By Jeffrey Allen
The New Hardware
The Mini. The 4.6 pound Mini runs at 867Mhz. It has a 10.2" x 8.9" footprint and is only 1.2" thick when closed. Apple rates the lithium ion polymer battery for up to 5 hours of use. You can get the unit with 256MB of RAM, a DVD/CDRW, and a 40 GB hard drive for $1,799. Upgrading to a SuperDrive (DVD/CD Burner) costs an additional $200. You can increase the RAM to 640MB. Apple used essentially the same sized keyboard in both the Mini and the Maxi; so the Mini does not suffer by that comparison. The Mini has 10/100 Ethernet built-in. Three of Apple’s decisions concerning which features to cut to keep the computer under the $2,000 level do merit some comment. First, the Mini has no L3 cache. That will have a significantly negative impact on the performance of some programs, like Virtual PC, that require an L3 cache to run efficiently. Second, the Mini has only a mini-VGA video output option (but it does have the ability to drive a nonmirrored external monitor to resolutions of up to 1600 x 1200 pixels). Third, it has no PCMCIA slot.
The Maxi. Apple’s new 17" Power book comes with the world’s biggest laptop screen to date. Nevertheless, the Maxi is only 1" thick when closed and weighs in at only 6.8 pounds; It has a footprint of 15.4" x 10.2"). The Maxi’s G4 processor runs at 1Ghz. It comes with a 60 GB hard drive, the SuperDrive (CD/DVD read/write), and 512 MB of RAM (upgradeable to 1 Gigabyte). The screen supports a resolution of an amazing 1.3 million pixels (1440 x 900). The Maxi uses a keyboard that is the same size as the Mini, but has fiber optic strands under the keyboard that backlight the keys for easier viewing when ambient lighting sensors (hidden under the speaker grilles) detect lower light situations. The Maxi comes with a 60 Gb hard disk, a full compliment of video outputs (including DVI, S Video, and mini-VGA), an AirPort Extreme card installed, and a 1MB L3 cache. The Maxi comes with Gigabit Ethernet. It lists for $3,299.
Wireless: AirPort Extreme and More. Wireless connectivity is here to stay, and Apple is big on wireless connectivity. Apple uses the term “AirPort Extreme” to identify its version of the 802.11g wireless standard. Apple leads the pack with the introduction of 802.11g equipment. The 802.11g wireless runs at about five times the speed of the more common 802.11b and is backwards compatible, so that an 802.11b computer can use an 802.11g network (but at the slower speed only). Expect to see more 802.11g offerings in and out of the Apple world this year. The faster speed, better security, and broader range of the new standard will make it very popular. Additionally, using a second form of wireless technology, Apple has built Bluetooth into both of its newest laptops and will likely build it in to future computers. The Bluetooth capacity will allow the computers to wirelessly interface with a variety of devices including PDAs and cell phones for wireless Internet access.
Apple also announced a scaled-down version of Final Cut, its heavyweight DVD editing software. The new version Final Cut Express ($300) offers the average user all the necessary functionality, but at a substantially reduced cost. The Express version lacks some of the more sophisticated features of the original, but those who want those features have the option of spending the additional money to acquire it.
Apple introduced Keynote (a presentation program that will challenge PowerPoint) and a new browser named Safari. With Safari and Keynote, Apple has thrown down the gauntlet, taking on the Borg in two areas where Microsoft has achieved dominance in the market. Steve Jobs is apparently convinced that resistance may not be futile.
Final Cut Express. If you have visions of creating the great American movie, but don’t think you are ready for the advanced features of Final Cut Pro (or the advanced $999 cost), Final Cut Express is the program for you. The Express program sells for $299. It provides most of the basic functionality of the full version, but does not include some of the most advanced features such as advanced key framing, support for some formats, and on- and offline workflow. Express works with the DV and Mini DV formats. It provides far more precision and control over both the video and the audio tracks in the final product than you can get from iMovie 3. The program includes over 200 filters, special effects and transitions. Express lets you export the assembled movie back to your video camera or into QuickTime or MPEG-4 formats. You can also import the movie into iDVD to burn it into your own DVD.
Keynote. Apple’s Keynote presentation software is, in a word, excellent. The program, which sells for $99, comes with 12 background themes; however, others have already become available for download at no cost or a relatively nominal one. Expect more to come. Not surprisingly, Keynote interfaces with the iLife programs, and you can import pictures from your iPhoto library and music from your iTunes play list into your presentations. Keynote works well with QuickTime, and adding QuickTime movies to your presentations is easily accomplished. The program includes both two and three dimensional slide transitions. If you are sending your work to people who do not have Keynote, you can export from Keynote to PDF, to Quicktime, and even to PowerPoint.
Apple is working hard to make it a wonderful iLife!
Jeffrey Allen (email@example.com) has a general practice in Oakland, California. His firm, Graves & Allen, emphasizes real estate and business transactions and litigation. He is a frequent speaker and author on technology topics and the Editor-in-Chief of the GPSolo Technology & Practice Guide and the Technology eReport.