Apple’s new iron and bits

So yesterday was the latest in a slew of product announcements from Apple. In just over a month, we’ve seen the iPod nano, the iPod with Video, the new iTunes Music Store from whence you can download videos and television shows for your video iPod, and now new Power Macs, PowerBooks, and a new piece of pro software.
Power Macs
The new Power Macs are slower than the ones they replace–from a clock-speed perspective, anyway. And let’s be honest: most people don’t understand how a dual-core 2.5 GHz processor is faster than a non-dual-core 2.7 or 3 GHz processor. They see numbers. They understand numbers. The higher the number, the faster it must be. So Apple has a bit of education to do for users, who aren’t as hip and in-the-know as you or I when it comes to the technobabble, contemplating new Power Macs. Then again, maybe those sorts of people are just better off with an iMac or a Mac mini.
Every gearhead, yours truly included, of course is lusting after the dual-core, dual-processor 2.5 GHz Power Mac. This means there are four cores on two chips, and is why Apple refers to this beast as the “Quad.” Should you care to shell out as much money for two video cards–the NVIDIA Quadro FX 4500, with 512 MB of SDRAM–as the Quad costs, you can drive four 30-inch Cinema Displays from a single box. Every gearhead, yours truly included, is also lusting after the funds to accomplish this. I can barely fathom having two of those 30-inch monsters on my desk, much less four, and I would be in happy-happy dream land with only one.
While it’s fun to have fantasies about high-end desktop hardware, I was realistically focused on the new PowerBooks. The missus mentioned the possibility of new mobile iron after the first of the year, so I was hoping to see some improvements, given that this may be the last revision of PowerPC-based ‘Books before Intel-based hardware ships.
I was disappointed that the line-up didn’t see a speed bump. It would have been nice to get a 1.8 GHz PowerBook. The added pixels in the 15- and 17-inch models are indeed welcome, though the 15-inch’s resolution is now higher than the 19-inch LCD I would normally hook it up to. Right now, my 12-inch PowerBook–with a resolution of 1024×768–drives the 19-inch panel, with its resolution of 1280 x 1024. My normal habit is to run the PowerBook closed, given the extra real estate on the 19-inch LCD. With one of the new PowerBook models, I’m looking at the prospect of reordering my workspace, so the PowerBook could be run in extended-desktop mode with the LCD. This is certainly not a bad thing.
John notes the simplified line-up of the PowerBook models, and I concur this is a good thing. I wonder, though, if the simplified product line-up isn’t so much a result of Apple’s desire for simplification, but rather the aforementioned fact that there are no speed-bumps. Historically, when you saw the different versions of a PowerBook, other than screen size, there was a processor speed difference as well. With yesterday’s announcement, Apple killed the slower-speed model for the 15- and 17-inch PowerBooks.That notwithstanding, again, I agree; the simplified line-up is much better. When I went to price a new 15-inch, I only made one change, the hard drive. (I’ll buy my 2 gigs of RAM elsewhere and save a few hundred bucks, Apple, thanks.)
Likely the main reason I’m gear-lusting after a Power Mac G5 Quad is because I’m also lusting after Apple’s latest piece of pro software, Aperture. Think Final Cut Pro for digital photographers. (I know I read that phrase somewhere, but haven’t been able to recall where yet.) I wasn’t crazy about the name at first, thinking Tom had come up with a much better one, but it’s growing on me.
Aperture is a one-stop shop of digital photo post-production, and while it is geared toward–and priced for–professional photographers, as a burgeoning “prosumer,” I can see how much I would gain from Aperture’s abilities. Alas, none of my current hardware can handle the app, and while I know I will begin pushing the limits of iPhoto in the near future, I’m not there yet.
Many see Aperture as a shot across Adobe’s bow, and while I’m sure it will steal some screen time from Photoshop, I see the two applications working in complement with one another rather than competition. Given what Aperture brings to the table, Adobe is going to have to look at something other than just workflow solutions for Photoshop. Their flagship application is already suffering from featuritis, with no real room to grow except through the implementation of workflow solutions, so future development should be interesting to watch.
Regarding the new Apple hardware, Leander Kahney remarked, “I actually don’t like product announcements like this. It makes my 18-month-old PowerBook and G5 look feeble and decrepit.” Leander, I’m plugging along on a 4.5-year old Cube and 2-year old 12-inch PowerBook. How do you think I feel?