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MacEdition: Macintosh

MacWorld 2008: Post Reality Distortion Field Highlights · 2008-01-16

Steve Jobs said a lot of things in his keynote yesterday at MacWorld. It’s fine to get excited about the products Apple announces, but it is important to re-visit everything after giving yourself a chance to let the RDF wear off.

Time Capsule – Great product. You have up to 1TB of storage along with a built-in Airport Extreme base station, allowing you to share printers, etc, off the disk. It supports Time Machine backups, which is great for the people on Leopard who saw this feature pulled, but also sucks because it doesn’t look like Apple is going to ever build that support for those people who already have an Airport Extreme. I think an amazing feature to add in the future is built-in syncing of home directories, something some third parties already offer, but it is not seamless. And in our pipe dreams we would like to sync iTunes libraries across Macs as well.

New Software for iPod Touch – Apple is charging $20 for software some people should have been included in the first place. We know Apple is a business, and it’s not as bad as the 802.11n surcharge from a few years back, but Apple stopped nickel and diming early adopters, then fewer people would hold off for the Rev. 2 models of their products.

New Apple iPhone Software – This is a great, free upgrade. The customizable home screen and web clips are a great addition, and we can finally send SMS messages to more than one person. The Google Maps location field does a decent job finding your location, although using only EDGE data, I think Blackberrys are more accurate (could be my imagination). And directions can originate from the location Google Maps provided you. Next up, we need the ability to send MMS.

Updated AppleTV – Apple did a good job lowering the price, but the hard drive sizes are still only marginal, especially since you don’t need to use a computer to download content any longer. The improved interface looks nice, and the addition of flickr content to the picture items is a nice feature, although for such a hip company, they really should be offering stuff from facebook as well.

iTunes Movie Rentals – This is a nice addition that brings Apple more in line with other competitors out there, and Apple did good work to get all of the studios on board. The price is only average, and you should have more than 24 hours to play the movie. There are times when you see a movie and want to share it with a friend. 72 hours to view would be a good compromise and give Apple a competitive advantage over the cable companies that offer similar on-demand features. Also, it’s great to have HD content, but not all titles have 5.1 sound. AppleTV is getting closer, but I’ll stick with NetFlix.

One small item we liked is the addition of free iTunes content on 20th Century Fox Titles. This is a great way for Apple to promote iTunes and movie studios to encourage people to buy more DVDs.

MacBook Air – I am not sure, but I think jobs created this MacBook solely because he wants to make the people who say Apple will introduce a tablet look like chumps. As an exercise in design, the MacBook Air is a masterpiece. Once again, Steve is challenging the industry to think about what an ultralight laptop means. For Apple, that means a large screen, 2GB of RAM standard, and a full keyboard. What it leaves out are a lot of ports, and user replaceable RAM, battery, or hard disk. As products go, this is much better than the Cube, which some have compared it to, but we really hope the price of the SSD storage comes down. It looks like a good product, but we’ll have to see what a less free-spending market thinks. However, I like that the wide variety of intel chips has given Apple some flexibility to try innovative designs. Presumable, the MacBook Air is just the first step. Still, I really just wanted a 13” MacBook pro. Is that too much to ask?

Combined with the new MacPros from the week before, it has been a pretty good couple of weeks for Apple hardware.

— Joe Fahs

Apple Introduces Newer Eight-Way Mac Pros, Caligula Not Impressed · 2008-01-08

With CES in full-swing in Vegas and MacWorld looming just around the corner, Apple chose to sneak a few product releases on to the public by announcing new Mac Pros and xServes. It has been a little easier to estimate new Apple product releases since the company has moved their products over to Intel processors and so the revisions to the top of Apple’s line had been suspected.

Apple has held back from releasing new computer hardware at MacWorld in recent years, usually saving product announcements for special events spread throughout the year. Still, the timing seems kind of odd. Normally, The Steved One wants to make sure whatever he is talking about at MacWorld will be the focus, and so product introductions occur a few weeks after his keynote. Perhaps Apple was caught off guard from the Bill Gates retirement video (Et Tu, Bono?) and needed something to keep them in the news.

Taking a look at things a little less cynically, it might simply mean that Jobs has such a huge list of things in store for MacWorld, he simply couldn’t be bothered with discussing how his company is using the latest 45nm processor cores for their top-of-the-line products. It’s sort of sad, really, because we sort of miss the days when Phil Schiller would put his cheese danish down and do a bake-off, but it’s much better than when Steve would have “New Visualizations in iTunes” as a bullet point for his keynote.

— Joe Fahs

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