Allow me to spew forth my random thoughts and bitchings about yesterday’s Apple event.
13" Retina MacBook Pro
This one wasn’t much of a surprise. After Apple introduced the 15“ Retina MacBook Pro earlier this year, the 13” model was only a matter of time. While this is certainly a nice machine, the fact that it maxes out at 8 GB of RAM is a bit of a non-starter. It’s nice that it comes standard with 8 GB, but not being able to upgrade it to 16 GB is unfortunate. I just wonder if this limitation is technical or if Apple wants to give you an additional incentive to buy the larger model.
I’m calling this the iMac hunchback. The thinnest iMac ever, except for that ugly bubble on the back.
OK, that’s mean. But for all the gushing about how thin this thing supposedly is, that bump on the back is quite unsightly. Apparently Apple thinks so too, because you’ll have a hard time finding it on the product photos on Apple’s website. All images conveniently picture the iMac only from its thinnest viewing angles.
This is certainly a nice computer, but I just don’t see why making a desktop computer thinner (even if it’s only at the edges) is so important – or smart. Making a notebook computer thinner and lighter increases its portability, but a desktop computer doesn’t need to be portable. It’s designed to sit on your desk. So why accept the trade-offs that come with a portable design (limited expandability, smaller, more expensive custom components, cooling issues, etc.) when you don’t have to (except to make the thing supposedly look prettier)?
The iMac continues to be the least desirable Apple computer for me. It has many of the limitations of notebooks, but without their benefits. Except for the RAM on the 27″ model, it’s neither expandable nor upgradable (internally), which is especially unfortunate given Apple’s obscene upgrade prices for larger SSD drives. And it’s not portable by any stretch of the imagination. It’s basically a design object: nice to look at but with limited utility.
There’s not much to say about the “new” iPad other than that it got a nice speed bump and that some owners of the previous iPad model now feel they have a clunker. Some even feel conned, which is of course ridiculous: the iPad 3 is still the same iPad you bought 7 months ago.
Apropos iPad 3: how about the naming.
The first iPad was just the iPad. Then came the iPad 2 and all was still well. Then, earlier this year, Apple introduced the successor to the iPad 2 and called it “The New iPad”. I’m still a bit stumped how unwieldy and un-Apple that name was. And then Apple one-upped itself yesterday and introduced the “4th-generation iPad”. Way to go. What’s more, on the website they call the new model “iPad with Retina display”, obviously to distinguish it from the non-Retina iPad 2 they’re still selling. I think they should have just stuck with numbering the damn thing. Works for the iPhone.
Oh, and since the iPad 4 comes with the Lightning port, we get to buy more adapters:
- Lighting to USB
- Lighting to SD card
- Lighting to HDMI
- Lighting to VGA
At (presumably) $29 per adapter, that’s at least another $58 to connect the iPad to a camera and a TV. If there ever was an “Apple Tax”, it’s the adapters.
This, to me, was the most interesting product of the whole event. I really like the form factor, it looks like a truly portable iPad that you can easily slip into your purse or manbag and take with you without even thinking twice about it.
I wonder how the shrunk-down UI will fare in day-to-day use. Some UI elements are already fairly hard to tap on the 9.7" iPad, making them smaller isn’t going to make it any easier. Of course you get significantly better portability with the iPad mini, but productivity and usability will probably suffer.
Other downsides are that the display isn’t Retina and that the price is higher than most had hoped for. If I’d get an iPad mini (and I’m not sure about that yet), I’d go for the 32 GB WiFi+4G model. That would set me back 559 Euros; a bit much for a secondary device.
Yesterday’s event didn’t have any huge surprises. The most anticipated product was certainly the iPad mini, which I doubt will win over many Kindle Fire or Nexus 7 owners due to it’s price. But I’m quite sure it will be the next “only” iPad for some current iPad owners and a secondary iPad for others.
The 13" Retina MacBook makes me wonder how long we’ll still be able to buy the non-Retina models. I give them another year or two, by which time Apple should be able to make Retina displays at the same cost as non-Retina ones today. And that’s probably when we’ll be seeing the first Retina iMacs alongside the non-Retina models. In five years or so, all Apple screens will be Retina.
Oh, and no new Mac Pro.
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- Consistency vs. Usability
- Marco Arment on the new MacBook Air