Apple Mac-sprucing bores fanbois
The thrill is gone
Opinion Apple updated its Mac Mini, iMac, and Mac Pro lines on Tuesday. And what a ho-hum set of updates it was.
Admittedly, Apple-watchers have been spoiled by past announcements. Nostalgia buffs will remember how excitement was high, for example, at the introduction of the original iMac in 1997, the Power Mac G5 in 2003, and - of course - the better-than-rumored iPhone in 2007.
But the Cupertino Fruit Company's recent roll-outs have done little to reward the devotion of Apple fanbois.
When Apple revamped its MacBook line last October, few were dancing in the streets over a unibody aluminum case and greener specs. While the new MacBooks were fine machines (although we're still not enthusiastic about the later-announced 17-inch MacBook's sealed battery), they didn't live up to the expectations engendered by Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer reference to a "future product transition" during an earnings call last July.
And then came Macworld Expo 2009, which included a valiant keynote address by Apple's SVP for Worldwide Product Marketing, Phil Schiller, during which he attempted to galvanize the gathering with tweaks to iLife and iWork.
Today's announcements continue in the same yawning path. The Mac Pro's move to Nehalem-based Xeon processors was welcome, but it was proof yet again that the best way to predict Apple's speed bumps is to keep your eye on Intel's processor roadmaps and product list.
Doing so would have cooled the jets of those who were expecting Nehalem-based iMacs. Mobile-class Nehalems (iMacs, though desktops, are built with mobile-class components) won't be available until later this year - and there's no way that the iMac's slender confines could handle the 130-watt toastiness of the two existing high-end Nehalem desktop chips, the 2.66GHz Core i7-920 ($284/£202) or the pricey 2.93GHz Core i7-940 ($562/£400).
And speaking of the "new" iMacs introduced today, while their price cuts are welcome, US users are the prime beneficiaries. Due to the recent Meltdown-induced rise of the US dollar, folks purchasing their iMacs in pounds or euros won't benefit.
Then there's the Mac Mini upgrade, which falls into the "About %$#@!ing time" category. Like the other announcements, it's welcome, but it won't make the earth move beneath a fanboi's feet. Thanks for the improved graphics and upgraded ports, Apple, but isn't that industrial design getting a wee bit dated?
The announcements were also notable for what wasn't announced. The iMacs don't have LED-lit displays, such as the company's 24-inch LED Cinema Display. There's no Blu-Ray option, despite the recent simplification of the Blu-Ray licensing morass.
And there's no longer a numeric keypad or forward-delete key on the new standard wired Apple keyboard.
Still, hidden below the top-of-the-line Mac announcements are some welcome niceties, such as the fact that Time Capsule and AirPort Extreme are now 2.4GHz and 5GHz dual-band 802.11n and that the speed-bumped 15-inch MacBook Pro and 17-inch MacBook Pro can now be purchased with a 256GB solid-stated drive (SSD). But why does that SSD costs $825 extra in the 15-incher but only $750 in the 17-incher?
It's all a bit underwhelming. Where's the hoped for mini-tower? The ever-elusive tablet Mac? An updated industrial design for anything?
In the end, Apple's recent caution - or, less kindly, torpor - can be blamed on the ongoing Meltdown. It's simply not a good time for bold, risky moves.
And Apple's not making any. ®
@ Bring in the clowns
Good flame, but:
"Macs work and they work well. Period. There's not a more reliable or stable personal computer available"
Herm, I know you can't get out of role, but I hope you realize it's probably the wrongest statement since this "the Earth is flat" was busted...
Granted, you can find worst, but they are light-years away from being the best or even the most reliable machines around. And the value-for-money ratio is simply laughable. They do look quite good though, and tend to be quite pleasant to use. It's just a choice. I'd go for the muscle and reliability to the (possible) detriment of style and eyecandyness. I can understand people making the opposite choice. But don't give us the "Macs are the most powerful and most reliable machines for the money" crap. It's just not true. It arises from stupid people comparing Mac Pros with desktop computers instead of workstations. When comparing the comparable, macs are very expensive middle-range computers. Definitely not high-end delicacies.
RE Bring in the clowns
the clowns are those who insist on buying apple at inflated prices.
'There's not a more reliable or stable personal computer available, because they are not built from the cheapest, shit commodity parts available this week'
'fraid to break it to you, but that's exactly what they are made of. just packaged nicely in a shiny box.
'Mac users don't have to worry about theO/S malfunctioning at every turn (Windows) or trying to backout and clean up rom a balky patch written last night'
No because Apple is perfect, OSX is the best piece of software ever written and never has problems or vulnerabilities. Any patches that Apple provide are simply to provide extra functionality and never once have caused someones machine to go titsup.
Typical fanboy jobs-bend-me-over-and-take-me response - no wonder Apple still make money
They give the mac mini a mini dvi, display port and firewire 800 yet leave the macbook with usb and mini dvi only. Tossers. Absolute tossers.
Have some of you lot not realised that the pound is now worth didly squat, so now you are getting ripped off by ever greater amounts!
Exit the UK (Unimaginable Kockup) and go and live somewhere cheaper and friendlier.
@Bring in the clown(s) AC
Why on earth are you using software as an excuse for hardware prices? I should be able to buy a PC with much higher spec, for less than a mac, then purchase and install OSX. Apple won't let me.