Mac Corner: Apple's new lineup

By Larry Grinnell, Palm Beach Phoenix Apple Users Group

larry grinnellOver the last few weeks, Apple Inc. has made several interesting announcements.

First, their financials. Again, they had a record quarter, demonstrating that their fundamentals remain very strong, and that they are selling a ton of computers, iPods, and iPhones in spite of a really crummy economy. 
Second, they just announced a slew of new machines. Let’s go over them one-by-one:

New curvy polycarbonate housing unibody MacBook! At the same $999 price point, Apple has redesigned their price-leading plastic MacBook with a slimmer housing and, like their aluminum-bodied brethren, the battery is not removable, but you also get up to seven hours between charges.

The FireWire 400 port that was held over with the last release of the traditional-bodied plastic MacBooks is now history. Only the MacBook Pros still include FireWire ports, in the 800 MHz class. If you have FireWire-based peripherals, this could be a deal-breaker.

For that $999 price, you get a 2.26GHz Core 2 Duo processor, 2GB memory, a 13.3-inch (1280 X 800 pixel) display, and a 250GB hard disk drive.

New Mac minis! The Mac mini line got a speed bump with faster processors, more standard memory, and an interesting new model, the $999 Snow Leopard Server. Eschewing the usual CD/DVD drive, Apple instead installed two 500 GB hard drives, so you will need an external optical drive to install future operating system releases.

Fortunately, those can be had for bargain-basement prices. It also includes 4GB memory, and the aforementioned Snow Leopard Server operating system. This could be the basis for that home media center you’ve always wanted to set up, and can function as a home server, handling backups for all of your family’s computers.

It’s even powerful enough to operate as a file/web/backup server for a small business (5-10 people. The online Apple Store offers an optional 4-terabyte RAID disk array ($799) that plugs into the mini’s FireWire 800 port. The $599 base model now comes with a 2.26GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 2GB memory, and a 160GB hard drive.

Mega iMacs! The iMac line has been fully re-done and the model mix simplified. There are two basic models: the 21.5-inch and the 27-inch (!).  The 27-inch model has several processor options, topping out with a 2.8 GHz Intel I7 quad-core device.

Graphics performance has also been enhanced including the new ATI Radeon HD 4850 that promises to run the most graphic-intensive games and other applications on that big, bright, and downright gorgeous 27-inch display. Prices start at $1199 for the base 21.5-inch model running an Intel 3.06 GHz Core 2 Duo processor, 4GB of RAM, NVIDIA GEForce 9400M graphics chipset, and a 500GB hard drive. Screen resolution on the base model is 1920 x 1080 pixels, or a full 1080P for you HD Video fans out there.

The top 27-inch model with the optional 2.8GHz processor starts at $2,199, and can hold up to 16GB of RAM. Yes, these are true 64-bit machines, which, in a nutshell, means that with a data path that is twice as wide as a 32-bit machine, it is capable of running much faster, and combined with software optimized to take advantage of all four cores of that blisteringly-fast processor, this could be the last desktop machine you’ll need for a long time to come. The 21.5-inch and 27-inch Core 2 Duo processor iMacs are shipping right now. The quad-core 27-inch machines will be available in November.

Apple also announced a new multi-touch Magic Mouse that allows you to use many of the gestures first made popular on the iPhone, and trackpads on newer MacBooks and MacBook Pros.

All in all, it’s a good time to be a Mac user, and there is no better time for someone who might be on the fence to step up and find out what being a Mac user is all about.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Readers are welcome to comment on this or any Mac Corner columns by visiting the Palm Beach Phoenix blog as well as by writing the editor of Palm Beach

Mac Corner runs every Wednesday only in Palm Beach Click to read the previous column.

About Larry Grinnell: Larry has been working with Macintosh and Windows PCs for over 25 years and worked as a senior technical writer and IT support professional for a major midwest-based consumer electronics and telecommunications equipment manufacturer here in South Florida. His musings on a wide variety of topics from computers to jazz guitar to strange foreign cars from the 1950s can be viewed at the website. Click here to reach him by email.

palm beach phoenix logoWriters of this column are members of the Palm Beach Phoenix Apple User Group, a nonprofit organization for Apple Computing Device Users, recognized by Apple Inc., with the purpose of providing educational training and coaching to its members (students, professionals and seniors alike) in a cordial social environment. The club meets the second Saturday of each month from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Fire Station #2, 4301 Dixie Highway in West Palm Beach (just two block south of Southern Boulevard). Click here to visit their website. Click here to reach them by email.

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