Apple's New Year (and some of the old)
I write this in the first hours of the New Year. By the time you read it, Steve Jobs will have announced new hardware, software and other changes at Apple (see below). His keynote speech starts at 9:30 am on 10 January in the Moscone Center, San Francisco, which is about the time this column appears on January 11 (Thai time).
Some of the predictions are that Intel-based computers will appear (PowerBooks, iBooks and Mac minis); the iPod range will be re-aligned, perhaps with the shuffle discontinued and a real iTunes phone; and that Apple will split into two: hardware and entertainment. I also like the idea that, as everyone now does white, new Macs will be black, after the successes of iPods. I want a sub-compact notebook computer from Apple. The PowerBook and an SLR camera are back-breaking.
The only ones who know are Apple, who are notoriously tight-lipped about such things.
An update to OS X is due and has been seeded to developers. I would expect that this will be released during the Conference and it will take advantage of any software releases, or changes announced to hardware.
Apart from Jobs, one of the "inner-circle" is British designer, Jonathan Ives, who was appointed Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) by H.M. The Queen in the New Years Honours List. Ives is one of those responsible for bringing Apple back from the brink, but while Apple has made inroads, it is silly to suggest that Windows is on the verge of fading. Mac fans need to recognise this.
Towards the end of 2005, retailers of Macs in Bangkok were busy, with some lines selling out, which is healthy. As if to confirm the rumours of new toys about to appear, several shops reduced prices on some lines: for example, the basic Mac mini was down to 16,900, and the 12" PowerBook at 46,900. It pays to wait. This is about 20,000 baht less than I paid nine months ago. There were five left on New Year's Eve.
In the newly-opened Paragon Centre there are currently two outlets for Macs within the department store itself. An Apple shop, run by the same company that has the Siam Discovery shop and the Soi Thonglor boutique, is due to open in early January in the mall area of Paragon. In Phantip a second store was opened in the last few months by UFicon. In Fortune Town there is now another shop, which makes four there (but still nothing on the west side of Bangkok).
It certainly pays to shop around, and anyone looking for a new Mac should compare after-sales service and warranty-length as well as base prices. The Paragon department store quotes prices including VAT, while other shops do not.
I bought a Mac mini in November and handed it to one of my Windows-using students with a couple of updates. He brought it back two weeks later. He had had no problems and had found using it quite easy. Around Christmas, I bought another mini with the same specifications and one with Superdrive (1.47GHz, 80G) at just under 31,000 baht (with VAT). With these (and some Linux-installed computers, I will set up a small learning center for my engineering students, so they have access to alternative systems. Waiting for decisions in Education is like waiting for pigs to sprout wings.
The superdrive mini also came standard with Airport and Bluetooth, so I was able to set up a small wi-fi network with the mini and my PowerBook. Other computers can also join the network, which can be encrypted thus keeping it more secure. It is also possible to share an Internet connection this way, although I did not set this up: I was using my TV as monitor and, as I found when the mini was first released, this display is not adequate.
Perhaps the proposed new connecting standard, Unified Display Interface (UDI), will improve this, although this new standard is aimed at high definition sets and PC monitors.
Companies in the initiative are Apple, Foxconn, Intel, JAE Electronics, LG Electronics, National Semiconductor, nVidia, Samsung, Silicon Image and Thine Electronics. This standard dovetails nicely with the idea of the digital media centre: the lounge-located computer as hub, connecting TV, video and music.
Note: new laptops and a new iMac bith with fast Intel chips were announced, as well as iLife 06 (including a new iWeb) and an FM atttachment for the iPod, among other things, were announced.
For further information, e-mail to Graham K. Rogers.
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