Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Macworld 2006 Thoughts

Yesterday was a tough day for me. The Macworld Keynote is like Christmas Day for me now, especially with the rumors swirling around about what was going to be delivered. Unfortunately, I couldn't spasm refresh the browser at work to see any of the live blogs because I had a lunch meeting about what the future direction of my department was going to do after some recent staff changes. But I couldn't concentrate on it, for the first time, I tried using the browser on my Blackberry 7100 during the meeting to see what was announced, but that was a total disappointment. The screen on this thing is pretty good, things should be readable, but it can't render some sites (it only does HDML), what a piece of junk. I haven't followed the whole mobile browser stuff. Then the few sites it could show were coming back with HTTP 500 errors, you know the internal server error, so I was totally in the dark until the end of the keynote when a friend emailed me some live blog notes. I had to laugh at myself, frothing at the mouth to here Apple's latest instead of concentrating entirely to the future of my job. :) I never comment on keynotes until I see them myself, and that was a chore itself. Seems like every person and their dog was trying to get the keynote stream last night between 9-11 PM EST when I stopped watching. Frequent timeouts, drop-outs, audio not synching with video, etc. I started questioning if this was due to the 10.4.4, iTunes 6.0.2, and Quicktime 7.0.4 update trifecta, but I tried it on downlevel versions and on Windows and was having the same issues. I was even having some trouble getting connected from work this morning, so clearly the traffic going to Apple's and Akamai's networks is staggering. MacTel So to anyone that just got back from a desert island, Apple unveild two new Macs using Intel Core Duo CPUs. They announced a bunch of stuff, but this was the main event and it didn't disappoint. The iMac has had its guts replaced with the Intel CPU/motherboard, everything else largely remains the same, including the price from the previous two models, but you get 2-3x the performance over the iMac G5! eWeek's Enterprise Mac blog is saying Apple is playing games with the performance claims, but I am indifferent on the claims of performance shell games. Of course, the new iMac has 2 CPUs in it, logically you would expect it to be 2x faster than a comparable CPU, so it looks like at nearly the same Ghz as the G5, the Core Duo is that much better an architecture, performance and power consumption wise. Plus, some logic here, as Jobs says in the keynote, everything isn't going to run 2-3x faster, the disks aren't 2-3x faster, this is a CPU benchmark. Still, you know this kit is going to smoke the G5. The new iMacs are shipping today. The PowerBook G4 15.4" has been replaced by the MacBook Pro 15.4". The new MacBook Pro also has the Intel Core Duo in it, with two different GHz, 1.67 and 1.83. This is quoted as the CPU being 4-5x faster than the previous G4. Anyway you slice it, these new laptops are going to bury the G4 PowerBooks, but there is only one screen size available for the MacBook Pro now, the 12" and 17" are going to replaced sometime this spring according to rumor. I think it's a certainty they are going to have more screen sizes than the 15.4 inch they announced today, so if that wasn't the one you wanted, just wait, I think by June all PowerBooks are will be replaced. If you were looking for an iBook replacement, again I think by June those are doing to be replaced as well. I think the iBook is going to replaced with a MacBook without the Pro suffix. Just makes sense, and as Steve says in the Keynote, and quoted on MacRumors, Apple wants Mac in the name of all its' computer products. The new MacBook Pro's ship in February, and I would say get in line if you want one now. Oh and the one question on every Windows user's mind is can I get Windows running on these? The answer appears to be yes according to Phil Schiller, VP of Marketing, in this MSNBC article. If this is the deal maker for you, I would wait until some people start getting their iMacs either late this week or next and get Windows running on these. Design is largely the same, except the new books are just 1 inch thin. iLife 06 I want this now, but I am torn because you get it free with any new Mac. What's to want? You have to see the keynote or go to the iLife site and take the tour. I use iPhoto exsclusively for photo management, I give photo books created with iPhoto as gifts to the grandparents, its creat. Now you can create calendars and cards right in iPhoto, the editing tools are amazing, nothing is this easy. Everything else gets reved as well, the podcasting studio in GarageBand looks so easy, I want to start a podcast. That's the thing with iLife, you just want to create stuff. iMovie with the new Animated Themes looks amazing. And finally iWeb. This might be one of the last blog entries using Google because of the blog posting capabilities in iWeb. The templates, the media management, and the publishign ease look real good. Blogger is just totally stale, and it's starting to annoy me. One note, iTunes was billed as part of iLife, but now that they have a iWeb to round out the suite, iTunes has been removed from the packaging. iTunes always seemed out of place since it was free anyway. iWork 06 For anyone that doesn't know, Apple has a fledgling office suite that they have been working on. I have used Keynote a bit, and PowerPoint was quickly a distant memory. I have used Pages much more primarily because of the templates, they are awesome. Of course, both apps export to MS formats, and I frequently start in Pages, get things polishing up, then export to Word format, and if any changes are needed, make them there. The templates in Word just look anermic by comparision. Pages 06 gets a new calculating table object. That's right, most of the functionality people use Excel for when creating documents has been added to Pages. iWork 06 is a bit of a disappointment due to no dedicated spreadsheet or database programs bundled in, well at least until Macworld 2007. I sure the new functionality is nice, but I don't know if I will be dropping the cash on it. Final Thoughts Apple's stock closed yesterday way up at $80.86, no joke and how fitting. It is going to be a very exciting year. If you are a Windows user and have been curious about Mac OS X, as Apple adds more Intel models there will be nearly no excuses to not get an Apple laptop and use it as a Mac, Windows, and Linux box if you are in the market for a new computer. Compare the new MacBook Pro at $2399 (have to normalize the memory down to 2 Dimms like the Dell) to the new Dell Inspirion 9400 at $2699. The Dell has a 17 inch screen, but the other details appear largely normalized, and you have a $300 price delta in favor of Apple. Of course, you get the 17 inch screen, so we will see when the 17 inch MacBook Pro comes out what they list at. The point is, that as Apple adds models, they are already competative on price and will continue to do so as they fill out there product line. One More Thing... You have to watch this video with stuff from Mac OS X set to the description of an MS Product Manager describing Windows Vista. There is no doubt, Vista, like Windows 95 before it, is a direct rip-off of Mac OS of the time. As we found out last week, the Aero Glass UI in Windows Vista is the final interface. There will be no magical innovative version of the shell, you get the Mac OS X knockoff version. But that's only half the story, MS has nothing like iLife (they are stealing iPhoto with the Vista Photo Gallery), and if they decide to copy that entirely, how long is it going to take for MS to get it right?