Apple media event thrills and disappoints all at once

August 7, 2007

Apple media event thrills and disappoints all at onceSteve Jobs held one of his much ballyhooed media events today at the Apple Town Hall in Cupertino,CA. As suspected, the event was Mac driven with Macs and applications all getting some new tweaks.

First up: The iMacs are getting a total retrofit. Going for a more recyclable friendly feel, the materials will now be a mixture of aluminum and glass. The rumors were however true about the death of the 17″ model, and the line will now come in 20″ and 24″ varieties only. The 20″ version will clock in at $1199 or $1499, depending on options, and the 24″, even with all the new insides, will start at a base price of $1799.

Not only is the new iMac getting an upgraded exterior, but an updated interior to boot. Up to 2.4GHz Core 2 Extreme processor, RAM up to 4GB, ATI Radeon HD graphics card, hard drive storage up to 1TB, 802.11n WiFi and Bluetooth 2.0 are all inside the chassis now.

All versions exterior ports will include Audio Out, Audio In, three USB 2.0 slots, FireWire 400, FireWire 800, Gigabit Ethernet, and Video Out.

To complete the new package, the keyboard has gotten a retooling as well. Now a mere .33″ thick, the keyboard is wireless as well as sporting two USB ports. Apple wasted no time taking advantage of their Bluetooth capabilities.

The base package for each version is:

20″ – $1199
20″ 1600 X 1050 display
2.0 GHz Intel Core Duo processor
1GB Ram
250GB SATA Hard Drive
8X SuperDrive
New .33″ Keyboard

20″ – $1499
20″ 1600 X 1050 display
2.4 GHz Intel Core Duo processor
1GB Ram
320GB SATA Hard Drive
8X SuperDrive
New .33″ Keyboard

24″ – $1799
24″ 1900 X 1200 display
2.4 GHz Intel Core Duo processor
1GB Ram
320GB SATA Hard Drive
8X SuperDrive
New .33″ Keyboard

Second up: iLife now includes iPhoto, iMovie, iWeb, iDVD, and GarageBand it will be shipping with all Macs starting today or $79 if you want to add it to your existing system.

iPhoto will now sport a new feature named “Events” where photos will be grouped automatically into a event-themed folders when you load them on the computer. So if you take all your pictures Friday night at a party, when you load them, they will all go immediately to an event folder for that day, grouped together. You will also be able to join multi-day events together into a single event.

.Mac is getting an integrated web gallery that works with iPhoto. With one-click publishing, you can send print quality photos to your online gallery for friends and family to download. If you’d like, you can also have PC users send email to a special address with their photos, they’ll go in your gallery and sync to your computer all at once. The iPhone will also be able to add pictures to your gallery with the new “Send to Web Gallery” feature.

iMovie has gotten a large make-over thanks to one Apple employee getting frustrated he couldn’t make a new home movie in 30 minutes. They’ve slimmed down the process, added more effects, choice of outputs, and even aid in where you can send it. The videos can be customized to iPods, iPhones, Apple TV, .Mac Web Gallery, and you can even send it automatically to YouTube.

From the demonstration, though one is sure he practiced, Steve Jobs was pretty quick with movie production on stage, including adding a soundtrack and splicing together multiple clips. Publishing the finished film to .Mac will give you a higher resolution than DVD, and allow people to download it for their own hard drives.

iWeb got a face lift too with the addition of working with Google Maps, Google AdSense, and the ability to make a widget for your site out of anything on the web. It also now supports personal domain names.

iDVD added pro encoding and new themes, but it seems to be the forgotten child of the software package with the focus on online publishing through iMovie.

GarageBand has new ways to pre-load genres, play around with the instruments and experiment with anything you want.

Third up:Though .Mac seems much more integrated with iLife now, it will be $99.95 a year for a subscription and will offer 10GB of storage.

Fourth up:iWork. Keynote has new text effects, transitions, and themes, while Pages will now make it easier to just do word processing with no page layout. You can still do it, but will be much easier to pick one or the other.

The big news, and long-awaited at that, is the addition of Numbers. Yes folks, Steve Jobs has finally added a spreadsheet function to the Apple productivity suite. Intelligent tables, formulas, checkboxes, sliders, sort, filter and much more of the sort of features you would expect from an Apple produced program. And, of course, you can import and export to Excel.

Those were all the big announcements, and though not mentioned during the actual presentation, he did state during the follow-up Q&A that the Mac Mini is alive and well and will be seeing a refresh of it’s components today.

The biggest disappointment would have to be the total lack of a nod towards the many rumored new iPods. Could there be another media event on the not too distant horizon?

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