Apple gets ready for the holidays, Windows 7

Unibody white Macbook.Just two days before the Windows 7 launch, Apple made sweeping changes to its Mac lineup, adding a few new toys for holiday buyers along the way. Most notable among the update was the iMac overhaul and entry-level Macbook redesign. The Mac Mini also caught some upgrades, and Apple introduced the Magic Mouse, a touchpad and mouse blended into on sexy little device.

The first thing you’ll notice about the new iMac is size. It’s up to 21.5″ and 27″, both in a 16:9 aspect ratio. The computer also went from aluminum/polycarbonate to the unibody styling of the Macbook Pro line, adding an edge-to-edge glass display that looks really amazing. Apple also added the ability to use the 27″ iMac as a secondary display via an integrated Display Port.

As for internals, there are some nice upgrades but one big missing feature: Blu-ray support. Granted, the Display Port on the 27″ model gives you the option to watch your HD movies on a brilliant screen, but integrating Blu-ray would have been really nice. The iMac can now be purchased with Core i5/i7 chips, the newest chips from Intel.

The entry-level Macbook has been long overdue for a redesign and finally got one. Apple took it the Unibody route, though still in white polycarbonate. The touchpad now matches the Macbook Pro line and fully supports gestures, and the bottom has a non-slip finish added. Other than that things have remained essentially the same.

Magic Mouse
I’ve been looking for a mouse for my Macbook Pro for some time, but I never found anything I liked enough to give up on gestures. Apple’s Magic Mouse answers that problem by integrating a capacitive touchpad into the surface of the mouse. It’s a really fantastic design in my mind, giving you the control of a gliding mouse with the convenience of gestures for navigating webpages, zooming, and the like. The new mouse will run you $69.

The Rest
The rest of the updates were less interesting. You can now purchase a server version of the Mac Mini, which sort of killed the rumors that Apple would position it as an HTPC. Seems like there’s still some confusion about where that product will land in Apple’s lineup. There’s also a redesigned remote that now matches the iMac/Macbook Pro design aesthetic (instead of that glowing white plastic) for $16. Apple also announced upgrades for the Airport Extreme Base Station and the Time Capsule that are shipping now. There have been antenna redesigns and a couple software tweaks that supposedly reduce backup time and increase network range and reception.

All in all, Apple made some welcome changes to the Mac line, strengthening the all-in-one iMac and giving the Macbook a sorely need redesign. The Magic Mouse probably won’t be the runaway peripheral of the season, but it’s definitely cool and I really want one.


Mac Mini on the Cheap Cheap

Apple's Mac MiniReady to join the cult? Rick Broida at The Cheapskate dug up a brand new, non-refurb Mac Mini for just $459 including shipping from J& A sweet deal, no doubt, even if this is last year’s model sporting last year’s specs.

At my compulsive worst I would have jumped on this thing but, like Rick, I just don’t need another desktop. I currently have two, a custom PC and a PowerMac G5, the latter of which I’ll probably dump on eBay within the month. My MacBook gives me all the  neo-industrial aesthetic I can stomach and won’t require (twist my arm, really) a keyboard, monitor, mouse purchase.

If you’re in the market, curious about OSX, or just need to spend your tax return before your wife can, there are plenty of less appealing ways to do it.


Apple’s iMac is Updated and Affordable

Apple iMac

Exciting news out of Cupertino yesterday. The iMac, Mac mini, and Mac Pro were all updated with much improved all around specs. And surprisingly, at affordable prices. Top of the line hardware specs and affordability have been missing in Apple’s Mac line of products recently but we’ll get into that later. For now, let’s focus on the updated iMac.

Here’s what Apple has to say about today’s developments:

Available today, the new iMac line includes a 20-inch model for only $1,199 and the flagship 24-inch iMac which is priced more affordably than ever before. For the same $1,499 price as the previous generation 20-inch iMac, the new 24-inch iMac delivers a 30 percent larger display, twice the memory and twice the storage. It features the Intel Core 2 Duo processor running at speeds up to 3.06 GHz, 4GB of 1066 MHz DDR3 memory, a 640GB or 1TB Serial ATA hard drive, and several options for graphics processors.

Now that’s music to my ears.

My biggest complaint about Apple over the last few years is that the hardware specs didn’t live up to the price. I know, I know… you get a solid operating system and virus free computer. And yes, I know that “everything just works.” But realistically, when compared to a PC with similar hardware specs, the difference in price for a Mac was substantial. Well, not any more.

Take the baseline 24-inch, 2.66GHz iMac. For $1499 you get 4GB of 1066MHz DDR SDRAM and 640GB of storage to go along with OS X and iLife ’09. Up the memory to 1 TB and add iWork ’09 and you’re out the door at $1648. Not bad at all.

All-in-all I can definitely say I am proud of Apple today. While $1500 may not be affordable for every family, what you are getting for the money is well worth it. You can now safely buy an iMac knowing that you got a machine with very strong hardware specs, at a fair price.