On Becoming an Appophile
The last several months have proved quite interesting in the Apple world. Apple refreshed its laptop and iPod line and announced new versions of iWork and iLife. Apple also announced plans not to participate after 2009 in MacWorld, the iconic all-Mac computer show in San Francisco. Steve Jobs’ (Apple’s answer to Sun Tzu, P.T. Barnum, and Houdini) health has become more suspect. Rumor has it that he will play a reduced role on the Apple campus, at least for the near term. In a move reflective of a reduced role for Jobs, Philip Schiller, a senior VP at Apple, gave the keynote at MacWorld instead of Steve Jobs.
Apple released most of its upgrades prior to MacWorld to take advantage of the holiday shopping season. It saved only iLife’09, iWork ’09, and the rebuilding of the 17 MacBook Pro for MacWorld.
Cosmetically, the MacBook Air benefited the least from the refreshing of the line. In fact, it served as the model for the appearance of the new MacBook and MacBook Pro laptops (each of which looks pretty much like chubby MacBook Air). Don’t take that comment wrong, I really like the way the new line looks. Cosmetically, the MacBook benefited the most from the upgrading as it shed its black plastic case (you can still get a white plastic case) for the same silver-gray aluminum housing as the MacBook Air and Mac Book Pro.
The MacBook and MacBook Pro each got a slick new glass multitouch trackpad. It takes a little getting used to, but it does make control of the computer easier. The trackpad has no buttons to push: you can click anywhere on the pad.
The MacBook and MacBook Pro both got speed upgrades, graphics processing improvements, and display improvements (the new displays really look good). Disappointingly, the MacBook no longer has any FireWire ports, and the MacBook Pro lost its FireWire 400 port, but kept a single FireWire 800 port.
The 17" MacBookPro is bigger, heavier, faster, and more costly than the 15" MacBookPro, but as 17" laptops go, this one looks and feels pretty svelte. It has three USB ports, but otherwise, the same port configuration as the 15" MacBook Pro. Apple claims a charge will last for 8 hours of work on the 17" MacBook Pro.
The MacBook Air looks pretty much the same as before, but now comes with a far more usable 128GB flash drive or 120GB SATA hard drive. The Air remains the lightest, slightest member of the family, but it has not become a cheap date. The least expensive MacBook Air costs $1,799. Apple has reduced the price differential between the MacBook Air versions. You can now get a MacBook Air with 2GB of memory (not upgradable), a 1.86 GHz Intel Coe 2 Duo processor, and a 128 GB solid-state (flash) drive for $2,499. Apple claims a 4.5-hour use per charge for the Air, which continues to preclude a battery swap on a long trip. The Air continues to have no built in optical drive and only a single USB Port.
The Air weighs in at 3 pounds, the MacBook at 4.5, the 15" MacBook Pro at 5.5 pounds, and the 17" MacBook Pro at 6.6 pounds.
All of the new Mac laptops use the Mini Display Port, so if you upgrade to a new model, you will need new adaptors for larger monitors or use with projectors.
As for recommendations, the 17" MacBook Pro makes a good desktop substitute. The 15" MacBook Pro makes an excellent workhorse computer for business use. The 13" MacBook works brilliantly for a home laptop, for travel, or as a second computer. The MacBook Air continues to as a showpiece, but, in truth, unless you are just dying to have people see you with one, you don’t have any need or desire to travel with an optical drive and the weight differential makes a difference to you, the MacBook makes a better choice and gives you better value for your dollars.
In its iPod line, Apple has improved the line’s performance and tried to continue to offer something for everyone.
Apple has redone the iPod Touch, giving it more features, a thinner profile, and less weight. The Touch now has a built-in speaker, a 3.5" display with 480 x 320 pixel resolution, measures 4.3" x 2.4" x .33" and weights a hair over 4 ounces. It comes in 8, 16, and 32GB versions costing $229, $299, and $399, respectively. Apple claims longer battery life—up to 36 hours of audio or 6 hours of video play.
The new iPod Classic comes in black or white and with a 120GB memory for $249. It does not have the large touch-screen display of the iPod Touch or the ability to run applications from the App store. It will play music and video quite nicely and can also serve as a USB storage drive. It has a 2.5" display with 320 x 240 pixel resolution. It measures 4.1" x 2.4" x .41" and weighs in at 4.9 ounces.
The Nano has a 2" display with a 320 x 240 resolution and measures 3.6" x 1.5" x .24". You can get it in your choice of nine colors with either a 8GB or 16GB memory for $149 and $199, respectively. I particularly like the Nano’s design.
The Shuffle comes in a 1 and 2 GB version. You can choose from among five colors. The Shuttle measures 1.07" x 1.62" x .41". It has no display.
In the software department, Apple has announced substantial upgrades to iWork and iLife ’09. Apple released iWork right after the product announcement, and you can order it from the Apple Store for immediate delivery. Apple announced the release of iLife ’09 and will take orders for it in the store. By the time you read this, Apple should be delivering iLife ’09. It has not been available as of the preparation of this column.
Apple continues its policy of not having an upgrade price, but offering the software for a total price of less than what most developers charge for a major upgrade. Apple sells single copies of each suite for $79. It also makes a family license available (5 single users) for $99. If you still need to upgrade to Leopard, Apple has announced its “Box Set” of Leopard, iWork ’09, and iLife ’09 for $169 for a single user and $229 for family pack licenses.
iWork continues to include three programs in its suite: Pages (word processing), Numbers (spreadsheet), and Keynote (presentation). All of the programs are Microsoft Office friendly, in that they can open Office files and save as Office files, so that Office users can open them on both Mac and Windows platforms.
Apple’s website lists the following new features of iWork:
40 new Apple-designed templates (more than 180 total).
- Full-screen view
- Dynamic outlines
- Mail merge with Numbers
- Insert equations with MathType 6 (sold separately)
- Create bibliographies with EndNote X2 (sold separately)
- Open, save, and email Microsoft Word files from within Pages
- Easily create formulas, using visual placeholders with plain language text
- Perform calculations using more than 250 functions
- Organize your data instantly using Table Categories
- Check your calculations at a glance with Formula List view
- Create two-axis charts and combine line, column, and area series in a single mixed chart
- Choose from twelve new Apple-designed templates (30 total)
- Open, save, and email Microsoft Excel files from within Numbers
- Create sophisticated animations with Magic Move
- Add dramatic object and text transitions using new visual effects
- Visualize your data with new styles and animations for 3D charts
- Dramatically reduce file size without compromising quality
- Create dynamic flowcharts and diagrams using connection lines
- Choose from eight new Apple-designed themes (44 total)
- Open, save, and email Microsoft PowerPoint files from within Keynote
Apple’s website lists the following new features in iLife ’09
- Use Faces to find photos of people
- Use Places to explore your photo library
- Create slideshows using animated titles and multiphoto layouts
- Publish photos directly to Facebook and Flickr
- Create travel-themed photo books with custom maps
- Fine-tune movies with the Precision Editor
- Use enhanced drag-and-drop to edit projects
- Use automatic video stabilization to smooth clips
- Apply themes to a project
- Add animated maps to travel videos
- Animated titles, new transitions, and cinema-quality video effects
- Learn to play piano or guitar with interactive lessons
- Learn how artists play their songs and practice them
- Play and record with new guitar amps and stompbox effects
- Jam with virtual instruments in a full-screen view that allows mixing, playing along, and recording
- Add YouTube videos, RSS feeds, iSight videos to your web pages
- Manage multiple websites
- Built-in FTP publishing
- Link your web site to your Facebook account
- Apple-designed themes with animated menus
- Author-customizable DVDs
- Combine videos and photos
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 GP Solo Magazine . He regularly presents at substantive law and technology-oriented programs for attorneys 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 e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow his technology blog at www.jallenlawtekblog.com.
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