wonderful Coda Notes that was demonstrated at WWDC by Panic’s Cabel Sasser is now available for download. This slick little tool lets you view a webpage, mark it up with notes, scribbles, drawings and highlights, and send it off to the poor sap who has to take your art direction and make the requested edits. Brilliant.


Category: Safari

Safari 5.01

Apple just released Safari 5.01, which fixes a security bug and also adds links to the Extensions Gallery, which just went live.


Category: Safari

Magic Trackpad

Matt Gemmell gives us a great video walk-through of Apple’s new $69 Magic Trackpad.


Category: News

About the author

A user of Macs since they had silly names like Performa and Centris, Theodore Lee is a techie who prides himself on his vast knowledge of all things Apple. OS X Factor was started in 2001 (originally as macosxcentric), and continues to churn out tips, tutorials, reviews and commentary on the tech sector.