Alex King
I'm Not In Love with My iPhone X
FEBRUARY 11, 2018

Back in October, I preordered the iPhone X. I admit to getting swept up in the excitement of it all: rumors leading up to the keynote, the keynote itself (in Apple's stunning new Steve Jobs theater), and finally, the rush to get into Apple's online store right at 12am Friday morning to secure an iPhone that would arrive on launch day, November 3. I succeeded in this task. I bought the 64GB iPhone X in Silver and a dark aubergine Apple leather case to go with it. I winced when I saw the $1100+ hit to my bank account, convincing myself that I could make up some of the lost money by selling my outgoing iPhone SE. But that only recouped about $200, and it quickly set in that I had paid way more for a smartphone than I ever had before.

Now it's been a little over three months with the phone, and I'm conflicted. There are features of the iPhone X user experience that are absolutely magical — features I don't know if I can now live without. But there's just as much friction in using this device and swallowing its massive price tag that make me question if it was really worth the upgrade.


Nintendo Switch: The Extended Review
MARCH 5, 2017

It’s hard to review a game console at launch.

A game console is judged by the experience it provides: the games it can play, the operating system and online functionality it hosts, and even the peripherals it supports. As console generations generally last for four to six years, the experience is rarely — really, never — ideal at launch. For that reason, it’s hard to declare a definite opinion of the Nintendo Switch in March of 2017. There is so much we still don’t really know about the Switch experience that will inform how people will remember it a decade from now.

I’ll try my best though. I’ve got a launch day Switch, I’ve got a handful of games for it, and I’ll walk you through what it’s like to own a Switch right now, and what I think it’ll be like to own a Switch at the end of 2017 and beyond.


I'm Pessimistic about The Nintendo Switch
JANUARY 13, 2017

Last night, Nintendo presented details on its new console, the Switch. We now know how much it will cost, which games will be available at launch, and a little bit more about how it will work. And now that the information's out there, we have reason to be worried.


Apple AirPods Review
DECEMBER 20, 2016

Apple's AirPods were one of the more exciting and controversial things announced back in September, and unfortunately, there was quite the delay in seeing them come to market. A few months later, AirPods are beginning to become available in limited quantities, and I was able to find a pair and see what the experience is like.


Thoughts on Nintendo Switch
OCTOBER 21, 2016

Today we finally got a peek at Nintendo's next console. Maybe unsurprisingly, many of the recent rumors proved to be correct, and as such, Nintendo Switch is a pretty radical new idea that's fun to talk about. Here's my initial take.


One More Blog Rewrite
AUGUST 7, 2016

In the spring of 2015 I moved my blog from Squarespace to a simple, cheap, static site that was pretty much pure HTML. It was initially a cathartic experience to exercise basic web layout muscles to recreate Squarespace’s design without its added bloat, and it gave me an easy template with which to write new blog posts for the next 16 months. However, adding a new blog post was just difficult enough that it started to become a pain, and if nothing else, I had to copy around a bunch of header and footer markup that I wished could be templated. It was time to modernize just a little bit.


Uncharted 4 Review
MAY 19, 2016

Note: This review contains some plot spoilers.

For as much as I adore Uncharted 4, there is a lot wrong with it.

As I worked my way through Uncharted 4’s campaign, that realization became more and more clear in my mind. The game marks the end of a wildly successful series created by Naughty Dog that quickly became one of the PlayStation 3’s trademark exclusive franchises. The series became known for its gorgeous and detailed visual design, its exceedingly entertaining characters, and its sharp gameplay mechanics. Uncharted 4 is a fitting end to a series that has given gamers so much. Unfortunately, it also appears to be a necessary end to the series, and perhaps even an overdue one.


Good News: El Capitan Runs Great on the 12-inch MacBook
JUNE 8, 2015

I am so pleased.

I've written a lot of content recently about the new MacBook: first positing that it would be a capable machine, then finding that it was indeed a mostly capable machine, and most recently discovering that at times, Windows 10 made it feel like an even more capable machine. I think that the most important observation I made is how the 2015 MacBook is surprisingly agile, but how the user interface transitions in OS X hold it back from feeling completely agile. There was a surprisingly large response to my recent article about running Windows 10 on the new MacBook. I think it resonated with people because it pointed out something that Mac users have felt for a while now: OS X Yosemite just isn’t as smooth as it should be.

As I hoped, Apple announced OS X El Capitan at WWDC 2015, a sort of “Snow Yosemite” release that focuses on user experience and performance. User experience and performance. That’s just what I wanted to hear.


Testing The 12-inch MacBook's Performance with Windows 10
MAY 13, 2015

Update 5/15/15: I've clarified some of my findings at the bottom of this post.

I've owned the 2015 MacBook for just over a month now. I've had a remarkably good time using it so far, and just yesterday I decided to upgrade my installation of Windows 8.1 to the Windows 10 Insider Preview. I had tried it out a couple months earlier through a virtual machine, and at the time I wasn't sure I wanted it as my main operating system. But after taking the plunge, I'm very happy to be using it. I wanted to record a few thoughts about it for others curious about the new OS, especially its usability and performance on this new hardware.


Thoughts on Microsoft Build 2015
APRIL 29, 2015

Wow. I just finished watching Microsoft's Build 2015 keynote, and I haven't walked away that impressed with a tech company's new technologies in a long time. Microsoft has been making a lot of great decisions in the past few years, from open sourcing .NET to their unwavering dedication to evolving and perfecting the Surface line. Today's keynote provided a ton of great information about new products, and I have never been more excited for the future of Microsoft. In roughly the order that they were covered in the keynote, I'm going to walk through some of the most important announcements made today.


MacBook: The Extended Review
APRIL 17, 2015

Note: This review has been updated to include more information about gaming performance on the MacBook, as the original review included an oversight. See the "Performance Remarks" section for details.

I did not place an order for the 2015 MacBook without apprehension. Early reviews were mixed, and the general consensus seemed to say that the machine wasn’t fit for a “power user” like I consider myself to be. I wrote a previous blog post about why I felt the opposite, but I still couldn’t shake the feeling that I was taking a risk. That maybe, just maybe, the machine really wouldn’t be powerful enough for me. Or maybe, just maybe, I wasn’t the power user I thought I was.


In Defense of the New MacBook and Intel Core M
MARCH 14, 2015

I've read countless impressions of Apple's new MacBook. Tech journalists seem to be impressed with the device, but the general tech-enthused public cannot get over the fact that Apple chose to put an Intel Core M processor inside, which on paper is a step down from the i5/i7 CPUs currently in the other MacBook models. I want to do my best here to explain why Apple made the right decision, and why it isn't nearly as big of a deal as people seem to think it is.


Why Smartwatches Are The Wrong Solution to the Right Problem

Apple is poised to announce its highly anticipated iWatch tomorrow. In the past year or two, we've seen several companies enter the wearable watch sector, including Samsung and LG. Perhaps most notably, Google announced and released Android Wear, a wearable-centric skin for its mobile OS that focused on legibility and usability for small screen sizes of various shapes. The Motorola Moto 360 came out just a few days ago, and many reviews peg it as the best smartwatch yet, with its circular display and excellent build quality. Equally, however, no review I've seen has pronounced it to be a truly game-changing, must-have gadget.


Concert Review: Band of Horses and Sera Cahoone at the Somerville Theater
APRIL 29, 2014

Back in February, Band of Horses came to Somerville. The band, having steadily risen in fame since 2006's excellent Everything All The Time, recently completed an acoustic tour, eschewing their more traditional festival stages and arenas for smaller, more intimate venues. Like so many, I first heard Band of Horses on the radio with their ubiquitous single "The Funeral". It was and continues to be just an excellent indie rock song. "The Funeral" got big. Everything All The Time got great reviews. Band of Horses was on the scene. I was excited when it was announced they would be playing at Seattle's Labor Day Weekend music festival, Bumbershoot, in 2008. I still remember the show vividly, and it ranks highly on the list of the best shows I've ever seen.


Film Review: American Football
DECEMBER 18, 2013

I had the opportunity to watch LEVYFilm's American Football last night. Released a few months ago, the documentary had several sold-out screenings at the Cinerama in downtown Seattle, but unfortunately I was on the other coast and couldn't make it to any of them. Thankfully, the film was released on Blu-Ray and I was finally able to see the film I was so excited about for so long. The documentary, a behind-the-scenes look at the Seattle Sounders FC soccer team for roughly a season, had reached an almost mythical status in my imagination. Director Scott Levy had been sharing various clips and teasers on his website for months leading up to its eventual release. His camera work, his choice of musical score, his vision for the passion of the game and the characters that emerge from it, all of it excited me. And for more than just the obvious reason -- though I like to identify as a relatively passionate Sounders fan, I'm equally a fan of American soccer on the whole, and the growth of the sport in this country over the last few years. It seemed like he was trying to tell a story that was greater than just this team, and that was promising.


© 2015-2018 Alex King