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iMac

Macworld 2008 Keynote – New Hardware/Software: My Review

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Apple CEO Steve Jobs just finished his keynote at the Macworld Expo in San Francisco. Apple released all sorts of exciting new things. I watched a video stream of it online. Here are my takes on what was released:

First up was Time Capsule. It’s an AirPort Extreme base station (wireless N router) that also backs up your computer’s contents wirelessly. It comes in 500 GB and 1 TB versions.

Next up was iTunes Movie Rentals. This was expected. All major movie studios are on board to offer newly released movies for $3.99 and older movies for only $2.99. The movie is yours for 30 days, but once you start watching it you have 24 hours to finish. Downloads take only about 30 seconds over broadband and are available in DVD quality or HD for $1 more.

iPhone and iPod Touch software updates were next. The Google Maps feature on the iPhone finally has real-time GPS using cellular triangulation (finds the three closest cell towers to you and determines your position pretty accurately). You can now send text messages to multiple people at the same time, too. It’s about time. Web clips now let you make applications out of websites you visit that are already optimized for iPhone (for example, I use the iPhone versions of Facebook and Fandango). You can now put these and any number of other websites on the home screen. You can also now have multiple home screens and reorder your icons in any way you desire. Nice move, Apple. The only thing missing? With all these cool features, I still cant send or receive multimedia (picture/video) messages? Strange, no? The iPod Touch is finally receiving what iPhones already have: Mail, Stocks, Notes, and Weather applications. It should have had these in the first place, but Apple is charging $20 for them. Why?

Apple TV saw a major upgrade. Not the hardware itself, but a huge software update. You can now buy music, watch YouTube videos, rent iTunes movies in full HD, etc. all without a computer. Finally, this once dud of a product in Apple’s otherwise excellent product lineup should see a much more positive consumer response.

Finally, the much rumored MacBook Air was introduced. It’s being dubbed the world’s thinnest notebook, measuring only 0.76 inches thin. Incredible. It comes in an 80 GB 1.8 inch hard drive version (same size drive used in current iPods) or a much faster 64 GB SSD (solid state (flash memory) drive). There’s no optical disk drive, but you can wirelessly install software from other computers on your network. The track pad even has multi-touch just like the iPhone! Very cool. I’m in awe at just how thin, sleek, and beautiful this thing is. I know, I’m a full-fledged Apple geek.

A few things that many people were expected but weren’t announced were a new iPhone model and a Mac notebook docking station similar to the look of the current iMac model.

One thing I don’t understand is Apple’s logic on giving away a big update for the iPhone (as they should) as well as a huge overhaul software-wise for Apple TV, but yet they’re charging $20 for applications that should have originally shipped with the iPod Touch? That makes no sense at all, and I bet the update will become free when people realize how little logic there is in their strategy.

I didn’t think Apple could top last year’s Macworld Expo Keynote (where the iPhone was announced), but I was wrong. Great job, Apple.

Mac Vs. Windows: Have The Tables Turned?

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It’s long been known that Windows has been the operating system of choice for businesses, and the clear winner when it came to home computers, as well. Macs have been known to be associated with niche markets such as in education and for creative fields such as graphic design. But is the sturdy foundation that Windows built more than a decade and a half ago being chipped away by Apple? All recent indications point to yes. Here’s a small snippet from an article featured on the Apple Insider website:

The media frenzy surrounding the iPhone may have helped Apple claim a record share of customers for its portable line at the expense of its rivals Dell and HP, says a new survey from ChangeWave. An early August study that canvassed 3,665 of the financial research group’s existing members’ buying habits has revealed that nearly one sixth, or 17 percent, of respondents who had bought a notebook in the past three months had chosen one of Apple’s MacBook or MacBook Pro models. The gain was an “unprecedented” jump from 12 percent in June and eclipsed the Mac maker’s previous record of 15 percent set in January.

I bought a MacBook Pro in late June for college and I absolutely love it. I’ll never go back to Windows. Everything just works on a Mac. Adobe CS3 is running like a charm, iLife ’08, which I just upgraded to, is awesome, and Windows XP, installed via the Boot Camp Public Beta, runs faster and more smoothly than my previous eMachines (running XP with 1.5 GB RAM and an AMD Athlon 64 processor) desktop computer.

There are obvious disadvantages to running a Mac as well, such as software incompatibility (although the gap is quickly closing, especially with the move to Intel processors), peripheral incompatibility (such as camera memory cards that are factory preformatted for Windows), and a few other finicky things, but overall there are huge advantages to running Mac OS X. The software incompatability issue can be solved by installing Boot Camp as I mentioned above, which allows you to partition your hard drive and presents you with a boot screen allowing you to choose the OS you’d like to start up with.

Everything, in my opinion, runs more smoothly on a Mac simply becuase the same company that manufactures the computer also puts out the operating systems for their units. It just makes sense. I was a little concerned that I would be limited in what I was able to do with my computer if I purchased a Mac, but truth be told I’m able to do more than I ever thought possible on a PC, and in less time. The data proves this point, with Apple coming out on top when it comes to customer satisfaction:

No pun intended, but it looks like the “window” is closing on the success of the Microsoft empire. Bill Gates is set to step down from the company in the next year and a half, the company is looking into all sorts of new directions to diversify their business, and PC sales are slipping, most notably with traditional brand leaders such as HP and Dell. Here’s a comparison between Apple and Dell:

iPod and iPhone sales have generated a lot more interest in Macintosh computers, with users discovering just how user-friendly Macs really are. I’m excited to see what lies in the future for Apple, and what they will come up with next.

Leave your thoughts about your operating system of choice.