Bangkok Press Briefing: Mac minis, iMacs and the iPods

By Graham K. Rogers

Recently, I attended the Metropolitan Hotel, Bangkok, where Tony Li, Apple's Director of Product Marketing for Asia Pacific introduced the latest Mac mini, the new iMacs and the iPod range.

iPod nanos

Tony began with new Apple advertisements that can be seen on the website, then made comment on the financial results that had been announced earlier in the day and pointed out that the 1.6 million Macs sold in the quarter represented a 30% growth in computer sales.

Moving Macs to the Intel chips, had been completed ahead of plan. All Mac minis now use the Intel Core Duo providing up to five times the speed of PowerPC minis. As well as normal VGA monitors, the mini can connect now to a TV. The minis available here are the 1.66GHz, with 512M RAM, 60G hard disk and a Combo drive, for 24,700 baht (recommended); and the 1.83GHz, 512M RAM, 80G hard drive, and Superdrive, for 33,100 baht.

The iMac comes in 17", 20" and 24" versions using the Intel Core 2 Duo chips. Tony used a 24" for his presentation. He mentioned that the 1920 x 1200 pixel screen was some 40% brighter.

Two 17" iMacs are available here: 2GHz and 1.83GHz. The latter has a 160G hard drive and a 24x combo drive. I have seen these on sale for under 40,000 baht. The 2GHz version carried 1G of RAM, a superdrive and a 160G hard disk running at 7200rpm. This is 50,000 baht. The 20" iMac has a 2.16GHz processor and (like the second 17") 1G RAM, superdrive and the ATi Radeon graphics card. The suggested price is 62,600 baht here.

Also with 2.16GHz chips, the 24" iMac has superdrive and 250G hard drive (7200rpm). The 24" sports NVidia GEForce 7300 GT graphics cards as standard. Priced is 81,500 baht: I have already seen these cheaper. There is a 2.33GHz chip and a NVidia 7600 GT card by special order.

Tony Li with iPod shuffle

It is five years since the iPod introduction. 60 million have been sold: 39 million in 2005 alone. Tony called it the "Best music player in the world": it now does more, with photos, podcasts, and home movies. With the increase from 60G to 80G, it can now store up to 20,000 songs, which a rough calculation tells me is almost 1,000 hours of listening.

The key is how iPods and iTunes integrate: iTunes 7 includes the software for the iPod. The iTunes 7 interface has been changed to manage music better: as well as libraries (music, movies, TV shows, podcasts and radio) there are a number of ways to view the music.

G5 ipods have brighter screens, play video for 75% longer (up to six and a half hours) store up to 100 hours of video and now have redesigned earphones. The G5 is available in white or black at 11,500 baht for the 30G, and 16,100 for the 80g.

The iPod nano has been totally redesigned, now coming in five colours. Battery life has been improved to 24 hours. With the increase from 4G to 8G, we now have 2,000 songs in our pockets. Prices are gentler too. The 2G (500 songs) is 6700 baht; the 4G (1,000 songs), which comes in four colours, is 9,000 baht; and the black 8G is 11,000 baht. There is a range of accessories for the nano: a lanyard, dock, armband and a charger.

The "world's smallest digital music player", is the shuffle. This has clearly had a total redesign: short, square and silver. Tony explained that the built-in randomness was part of the design ethos: we do not visit a disco knowing the playlist beforehand. It works with the iTunes feature that randomly selects songs, then uploads to the shuffle.

The click wheel design used on other Apple devices is retained. With the new shape and size, there is no room for a USB adapter, so a dock (included) was designed to fit into the headphone jack: music transfer and charging all use the same port.

iPod shuffle iPod shuffle

Another design feature is the clip that allows the shuffle to be fixed to the shirt or a pocket: this is so small it might be easily lost without such a way to attach it. It weighs 15 grams so might not be missed and we should be careful when sending shirts to the laundry. There is now only a 1G shuffle with up to 240 songs. It can also be used as a thumb drive, but you would need the dock to transfer data. It is priced at 3,800 baht.

Tony finished with slides on over 3,000 accessories developed for iPods: from speakers and headphones to cases, attachments and car audio systems. There are even docks to allow the iPod to display video (and play music) on televisions.

Tony Li with iPod shuffle Tony Li with iPod shuffle

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