The Candy Apple
Macworld’s New Toys
I’m sure other articles in this month’s issue will cover some of these in more detail, but let’s just hit the high notes, with my reactions to them.
“Jaguar”—Mac OS X 10.2
What an incredibly cool name! Power and speed, with all the silky smoothness of being a cat. I have no idea if it will do all they say (I’m still bopping along happily in 9.1), but if I were in the market for a new machine, the draw of friendly-sounding stuff like Cocoa, Aqua, and Jaguar would be irresistible! The addition of iChat is especially timely; everyone else has a free instant messaging system available, so it was getting to be time for Apple to hop on board.
I don’t know what some of this stuff is, but I know enough to be afraid—sort of like last week when I started thinking about buying a convertible car. I read enough about the Ford Mustang Cobra to know that the purpose of that car is to chase down other cars, pure and simple. I think my state highway patrol still buys them. It’s got something like eight cylinders, five liters of displacement, and 450 horses—that’s just way too much car for me. That said, I salute those who are ready to take on the challenge. That’s the way I feel about this new iMac—for someone who needs all this stuff to run a business or whatever, great! Have at it. Me? I’m a-feared.
Check this out: 17-inch wide-screen LCD iMac, for a suggested retail price of $1,999, includes an 800 MHz PowerPC G4 processor with Velocity Engine, DVD-R/CD-RW SuperDrive, NVIDIA GeForce4 MX with 32 MB DDR memory, 256 MB RAM, 80 GB Ultra ATA hard drive, and Apple Pro Speakers.
Okay, the SuperDrive I understand. Computers are all gonna have to have recordable drives in a year or so, just to keep up with the television industry. 256 MB of RAM sounds like just enough to get this puppy warm, but RAM is still cheap. An 80 GB hard drive. Wow. I know some of the people who understand all the rest of the technical specs on this machine will scoff at 80 GB; they use that much all the time already. I guess if I tried harder I could fill it up with a few movies here and there, a song library, back issues of ATPM—all that adds up. And I have to say I still think those Apple Pro Speakers are kind of cool-looking in a retro sort of way. Sort of a skating rink feel to them, yes? All we need is iDisco, software that mimics the spinning ball effect in the translucent speakers…but let’s save something for next Macworld.
Well, of course I’m a little jealous. My 5 GB iPod cost nearly 400 bucks last November, and now you can get one with 10 GB for that same price. Plus you’ll get a free carrying case and wired remote. I’m not bitter, though—I’ve had mine more than six months and still haven’t got it even half full. I put songs on it for walking and working out, and plenty of music isn’t suited for that. So if I’m not using it to its potential, why should I mind if you get more machine for the same money?
Besides, that’s just the way electronic pricing works. When video cassettes for home use first became available, they cost 20 bucks each. Now we should never pay more than a dollar apiece. (Or we should quit altogether because soon enough we’ll be recording stuff on DVDs.) VCRs, camcorders, fancy stereo, and television advances—all that stuff starts off priced high at first, and then comes down later. That’s the way the market works. The first buyers pay for the innovation, and the rest of them decide whether it will remain viable. If they keep buying, producers figure out ways to make things more cheaply, and the price comes down.
So we now have iPods available in 5, 10, and 20 GB versions. The scroll wheel is now a touchpad, so that’s one less moving part to worry about. More to the point for Apple shareholders, the iPod will soon be available for Windows users. That means we’re finally waking up and realizing that not everyone will buy an Apple CPU just so it will work with all the extra goodies. We needed to make some of the goodies work with what mainstream users have, first, and then maybe they’ll see how terrific the Apple approach can be.
Somebody be sure to write in and tell me if the carrying case and wired remote are as cool as they look. I may yet have to buy something out of this Expo.
The newest version of iTunes requires Mac OS X, so I won’t be seeing this in use anytime soon. The major advance is something called the Smart Playlist. The idea is that Smart Playlists will update themselves based on criteria set by the user, so that when we add a song to the main library, it automatically gets added to the playlists that it matches. There’s also a Most Popular playlist, where we can tell iTunes to keep track of the songs we listen to the most, and put them all on a separate list. Since it’s a free program, I’d be hard-pressed to criticize it no matter how well it works. Apple generally gives us free, useful software when we plunk down bucks for its products, so I tend to think of the software as an extension of the hardware—which might be the point, after all. As it stands, I’m completely happy with iTunes 2. I’m kind of scared the Smart Playlist will be smarter than I am, anyway.
Want to let your digital phone talk to your iPod, your palm device, or your Mac? If you have the right phone, the right Mac, the right palm device, and this software, you’re ready to go. It’s designed especially to easily sync calendars and address books. This is also something I wouldn’t be using anytime soon (requires OS X 10.2), but I’m glad to see further evidence that Apple is pursuing the whole digital hub concept. iSync should be available in a couple of months, and I promise there will be a couple of staffers who will snatch it up and review it as soon as possible.
This is the last product I’ll mention that isn’t going to get downloaded to my house (requires OS X 10.2). It sounds an awful lot like Microsoft’s Outlook, a shared calendar and appointment book. It fits in with all that syncing and digital hubbing.
But all three of these programs are free, and will be pre-installed on your new system in September, so if it brings in more people buying new systems, great! We heard from Macworld that the “Switch” ad campaign is a success, so whatever else Apple can do to bring in new switchers could well be worth it in the long run.
So there you have it. Another new model iMac, fancy new iPods (admit it: it’s really fun to say “pod” several times a day, isn’t it?), and a whole bunch of operating system stuff and software I won’t be using anytime soon. I’m not in any hurry to switch to OS X right now, but if I were just getting into the Macintosh game, all these goodies sure would make me feel good about it.
Also in This Series
- On Temptation · July 2010
- Beyond Pen Pals · July 2007
- Just Because We Can Do a Thing, Does Not Mean We Should Do a Thing · March 2006
- Google Tells Big Brother to Take a Hike · February 2006
- Wikipedia Is Not the Lovefest We Thought · January 2006
- Star Trek Gadgets Have Arrived · December 2005
- The Silver Screen Keeps Shrinking · October 2005
- It’s Just Business · July 2005
- Age Has Its Advantages · June 2005
- Complete Archive