Counting Crows


The big news of the of the keynote (I only got one thing right, and that was that Bluetooth has been incoporated into the new laptops) were the new laptops, obviously (you can check them out at Apple's Powerbook page).

What's really interesting about them is that they showcase a lot of new technology that's going to be tricking down into the rest of the mac line probably pretty soon.

First off is what Apple calls Airport Extreme, known to the rest of us as 802.11g. It's a faster version of Airport that should be a standard for quite a few years to come, and, more importantly, it's compatible with old 802.11b (aka WiFi) equipment.

Second is the introduction of FireWire 800. This will be very useful to people with lots of video to work with, and will result in faster external harddrives.

And the new PowerBooks feature DDR RAM, a first for Apple's notebooks.

What does this mean?

Well, I would expect the PowerMac desktops to be refreshed by the end of March to incorporate the faster Airport cards and FireWire 800. I would also expect the 15" TiBook (are the new PowerBooks going to be called AiBooks?) to either disappear shortly or get a significant facelift to fit in with its brethren, at least in terms of getting an Airport Extreme card and DDR RAM.

However, the introduction of the smaller PowerBook raises questions about the future of the iBook. It's priced fairly low for such a powerful laptop -- I'd be wondering if this means the end for the 14" iBook. It also suggests that the iBook line as a whole isn't going to get upgraded to G4 processors anytime soon.

The XServe also didn't get mentioned at all, though I wouldn't be surprised to find out that it will grow some FireWire 800 ports soon.

The utter lack of any mention of the desktop machines (the iMac, eMac, or PowerMac lines) suggests that all is not entirely well there.

The emphasis on software suggests to me that Apple is trying to leverage its advantages in fit-and-finish on the software end. The upgrades to iMovie, iPhoto and iDVD (the iLife package) are interesting, though not as interesting as fact that iDVD will now be purchasable by the general public for $49; the real question is whether or not it will work with external third-party DVD-burners.

Keynote looks like a PowerPoint killer, though the fact that it will never be ported to Windows means that it won't take over the market entirely.

Safari is very nice. It's very, very fast, and it renders most things with minimal bugs (though this site is rendered with very small text). I'm actually composing this using the public beta.

So those are my predictions: minor revs for the PowerMac G4 line soon, major revs for the 15" PowerBook, the eventual demise of the 14" iBook, and FireWire 800 ports for the XServe.

We'll see how long that takes to come about....

One more thing: in the promotional video that they played at the end of the keynote, the look on BT's face when he realizes that the keyboard lights up in the dark is priceless.


isn't the new ibook (the 12") a g4?

Oh, wait - technically it's not an ibook. I get it.

Opensource Safari: cool.

Not using the same browser the rest of the world uses: not so cool. look for even more annoying IE crashes.

I haven't had time to stand and drool by the windows yet, too busy at work today, but I think I'll have time tomorrow.

I played with Safari today.

Personally, I prefer Chimera - neither strike me as great browsers (phoenix on linux/windows is definitely my favorite overall browser), but I can't live without tabs, which rules Safari out.

Also, while they're crowing (sorry to borrow it ;) ) about Safari's super-speedy page-load times, from my (very) informal testing, Chimera was just as fast - and in fact faster for several pages. I only tested pages on our local (intranet) servers, and only a couple "in the wild", so maybe on other pages it's faster, but... I'm unimpressed, so far. I think the effort would've been better spent contributing to Chimera rather than creating yet another browser and porting the KDE/QT tools to OS X solely for that purpose.

I have to say, though, that the new powerbooks look pretty damn drool-worthy, even if they're a bit disconcertingly wide. (Still, I bet they're incredible for watching DVDs on the road.)

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