Last week, Apple had a second event which was a bit of a surprise to me as they had already had their iPhone and iPod event a little while ago. I figured that would be their last event of the year but apparently it wasn’t. Apple utilized the event to unleash a bunch of updates for their iPad, iMacs and Macbook Pros and they also added a whole new product, the iPad Mini. So if your into Apple products and want to hear my thoughts about it; sit back, relax and read on…
The iPad Mini:
The highlight of the Apple Event was the iPad Mini. This 7.9″ iPad that can be held and operated in one hand was the big new product. It also meant that Apple legitimized the smaller tablet market, which is an interesting contrast to Job’s previous statements on such tablets not having an acceptable experience and as such Apple would never make one. Yeah yeah, you can argue that its not 7″ and that it doesn’t legitimize those tablets, blah blah but it shows that Apple wanted to get in on that market no matter what and be able to challenge the current competition there.
The iPad mini is essentially the iPad 2 shrunk down into a smaller form with a few updates to the hardware, mostly to the camera, the lightning connector being added and the enhanced Wi-Fi/4G connectivity. Apple made the resolution the same as an iPad 2 to make sure that app developers wouldn’t have to update their apps to match the new screen. Which is a good idea as app updates have been notoriously slow on the app store to accommodate new screen sizes and retina displays in the past. You would think there would be some form of scaling in iOS, but apparently it isn’t. The biggest problem with the iPad Mini is the price. $329 makes it a very expensive product compared to its competition which is priced around $200. And $329 only gets you the 16GB Wi-Fi only version. The cost goes up from there if you want a bigger storage space and 3G/4G connectivity. So Apple definitely dropped the ball there because if your going to pay that much, you might as well look at the iPad 2 which is priced at $399 now.
Still, for Apple to make an iPad Mini is an interesting move and it looks like a solid product overall for what it is. I’m hard pressed to recommend it as I think you get a better deal out of the bigger iPads but if you really need the smaller version of the iPad for some reason, then by all means go for it. But I don’t think the cost justifies what your getting.
The New iPad (4):
Well, its now been made clear to us why Apple dropped the numbering system from all their products and most notably the iPad. It makes it easier for Apple to release new versions of the iPad and avoid getting most of their customers in a bit of an uproar when they update it quickly. Which is what we saw happen at this event. Within six months since the iPad 3 came out, Apple unleashed the iPad 4 onto the world. The main changes were the Lightning connector, HD front-facing camera, A6X processor (double the speed) and better Wi-Fi/4G connectivity. What’s even more interesting is that the iPad 3 has been completely phased out. You can buy the iPad 2 still, but you can’t buy the iPad 3. I have to wonder if this was such a good move for Apple to make, to out-date an iPad like that so fast. But they clearly wanted to avoid anyone noticing that it had happened as they avoided any mention of the previous iPad 3 as best they could. I don’t like that they outdated it so fast and it would definitely make me more cautious about buying any Apple technology from now on if they were going to update it so quickly.
However, this new iPad with its more powerful processor and other features makes it a much better buy than the previous iPad. So I’ll give Apple that much that they did give it a pretty good update. I just can’t agree with them releasing the update that soon and trying to hide it like they did.
The New iMac and Mac Mini:
The Mac Mini got some minor updates to it, most notably got the “Fusion Drive” storage option. The Fusion Drive is an interesting hardrive that’s available for the iMac and Mac Mini. Essentially, Apple went and combined Flash memory with a 1TB hardrive which is pretty neat, though I’m not sure if I like the idea of the Operating system managing which programs go into which part of the hardrive. I guess this would be interesting to see what people think of it as they use it. Overall though, there really isn’t anything to say about the Mac Mini, it was just an update to keep it current.
The New iMac gives you two new features. A ridiculously thin all-in-one desktop and a better screen to look at. There’s really not much more to say than that. Sure there were some other hardware upgrades but those were just to keep it current. However, you do lose the CD/DVD (Superdrive) that used to come with the iMac. You can buy a USB attached Superdrive if you wish, but that’ll set you back pretty significantly. Removing the Superdrive at this time seems to be an extremely early move to make. While people like myself have moved on from CD/DVDs, the rest of the population including businesses and schools have not. This move seems primarily aimed at getting more and more people using iTunes and nothing else and I’m not sure how people will like that. I’m still debating whether the removal of the Superdrive would be a deal-breaker for me. As I said before, I very rarely use the CD drive on my desktop these days so…would it bother me to not have it at all? Hard to say. So this is something you’ll have to decide whether you like or not. Other than that, there isn’t any reason not to buy this iMac if your interested in getting one.
New Macbook Pro:
I already talked about this kind of Macbook previously and the new 13″ Macbook Pro with Retina Display isn’t anything really new. I do have to wonder why it wasn’t launched with its 15″ brother though. That said, while there is an impressive amount of features in these Macbooks, I feel there are two major flaws. The lack of Ethernet port seems like a bad idea. I get that MBPs are mobile devices and they’re more likely going to to tap into a wireless network rather than a wired network on the go. But these are supposed “Pro” machines and if I’m going to transfer files over the Internet, I will prefer to do this over Ethernet many times over wireless networks. Wi-Fi networks are not as reliable or fast as wired connections. That’s just a fact. Maybe one day we’ll get to the point where the reverse is true, but we are no where near that as far as I can tell. And while Retina-display is interesting, I wouldn’t get these MBP laptops solely for that feature for a long time. Its going to take quite a while for developers to adapt their programs to be able to use Retina display. I’m not too sure I’d want to deal with both blurry and non-blurry text on a laptop like that so that would make me wary. The lack of Ethernet is a deal breaker on this laptop as well as the lack of a Superdrive. This doesn’t seem like a good idea to remove important features that “Pro” users would need out of their laptops just to scrap a few inches off of it.
If there is one thing that stood out to me at this latest Apple event, its thinness. The constant hammering of thinness this time around was that Apple device they were releasing were THIN. I know its been one of Apple’s big features to make every one of their products the thinnest on the planet but I think this year they emphasized it even more than usual. Which, fine, your products are really thin and such, but I do wonder sometimes what Apple could do if they allowed their product to be a little bit thicker. I know that’s not what isn’t wanted by the general consumer (for whatever reason), but I would be interested in seeing that one day. And at the end of the day, thinner products with less features is not appealing to people like me. Especially if I have to get a bunch of USB attachments to connect to ethernet, CD/DVD drives or whatever other attachments I might need. That may make your product thinner, but it creates a messier environment and makes me look after more items. I don’t really consider that an upgrade. Apple is going to have to figure out something besides “its thinner!” real soon, because you can only make these products only so much smaller before its impossible to go any thinner without some real sacrifices to performance.
Also, what’s up with the Mac Pro not getting an update? This seems really strange that they haven’t done anything with this version of their desktop in a long time.
The other thought I have is that Apple is showing that they really want to push the iOS way of life no matter what on all their products. Everything Apple has been doing with their hardware shows this, with the removal of the Superdrive most notably. The push to get everything on the Mac App Store would concern me greatly if I had a Mac desktop/laptop. Well, I’m still concerned as I own an iPhone and iPad so…yeah. What’s even more concerning is that Microsoft seems poised at following Apple’s lead if Windows 8 is any indication…but that’s for another post…
Until next time, I hope you liked this post!…