Volume 5, Number 1
March 2006

Table of Contents
Past Issues


Macintel Lives: A Trip to Macworld

By Jeffrey Allen

During the second week of January the Mac faithful celebrate their version of Christmas. That is the time when the MacWorld event takes place in San Francisco. Those who can make a pilgrimage to San Francisco for the event do so. Those who cannot make the pilgrimage dutifully face toward San Francisco, excitedly waiting for the latest intelligence from Apple, traditionally delivered by Apple CEO Steve Jobs in his keynote address.

January 2006 saw the traditional pilgrimage. Steve Jobs ascended his pulpit and addressed the Mac faithful. To the surprise of many, he announced no new iPods (of course Apple has had two new iPod models in the last few months). He did announce new versions of iLife and I Work. He also announced the release of the first two models of Mac computers using Intel processors

Apple’s iWork ’06 offers new versions of its word processor (Pages) and its presentation program (Keynote). Apple has no upgrade program for iWork, but sells the suite at a retail price of $79, less than most upgrades to other programs costs. You can spend an extra $20 to get a family pack (5 user licenses). We have not had the opportunity to work with the new iterations of the programs yet, but the features touted by Apple include:

A. In both Keynote and Pages, the ability to perform basic spreadsheet-style calculations and formatting in tables; display data in three-dimensional charts; add stars, polygons, or draw freeform custom shapes with Bézier curves; mask photos and images; adjust photos similarly to the way you would adjust them in iPhoto; and add reviewer comments to any document or presentation.

B. In Pages 2, the ability to start with any one of 66 templates, including 25 new designs; import documents created with AppleWorks or Microsoft Word (from both PC and Mac); export as a cross-platform PDF, Word, HTML, RTF, or text-only file; and build form letters with drag-and-drop simplicity using your Address Book.

C. In Keynote 3, the ability to choose from 27 themes, including new HD themes up to 1920 x 1080 pixels; add cinematic transitions, animations, and slide builds; import presentations created with AppleWorks or Microsoft PowerPoint from both PC and Mac; export your presentation to PowerPoint, or to iDVD or iPhoto; and see all your slides at a glance in Light Table View to facilitate reorganizing them.

Apple’s iLife ’06, the suite of programs that includes iPhoto 6, iLife 6, iDVD 6, iMovieHD 6, Garageband (but no longer iTunes) received a new addition this year, iWeb. All of the previously existing programs in the suite were tweaked and improved. Where appropriate, the programs also include integration with iWeb. The iWeb program represents the most significant addition to the iLife package this year. Apple designed iWeb to enable the easy creation of a website that you can post to your .Mac account. You start with a template and add your content. The included iLife media browser lets you drag and drop photographs, audio, and video. It also allows you to bring in podcasts (which could include music recorded through GarageBand 3 or imported from iTunes). The iWeb program also includes the ability to create blogs and podcasts. As with iWorks, Apple offers no upgrade path, but only costs $79 for a single license or $99 for a family license.

Apple’s announcement of the release of two Intel processor-based Macs represents the biggest news in the Apple world. The entrance to the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco set the stage for Job’s announcement. A large banner bore the question: “What’s an Intel chip doing inside a Mac?” and the answer: “A whole lot more than it ever did inside a PC.” The announcement: Apple has created two Intel-based computers, the new MacBook Pro and a new iMac. The new computers use Intel Core Duo processors to generate significant theoretical speed jumps of 2x for the iMac by comparison to the current G-5 processors and 4x for the MacBook Pro by comparison to the current PowerBook using the G4 processor. Although Apple’s earlier announcements indicated anticipated shipping dates around June 2006 for the first Intel-based Macs, they will start to ship in February 2006. The computers will cost approximately the same as their predecessors, with the price of the 15.4" MacBook Pro starting at $1,999 and the 17" iMac starting at $1,299.

The computers have some changes aside from the processor. Both the MacPro Book and the iMac will come with built-in iSight cameras, Bluetooth 2.0, AirPort Extreme, and a slot-load 8x double-layer Super Drive built into the computer. Neither computer comes with a built-in modem, but Apple offers a small 56KB USB modem for $49.

The MacBook Pro comes in a choice of two models in identical cases. The $1,999 1.67 GHz version comes with an 80 GB hard disk upgradeable to 100 GB at 7200 RPM or 120 GB at 5400 RPM (+$200) and 512MB of RAM, upgradeable to 2MB (+$500). The $2,499 GHz version comes with 1 GB of RAM, upgradeable to 2 GB (+$300) and a 100 GB hard disk at 5400 RPM, upgradeable to 120 GB at 5400 RPM or 100 GB at 7200 RPM (+$100). The MacBook Pro also boasts a significantly brighter screen than its predecessor. The MacBook Pro does not have the PCMCIA slot that its predecessor had. Instead, it comes with the newer Express Card/34 slot.

Images courtesy of Apple Computer, Inc.

With respect to the iMac, the basic $1,999 1.83 GHz configuration comes with 512 MB of RAM, upgradeable to 2 GB (+$300) and a 160 GB hard disk, upgradeable to 500 GB (+$375). The same basic configuration and options come with the 20" version (except it gets a 250 GB hard drive (upgradeable to 500 GB [+$300] and a 2.0 GHz processor), for an additional $400.

Apple demonstrated the new models at MacWorld. All of the Apple software that comes with the computers will be native to the Intel processors. The Apple software on the computers (iLife and iWorks) ran briskly and smoothly; the operating system also appeared to run without any problems. None of the computers at the show had any software other than Apple native software, accordingly, so there was no way to judge the speed effect of the Rosetta interface that allows the new processors to run programs written for the older architecture. Apple personnel at the show suggested that some programs would show a noticeable slow down from the conversion process, while others would show a negligible slow down. Apple has announced upgrades for some of its software to Intel processor versions and the creation of a new class of programs called “Universal” (meaning they will run on the G4, G5, and Intel architecture).

Apple personnel would not comment on whether any programs would not run on the new architecture.

Jeffrey Allen (jallenlawtek@aol.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.




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