Macworld keynote fills in the gaps
By Stephen WITHERS
You could be forgiven for feeling underwhelmed by this week's news from San Francisco. Apple's announcements all seem to fill gaps in the product line rather than breaking new ground, but I'm not holding that against them.
One of the most solid rumours in the lead-up to Macworld Expo concerned a lightweight notebook that turned out to be the MacBook Air. (I don't get the name, apart from the heavier than usual reliance on wireless technologies.)
Image courtesy of Apple
I could use a new notebook, and my complaint about the PowerBook and MacBook families - and most other notebooks for that matter - has been their weight. A slim but otherwise full-size notebook is just what I've been waiting for.
The MacBook Air acts as a double dose of spack filler - not only does it give Apple a 'slim and light' model, it also drops in between the MacBook and MacBook Pro in terms of price.
iTunes Movie Rentals came as no surprise, either. It just amazes me that the movie studios are prepared to leave so much money on the table by limiting the deal to the US. Still, that's another gap filled: movie sales are now supplemented with rentals.
A price cut for the Apple TV suggests the company is getting more serious about this relatively neglected model, and the new software makes it less dependent on a host Mac or PC and more like an independent media centre. I'm still waiting for Apple's real entry into this market. Even now, the Apple TV seems like a toe in the water.
Time Capsule fills a big gap. As I wrote elsewhere, a previewed feature of Time Machine that disappeared in the final version was backup to a disk connected to an AirPort base station. Time Capsule is simply a base station with built-in hard drive, allowing multiple Macs to back up to one device. Like the AirPort Extreme, it includes Gigabit Ethernet ports and provision for a shared printer.
The new iPhone software doesn't strike me as being particularly significant, but it makes provision for iTunes Movie Rentals and the new customisable home screen sets the stage for the arrival of Apple-sanctioned third-party software. The iPod touch also gets a software update, bringing it more closely into line with the iPhone, but the fact that Apple's charging for this update will cause some ruffled feathers among iPod touch owners.
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