The Blog

Jan 15, 2008

'AIR'ing On The Side Of Caution 

by Maxim Porges @ 11:01 PM | Link | Feedback (0)

Of course, you all expected me to blog Apple's keynote today. What else could I possibly do?

Time Capsule
Pretty damn cool. Wish I'd known this was coming before I bought my Airport Extreme. I won't be upgrading to this any time soon; I'm going to wait and see if they fold and offer the Time Capsule software as a paid update for Airport Extreme (which I would buy). I can't imagine the technology for connecting the hard drive couldn't support the existing USB 2.0 interface.

I would cancel my cable service and buy one of these bad boys in a second if they just added advertising-free TV show rentals for between $0.49 - $0.99 a shot. With the six or seven TV shows I actually watch each week, I could get away with paying on a per-view basis and not having to deal with cable. In the interim, I'll keep my old PowerBook G4 for TV duty.

New iPhone and iPod Touch Software
Very cool software updates - love the wiggling icons and the web clips especially. I'm still not buying an iPhone until they go 3G and up the download speed to broadband. I now have a legitimate reason to get an iPhone since everybody in the office just got Blackberries and they all seem to have the same ring tone as me.

MacBook Air
Good lord, that SSD hard drive is a killer option at $999; a bit of a show stopper for me. The rest of this product looks simply amazing.

Will I be upgrading to the Air? Well, I was considering going to a faster processor MacBook Pro if they unveiled them today, but I still can't fault my current one in terms of performance. I may only have an original Core Duo in it at 2.16 Ghz, but it's snappy as all getup as it stands.

Clearly, the performance of the Air would be a drop from where I am today, but the thinness and light weight are very attractive. The price point is about right: with the 1.8 Ghz processor and a USB Ethernet port to get around our dodgy wireless networking setup at the office I think I could handle $1,998.00 (with the education discount).

The CD thing is a total non-issue. I've got enough computers lying around the house to deal with whatever may come, and CD burning duty will be completely relegated to the Quicksilver G4 as soon as I get a new dual-layer Lightscribe burner (~$30 on NewEgg). I'm surrounded by desktop workstations at the office and I'm sure I could throw the software on one of them if I absolutely had to install something. Worst case, I could throw my old DVD burner from the Quicksilver in to a dirt-cheap USB-to-IDE enclosure and keep it in a desk drawer for emergencies.

One feature I consider woefully absent is the FireWire connector. FireWire, quite frankly, kicks the living snot out of USB 2.0 - even in the original FireWire 400 spec. I don't care what the tech specs say, I have always found FireWire to be around 5x faster than USB 2.0, and it handles parallel operations (for example, reading while copying large files) much better with no noticeable degradation in performance. I really hope Apple doesn't drop iEEE 1394 altogether from their product line, and I'd especially like to see FireWire in the Air. Then again, there is only so much they can do with 0.76" clearance, so I guess they chucked the electronics for the interface least likely to be seen in the wild (where the Air will undoubtedly spend most of its time).

The only other thing I really wish I had in my MBP was a larger hard drive, and the 80 GB standard in the Air (with no upgrade option) is just too small for me once I've dropped a 15 GB Windows installation in to VMWare (gotta have my Dawn of War and software suite for work). A new laptop drive for my MBP would cost a pittance, and would handily last me for the interim.

Apple traditionally works out bugs in their first releases of new hardware, so that's another deterrent. I think I'll just hold off for Otellini's wizards to squeeze out a little more juice from that tiny chip, and for the hard drive size to increase in the standard model (or for a larger paid-for option to surface).

Overall - nice work, Apple. It's a very sexy product line and a great way to start 2008. I think a lot of people will pick up the Air and Time Capsule just to be on the latest and greatest, and I imagine that the frenzy will mount (iPhone style) as people start seeing wicked-thin laptops and get the bug to buy. Time to swoop in and pick up some more AAPL while the market is getting hammered...

And here's an idea - why not make that Remote Disk feature available so I can still rip CDs and install software when this happens? :)