Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Ohhhhh Yeahhhhh!

Another year, another Stevenote. How did the prognosticators do?

Well, The biggies were the flash-based iPod and the cheap Mac. And we got 'em. The iPod Shuffle costs $99 (for 512MB) and $149 (for 1 GB), and it's both tiny and USB-only. Not much more than a good flash drive in cost. No display, but a nice UI and a default Shuffle mode.

They won't be able to make these fast enough. The rest of the digital music market just said a collective "Holy crap!".

And the Mac Mini - whew. 1.25 GHz or 1.42 GHz, 40 or 80 GB hard drive, no keyboard or mouse included (use your own), and all the standard cheap Mac ports (10/100 Ethernet, USB 2.0, FireWire 400, DVI/VGA), along with the usual BTO Bluetooth available and AirPort Extreme optional. It's only a couple of inches tall, and the width of it's slot-loading Combo drive. For either $499 or $599 base. Another item I suspect Apple won't be able to make fast enough - welcome to the low end of the marketplace, folks! Even though the video isn't up to LAN party snuff (it's only a Radeon 9200 with 32MB VRAM), it's a great home/second Mac for people. I could even see hooking my toddler up with one of them down the road - it would be easy to keep him away from the guts and he can bang on keys to his hearts' content.

And they've finally retired Appleworks (iWork - includes Keynote 2 and a word processor called Pages, but no spreadsheet, database, or drawing program as far as I can see so they may leave Appleworks around for a while) and upgraded iLife. This year's buzzword is "HD support" - iMovie and iDVD are both now designed with HD support built-in. The price went up a teeny bit (actually, it went up $30), but the new features are pretty compelling. Final Cut Express also got HD support added as well.

However, they did miss a few predictions. There was no PowerBook speedbump this week (at least not announced in the keynote - it still may be coming), and the "Asteroid" FireWire breakout box for Garageband wasn't announced. Otherwise, everything was right on target.

It's a good time to be doing Apple stuff for a living. Yes, indeed.

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