Friday, February 27, 2009

MW Jan '09

Yeah, not posting much recently. But my job on top of having our second child in September has really knocked me out. Stayed up late with Jason to catch Apple’s supposed “last” MacWorld conference in January and have been ruminating about Schiller’s presentation.

First, the coverage was fairly broad with all the usual crew sending feeds, along with newcomer gdgt (Ryan Block & Peter Rojas). Unfortunately, their feed bogged down totally about 30 minutes in and never recovered completely. Too bad for them, as they had the best photo shots, IMHO. The other feed we followed was Ryan & Peter’s old blog, Engadget. Their feed updated fairly regularly, though not with autorefresh. The other coverage we were following was MacRumors, which got hacked in the first 15 minutes and the feeds were full of bizarre things, including a claim that Jobs died (not funny) as well as some truly hilarious stuff which had me rolling on the floor. There was a column of ‘desu desu desu“, for example among other things. Some folks felt sorry for MacRumors, but I don’t particularly. Although they do have original content, on slow news days they simply parrot what AppleInsider publishes - often with identical headlines. I’m not saying they deserve the hacking, but it was comical. I don’t know what happened to other feeds.

Second, most folks were expecting actual Mac hardware products, not software, so I think overall people were disappointed. From what I can tell Wall Street was also disappointed as Apple stock went down a buck fifty. Given the real need for an updated MacMini, it’s surprising Apple didn’t do something more. Even the Engadget folks were quipping about how bored they were getting after an hour of iLife / iWork demos.

The only hardware introduced was the new ‘unibody’ 17“ MacBook Pro. Price is the same, but new aluminum enclosure, and option for matte screen (vs. glossy), non-removable battery, higher res screen. Given that this MacBook is not a huge seller, and has features better suited for a desktop - meh. It weighs in at a hefty 6.6 lbs, a decrease in 0.2 lbs. This isn’t as much as I would have expected from this new lightweight enclosure. However the 15” MacBook Pro ‘unibody’ actually gained weight, a tenth of a pound to 5.5 lbs. I can’t understand why Apple needs to make heavy notebook computers when they are already horribly behind on this feature. (Note: the unibody MacBook actually lost weight from its predecessor.) I’m guessing for the new 17“ MBP, most of the weight is in the new battery. Some Mac sites seem to be touting the new tech in this battery. The new tech, however, seems to be that the battery is actually larger than in previous 17” MBPs. Larger battery, longer battery life is what Schiller said. He left out “heavier”. I also found it laughable that Apple was proud its new aircraft carrier deck laptop was the thinnest in its class. Dude, if you are lugging one of these around, its thinness is the least of your worries. And with the extra graphics processor, your gonna need all the power you can get. My guess is that the Japanese market remains unimpressed by stats like this.

Most of the presentation was focused on Apple’s consumer software, iWork and iLife. This puzzled me because I’d always heard we shouldn’t expect Apple hardware announced at the developer conferences. Now we have a software (and not much hardware) focus at MacWorld. I guess this really shows Apple’s disdain for MW or indication that they would release stuff when they want and not when others expect it. Although the flashy features demo’d for iWork and iLife seem impressive, one word permeated my thinking: bloatware. The geotag and integration with GoogleMaps/Earth is nice, but the inflexible paradigm of organizing your photos pisses me off. I still use iLife '06 on my desktop Mac, because it allows me to organize by date in the side bar (best way to organize photos!) and it's enhance function works BETTER than that in '08  for underwater photos. I can rely on tagging  for my events, places, and people. Face recognition sounds good, but apparently isn't good enough to rely on completely.

OK, this is brief, but I finally published it! If MacJournal had allowed me to send the post from the app, I'd have had this up a month ago. Next up, my review of the EyeFi Explorer card.