Watts (chipotle) wrote,

Macworld notes

Here are my vague thoughts from wandering around Macworld yesterday.

Apple’s new products

MacBook Air. This is the rumored Mac “sub-notebook,” and in typical Apple fashion it isn’t a sub-notebook the way the rest of the world would define it (a 13.3″ screen, for goodness’ sake). However thin you’re imagining it is, it’s thinner than that. Really. While of course we don’t know what weird problems it may have when it starts colliding with real-world usage, it looks like a remarkable piece of engineering work. It has some other typical Apple hallmarks: being a few hundred dollars more than you wish it was, and exhibiting a ruthless minimalism. This is already causing angst about what a poor design choice it was to leave out floppy drives internal optical drives and ethernet ports. Well, in the name “MacBook Air,” Air should be understood as shorthand for use the wireless, bitches. The form factor was clearly the top design priority. A second USB port would have been nice, although the number of times I’ve actually used both of the ones I have on my MBP approaches zero. (At both home and office, I just plug the USB cable from the monitor in, which connects the keyboard, mouse, and the ports along the side of the monitor.)

I’m not really in the Air’s target market; I moved from the MacBook to the Pro because I really did want a machine that would be a “desktop replacement.” But I think the Air’s a pretty nifty machine.

Time Capsule. Eh. If I hadn’t just bought a base station I’d be more interested, and I’m irritated that so far they’ve made no noise about updating the base station I have to let me use an external drive connected to it for Time Machine backups. Having said that, it’s really not a bad price for a wireless NAS.

iTunes Movie Rental. Fine enough as far as such things go, with the exception of perpetuating the common stupidity of a 24-hour time limit on watching a movie once you start it. This needs to be a minimum of 36 hours and really should be 72.

Apple TV 2.0. Vastly improved all around.

iTunes Digital Copy. “Provides customers who purchase a DVD of a Fox movie title with an additional digital copy of the movie.” Whatever.

Other stuff at the show

Microsoft Office 2008. The last of the big name apps to go Intel native, it looks like a seriously major overhaul, and — to the degree office suites can be said to be pretty — it’s pretty. No longer being a major Office user myself, I didn’t look at this in much detail.

Nolobe Iris. The latest “ultimate image editor” for OS X goes into public beta. Wake me when somebody tries to make a better Fireworks than Macromedia Fireworks — that is, a graphics program aimed specifically at creating graphics for the web — rather than a better Photoshop than Adobe Photoshop. Speaking of which:

Photoshop Elements 6 was announced and demoed for the Mac at the show, but isn’t shipping yet. It’s got an excessively consumer-riffic UI, to be sure, but it’s definitely a big chunk of the real Photoshop engine in there. Philosophically, I approve of Iris and Acorn and Pixelmator and the other “independent graphics apps” on the Mac and support their aspirations to compete with Photoshop. But on a lot of fronts, even Elements is capable of not just kicking sand in their face but dunking their heads in the toilet and flushing repeatedly.

Elgato EyeTV 3. This is basically a hardware/software combo to add a TV tuner to your Mac, capable of handling HDTV and “ClearQAM” (i.e., unencrypted) cable input, and with pretty good DVR capabilities. The new software adds pretty good iTunes integration, which means that if you set it up correctly, recorded shows would be quietly synced over to your AppleTV. I confess I was pretty tempted, but made my saving throw for now.

Eve Online. Okay, this isn’t a new game, but they had a fairly elaborate booth at Macworld, which surprised me. Actually, overall the “Mac games pavilion” looked better. Given how dismal it generally looks (“let’s pretend that two dozen ‘casual games’ make this a good gaming platform!”), this is a very low bar.

Random aside on gaming: the main stumbling block for Mac game releases, as I understand it, isn’t underpowered hardware, but simply market share. Big name games are extremely expensive to develop, but have very short shelf-life. A big-name productivity app might cost just as much to develop, but it’ll sell for three times as much as the game and have a lifecycle of measured in years, whereas the game will be in the bargain bin in under six months.

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