It seems like every year, about this time, Apple pumps out a few hot new products or refreshes its line of products. This year, Apple did both, big time.
For new products, we have the iPod Touch (read iPod of the future). Additionally, Apple rescheduled its delayed release of Apple’s Mac OS X version 10.5 for October. As of the preparation of this column, Apple has not publicly announced a release date, only a release month.
Apple has refreshed all the iPods (other than the new Touch). It also refreshed the Mac Mini and the iMac. The MacBook and MacBook Pro received upgrading just a few months ago.
Let’s take a look at the iMac first. Apple has dumped the 17" iMac from its line. You can get iMacs in three basic versions, two with 20" displays and the third with a 24" display. The changes to the iMac line include some significant changes in the appearance of the case as well as to the computers’ works. The new iMacs sport an aluminum case, anodized with a black frame on the front and black on the back. The new case looks significantly better than the older plastic cases. The new case also has slimmed down noticeably by comparison to its plastic predecessor. Apple packages the computer with its new and redesigned Apple Keyboard. The Apple Keyboard sports a thin aluminum casing. It has two USB ports as well. All of the iMac models come with a glossy screen, a built-in iSight camera, a built-in microphone, a double-layered slot-loading superdrive and 802.11(n) wireless connectivity. All models also come with one powered FireWire 400 port, one powered FireWire 800 port, and three USB ports.
Apple has four preset base configurations available. As usual, you can modify your computer from the base configuration by ordering it online. The 20" iMac comes with a base configuration of 250 GB, 7200-rpm hard disk and a 2.0 GHz Core 2 Duo processor ($1,199) or with a 330 GB 7200-rpm hard disk and a 2.4 GHz Core 2 Duo processor ($1,499). The 24" iMac comes with a base configuration of a 320 GB 7200 hard disk and a 2.4 GHz Core 2 Duo processor ($1,799) or a 500 GB hard disk and a 2.8 GHz Core duo Extreme Processor. The three more expensive configurations also get an ATI Radeon HD Pro graphics processor and 256 MB of dedicated graphics memory. The least expensive base configuration gets an ATI Radeon HD 2400XT graphics processor and 128 MB of graphic memory.
The three least expensive base configurations come with 1 GB of RAM; the most expensive base configuration includes 2 GB of RAM. Significantly, Apple doubled the maximum RAM usable in all the new versions. You can now get up to 4 GB of RAM. Mac OS X version 2.49 operates just fine on 2 GB of RAM and noticeably better on 2 GB than on 1 GB. Most users will notice little if any increase in performance running the Mac OS going to more than 2 GB (heavy graphics users and gamers will see some improvement). We do not know what impact the release of version 10.5 of the Mac OS will have on the effect of the amount of RAM. Those who run Windows using Apple’s BootCamp software will also have no problem with only 2 GB as Windows XP needs 1 GB and users of Vista should have 2 GB. Those of you who will run both the Mac OS and Windows and want to do that concurrently using virtualizing software, such as Parallels, will see a noticeable improvement in overall performance by going to 3 GB (for Windows XP) or 4 GB (for Vista) configurations. Because the virtual machines use real RAM, the additional RAM will allow you to allocate a full 2 GB to the Mac OS and still have 1 GB or 2 GB for use by the virtual machine running Windows.
If you seek a recommendation, go with either of the two middle-priced base configurations and upgrade to the appropriate amount of RAM as well as to a 500 GB hard disk. One other consideration: Apple does not offer a 3 GB option. They will sell you a 1, 2, or 4 GB machine. Apple charges $850 for the jump to 4 GB. You might consider buying the additional RAM from a third-party vendor. You can save considerably by doing that if you go to 3 GB, and, even if you have to remove the 1 GB board that comes with the computer, you will still save money going to 4 GB.
The iMacs come with the new iLife ’08 and, after its release, will also come with OS X version 10.5. At this point, absent a true emergency that precludes waiting a little longer, it makes sense to wait for the release of version 10.5 and save the cost of purchasing it separately.
As for OS X, Version 10.5 itself, it brings out many new features and improves the interface significantly. Apple has announced more than 300 changes. The most significant include a new finder and file browsing system, multiple work spaces, the ability to get a sneak preview of a file without opening it, and a time machine that lets you look at how your computer looked at a given time in the past and recover deleted files. Apple has devoted a section of its website to displaying the new system, and you can preview its features in detail there. To see the preview, go to http://www.apple.com/macosx/leopard/. Apple has not yet announced pricing for the new OS. Likely it will cost about $129 a copy. In the past, Apple has also had a family pack, allowing five installations for personal use at a discounted price. Likely Apple will make the same or a similar deal available with version 10.5.
Now let’s turn to the iPod. In September, Apple announced a redesign of the entire iPod line. The shuffle has not changed in size, capacity, or function, but it gets a new coat of paint, and you can now get it in several new colors.
Apple has redesigned the Nano, making it shorter, wider, and thinner than its predecessor. It comes in an aluminum case in five different colors and with a 4 GB ($149) or 8 GB ($199) of memory. The Nano now handles video, movies, podcasts, and television broadcasts. Apple claims that the new Nano will provide up to five hours of video or 24 hours of audio playback on a single charge. The new Nano weighs 1.74 ounces and has a depth of .26", a width of 2.06", and a height of 2.75". It has a 2" color LCD display (320 x 240 pixels).
Apple has now renamed the full-sized iPod the “Classic.” In combination with the release of the iPod Touch, I read that as a strong signal that Apple will soon drop the traditional style of the iPod for the style of the iPod Touch. The new “Classic” comes in a 80 GB ($249) and a 160 GB ($349) version. Both versions are 4.1" high and 2.4" wide. The 80 GB version weighs 4.9 ounces and is .41" thick. The 160 GB version weighs 5.7 ounces and is .53" thick. Both have a 2.5" color LCD display (480 x 640 pixels and 30fps). Apple claims 30 hours of audio or 5 hours of video play back per charge for the 80 GB version and 40 hours of audio or 7 hours of video playback per charge for the 160 GB version.Apple’s iPhone achieved instant success with its stylish form and well-thought-out treatment of functions. Building on that success and telegraphing its intent for the future, Apple released the new iPod Touch. The Touch looks and works very much like an iPhone. The two major differences between the two devices: the lack of telephone capabilities in the iPod Touch and the memory boost to 16 GB. The 4.2 ounce Touch measures 4.3" high, 2.4" wide and .31" thick. The 3.5" widescreen display on iPod Touch uses the same multitouch screen/interface technology as the iPhone and has a resolution of 480 x 320 pixels. The $399 iPod Touch shows digital images as well as movies, television programs, and other digital video images. The Touch has built in Wi-Fi connectivity and syncs with the contact and calendar information in several programs using the newly updated iTunes software on your Mac or Windows computer.
Jeffrey Allen is the principal in the law firm of Graves & Allen with a general practice that, since 1973, has emphasized negotiation, structuring, and documentation of real estate acquisitions, loans, and other business transactions, receiverships, related litigation, and bankruptcy. Graves & Allen is a small firm in Oakland, California. Mr. Allen also works extensively as an arbitrator and a mediator. He serves as the editor of the Technology eReport and the Technology & Practice Guide issues of GPSOLO Magazine. He regularly presents at substantive law and technology-oriented programs for lawyers and writes for several legal trade magazines. In addition to being licensed as an attorney in California, Jeffrey has been admitted as a Solicitor of the Supreme Court of England and Wales. He holds faculty positions at California State University of the East Bay and the University of Phoenix. You can contact Jeffrey via email at email@example.com.
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