Introducing the Blocs Master

Today, I am very happy to share with you Blocs Master, the project I have worked on for a while. Blocs Master is the series of video courses designed to help you master your web design skills with Blocs.

As you might know, I have been building the websites with Blocs for a while, and during that time, I have replied to hundreds of emails with questions on how to use Blocs.

Most emails were asking the similar questions, so I have decided to create the Blocs Master to answer these questions, and help the Blocs users to save time on learning how to use Blocs to build beautiful websites.

The first video course I am releasing is the 'Getting Started with Blocs', and it will help the beginners to understand the basics. And, because I want to help as many people as possible, I have decided to release this course completely free.

The second, and the main video course I am releasing is the 'Becoming a Blocs Master', which is the series of highly detailed videos, designed to help you learn all the advanced features of Blocs.

If you have thought about learning web design or even starting your web design career, Blocs Master is here to help you to achieve your goal.

'Getting Started with Blocs' includes the following lessons:

  1. Course Introduction
  2. Exploring the User Interface
  3. Managing the Project Settings and Files
  4. Page Settings and Basic SEO
  5. Adding and Managing the Blocs
  6. Adding and Managing the Brics 
  7. Adding Image and Video Backgrounds
  8. Adding and Managing the Text
  9. Adding and Adjusting the Icons
  10. Editing the Custom Classes
  11. Adding and Adjusting the Buttons
  12. Using the Image Carousels
  13. Adding the Videos and Links
  14. Editing the Navigation and Exporting the Project 

To sign up for the courses or learn more details, visit BlocsMaster.com

Introducing two new templates for Blocs

Last week I released the Enterprise template, the newest premium template for Blocs. It comes in multi-page and single-page variations, and it is available only to the premium members.

The reason for that is because it was built based on the second version of my personal website, meaning I did my best to include many advanced features the current version of Blocs has to offer.

You can preview and download the Enterprise template here.

In addition to the Enterprise template, I am giving away another new template for free. Named Anticipation, it is a simple one page template, perfect to use as a coming soon or under construction page. It has a beautiful form built-in, making it easy to collect emails before the launch of your upcoming website.

You can download it for free by visiting this link.

Introducing the Designer template for Blocs

I have shared with you my new personal website a few weeks ago. After that, I have got a lot of questions about its design, and some of you have asked me to release it as a template. I have decided to do exactly that.

Please welcome the Designer template for Blocs, an exact replica of the first version of my personal website. I have replaced just couple of personal photos and some content, but everything else is exactly as it was on my website.

As I have promised in a post on my blog, the Designer template is available exclusively to the premium members of Blocs Templates.

Introducing the Lawyer template for Blocs

I am happy to announce the release of the Lawyer template for Blocs.

Lawyer is a highly requested template for law firms or independent attorneys. It has five built-in pages, each of which are equipped with unique features, such as visibility toggles.

To preview and download the Lawyer template, visit this page.

Also, I recommend you to check out the update (a roadmap) I have posted regarding the future releases of templates for Blocs, as well as the video courses I am going to publish after the Blocs 2.4 will be available.

P.S. If you have any questions about my templates or building the websites in general, feel free to send me an email. I will do my best to help you out.

An update on Blocs Templates and upcoming video courses

A while ago I have created my new personal website EldarGezalov.com. The main purpose of this website is to share my work related to helping people to build the websites without knowing how to code. Check it out if you haven't already.

I get a lot of questions about the Blocs Templates, especially the premium membership, which allows you to save a lot of money and get the all existing and future templates at once. In addition, a lot of people are asking about the upcoming video courses for Blocs and Squarespace, so I thought it was time to create a simple roadmap.

Keep in mind that it could change in the future, but I am planning to do my best to follow this roadmap and release the following content:

April ~ May

- New premium template
- New exclusive template for premium members
- Basic video course for Blocs (free, available after the release of Blocs 2.4)

June ~ July

- New premium template
- Free template for subscribers of my newsletter
- Advanced video course for Blocs (price TBA)

August ~ September

- New premium template
- New exclusive template for premium members
- Basic video course for Squarespace (free)

October ~ December

- New premium template
- New exclusive template for premium members
- Free template for subscribers of my newsletter
- Advanced video course for Squarespace (price TBA)

To summarize, I plan to release at least 9 new templates (3 of which will be exclusive to the premium members) and 4 video courses, which will teach you how to build the websites without knowing how to code.

Also, I will continue to publish the occasional tutorial videos to my new YouTube channel and release the updates and bug fixes for the existing templates. I recommend you to complete the following steps to stay up to date:

1. Subscribe to my YouTube channel

2. Follow me on Twitter

3. Subscribe to my newsletter

Introducing the Flower template for Blocs

I am happy to finally announce the release of the new Flower template for Blocs. 

Flower is a fresh looking and beautiful template, designed for flower shops. It brings the powerful visual effects like faded backrounds, overlays, etc. You can check the demo and download this template here.

As always, the Blocs Templates premium members will receive a link with an updated archive with all templates available on our site, including Flower template.

In addition to Flower template, I have almost finished working on the Laywer template for Blocs, which will be available for download next week.

13-inch vs 15-inch MacBook Pro (2016)

I have used the 15-inch MacBook Pro (2016) for a couple of months now, and it will be my main computer during the 2017 and beyond. One thing I didn't tell you is that the decision between 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pro wasn't an easy one for me. I have used both of the machines for a couple of weeks, and I thought I will share my comparison with you.

Design

Both 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pro share the sleek and beautiful industrial design, although, in my opinion, the smaller from factor makes the 13-inch model look a bit more balanced and pretty.

13-inch : 10
15-inch : 9

Portability

2016 15-inch MacBook Pro is definitely more portable than the earlier generations, but it is not even close to 2016 13-inch MacBook Pro, which has also improved dramatically in this department. The 13-inch is clear winner here.

13-inch : 10
15-inch : 7

Performance

It is dual-core processor versus quad-core processor, so it is an easy win for the 15-inch MacBook Pro. But it is important to notice that for my workflow, the performance of 13-inch MacBook Pro is more than enough during 99% of the time. 

13-inch : 8
15-inch : 10

USB-C / Thunderbolt 3 ports are the future

USB-C / Thunderbolt 3 ports are the future

Ports

Both of the models I am comparing have four Thunderbolt 3 ports, although on the 13-inch model, only two ports allow the maximum bandwidth (up to 40GBs/s), making 15-inch MacBook Pro the winner in this category. I don't think I will ever use all four ports to its maximum potential, so the difference in score is minimal.

13-inch : 9
15-inch : 10

Display

The quality of the Retina display of both models is great, but the bigger screen size of 15-inch MacBook Pro makes the difference when it comes to working with multiple windows or watching the video content. But, same as with performance, for 99% of the time 13-inch model provides enough screen real estate for general tasks.

13-inch : 8
15-inch : 10

Speakers

Speakers are great on both, but the speakers of the 15-inch model sound a bit louder, making it the winner in this category.

13-inch : 8
15-inch : 10

I actually love the keyboard on the new MacBook Pro

I actually love the keyboard on the new MacBook Pro

Battery

There has been a lot of talk about the battery life of new MacBook Pro. I didn't have any problems with both devices, but I would say that getting the full 10 hours from 13-inch model is much harder compared to 15-inch model. On average, I am getting about 8 to 9 hours on the smaller MacBook Pro and about 9 to 11 hours on the bigger model.

13-inch : 8
15-inch : 10

OS optimization

With a release of 10.12.3 update, the operating system on both models feels more stable, although I can still tell that the 15-inch MacBook Pro is much more buggy, mostly because of Radeon Pro graphics.

13-inch : 10
15-inch : 8

RAM, SSD, Keyboard, Trackpad

Other things like RAM, SSD storage speeds, keyboard and trackpad are almost identical, so no point in comparing them.

Price

Also, I am not taking prices into consideration, because I was choosing my main working tool I will use for many years, but 15-inch MacBook Pro is obviously more expensive than 13-inch. 

13-inch vs 15-inch MacBook Pro (2016)

Total score: 71 for 13-inch MacBook Pro vs 74 for 15-inch MacBook Pro
The clear winner for me, 15-inch MacBook Pro

The clear winner for me, 15-inch MacBook Pro

Conclusion

To summarize, although I really like the design and portability of 13-inch MacBook Pro, the bigger screen size really makes the difference for me when I work on the go. The performance difference was not very decisive, but the longer battery life of the 15-inch model is definitely one of the main reasons why I have decided to go with the bigger model.

Introducing the Blocs Templates 2.0

I am happy to announce that Blocs Templates 2.0 is live. I have been working hard to bring this update to you for a long time, so I am very excited to share it with you today.

The update includes the following:

2.0 update to every single template

All existing templates are receiving 2.0 update, which focuses on fixing the bugs and merging the multi-page and single-page templates into one archive file. From now on, every template will come in (at least) two variations.

New exclusive template for premium members

Introducing the first template with a vertical navigation - Photograph. This template is not available for purchase, and it is included for free in all-templates pack for premium members.

New variations for six existing templates

In addition to the Photograph template, there are new variations to Corporate, Passion, Wedding, Product, Fitness and Inspiration templates. All additional variations are completely free for existing customers.

All-Templates Pack becomes Premium Membership

All existing customers of All-Templates Pack are now premium members of Blocs Templates, and will get much more content and benefits, including the exclusive templates (starting with Photograph), free stock photos, priority support and much more. To learn more visit this page.

Video tutorials for Blocs

Starting this weekend, I will do my best to upload as many video tutorials as possible. For now, I will concentrate on videos explaining how to use the Blocs templates, but in the future, I am happy to respond to any Blocs related video requests. The videos will be uploaded to my YouTube channel.

As always, thank you for your support!

15-inch MacBook Pro GPU performance decreased by 20% on macOS 10.12.3

According to some users of 2016 15-inch MacBook Pro, the 10.12.3 update for macOS Sierra has brought the improvements to battery life of their devices. As an owner of 15-inch MacBook Pro, this was a nice news for me, but it might be that Apple has sacrificed the performance of their most powerful macOS laptops to provide the better battery life.

I did the Geekbench tests of my 15-inch MacBook Pro on 10.12.2, then I updated my machine to 10.12.3 and did the same tests again. I was very surprised to find out that after the update the GPU performance of my MacBook Pro was decreased by over 20%. At least, according to Geekbench test results. 

I have restarted my machine many times, manually set the graphics to use the discrete GPU, tried every trick I know to get the best performance out of my MacBook Pro, but every time I did the test, I have got the same results.

When I did the compute tests on Geekbench before the update, I was able to get over 50,000, while after updating my MacBook Pro to 10.12.3, I was only able to get about 40,000, which is a quite substantial decrease.

Check the screenshots of the test results below.

Compute test results on 10.12.2

Compute test results on 10.12.2

Compute test results on 10.12.3

Compute test results on 10.12.3


You can also check the links for the results below.

Test on 10.12.2 : https://browser.geekbench.com/v4/compute/397429
Test on 10.12.3 : https://browser.geekbench.com/v4/compute/400887

It might be possible that this is just the issue with Geekbench app not fully optimized for 10.12.3, although it seems highly unlikely. Also, I didn't notice any actual drops in performance, but my workflow doesn't require any intensive use of dGPU, so it would be difficult for me to notice the drop, even if it was there.

By the way, the MacBook Pro I am using is the higher end stock model with 2.7GHz processor, 512GBs of storage and Radeon Pro 455 graphics.

Finally, I did check the latest results for GPU tests completed by other users of 2016 15-inch MacBook Pro, and it looks like other users are also getting the similar results. At the same time, it looks like the 10.12.3 update doesn't not affect the CPU performance of my MacBook, neither it affects the GPU performance of 13-inch MacBook Pro.

I hope that these tests results have nothing to do with the actual performance of the 15-inch MacBook Pro, but it can be quite possible that Apple has sacrificed the GPU performance to extend the battery life on their newest MacBook Pro.

Apple AirPods Review

I have already told you in an earlier post “My impressions after 100 days with iPhone 7 Plus”, I have always liked the Apple’s EarPods. But with a release of iPhone 7, Apple has created a new problem for me: I had to carry two sets of headphones to listen to the music on both MacBook and iPhone. 

Enter AirPods, my choice for a wireless headphones for Perfect Setup 2017. Apple AirPods have solved the issue I had with the absence of headphone jack in iPhone 7, and, in a short time, they have become one of my favorite Apple products of 2016.

I am sure that the future of the personal technology is wireless, and the AirPods, although not perfect, bring that future a little bit closer.

Sound quality

The sound quality of the AirPods is good, but not mind-blowing by any means. Some people say that AirPods sound better than wired EarPods, but I do not agree. I think it is a wishful thinking of the people trying to justify the hefty price tag of the AirPods.

In my experience, the AirPods sound exactly the same as the EarPods, and I am more than ok with it, because it is perfectly fine for the casual listening.

One-click pairing of AirPods reminds me of traditional Apple's simplicity

One-click pairing of AirPods reminds me of traditional Apple's simplicity

Amazingly simple, but somewhat limited functionality

One of the best things about AirPods is its simplicity. Thanks to the new W1 chip inside, the pairing process and switching between Apple devices is flawless. After one-click pairing, the AirPods automatically turn on and connect to my device when I put them in my ears, and they pause automatically when I take them out. 

Simplicity is one of the best things about AirPods, but at the same time, it is also its weakness. Apart from the double tap to activate Siri or pause, there is no hardware controls. If you want to skip a track or turn the volume up, you have to ask Siri to do it for you, or do that manually on your device. 

As for Siri, I surely use it more because of the AirPods, but since its introduction many years ago, Siri has barely improved compared to other AI assistants from Google and Amazon.

On the other hand, making and receiving calls on AirPods is surprisingly good. The microphones work great and I really like the sound quality I am able to get when making a call or recording a message using the AirPods.

Design and form-factor

Eye-catching white is the only color option available at the moment. To some people, the design of AirPods might look a bit weird, but I liked the design of old EarPods, so I am ok with AirPods design as well.

One of the reasons why I have always liked EarPods is because they fit perfectly in my ears. One-size-fits-all approach means that before buying, you have to check whatever they fit well in your ears, but if you had no issues with EarPods in the past, you will not have an issue with AirPods as well.

People have started to make fun of AirPods from the day Apple has unveiled them in September. The main argument is the small size, which apparently makes it easy to lose them. In my opinion, people who say they lose AirPods all the time are just not well-organized enough, and the small size of AirPods has nothing to do with them easily loosing them.

Running and working out

AirPods are good for everyday use, but one thing I was really curious about is whatever they are good enough for running and working out. It turns out that they are great.

Running with a combination of the Apple Watch + AirPods is awesome. Prior to AirPods, I have used the PowerBeats 2 wireless earbuds, which were a good option, but because of the annoying wire around my neck, they were not perfect. The AirPods are truly wireless, and their light weight makes me completely forget that I have the earbuds in my ears.

AirPods + Apple Watch Series 2 combination is awesome when it comes to running

AirPods + Apple Watch Series 2 combination is awesome when it comes to running

By the way, I am using Apple Watch Series 2 Nike Plus edition, which is another part of my Perfect Setup 2017 series. I will publish the review for them in coming weeks.

Charging case is great

AirPods simplicity is great, but, in my opinion, the charging case that comes with AirPods is its best feature. It is small enough to fit in any pocket, it is perfect to protect the AirPods, and it also provides super fast charging.

A quick 15 minutes of charging gives me about 3 hours of listening time. The AirPods itself can hold the juice for about 4 to 5 hours of normal usage, which is more than I ever needed. In total, the combination of AirPods and case offer up to 24 hours of battery life.

Conclusion

Priced at $159 in the US, the AirPods are not cheap. At the same time, when taking into account the prices of other wireless earbuds, like the $170 Samsung's Gear IconX, I don’t think that the AirPods are overpriced.

I am enjoying using the Apple AirPods, and would I recommend it to anybody, except the following people:

  • People who didn't like the old Apple's EarPods
  • People who use Android most of the time
  • People who want the best possible audio quality
  • People who don't like the eye-catching design.

Otherwise, the AirPods are a great buy, and the essential part of my Perfect Setup 2017.

The best 5K wallpapers of the month

Over the years, I have been collecting the highest quality stock photos for my personal use, and recently, I have decided to start sharing the best of these with you. In this post, I am going to share with you some of the best free stock photos of January 2017.

Notice that all photos I will share are available in three resolutions:

  • 2500 × 1406 pixels - lightweight web optimized photos
  • 4096 x 2304 pixels - 4K resolution
  • 5120 x 2880 pixels - 5K resolution

License and copyright restrictions

Another important fact about the photos I am sharing here is that all photos are distributed under the CC0 license. In other words, all the images can be downloaded, edited and redistributed in any possible way, even for commercial purposes. 

This month I am sharing the photos from 'Nature' category. The following are some of my picks for January 2017. 

Nature_54_web.jpeg
 
Nature_65_web.jpeg
 
Nature_73_web.jpeg
 
Nature_12_web.jpeg
 
Nature_84_web.jpeg
 
Nature_21_web.jpeg
 
Nature_16_web.jpeg
 
Nature_37_web.jpeg
 
Nature_47_web.jpeg
 
Nature_43_web.jpeg
Things coming to Blocs Templates in coming weeks

I am writing this post to let you know what is going on with Blocs Templates. While waiting for the release of Blocs 2.3, I have been busy working on the big renovation of Blocs Templates website and my store, and I wanted share with you just a couple of things you can expect from me in the coming weeks!

New website for Blocs Templates will be live on January 28th

Thanks to the hard work of its developer, Blocs app is getting better and better with each update. Blocs Templates website is also built on Blocs, so to celebrate the upcoming release of Blocs 2.3, I will be updating the website with the new functionality and new design.

Updates to the templates

In addition to our website, every template we offer will also receive the 2.0 update. I am doing my best to fix all the bugs and add more pages and functionality to our existing templates. With this update, every of our template will come in at least two variations: multi-page and single-page templates.

Giving away the templates for free

As you might already know, the purchasers of multi-page versions of our templates can also download the single-page version as well. Today, as a part of our big renovation of Blocs Templates, I am happy to announce that everybody who bought the lite (single-page) versions of any of our templates will receive an email with multi-page template download link as well. 

Big update to the Ultimate All-Templates Pack

On January 28th, the Ultimate All-Templates Pack will be replaced with the Premium Membership, which will include more great content and services at the same affordable price. Of course, all existing customers of All-Templates Pack will be automatically granted a lifetime access to Premium Membership.

These are just some of the cool news I wanted to share with you today! Stay tuned for the big update to Blocs Templates on January 28th.

My impressions after 100 days with iPhone 7 Plus
I have been using iPhone 7 Plus for the past 100 days

I have been using iPhone 7 Plus for the past 100 days

In one of my earlier posts, I have already told you that my choice for a smartphone is iPhone 7 Plus. In this post, I am going to share with you my opinion about Apple’s best smartphone offering after using it for about 100 days. 

I forgot I have upgraded my phone

Prior to iPhone 7 Plus, I have used iPhone 6 Plus for about 2 years. 6 Plus has almost identical design and form factor as the newest version of Apple’s smartphone, so the same looks and the absence of any revolutionary features made me forget I had the new iPhone after a couple of weeks.

Camera

Camera on iPhone 7 Plus is great, one of the best ofany smartphone, and on par with Google Pixel XL and Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge. Portrait mode is fun to play with, but after trying it out for a couple of weeks, I rarely use it these days. The same goes for the x2 optical zoom, which I have literally used just a couple of times.

What reminds me that I have a new phone 

Apart from the better camera, the water resistance and stereo speakers are probably the best standout features of the iPhone 7. It is nice to know that I can safely use my phone even if it is raining outside, while the much improved speakers are definitely a nice addition for the person who consumes a lot of video content on my phone.

Water resistance and stereo speakers remind me that I am using iPhone 7 Plus instead of my old iPhone 6 Plus. I wish there were more features on my phone, which could do the same. 

iPhone 6 Plus and iPhone 7 Plus share the similar looks

iPhone 6 Plus and iPhone 7 Plus share the similar looks

Beautiful, but slippery matte black finish

The new matte black color still looks great and classy, although sometimes I am thinking whatever I should have gone with jet black. The reason for that is not because I think jet black is a better looking finish, but because it feels much more grippy compared to a super slippery matte black version. I don’t use cases on my smartphones, so slippery finish is definitely a downside for me.

The absence of 3.5mm headphone jack

As you can probably tell by now, I am an early adopter. I like to try new things as soon as they are out, and I was not unhappy that Apple did get rid of the 3.5mm headphone jack with the introduction of the iPhone 7. 

On the other hand, Apple’s failure to start selling the AirPods with the release of iPhone 7 has really made it look like Apple made a big mistake taking out the 3.5mm headphone jack and providing the lightning headphones with iPhone 7, but then introducing the new MacBook Pro with the same old headphone jack. 

The newest iPhone and the newest MacBook are not designed to work together

The newest iPhone and the newest MacBook are not designed to work together

I have always liked Apple’s default EarPods, which I have used on my iPhone and on my laptop, but with iPhone 7’s Lightning EarPods, I had to bring two pairs of headphones with me if I wanted to listen to music on both of these devices. Luckily, Apple AirPods have solved this issue for me.

I will talk about Apple AirPods next week, as a part of my Perfect Setup 2017 series, so If you are interested, sign up for a newsletter to get notified when I publish the new posts, or follow me on Twitter for updates and sneak peaks of the upcoming content.

Conclusion 

iPhone 7 Plus is not a revolutionary device for me, but it gets the job done perfectly well. I wish there were more standout features like stereo speakers or water resistance, but even in the current form, iPhone 7 Plus will serve me well as my main smartphone.

New default resolution on 2016 MacBook Pro affects the battery life
The default resolution is set to scaled option by default

The default resolution is set to scaled option by default

Apple has changed the default resolution for the new 2016 MacBook Pro. On 15-inch MacBook Pro, the new default resolution is set to 1680 x 1050, instead of 1440 x 900 on a previous generation, providing more screen real estate.

I was curios to find out what else this change brings to the table, so I did some testing. In this post I am going to share my findings with you.

Scaled by default

Prior to the release of the 2016 MacBook Pro, the old default resolution was set to 1440 x 900 pixels, and was marked by Apple as ‘Best for Retina’. At this resolution, the screen is rendering the picture at its native 2880 x 1800, and then just scales it to 1440 x 900 @X2 resolution, without doing the actual pixel scaling.

Starting with 2016 MacBook Pro, Apple has decided to set the 1680 x 1050 pixels resolution as the default for 15-inch MacBook Pro, which results in a slightly less sharp and fuzzy text. The difference is not very big, but if you try hard, the difference in clarity is noticeable.

In addition, I have noticed that my eyes get tired faster, when I use my MacBook Pro with its new default resolution. 

Clear effect on battery life

It is also very important to notice that to show the picture in a non-native 1680 x 1050 HiDPI resolution, macOS has to render the virtual 3340 x 2100 screen, and then scale it back to 2880 x 1800 pixels, which obviously increases the GPU usage.

In order to find out how much this affects the battery life, I did a few comparison tests of the energy consumption when using the two resolutions. I know that the tests were not very scientific, but it was pretty obvious that the new default resolution has a greater impact on battery life.

Energy consumption comparison

With my MacBook Pro in completely idle state, the average energy consumption for the 1440 x 900 resolution was at 3.0 Watts, while for 1680 x 1050, it was at 3.8 Watts. 

Typical power usage with display resolution set to 1440x900 pixels

Typical power usage with display resolution set to 1440x900 pixels

Typical power usage with display resolution set to 1680x1050 pixels

Typical power usage with display resolution set to 1680x1050 pixels

The difference was similar when running a couple of apps. When set to 1440 x 900, the average energy consumption was at 9 Watts, while for 1680 x 1050 pixels, it was at 11 Watts.

For my last test, I have used my MacBook Pro for three days in the two resolutions. Below is the battery life I was able to get out of my MacBook with my regular workflow.  

When set to 1440 x 900 pixels:

  • Day 1 - 9:47
  • Day 2 - 10:25
  • Day 3 - 10:06
3 days average : 10 hours 6 minutes

When set to 1680 x 1050 pixels:

  • Day 1 - 9:13
  • Day 2 - 9:04
  • Day 3 - 9:27
3 days average : 9 hours 15 minutes

As you can see from the numbers above, on average, I was able to get about 50 minutes longer battery life when using the 1440 x 900 pixels resolution.

Conclusion

The new default resolution on 2016 MacBook Pro provides more screen real estate, but if you want a bit sharper picture quality and a noticeably better battery life, you should go to Display settings on your MacBook Pro and change the resolution to 1440 x 900 pixels.

15-inch MacBook Pro Review (2016)
15-inch MacBook Pro (2016)

15-inch MacBook Pro (2016)

My main computer is the most important tool in my setup, and I make all of my money using it. As a result, when it comes to buying a computer, I never sacrifice on quality to save a few bucks. For me, buying a good computer is an investment, which is paying off in a long run.

As of today, my main computer is a 2016 15-inch MacBook Pro.

Why I choose MacBook Pro

I have used Macs for 10 years, and during that time I didn’t have any issues with it. In a matter of fact, my father is still using the first MacBook I have ever used and it still runs perfectly fine for what he does.

In addition, some of my favorite apps like Blocs, Ulysses or Pixelmator run only on macOS. As a part of The Perfect Setup 2017 project, I will post a separate review of all of my favorite software and services.

Size and Specifications

I was deciding between the 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pro. The improved portability of the 15-inch model and a better performance made me choose the bigger model.

At first, I was going to buy a maxed out version with 512GB of storage, but then I had a chance to save on a stock model, so I got the higher end stock version instead.

The main specifications of my MacBook Pro are as follows:

  • 2.7GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor (Turbo Boost up to 3.6GHz)
  • 16GB 2133MHz memory
  • 512GB PCIe-based SSD1
  • Radeon Pro 455 with 2GB memory

As for color, I was going to choose the classic silver, but I ended up getting the Space Gray, and I am more than happy with it. You will be happy with both colors.

Performance

Although the it feels very similar to my old 15-inch MacBook Late 2013 model, the overall performance is great. I don't have any issues with my typical workflow, which includes email, web browsing, web development, simple video editing, photo editing and occasional games.

CPU performance is on par with previous generations of MacBook Pro

CPU performance is on par with previous generations of MacBook Pro

I didn't test the MacBook Pro with Radeon Pro 460, but I am very satisfied even with 455. I guess I don’t know what I am missing with 460, but I am happy to keep it this way.

SSD read and write speeds are crazy fast, the best on any laptop I have ever used.

Display, keyboard, trackpad and speakers

There is not much I can tell you about the display. It is usual great quality Retina display, but with even richer colors and higher brightness. Same goes for the speakers, which are the best I have ever used on a laptop.

I liked the keyboard on 12-inch MacBook, so I knew what to expect from a new keyboard on a MacBook Pro. I love it.

Trackpad is as great as on any MacBook, although I am not sure if its bigger size is useful in any way.

Ports

I don’t have any issues with USB-C only ports, because I am used to a single USB-C port on 12-inch MacBook. Most of my devices already support USB-C connection, and for the rest, Apple’s Digital AV Multi Adapter is more than enough for me.

I don’t use SD cards, but I imagine that the absence of SD card slot will be inconvenient for some people, but other than that, I totally support Apple’s decision to go all USB-C / Thunderbolt 3, because it is the future and I am happy to be an early adopter.

By the way, the headphone jack, which has disappeared from the latest iPhone, is here, but I don't use it at all. Instead, I am embracing the wireless audio, which I will talk about in the future posts.

Touch Bar

Touch Bar is not something I need, but it is nice to have. It is surely better than old style Functions keys, so no complaints there.

Battery life

One of the most controversial areas of the new MacBook Pro is its battery life. We all know that the new MacBook Pro has the smaller sized battery compared to previous generation, but Apple has actually claimed that it provides even longer battery life at 10 hours.

The size of the battery was reduced to archive thinner and lighter design, while the more efficient processor should have been able to compensate the difference in battery size by using less energy.

During my tests, I found out that when idle or under a light load, the processor uses less energy than before, making it possible to have a good battery life. At the same time, when doing some intense work, such as video or image editing, the smaller battery plays its part, resulting in even worse battery life than the previous generation of MacBook Pro.

Fortunately, for my workflow the battery life is great. I usually get from 9 to 11 hours. My typical workflow includes the following:

  • Safari with 5-10 tabs
  • iTunes via built-in speakers or Bluetooth headphones
  • Mail
  • Messages
  • Google Drive
  • Reeder
  • Pixelmator or Apple Photos
  • Blocs or other web development tool

When I just browse the web or watch Netflix, the number is close to 12-14 hours, although it is important to stress that I usually use my MacBook Pro’s screen with brightness at to 65% or 10 bars from 16.

Graphic issues

There are issues, and I would even say that the 2016 MacBook Pro is the most buggy Apple laptop I have ever used. I am sure that most of these issues are due to software optimization, because I have also experienced the similar (but not as bad) issues on 12-inch MacBook after updating to macOS Sierra.

There are occasional graphic glitches all over the system, which is not a big deal, but very unusual for an Apple product. Then, a couple of times my MacBook Pro has completely frozen on me, forcing the hard restart of the system.

Not perfect, but the best Apple laptop on the market

Not perfect, but the best Apple laptop on the market

Conclusion

Apart from the reduced battery life under the heavy use and occasional graphic issues, this is an amazing laptop, the best I have ever used. Generally, I am satisfied with a battery life I get from my workflow, but I really hope Apple will fix the graphic issues with a software update.

That’s it for my review of my main computer, 2016 15-inch MacBook Pro. Let me know if you have any questions about it.

Next week I am going to share with you the next gadget from the my Perfect Setup for 2017, so If you are interested in this series, sign up for a newsletter to get notified when I publish the new posts, or follow me on Twitter for updates and sneak peaks of the upcoming content.

The Perfect Setup 2017
the perfect setup 1500.jpg

2016 was the year, when I have changed a lot of the products I am using on a daily basis, starting with my main computer and smartphone, and finishing with the services and tools I am using for my work.

As a result, I have decided to start the 2017 with a new project, The Perfect Setup 2017, a series of posts and videos covering my favorite products and services, at the moment. I am saying at the moment, because technology constantly improves, bringing better and better products to us.

The Perfect Setup 2017 project will cover the following topics and categories of my everyday computing life:

Hardware

  • Main computer setup
  • Smartphone
  • Smartwatch
  • Headsets
  • Accessories
  • Backpack

Software and services

  • File management and cloud storage
  • Email
  • Scheduling
  • Contact management
  • Documents, spreadsheets and presentations
  • Note taking and writing
  • News
  • Movies, TV, and other entertainment
  • Music
  • Photo management and editing
  • Video management and editing
  • Web development

I am thinking about creating the separate section on my website for the Perfect Setup 2017 project, which will be updated with links for newly published articles on each of the categories shown above.

If you are interested in this series, sign up for a newsletter to get notified when I publish the new posts, or follow me on Twitter for updates and sneak peaks of the upcoming content.

I would like to wish everybody of you a very successful 2017. Whatever you are planning to do in a new year, I sincerely wish you a lot of good luck.

Introducing the Built with Blocs website

I have been thinking about building the website where Blocs users can share their work for a long time. Finally, I am happy to introduce to you my new project 'Built with Blocs'.

The main purpose of this resource is to inspirare the growing number of web designers, who chose Blocs as their go to tool for desinging the simple and beautiful websites.

Get inspired by the work of other Blocs designers and inspire others by sharing your work.

Visit Built with Blocs website and submit your website to be featured in the collection.

Introducing the Producer template for Blocs
Producer Multi-bl br.jpg

Today, I am happy to announce the release of the Producer template for Blocs. It is my first template with a support for multilingual website, which comes in four variants.

The four variants are as follows:

  • Multi-page version
  • Multi-page bilingual version
  • Single-page version
  • Single-page bilingual version

Producer was designer with video producing companies in mind, making it the perfect template for independent or corporate filmmakers. It has the simple and stylish layout, which looks great on desktop and mobile devices. Also for the first time, this template comes in four different variants.

To preview and download the template, visit this link.

iPhone 7 vs iPhone 7 Plus - Which one should you buy?

A lot of people ask me which iPhone should they buy, iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus. Two years ago, it was easy for me to choose the iPhone 6 Plus over iPhone 6, but this time around, it was more difficult.

Coming from the iPhone 6 Plus, the bigger size of the 7 Plus wasn't a big problem for my average size hands, although the smaller form factor of iPhone 7 was much more appealing to me. 

After considering the pros and cons of both devices, I have decided that my next phone will be iPhone 7 Plus.

iPhone 7 Plus next to iPhone 6 Plus

iPhone 7 Plus next to iPhone 6 Plus

These are the main reasons why.

Optical zoom

The camera on iPhone 7 has gained the OIS (optical image stabilization). It is nice, but the the addition of the second 'telephoto' camera to iPhone 7 Plus is much bigger improvement.

This extra 'telephoto' camera delivers an optical zoom at 2x and hugely improves the digital zoom up to 10x.  iPhone is my main picture and video taking device, so an extra feature like this is always highly appreciated.

Portrait Mode

Another cool feature of iPhone 7 Plus camera is a Portrait mode, which provides the DSLR-like depth-of-field effect, also known as bokeh, that keeps objects or faces sharp while creating a blurred background.

Portrait mode is easily one of my favorite features of iPhone 7 Plus.

Unedited picture taken with iPhone 7 Plus

Unedited picture taken with iPhone 7 Plus

The same unedited picture taken with iPhone 7 Plus using Portrait Mode

The same unedited picture taken with iPhone 7 Plus using Portrait Mode

Longer battery life

The better battery life on the Plus model was the main reason why I chose 6 Plus over 6 two years ago. This year, according to Apple, the iPhone 7 battery life is 2 hours longer compared to the previous generation, which is nice, but still cannot compete with the battery life of iPhone 7 Plus.

Bigger screen with higher ppi 

After using the 5.5-inch display for two years, going back to 4.7-inch might feel like a downgrade. The bigger screen is definitely more enjoyable for consumption of the media content.

In addition to a higher resolution (1080p vs 750p), the pixel density of iPhone 7 Plus display is also higher (401 ppi vs 326 ppi), meaning that text and pictures will look sharper on iPhone 7 Plus. 

Conclusion

Of course, iPhone 7 Plus is also a little bit more expensive, but in my opinion, when you already pay over $1000 for a phone, $120 doesn’t make a big difference, considering the additional benefits you get with a bigger model.

To summarize, if you can't handle the big size of iPhone 7 Plus, then the iPhone 7 will be the perfect device for you. But, if you can get over the size, iPhone 7 Plus is definitely worth the extra money.

Introducing the new Eldartech Blog

I apologize I have not been posting a lot to this blog recently. As some of you may already know, I was very busy working on Blocs Templates and 5K Wallpapers projects. In addition to building the two separate sites for these projects, I have also integrated them into the Eldartech website.

Starting from this week, I am going to bring this blog back to life, and start to write about the stuff I like on a regular basis.

These are just some of the topics I will be covering in this blog:

  • Everything related to Apple and its products 
  • Everything related to Google and its products
  • Everything related to Tesla
  • Web design tutorials for Squarespace and Blocs
  • Photography and visual design

If you are interested in any of the topics above, or you just love the technology as much as I do, feel free to follow me on twitter and sign up for Eldartech Newsletter to get notified about the new content on this site.

I am always happy to talk to any of you, so if you have something to say, drop me a line in the comments below or send me an email to eldar@eldartech.com.