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January 31, 2007

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January 27, 2007

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January 25, 2007

Is there a miniBook in the pipeline?

Apple Recon | Mac Book Mini

Apple Recon is reporting on rumors that Apple has a subnotebook in process, with specs and pricing in between the MacBook and MacBook Pro. The rumors suggest a 3.5 pound package, with a 12" 1280 x 800 monitor, hard drive and optical drive (and possibly a new caching flash drive as well), and 6 hour battery life.

If this comes to pass, I will be sorely tempted. My two favorite laptops of all time are the PowerBook 2400c and the 12" PowerBook.

I know such a machine is possible -- I'm currently using one, even if it has a Dell logo. It's not 3.5 pounds, and I'm sure Apple will bring other innovations to theirs (Apple Recon speculates on an LED backlight and the flash drive), but my Dell XPS M1210 matches this rumor, to be announced in June, today.

The base system is 4.3 pounds, and about the same size as a PowerBook 12", but it's got a lot of features I would be surprised to see in the final Apple release, as well: S-Video out, 2 gigs of memory with support for 4 gigs, and an ExpressCard 54 slot. Mine's got an extended battery, and it's good for 4-5 hours of wireless use, enough that I haven't really noticed the battery life. The 256-meg nVidia 7400 video card drives my 20" widescreen display alongside the internal LCD, and nVidia supplies a software wizard to gracefully set up multiple displays. There's plenty I don't like, of course: Something about the keyboard feels like it's coming off on my fingers, and there are media keys along the front of the case that I keep bumping by mistake. The topcase is a black plastic that picks up oil from my hands every time I pick it up. It's got the glossy screen, which is very bright, but I've found myself in two situations where I had to move the laptop to eliminate glare. If I were using it in the field, that number would be higher.

I love the rumored specs for an Apple subnotebook, although I wish it could fit an ExpressCard, since its target market (knowledge workers and execs on the go) are likely to take advantage of high-speed cellular wireless connections. Also, I hope the rumor is wrong about a 2-gHz ceiling on clock speed. If Apple addresses this giant, yet tiny, hole in its portable line, the machine should have at least a nominal speed increase over the MacBook.

January 25, 2007 in Apple, Apple - General, Apple - PowerBooks, General computing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 11, 2007

iPhone 4+ years in the making?

Nicest of the Damned | isync + ical + ichat + inkwell = iphone?

I'm not usually one to self-link, but I'm getting some Google hits on the short post linked above from August 2002. It references a John Markoff story, now lost to the New York Times TimesSelect product, but the abstract is pretty prescient.

Remember, this is from August 19, 2002:

Apple Computer reportedly weighs introduction of hand-held device that would combine elements of cellphone and Palm-like personal digital assistant; forthcoming Macintosh OS X, Version 10.2, is being marketed as improvement for desktop computer users, but it has features that make more sense in hand-held device than desktop; move would play into Apple's so-called digital hub strategy, in which Macintosh desktop computer is center of web of peripheral devices of Steven P Jobs, Apple chief executive...

By the way, my very next post, later that day, was on a cool new RSS aggregator, called NetNewsWire, then in version 1.0b13.

January 11, 2007 in Apple, Apple - General, Apple - iPod, Apple - Software, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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January 10, 2007

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January 09, 2007

Now we know what all those patents were about

We've got 6 months to chew on Apple's new iPhone, and there's still quite a bit that's unknown: How Cingular will bill for data, the battery's standby life, and about 100 different things about the phone software. Here's a couple quick nuggets:

•I suspect the low contrast, no-container interface (look at the Safari screen shot image here for an example: The forward and back arrows sit directly in the navbar, without a containing rectangle, like Safari today) will appear on the Mac, maybe as soon as Leopard.

iPhone photo• Nobody seems to have any details about the phone running “OS X.” You can bet every Mac developer is working any available angle to find out more. I've seen one report that says it's a closed ecosystem and Apple's not even naming the processor (Update: make that two reports). Even if it is “OS X,” it's not OS X as we think of it -- you wouldn't be able to go buy FileMaker and run it on the phone. It's possible there's a super-secret version of Interface Builder and a compiler for the iPhone architecture running around in Cupertino, and Mac developers will have to redesign in the new IB and recompile for the new architecture. It will be really interesting to see how the “desktop class iPhoto, iTunes, and Safari” differ from the real thing. It may just be that, because Apple defines OS X, this phone runs OS X by definition, and the applications on the box are all it has or ever will have. If Microsoft can label every OS they sell as Windows, Apple can have three different OS X's (OS X, Server, and iPhone).

• When Jobs said the company was releasing 3 new devices, in one package, he really said a mouthful. The iPhone represents the most profitable, but by no means the only, combination of the widescreen, the touch pad, the phone, the iPod, and OS X Micro. Drop the phone, and you've got the widescreen video iPod most folks were expecting today. Drop the phone, add a keyboard, and you've got the Mac equivalent of a Pocket PC, only much cooler: it could include the multitouch interface and other touch screen goodness.

• I suspect the reason this was released as a single product, instead of a product line, is the continued success and profitability of the iPod. There are only two price points ($399, $449) between the current video iPod and the low-end iPhone, so to introduce an iPod Widescreen at $449, by dropping the radios from the iPhone, would cannibalize iPhone wireless revenue (and I'm sure Apple gets a taste of that), when Apple is confident they'll continue to sell as many video iPods and as many iPhones as they can turn out. If sales don't stack up, we'll see new combinations of the iPhone package sooner than otherwise.

Personally, I find the price high for a phone, and have never liked Cingular's data pricing. On the other hand, my previous phone lust object was the Nokia E61, which is available unlocked for between $375 and $450. Given the way the iPhone makes previous phones look like they have a crank, that may be a fair premium.

There are almost 2,000 (exactly 1984 at the moment, appropriately enough) photos tagged iPhone at Flickr tonight.

January 9, 2007 in Apple, Apple - iPod, Phone tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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January 08, 2007

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January 07, 2007

Biggest Macworld and switching to the PC

Hivelogic | Regarding Macworld 2007

O'Reilly MacDevCenter | Our Macworld Wishes

So the biggest Macworld in years starts tomorrow (Tuesday for Macworld Expo). Nobody seems to have a real handle on what Apple's going to do this year, so predictions are all over the place. Apple has pushed the hype by promising that “The first 30 years were just the beginning,” suggesting major things afoot.

Over at HiveLogic, Dan Benjamin offers a fairly safe list: Whatever Apple's iTV becomes, updates to the iMac, iPod, iLife and iWork, and a preview of Leopard, with Windows virtualization built in. All good stuff, with the virtualization probably the only controversial choice.

Benjamin doubts we'll see the iPhone/iPod phone, new iSights, or a Mac Pro update, widely expected because Intel will be announcing its new Kentsfield processors tomorrow. He rates as “possibilities” high-def iTunes (to support TV and movie content in HD), an update to the iPod Hifi, a MacBook Pro speedbump, and BlueRay support, and is holding his breath for a “true” video iPod, a nanoBook (an ultraportable laptop), and a Beatles iPod, heralding the arrival of the Beatles catalog on iTunes.

Over at O'Reilly's MacDevCenter, a survey of writers turns up a surprisingly common wish for a Core 2 Duo update of Apple's longstanding desktop form factor, last seen in, what, the 7600? For years, this was the most popular corporate Mac, in its IIcx/IIci/Quadra 650/Power Mac 7100/PowerMac 7500/7600 iteration, which usually shared a motherboard with Apple's top tower, albeit generally with a slower processor, and generally offered 3 slots. The iMac line is inherently wasteful in a corporate environment, because most companies are ready to upgrade the CPU long before the LCD has died, but the Mac mini is generally a little underpowered for corporate use. So I'll add this to my wish list (fat lot of good it will do).

Also looking back to the future are a couple of writers who want a replacement for the 12" PowerBook. That would be terrific. The Mac world significantly lags the PC world when it comes to sub-notebooks, and it seems like I'm seeing more and more of the smaller, lighter machines in airports. If you spend a lot of time on the road, and use your machine for office functions, a 12" (or smaller) machine you can hook to an external monitor in the office, with a decent keyboard and battery life, makes a lot of sense.

Also, three of their writers want changes to .Mac. One wants it eliminated (I don't see that happening), while another wants to see it significantly enhanced. I still would like to see .Mac become an extension of a home server product (like the HP MediaSmart server, but software or Mac mini-based and therefore cheaper), with two-way synchronization of selected files and folders between .Mac and the home server; automatic backup of purchased iTunes and other user content to the home server; domain, weblog, calendar and photo sharing support over the internet.

Meanwhile, I'm starting a new job tomorrow, and I hear they've got a sub-notebook Dell waiting for me. I'll be sure to let you know how that goes. It's been 5 years since I spent more than 30-45 minutes at a Windows desktop.

January 7, 2007 in Apple, Apple - Desktops, Apple - General, Apple - PowerBooks, Apple - Software | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack