Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Apple™, You're Killing Me

Yeah, I'm drooling and if I had the money I'd run out and refresh my entire personal computer line. I'll just have to be satisfied with drool for a while.
I was talking to some of my buddies at work about the new line-up that Apple™ just announced.
One of the guys just looked at me. "Oh, you're one of those. Like my son. An Apple™ guy."
"Yeah," I said. "I used to be a hard-core PC guy; built them and everything. You know when I switched? When everything in my house got networked. I got tired of trying to keep all my computers linked to the home network without errors. It was too much maintenance. Then a buddy of mine said 'Hey, you should try a Mac.' I brought his into the house and it beeped at me, asking if I wanted it to connect to the network." He nods. He's seen the same thing, I'm sure. "Don't get me wrong," I said. "The Mac is still not a great gaming machine."
Maybe that changed today.
I warned Darling this day was coming about a week ago. "You know," I said, "Apple™ has some big announcements next Tuesday." She just smiled at me and went back to whatever she was doing on her iMac.
I expected to see a new iPad mini. They delivered a lot more.
The software news was cool, but that's not the story.
The new 13" MacBook Pro weighs 3.57 pounds and it's 20% thinner than the previous version, and it has a Retina display. Though it has no optical drive it has the MagSafe 2, Tunderbolt, two USB 3 ports, SD card and HDMI connectors (as well as the microphone and headphone jacks). It has a 720p FaceTime camera (as if I want anyone to see me that clearly), stereo speakers, dual mics and a backlit keyboard. With an Intel 2.5GHz dual core i5 chip or Ivy Bridge processor and Intel HD Graphics 4000, it still has a 7-hour battery life. (Usually Apple™ is pretty good about estimating battery life.) With 8GB RAM and 128 GB flash drive it costs $1699.
This means that the full Mac notebook family consists of the $999 11-inch MacBook Air, the $1199 13-inch MacBook Pro and the $1699 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display, as well as the current 15 inch models, with and without Retina display ($1799 and $2199 respectively).
For comparison purposes, the 11-inch MacBook Air weighs 2.38 pounds and has an 11.6-inch display. The 13-inch MacBook Air weight 2.96 pound and has a 13.3-inch display, exactly the same size as the 13-inch MacBook Pro. They all have Intel HD Graphics 4000, although the Retina display laptops are reinforced with the NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M graphics processor. The flash storage for the Air can be configured to equal the flash storage on the MacBook (the Retina MacBooks can have more flash: 768GB), but the MacBooks (non-Retiuna) now have a combined hard drive/solid-state drive with up to 1TB of storage on the hard drive.
That was a mouthful.
Then there's the new Mac Mini. I've always been fascinated by this little baby, thinking it might be just the thing to connect the television and use with a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse from the couch. It is certainly beefed up enough now and the 2.5 GHz, dual core i5, 4 GB RAM, 500 GB HDD version costs only $599 (which is still a lot of saved pocket change).
They added a new iMac. I cannot believe how very, very pretty this thing is. We have a sixth generation iMac that is a few years old. It doesn't take too much to tuck it under my arm and move it to another room if I need to. This new one makes ours look like an elephant. They say the display is 45% thinner, dropping the weight by eight pounds from what we have. I won't even go over the specs, but it comes in a 21.5-inch version (starting at $1299) and a 27-inch version (starting at $1799).
This comes with something they are calling a Fusion drive (warp speed, Mr. Scott!). It has a single volume combining the flash drive with the hard drive. (Did I misunderstand the information for the MacBooks? I thought they had that also, but smaller.) Apparently the iMac watches what you do and keeps the programs you use most on the flash drive so it works faster.
Didn't they just come out with a new iPad a few months ago? Fortunately I still have the Generation One iPad… So now they just announced the 4th generation iPad, which is faster, stronger and has the Lightning dock connector (ah-ha, so that's why they did that!).
AND they finally announced the new iPad mini, which seems anti-climactic since that's exactly what we expected. The size is what we expected (7.9-inch display) and the costs are what leaked over a week ago, which I think are a bit too high for Apple™ to snatch market share. Dollars are tough to come by lately, after all.
So when he shows the lineup of the iPad, there's not mention at all of the third generation iPad (the "new" iPad). The fourth generation iPad seems to simply drop in the place where the third used to be.
So the iPad mini will go for $329/$429/$529 for Wi-Fi. The iPad 2 is still available at $399. The Retina iPad runs $499/$599/$699 for Wi-Fi. I don't think the price differential is enough to make the mini a runaway best-seller, though.
I've been wrong before.

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