It is the time of year when we may be making purchases for loved ones, for ourselves, or for companies. With Apple's online store now available for Thailand, it is easy to find information that will help us make our decisions. I would also urge anyone who is about to buy, to visit one of the iStudio stores, where advice is available, we can try the devices, and look at accessories available.
The online store has free shipping for purchases over 2,000 baht. It is useful for those in places with no iStudio, but I am a firm believer in supporting local enterprises.
I have already decided on my gift to myself with the announcement that the real iPhone is coming at last. Further information will be released soon. I expect the iPhone will be available early in the new year at a price which will be affordable, perhaps just after the MacWorld keynote speech taking advantage of momentum then. This week I will concentrate on computers: with iPods and accessories next week.
Computers are split into two types: desktop and portable. There are three desktop computers available from Apple, the heavyweight MacPro, which is suited to professional work; the under-rated Mac mini, which can be used as server, office hack or main computer, and can be carried around; and the handsome iMac.
Currently, Apple has an iMac promotion. Each computer comes with a free Airport Express: a device for creating a home network and linking devices to one computer: allowing, for example, streaming of music. It is also PC compatible. Another promotion is for the iPods and includes a USB adapter for charging the iPod. This is free with the iPod Classic or 199 baht with the iPod nano (8 and 16G). Both promotions end on 27 December.
There are two iMacs here with 20" and 24" screens. The 20" comes with either a 2.4GHz or 2.66 Ghz processor (41,990 or 49,990 baht), while the 24" has 2.8GHz and 3.06GHz chips (61,990 or 77,990 baht). Hard disk sizes of the iMac range from 250G to 500G, depending on model.
The Mac mini comes with either a 1.83GHz or 2GHz processor: the former has a Combo drive and 80G hard disk, while the latter comes with Superdrive and 120G disk. Both have 1G RAM and are priced at 20,990 and 26,990 respectively. These are a useful starter or second machine, although are immensely flexible and one installation in the US has 400 of these as a server farm. You can use your current USB keyboard and mouse with no need for drivers. The mini will also work with your current VGA monitor.
Apple produces three notebook computers: the MacBook, the MacBook Pro and the MacBook Air. There are two types of MacBook: the 2.1GHz white polycarbonate version with 1G RAM (37,900 baht) which is similar to the previous MacBooks; and two with the new aluminium construction at 48,900 and 59,900 baht. These have either the 2.0GHz or the 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor and also have the NVIDIA GeForce 9400M graphics chip. Both come with 2GB RAM. Hard disks are 120G, 160G and 250G. The MacBook has a 13" display. The aluminium MacBook has a glass screen, like the iMac as well as the glass trackpad of its larger Pro cousin.
The 15.4" MacBook Pro is a more powerful notebook computer in several ways. There are 2.4GHz and 2.53GHz versions available (73,900 and 91,900 baht). There is also a 2.8GHz option and I know of at least one local user who went for this for an extra 11,021 baht. Both have two graphics processors: the GeForce 9400M like the MacBook and the GeForce 9600M GT for higher output. The 2.4GHz computer has 2G RAM and 250G hard disk, while the 2.53Ghz one has 4G RAM and 320G disk. There are also options available.
There is also a 2.5GHz 17" MacBook Pro available with 4G RAM at 102,900 baht, but this has the older style body and display. It does have the higher power GeForce 9600M GT graphics chip. It also has a 2.6Ghz option at 9,202 baht.
The MacBook Pro is a professional machine, aimed at photographers and those making movies, among others. The MacBook Air is also for professionals, but of a different type. It is a highly portable machine being much lighter and slimmer than the others, but has no optical drive. Apple gets round this with some clever use of wifi technology.
Two versions are available: a 1.6Ghz with 120G hard disk or (66,900 baht) and 1.86GHz (93,900 baht) with 128G solid state drive. These both have the faster frontside bus (1066MHz) also found on the other new notebooks. Some local retailers also have some of the previous MacBook Air computers in stock at lower prices. It pays to shop around.