© 2011 · All Rights Reserved · St. Petersburg Times ·
490 First Ave. S · St. Petersburg, FL 33701 · 727-893-8111
Contact Us | Join Us | Advertise with Us | Subscribe to the St. Petersburg Times | RSS
We aren’t sure what the McDonald’s drive-through dispute was about (the arrest report didn’t go that far, though it did quote a racial epithet), but Brant Goodwin Stephens, 43, got his wish (“He pissed me off and if I have to go to jail for it then that’s OK,” the report said) when he was charged with criminal mischief for allegedly throwing a cheeseburger at another patron’s truck, TCPalm reports.
The altercation left a ketchup smear on the passenger’s side of the truck and cheeseburger pieces on the hood.
Investigators found Stephens because the victim wrote down his license plate number.
Weird news stories, bizarre news, strange but stories. You’ve come to the right place: Bizarre Florida, where weird is the norm. Exploding pythons. Armless, one-legged drivers. Yep. We certainly have unusual news stories. Offbeat news. Strange, interesting stories. Weird, unusual, true news stories. Get the picture? Have a story suggestion?
E-mail Bizarre Florida: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Irish-flavored town of Shamrock, Texas, has a chunk of the real Blarney Stone encased in concrete monument in a local park. But it wasn’t enough. Maybe the town was worried that casual visitors might not drive past the park; maybe it felt that the original, security-conscious monument wasn’t as kissable as it could be. Or maybe there was just too much blarney in Shamrock for one stone.
For whatever reason, the town erected another, fake Blarney Stone in downtown. It’s taller, embossed with a lovable leprechaun (an ideal kissing spot), and helpful instructions: “Kiss this Blarney Stone for Everlasting Good Luck.” A horseshoe embedded in its base apparently acts as a Texan Luck Power Booster.
Other Blarney Stones can be smooched in Emmetsburg, Iowa; Irish Hills, Michigan; and even across the state in Lubbock, Texas. But no other town has two.
Road trip news, rants, and ruminations by the Editors of RoadsideAmerica.com
March 30, 2011
The geyser “Old Perpetual” sits atop a geothermal basin in southern Oregon.
It’s just off a main highway, erupts every 90 seconds — ideal for a tourist attraction — and has done so since 1923, when it was accidentally created by well-diggers drilling a hot water pipe for a nearby lodge.
The lodge, Hunter’s Hot Springs Resort, is still there. But Old Perpetual may not be for much longer, if the nearby town of Lakeview builds a geothermal electric power plant on the property next door.
Free energy really isn’t free, although it has nurtured other attractions. But Old Perpetual’s caretakers fear that the power plant will use up all the hot water, leaving the geyser with nothing to erupt. They have cause to fret; Oregon has a history of destroying its water-spitting attractions, and neighboring Washington state’s flaming geyser appears to be flickering out.
Old Perpetual, however, may have a savior. Not a human bureaucrat, but a “thermophilic ostracod” mini-clam. It turns out that Potamocypris hunteri, an itty-bitty crustacean, lives in Old Perpetual’s hot springs, water 120 degrees Fahrenheit, the hottest known habitat on the planet.
A local conservation group has petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for endangered species protection for the clam. Even if the petition is rejected, it could delay Lakeview’s plans long enough to get it to drill its hot water pipe somewhere else.
Potamocypris hunteri may never become an endangered hot-water celebrity like, say, the Devil’s Hole Pupfish. But it might keep Old Perpetual from running out of steam.
Owning a pet can be a joyous experience, but it’s also a serious responsibility. No game can substitute for the real deal, but the lovable animals in Nintendogs + Cats convey about as much of the delight of owning a pet as you can reasonably expect, and you don’t have to worry about having them ruin your furniture. It does away with one of the more interesting features of its predecessor, and the introduction of cats brings surprisingly little to the experience. But these charming virtual pets are sure to captivate players of all ages.
Nintendogs + Cats eases you into your new role as a pet owner. When you fire up the game for the first time, you find yourself at a kennel, presented with dogs from a range of breeds. (The nine breeds that are available to you initially depend on which version of the game you’re playing, but over time, all 27 breeds can be unlocked in any version.) After selecting a breed you’d like to look at, you’re asked to choose from categories within that breed. Select Labrador, for instance, and you’re then asked to specify whether you’d like to see yellow, black, or chocolate Labs, and after selecting a variety, you meet three different dogs who meet that description. It’s hard not to form an immediate sense of attachment to the adorable pups on offer that seem so happy to see you.
When you find one you think you might like to take home, you can learn more about him or her. The brief blurbs might inform you that the dog you’re looking at is a “well-behaved male” who “wags for both friends and strangers,” or it might caution you that “this girl is a bit stubborn, so she requires persistent training.” Cat lovers should note that felines aren’t available when you first visit the kennel. Your first pet must be a dog, and because purchasing that dog will leave you too short on cash to immediately buy a cat, it’ll take at least a few real-time days of competing and earning money with your dog before you can get a cat. Anyone who prefers felines to canines and hopes to ignore the dogs and play exclusively with cats is out of luck.
When you do get around to buying a feline, you find that cat owning is much less involved than dog owning. Unlike dogs, you can’t teach cats tricks, take them for walks, or enter them in competitions. But it’s a lot of fun to play with these lifelike kittens and to watch them climb up onto windowsills and bookshelves, as well as frolic with (or hiss at) your dogs. You can have up to three pets at home at any time, and you can leave up to three in the care of a pet hotel. You can also spend your hard-earned cash on new furniture or interior styles, decorating your home however you like.
Dogs and cats! Living together! Mass hysteria!
So dogs are the star of the show. After bringing your puppy back to your spacious, sparsely furnished home, the dog (in our case, a female) will at first seem a bit anxious in her new surroundings. Showering the dog with attention and affection, however, helps calm her down, and the way she pants happily when you pet her may melt your heart. Soon, you’re prompted to name your new pet, which you do by speaking her name into the microphone a few times. At this point, you can begin teaching your dog voice commands, beginning with the most basic: sitting down. Straightforward tutorials clearly explain how to teach your dog tricks, which include classics like sitting up and playing dead, as well as more unusual tricks, like the ability to sneeze on command. Your dog can learn up to three tricks a day, and positive reinforcement through petting and the awarding of treats helps when practicing to make your dog more obedient and responsive to your commands.
Teaching your dog these tricks is a rewarding way to bond with her, but it’s not just for fun. It’s also a way to earn some cold, hard cash. You can compete in obedience trials where you’re awarded points based on how well your dog responds to specific commands. These competitions use the 3D camera and the AR cards that come with the handheld to make it appear as if the dog is in your real-world environment. (The effect is a bit jittery and unconvincing, but the feature is good for taking still photos of your virtual pets in your actual kitchen or living room.) In addition to the obedience trial, you can enter your dog in lure-coursing races and in flying-disc competitions. In lure coursing, your goal is to wind a lure on a string at a brisk, steady pace and lead your dog down a track. Go too fast and your dog will lose interest and stop racing after the lure. Go too slow and your dog will pounce on the lure and cost you valuable seconds. In the flying-disc competition, you earn more points based on how far your dog runs before catching the disc, scoring bonus points for jumping catches.
Folks familiar with the Ghost Recon series may be accustomed to tactical military action from a third-person viewpoint, but they are in for a surprise with Shadow Wars. This is a turn-based combat game that plays out on tiled maps from a more or less bird’s-eye view. In every mission, you assault your enemies and accomplish your objective while ensuring that none of your squad members perish. Success requires careful maneuvering and a strong knowledge of each soldier’s unique and diverse capabilities. The difficulty ramps up smoothly during the very lengthy campaign, but even in the early going, one bad choice can result in a failed mission. This creates an engaging sense of tension, spurring you to be smart and use the richly detailed environments to your advantage. In addition to the campaign, there are a host of interesting one-off scenarios, as well as a two-player competitive mode that, while intriguing, can only be played using one system. This oddity notwithstanding, Shadow Wars is a great new entry in the Ghost Recon series that delivers tens of hours of exciting and engrossing tactical action.
6305784NoneCapturing command flags earns you points that you can spend on futuristic power-ups, like energy beams from space.
Missions in Shadow Wars play out from the aforementioned elevated perspective. You survey the battlefield and use the D pad to move your cursor and direct your individual soldiers to move, fire, and perform other battlefield actions. The detailed visuals convey plenty of relevant information without feeling cluttered, and playing in 3D adds a subtle yet impactful depth of field. It feels like you’re looking down into a little diorama, and the circle pad lets you temporarily adjust the viewing angle so the structures on the map don’t obstruct your view. The grid-based maps include farms, villages, industrial complexes and caves, and each is littered with trees, fences, buildings, trenches, rivers, cliffs, and other elements that all have tactical ramifications. Some shield you from damage, others limit your movement, and many have an impact on your ever-important line of sight.
This concept determines whether or not your soldier can fire at an enemy, or be fired upon, and it’s essential to keep it in mind in each skirmish. Advancing through an open field leaves you vulnerable to fire from all angles, but moving between trees and bushes can both obstruct enemy lines of sight and reduce the damage you take from getting shot. Entering buildings costs extra movement points, but you significantly reduce your exposure to enemy fire. Fences offer protection only from specific directions, and shooting down on an enemy from an elevated position makes your attack more damaging. Learning how to read the terrain is crucial to success, because these are just some of the strategic considerations you encounter. Fortunately, the touch screen offers easy access to clear, comprehensive information about any square you highlight, including movement cost, cover value, and effect on line of sight. You can also move to any square and view its lines of sight, so you can better plan attacks or avoid danger.
In the single-player campaign, your squad consists of a maximum of six soldiers (sometimes fewer, depending on the mission parameters). You are sent on various missions around Russia, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine, but the boilerplate story offers very little, and the characters are bland stereotypes. In combat, they are generally categorized as medic, sniper, gunner, commando, engineer, and recon, and each has unique attributes and weaponry. The gunner has a relatively limited movement range, but his minigun does a huge amount of damage, and he can return fire when he or a nearby ally is attacked. This makes him a good asset for securing a position, while the recon’s stealth ability, which prevents enemies from shooting at her unless one is standing right next to her, makes her perfect for softening up enemy positions or taking out lone wolves (her unlockable melee attack is delightfully deadly, as well). The engineer’s deployable drones are distracting to enemies and pack a powerful punch, and the medic’s healing ability is invaluable. As you play through the campaign, you can unlock upgrades on linear, character-specific progression trees that grant new abilities and new weapons. These upgrades make each soldier more versatile and powerful, and seeing the results on the battlefield is very rewarding.
All-in-one desktops may often boast touch screens these days, but we’re glad to see HP offer a competitive alternative for those content with a traditional mouse-and-keyboard interface. The unflashy $949 HP Omni 200 5380qd might lack a touch screen, but it makes up for it with fast application performance and competent home entertainment capabilities. We might like to see a larger display for this price, but even with only a 21.5-inch LCD, this all-in-one will meet the needs of most mainstream home users content to ignore the touch-screen bandwagon.
The overall design of the Omni 200 suggests inviting simplicity. The matte black plastic chassis features rounded edges and a sturdy-feeling heft. It’s not as elegant as an iMac, but the Omni also doesn’t feel fragile. Even though you won’t be touching the screen directly, the Omni still gives the impression that it can withstand the occasional bumps and general rigors of service in a multiperson usage environment.
While HP isn’t the only vendor to stick with a 21.5-inch screen in a midrange all-in-one desktop, the list is certainly smaller than those that offer 23-inch displays in the same price range. Acer, Dell, Gateway, and Lenovo, among other vendors, all have 23-inch touch-screen all-in-ones starting at $800 or so, which leaves HP with only Apple and Sony in the 21.5-inch minority. The smaller screens match the 23-inchers in offering 1,920 x 1,080 display resolution, but if we were shopping for an all-in-one to serve as a den or dorm room entertainment device, we’d still prefer the larger display for better viewing at a distance.
We don’t have a perfect direct comparison for the Omni 200 5380qd among our previously reviewed all-in-ones, but we can take a look at a few near-recent models to see how the HP’s value proposition matches up with those of a few older PCs.
The HP’s screen might be the smallest of three systems, but its graphics card is the fastest. It also boasts a fast Intel Core i5 CPU, which translates in our benchmark charts below to some of the best all-in-one performance we’ve ever seen. The 1TB hard drive seems to the de facto universal standard for now, and while we might also like to see a Blu-ray drive in the HP for this price, the Omni’s smaller screen would make it hard to distinguish Blu-ray quality over that of standard definition DVDs. HP certainly saves costs with the small, non-touch display, but also seems able to pass those savings on to customers by way of faster computing components.
Cinebench (in frames per second)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Rendering Multiple CPUs
Rendering Single CPU
The HP Omni 200 demonstrated stellar performance across our application tests. The Acer Aspire Z5700-U3112 might have a CPU with a faster core clock speed, but the combination of the HP’s discrete graphics card, 6GB of RAM, and a CPU with twice the cache as that of the Acer pushed the Omni ahead of its older competition on ever test. The only exception came with our multimedia multitasking test, in which Apple’s iMac ) (rumored to be replaced soon), continues to lead. Among Windows 7 PCs, the HP comes in second on our multitasking test, and overall it will provide sufficient performance to handle any mainstream task you throw its way.
Given the better-than-average AMD Radeon HD 5570 graphics card in the Omni, we also tried a few recent games on the HP, with great success. We tried Crysis 2 and Metro 2033, two demanding first person shooters, and both games were quite playable at full resolution and better-than-minimum graphics quality settings. This PC’s gaming prowess has its limits, and if you push the graphics quality too high, you will run into choppy frame rates, but we expect that for at least the foreseeable future, the HP Omni 200 will run any game you care to play with acceptable smoothness and image quality.
With no Blu-ray drive, no TV tuner, and no HDMI video input, the HP’s other multimedia capabilities aren’t much to speak of. You don’t even get a secondary display jack or digital audio outputs. It will play HD video from the Web with no problem, but otherwise, this is not the best PC if you’re looking to integrate it with other computing or home entertainment hardware. You don’t even get digital audio outputs. The only connectivity options include a smattering of USB ports, and a set of 5.1 analog audio jacks. We like to see a bit more connection variety in our all-in-one PCs, but given its under-the-hood capabilities, we’re willing to let slide the absence of eSATA, FireWire, or other ports.
But the Touareg Hybrid remains practical, offering seating for five and a large cargo area. And in SUV style, it sits up high, affording occupants a good view of the road. A rearview camera, complete with distance and trajectory lines, aids in parking, but Volkswagen should also offer a blind-spot detection system.
In any trim, the Touareg is one of Volkswagen’s most luxurious cars, which also explains its pricing. And the hybrid version comes standard with just about everything. The cabin is neatly trimmed with soft-touch materials and leather. The various switches have a solid feel, something more than thin plastic. The Touareg Hybrid seems to borrow a little luxury from sister brand Audi.
The Touareg Hybrid also comes standard with a new Volkswagen cabin tech suite. Last year, Volkswagen launched its new Jetta with a decent new navigation system, but the Touareg Hybrid gets the deluxe version, with hard-drive-stored maps showing 3D rendered buildings and integrated traffic information.
A set of buttons below the touch screen gives quick access to navigation, the Bluetooth phone system, and the stereo. A knob in the center lets you zoom the map or make selections from a list, but the touch-screen menus are the main interface. The touch screen proved satisfyingly responsive to input.
Drivers can use the voice command system to enter destinations, although unlike with some of the newest of these systems, you have to enter each part of the address individually, rather than speaking the entire address string and letting the car parse the elements. An onscreen keyboard also works well for entering parts of an address, especially if you have a street name the system cannot recognize.
The car’s phone system offers a solid set of features, most importantly making the phone’s contact list available through voice command. The interface for the system looks good, and is in keeping with the overall design.
The stereo really stands out in this system, offering more audio sources than most. There is about 18GB of music storage on the car’s hard drive, and Volkswagen’s proprietary media interface port in the glove box. The Touareg Hybrid comes with a bag full of cables that plug into this port, offering iPhone, Mini-USB, standard USB, and 1/8-inch audio connectivity.
There is also Bluetooth audio streaming, satellite radio, and a CD player with two SD card slots in its face. About the only audio source the Touareg Hybrid is missing is HD radio.
Inconveniently, the media interface port sits in the back of the glove box, making it nearly impossible to access from the driver seat. Likewise, the CD player is hidden in the top of the glove box, a pull tab making it slowly drop down like a James Bond accessory. It seems that Volkswagen wants you to load any discs or MP3 players while the car is stopped.
The onscreen interface is equally good for all these sources, but the really cool thing is that Volkswagen’s voice command system plays music when you request a specific artist or album name. And better than other systems, which require you to specify whether it is an artist or album name you are requesting, you need merely say the name of an album or artist, without any preface, to have the system figure it out. However, it does not let you request individual song tracks, playlists, or genres.
Volkswagen offers an optional premium Dynaudio speaker system in other Touareg trims, but the Touareg Hybrid gets left behind in this regard. However, its eight-speaker system sounds very good, with finely detailed reproduction. The system is a little short on bass and lacks a certain richness, but it does wonders with acoustic and vocal tracks. Intense treble can get shrill, but it was overall a very pleasing-sounding system.
With its supercharged direct-injection engine and hybrid system, the power train of the 2011 Volkswagen Touareg is seriously advanced, giving the vehicle breathtaking power and good fuel economy for its size. The only drawback of this system is its uneven acceleration at low speeds. The eight-speed transmission is another impressive component of the performance tech, as is the electrohydraulic power steering. The suspension is good, if lacking any high-tech elements, and the Touareg Hybrid gets extra credit for its four-wheel drive system.
The Touareg Hybrid also stands out for its cabin tech suite, a long-awaited improvement from Volkswagen. The navigation system shows lush 3D maps, and the audio system offers all the sources you could ask for. The Bluetooth audio system is full-featured, and the voice command system shows up with some unexpected, pleasant surprises. The Touareg Hybrid could benefit from a blind-spot detection system and the option of rear-seat entertainment.
As for the cabin tech interface, Volkswagen hits it out of the park for both usability and style. Going further, a screen on the instrument cluster offers access to most of the major cabin tech features through steering wheel controls. Of course, the Touareg Hybrid has that SUV practicality, with plenty of room inside. Its exterior look is nice without being groundbreaking.
If every action has an equal and opposite reaction, then consider the Samsung Series 9 NP900X3A to be a direct response to Apple’s MacBook Air. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen two laptops so seemingly intertwined–in purpose, design, performance, and even price. For all that you could love about a MacBook Air, nearly the same could be said for the sleek, black Series 9, a 13-inch laptop packed with exceptional design and undeniable geek appeal.
At $1,649, the real question will be whether you’re able to afford it. Weighing 2.9 pounds and packing a 1.4 GHz second-gen Intel Core i5 processor, 4GB of RAM, and a 128GB SSD drive, it’s got some of the best performance-per-pound that we’ve ever seen. It starts fast and feels great to work on. However, this laptop makes MacBook Air look like a bargain by comparison, and that’s saying something: the 13-inch Air starts at just $1,299 for that same 128GB SSD drive (although with half the RAM). Amazingly, the $1,649 configuration is the low end for the Series 9–there’s also a $1,699 version that adds Windows 7 Professional, which is the configuration we were sent for review. That price is 15-inch MacBook Pro territory–lofty, indeed.
We’ve seen high-end design-heavy Windows laptops before, though not for a while–the Dell Adamo and Adamo XPS come to mind. The Series 9 is a better overall laptop than those–but if this laptop were $1,000, we’d really be far more bullish.
As it is, $1,649 is way above standard laptop pricing landscape (at least it comes standard with a 3-year warranty). This is a luxury system, especially with $400-range 11.6-inch AMD Fusion laptops presenting pretty reasonable alternatives.
If you’re a Windows laptop user but have been secretly envying devices like the MacBook Air, clenching your hands uncontrollably at night for a Windows analogue–and price is no object– then your gleaming onyx savior has arrived. Otherwise, you might want to wait for the 11-inch Series 9 coming in about a month, which will cost a little less–or, find a more affordable alternative, provided you can live without supersleek duraluminum. But, if you can stomach the sticker price, this is one of the best, thin, usable ultraportable PCs we’ve ever come across.
The Samsung Series 9 NP900X3A has an instantly eye-catching look: sleek brushed-black metal (duralumin, a material used in aircraft construction), with gracefully curved edges around the back, give the thin laptop the appearance of a blade, or a cross-section of a wing with aerofoil. It’s also extremely light: unlike the surprisingly dense iPad, the Series 9 actually feels lighter in the hand than you’d expect. At 2.9 pounds, it’s nearly identical to the 13-inch MacBook Air.
This laptop is a bit thicker, though: by our measurements, about 0.64 inches at its thickest. While the MacBook Air measured 0.68 inches at its thickest, the front edge of the Air comes to a thinner point. The Series 9 feels and looks thicker, but these differences are small quibbles. Both laptops are functionality super-thin and pack flat into bags, adding little bulk.
Inside, the Series 9 laptop has more brushed metal, but also some glossy plastic trim around parts of the screen area and keyboard. The top lid feels too flexible when opening and closing, and part of the chassis even exhibited small squeaks when we pressed down on it. That’s not to say the construction isn’t very solid, but it just doesn’t feel as rock-solid as Apple’s MacBook Air. It’s miles above similar thin Windows laptops, however, even if we expected more for $1,600-plus.
The tiny AC adapter is more akin to the size of many smartphone chargers, with a removable plug that can be replaced with travel tips. The plug goes into the rear of the Series 9′s left side, jutting out. It’s not the elegant solution that Apple’s flush magnetic power cord is, and the charger’s awkward wall-wart size makes it a challenging fit for some outlets.
Going with an SSD drive has afforded the Series 9 with faster boot-up times: by our stopwatch, the NP900X3A took 24 seconds from a cold boot-up. That’s faster than many Windows laptops, but slower than the relatively lightning-quick MacBook Air. The Series 9 has another neat trick up its sleeve: closing the lid puts the laptop straight into a no-power hibernation state. The Series 9 woke up from hibernation after lifting the lid in just 6 seconds. For most people, this is how they’ll use the laptop, charging up as needed.
The 13.3-inch screen has a matte finish, which stands against nearly every other consumer laptop. Some will love this–many people gripe that the MacBooks are far too glossy. On the Series 9, the matte finish definitely helps images and text pop in brightly-lit areas. The screen has a maximum resolution of 1,366×768 pixels, but its brightness and viewable angles surpass many other laptops we’ve seen. Movies and pictures look excellent, with stellar viewing angles that don’t degrade no matter how far the screen is tilted. (We hate to keep comparing to the MacBook Air, but its resolution in case you’re curious is a higher 1,440×900. Still, we think the Series 9 screen looks even better.)
On to that keyboard and touch pad: simply put, they rock. The keyboard’s so similar in feel and size to the MacBook Air that it looks pressed from the same mold. The keys have less height than raised keyboards on larger laptops, but extended typing felt snappy and responsive. The keyboard is backlit, too, unlike the MacBook Air’s. The large multitouch clickpad uses Synaptics Series 3 technology. While it’s not a “click anywhere” pad (it uses a lever-style clicking mechanism, like Apple’s MacBooks), its image-sensing technology and accuracy rivals most other laptops. The matte glass surface feels great and is amply sized for multifinger gestures. It’s not as big as the epic one on the MacBook Air, but it’s awfully close.
The stereo speakers hide behind tiny grilles at the front side edges, barely visible unless you tilt and check. The volume and sound quality is more than good enough for movies, TV shows and Webchat, even music, though they’re obviously not going to surpass a good pair of headphones. The included 1.3 megapixel Webcam has a maximum resolution of 1,280×1,024, with pictures and light sensitivity that are better than average; the bundled ArcSoft YouCam software has a number of weird backdrops and effects for you to play with, too.
Ports and connections are always a challenge on ultraslim laptops, and the Series 9 is no exception. The newest MacBook Air only has 2 USB ports and no Ethernet port (it costs $29 extra as a USB dongle), but has an SD card slot. Comparatively, the Series 9 has it beat on paper: HDMI, one USB 3.0 port, one USB 2.0 port, and Ethernet connectivity. But, these ports are accessed via two flip-down doors on either side, and some require converter cables. A proprietary port connects to an included dongle that has an Ethernet port; a mini-HDMI-out jack is included, but requires the proper cable to use; and a microSD card slot is included instead of standard SD. If you want to transfer pictures from your camera, you’re back to being stuck with a USB SD card adapter. One of the two USB ports allows sleep-and-charge (powering a plugged-in USB device while the Series 9 is hibernating or shut down).
A small annoyance–or convenience, depending on how you like your ports–is that all of these ports are hidden away behind tiny flip-down doors on either side of the Series 9′s chassis, tucked away under a sloping edge. They’re shades of what used to be on the first-generation MacBook Air. We were concerned the doors were flip shut once we laid the laptop down on a table, but as long as the surface was even and flat, we found no problems. Plugging in lots of cables at once could get messy, though.
The included 4GB of RAM can be expanded up to 8GB; however, you’re stuck with 128GB of SSD storage space. Apple’s Air offers double the space–256GB–on its $1,599 13-inch configuration. The default 128GB will be enough for some, but it falls short for those who want to put their whole media lives on a single laptop.