Apple’s Big Event: Exciting? or same old, same old
There are two words I would use to describe the Apple Event earlier this week. Free… and… Upgrades.
The event began with a look at the new Mavericks Operating System (OSX). What is amazing about this release is that if you own any sort of iMac or MacBook from 2007 onward the update to this operating system is free. Yes, you heard correctly. Free. This download was also available on Tuesday. The new OSX also comes with some slick new features, including a new Maps App (hopefully it works better than the one that was released a few years ago on the phone) and an iBooks app, which makes integrating your iPad or iPhone to your computer that much easier. I am quite happy about this FREE upgrade because I am running Snow Leopard on a 2008 iMac, so shortly after it was announced I downloaded the new OSX. We’ll see how it works!
Next up was a rundown of the MacBook line-up. We know that the MacBook Air was recently updated, but today the MacBook Pro was on stage. Whats in the cards for this computer? Faster, all day battery life. With the 13” Retina Display weighing in at a slim 3.46 pounds and .71 inches thin it has the ability to run up to 9 hours without recharging it (which means you Batman fans, you can watch the whole Dark Knight trilogy on a single charge). This computer is also running with a Haswell 4th generation Intel Core processor. The MacBook Pros now get twice the 3-D performance at a 45 percent faster rate, according to Apple. They also added 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Thunderbolt 2 ports, matching the feature in the MacBook Air. The 15” Retina Display MacBook Pro has a slightly lower battery life at up to 8 hours and you can have your choice of the Intel Iris Pro graphics chip or the separate GEForce GT 750M. They started shipping October 22, and the prices are $1299 and $1999 respectively.
The MacPro was next in the lineup. We got a sneak peek of this product in June. Its looks are night and day from the last generation of the MacPro. It is a sleek, beautiful, cylindrical machine. The new one comes loaded with an Intel Xeon E5 CPU with up to a dozen cores, a pair of AMD FirePro graphics cards standard, super-fast solid-state storage drives, and a half-dozen Thunderbolt 2 ports. The MacPro now can keep up with whatever you choose to do with it whether its video-editing, intense graphics or music production. Prices start at $3,000 for the lowest-end configuration. I use the term “lowest-end” relatively however, as this version will come equipped with a 3.7GHz quad-core Xeon E5 processor, 12GB of 1866MHz DDR3 DRAM, twin FirePro D300 GPUs (each with 2GB of video RAM), and a 256GB solid-state drive onboard. Pretty sweet if you ask me. It will be available for shipping in December. (My colleague J. Peter Bruzzese says “3K? 3K!!!??? This thing better be called R2 and be capable of fixing my X-Wing during a fight with the Death Star before I shell out 3K for it. It’s a MacPro, not an Alienware Gaming System. Granted the cylinder shape is cool.”)
The iPad was the last product that they talked about today. Three and a half years ago it was called “the most advanced technology in a magical and revolutionary device”. That has certainly proved to be the case. Over 170 million iPads have been sold since its creation. There are over 475,000 apps custom designed for the iPad and it is #1 in customer satisfaction. How could you possibly make it any better?
Make it thinner, lighter and more powerful. The new iPad Air (as it is now called) is thinner than a standard pencil. (They make this noticeable with their new commercial). It also brings 64 bit technology to a portable device, which means things you could only do on a desktop previously; you can now do on your iPad. (Well, my colleague J. Peter Bruzzese says “everything except use a USB stick… like my Windows Surface!” Forgive him folks, he’s a Microsoft loyalist so he has to say that stuff. He’s buying his wife one to upgrade her iPad 2 because she loves it.)
It has a 9.7” retina display with a 43% smaller bezel and is now 20% thinner. It weighs in at only 1.0 pound. This makes it the lightest tablet in the world! Equipped with the new A7 chip it has 2x the computing power and 2x the graphics. This makes the iPad Air 8x faster than the original iPad and the graphics are 72x faster than the original iPad. Spectacular! I, for one, am excited to get my hands on this product. The iPad Air will start at the base price of $499 for 16 GB Wi-Fi and go up from there. Apple announced that it will still sell the full size iPad2 at a price of $399.
The iPad Mini also got an update today as well. It now features the same A7 chip as the iPad Air with a 7.9” retina display with 4x faster computing and now 8x faster graphics. The battery life is close to the original at up to 10 hours. The price for the Retina Display iPad Mini is now $399, however Apple will still sell the original for $299—dropping the price $30.
Both the iPad Air and the iPad Mini will come with smart covers and cases in a variety of colors and materials. You can protect your silver/white or slate gray/black iPad in style! One thing missing (which I was personally hoping for) is a case with a keyboard made by Apple (kind of like the Microsoft Surface tablet’s case). Guess not this year. But you will be happy to know that all of the iPad products will be available on November 1 for order and purchase.
One of the coolest things that I saw today was the iWork and iLife updates (which will now be FREE with any purchase of a Mac or IOs7 device.) Garage Band is now leaps and bounds ahead of anything else on the market for you at-home mixers, and the Collaboration feature (where you can design something—share it with someone else, either on Mac or PC—and then you can edit is simultaneously) is just plain cool!!
After all is said and done Apple put on quite a show with their updates. While there is not yet a “real” AppleTV or a touchscreen iMac or MacBook… maybe they are working on those now and we will be fortunate enough to have them released at the next event! In any event Apple fanboys will keep buying and as long as they do, Apple will keep designing.
(A guest post by Shanna Giarrano. Follow her on Twitter at: @shannaggiarrano )