More iPhone details/hype

For a product that is a mere 11 days away from shipping, Apple has not released very many final details. However, today Apple Announced that the iPhone would have up to 8 hours of talk time. Now we’re talking (ooh that was bad, I know).

 

June 18, 2007—Apple® today announced that iPhone™ will deliver significantly longer battery life when it ships on June 29 than was originally estimated when iPhone was unveiled in January. iPhone will feature up to 8 hours of talk time, 6 hours of Internet use, 7 hours of video playback or 24 hours of audio playback.* In addition, iPhone will feature up to 250 hours—more than 10 days—of standby time. Apple also announced that the entire top surface of iPhone, including its stunning 3.5-inch display, has been upgraded from plastic to optical-quality glass to achieve a superior level of scratch resistance and optical clarity.

“With 8 hours of talk time, and 24 hours of audio playback, iPhone’s battery life is longer than any other ‘Smartphone’ and even longer than most MP3 players,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “We’ve also upgraded iPhone’s entire top surface from plastic to optical-quality glass for superior scratch resistance and clarity. There has never been a phone like iPhone, and we can’t wait to get this truly magical product into the hands of customers starting just 11 days from today.”

News from Apple’s WWDC

Leopard disc

OK, I don’t think anyone is shocked by Apple showing a near final version of it’s next operating system Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard (with over 300 new features) at its World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC), however, I must admit to being a little puzzled by the announcement that they’re bringing Safari (Apple’s web browser) to Windows. I’m not sure what the benefit to Apple is here? Is this just something to tick off Bill? Probably. I would have much rather they brought out iChat AV for Windows. Now that’s something that would be useful for both sides. However, I will download the public beta for both Mac and PC and give it a spin. It’s supposedly up to twice as fast as IE 7 on Windows and 1.6 times faster than Firefox. The real question is will Windows users download and use it? One benefit that we could gain from this is that more sites would support Safari if more users were using it. So maybe that’s Apple’s real agenda here. The next “Get a Mac” ad should be funny if PC is using Safari.

In other WWDC news the iPhone will gain 3rd party apps that are written in Web 2.0. Apple is trying to maintain this balancing act between allowing developers to add apps, but also maintaining security and stability. Apparently Web 2.0 gives them that. I’m not that familiar with the Web 2.0 development environment so I can’t speak to what’s possible and what’s not. However, I’m quite pleased that 3rd parties now can step in and hopefully fill some of the potential iPhone gaps. It’s all good.

UPDATE: You can watch the Keynote here

Apple Updates MacBook Pro

2007 MacBook Pro Line

I now know how to predict when Apple will update their MacBook Pro notebooks. It seems as soon as I upgrade to a larger hard drive in my MacBook Pro, Apple then goes ahead and announce a new model with the same or similar large drive that I just upgraded to (250GB @ 5400rpms) as an option on a newer, faster model that can hold more RAM. That’s exactly what they just did today! However, the 250GB drive that they offer as an option only spins at 4200 rpms and the Western Digital drive I just upgraded to is at 5400 rpms. So no envy here.

Other envious enhancements include: Intel Santa Rosa based Core 2 Duo processors up to 2.4 GHz on the 17 inch model, LED-backlit displays which are power efficient and contain no mercury, the ability to go up to a native resolution of 1920-by-1200 pixels on the the 17" model (High Def?) via the NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT card which has a Dual-Link DVI port, and of course now being able to upgrade to 4GB of RAM on both the 15 inch and 17 inch models. This should be one smokin’ notebook!

Here are the complete specs:

Quoted from http://www.apple.com/pr/library/2007/06/05mbp.html:

Apple Updates MacBook Pro

Pricing & Availability
The new MacBook Pro models are now shipping and will be available through the Apple Store® (www.apple.com), Apple’s retail stores and Apple Authorized Resellers.

The 2.2 GHz, 15-inch MacBook Pro, for a suggested retail price of $1,999 (US), includes:

  • 15.4-inch widescreen LED-backlit 1440-by-900 LCD display;
  • 2.2 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor;
  • 2GB of 667 MHz DDR2 SDRAM, expandable to 4GB;
  • 120GB Serial ATA hard drive running at 5400 rpm, with Sudden Motion Sensor;
  • a slot-load 8x SuperDrive® with double-layer support (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW) optical drive;
  • NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT with 128MB GDDR3 memory;
  • DVI-out port for external display (VGA-out adapter included, Composite/S-Video out adapter sold separately);
  • built-in Dual Link support for driving Apple 30-inch Cinema HD Display;
  • built-in iSight video camera;
  • Gigabit Ethernet port;
  • built-in AirPort Extreme® 802.11n wireless networking and Bluetooth 2.0+EDR;
  • ExpressCard/34 expansion card slot;
  • two USB 2.0 ports, one FireWire 800 port, and one FireWire 400 port;
  • one audio line in and one headphone out port, each supporting optical digital audio;
  • Scrolling TrackPad and illuminated keyboard;
  • the infrared Apple Remote; and
  • 85 Watt Apple MagSafe Power Adapter.

The 2.4 GHz, 15-inch MacBook Pro, for a suggested retail price of $2,499 (US), includes:

  • 15.4-inch widescreen LED-backlit 1440-by-900 LCD display;
  • 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor;
  • 2GB of 667 MHz DDR2 SDRAM, expandable to 4GB;
  • 160GB Serial ATA hard drive running at 5400 rpm, with Sudden Motion Sensor;
  • a slot-load 8x SuperDrive with double-layer support (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW) optical drive;
  • NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT with 256MB GDDR3 memory;
  • DVI-out port for external display (VGA-out adapter included, Composite/S-Video out adapter sold separately);
  • built-in Dual Link support for driving Apple 30-inch Cinema HD Display;
  • built-in iSight video camera;
  • Gigabit Ethernet port;
  • built-in AirPort Extreme 802.11n wireless networking and Bluetooth 2.0+EDR;
  • ExpressCard/34 expansion card slot;
  • two USB 2.0 ports, one FireWire 800 port, and one FireWire 400 port;
  • one audio line in and one headphone out port, each supporting optical digital audio;
  • Scrolling TrackPad and illuminated keyboard;
  • the infrared Apple Remote; and
  • 85 Watt Apple MagSafe Power Adapter.

The 2.4 GHz, 17-inch MacBook Pro, for a suggested retail price of $2,799 (US), includes:

  • 17-inch widescreen 1680-by-1050 LCD display;
  • 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor;
  • 2GB of 667 MHz DDR2 SDRAM, expandable to 4GB;
  • 160GB Serial ATA hard drive running at 5400 rpm, with Sudden Motion Sensor;
  • a slot-load 8x SuperDrive with double-layer support (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW) optical drive;
  • NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT with 256MB GDDR3 memory;
  • DVI-out port for external display (VGA-out adapter included, Composite/S-Video out adapter sold separately);
  • built-in Dual Link support for driving Apple 30-inch Cinema HD Display;
  • built-in iSight video camera;
  • Gigabit Ethernet port;
  • built-in AirPort Extreme 802.11n wireless networking and Bluetooth 2.0+EDR;
  • ExpressCard/34 expansion card slot;
  • three USB 2.0 ports, one FireWire 800 port, and one FireWire 400 port;
  • one audio line in and one headphone out port, each supporting optical digital audio;
  • Scrolling TrackPad and illuminated keyboard;
  • the infrared Apple Remote; and
  • 85 Watt Apple MagSafe Power Adapter.

Additional build-to-order options for the MacBook Pro include the ability to upgrade to a 160GB (5400 rpm), 160GB (7200 rpm), 200GB (4200 rpm) or a 250GB (4200 rpm) hard drive, up to 4GB DDR2 SDRAM, Apple MagSafe Airline Adapter, Apple USB Modem, glossy widescreen display, 17-inch 1920-by-1200 high-resolution display and the AppleCare Protection Plan.

The iPhone is coming June 29th

iPhone coming June 29th

The most anticipated gadget of 2007 is coming June 29th. Apple has announced the ship date of the iPhone in the US via 3 New TV Ads. No idea yet on the final feature set or quantities that will be available, but you can bet that sales will be brisk on day one. So now I’m just waiting to see who will be first to start camping out at their local AT&T or Apple Store to be first in line to get one?

My Apple Store has been remodeled

Apple Store Somerset Remodel

Click the above picture for a larger view…

One of the most successful retail stories in modern times is that of the Apple Retail Stores. They have more than exceeded everyone’s expectations including Apple’s. I can remember quotes from analysts and pundits giving them two years before Apple would be forced to start closing them down. Well the first store opened in 2001 and now Apple has over 180 stores world-wide with millions and millions of visitors each year. So much for the gloom and doom forecast.

My closest and favorite Apple store is the Somerset Collection location in Troy Michigan. This store went through a major renovation and had its grand reopening today! At first glance you’ll notice how much larger the store is. You’ll also notice the new shinny stainless steel look and fixtures. This isn’t by accident. Steve Jobs saw the work of this great artist and contract him to design these panels for construction and upgrading of all new Apple Stores. What used to be the back storage, tech room has been relocated to an adjacent space behind one of the other shops. This easily adds another 20-30′ to the depth of the store. The store also appears to be wider when in fact it’s not. This is an example of clever engineering and space saving design that allows the panels and shelving to be more recessed in the existing space. Everything is much more accessible with more Macs to touch and play with. The store got other upgrades that aren’t so obvious For example, the networking in the store has been upgraded to 802.11n with a faster internet pipe as well.  All of the cabling has been run through the new stone (not concrete) flooring. There are now two new "Studio" areas for one-on-one training and presentations with 4 large plasma displays. All of these displays can be tuned to the same presentation if need be to allow a larger audience to see the presentation. The Genius Bar has also doubled in size.

What you won’t notice is a row of cash registers. In fact each sales rep walks around with a hand held credit card check out device. Your receipt is emailed to you. There is one register hidden at the Genius Bar for those who insist upon paying with cash.

The lovely Linda Stein gave me the grand tour.

Amir and Dave were also on hand to show me the finer points of the remodel.

As usual the Apple Store was a buzz with people buying Macs, accessories, iPods and everything Apple. It’s great to have a refreshed look on a very successful store in the Apple chain!

Apple TV updates and iTunes DRM Free

Apple not only released an update to iTunes (version 7.2) to support their new DRM Free aka iTunes Plus tracks, but they also announced updates to Apple TV. The first one was no surprise as Apple stated a while back that EMI’s catalog would be available in a Digital Rights Management (DRM) free version. These new tracks cost more at $1.29, but they are also sampled at a higher 256K quality AAC format. What’s nice is that iTunes will offer you the option (if you enable iTunes Plus in your account) to upgrade the songs/videos you already own from EMI’s catalog to the DRM/higher quality versions for the difference in price (30¢). I did this for my 71 songs and one music video for a mere $14.25. The iTunes store is being hammered by users downloading all these tracks and my downloads timed out several times before completing. So the question is "will you pay more for DRM free tracks on iTunes?"

The next update came as a surprise!

Apple Announced a new higher capacity Apple TV model sporting a 160GB drive for $399. This was one of the biggest complaints most reviewers had with the original model, which is still available at 40GBs for $299. This update is not earth shattering by any means, however what came as a complete surprise was Apple also announced a partnership with YouTube. Soon (mid-June) you’ll be able to browse the YouTube catalog directly on your Apple TV and stream videos from the popular site. When users were complaining about not having this capability, I wasn’t really one of them because YouTube videos don’t look that great on my computer, how crappy would they look on my high def set? Apparently this was Apple’s concern too. YouTube will be re-encoding all their content in an Apple TV H264/MP4 format which should yield a higher quality look to them. When these videos are ready, you’ll most likely have to do a software update on your Apple TV to add the new YouTube menu option. It’s all good and I welcome this new ability.

What the iPod hi-fi should have been

Apple made a lot of noise initially around the iPod hi-fi stereo system for the iPod. They clearly spent the majority of their time on sound quality for this product. I’m not knocking it as it is a great sounding system with lots of volume, but it entered a crowded market at the high end of the price range. At $350, there are lots of speaker system to choose from at that price and less. Even the Bose Sound Dock is only $299 (It’s hard to say Bose and "only" in the same sentence). I own both of these systems and they both have their advantages over each other. Even to my non-audiophile ear, the Bose SoundDock sounds a bit better in my unscientific side-by-side test in a big open room. It also doesn’t have that storm trooper look like the iPod hi-fi.

But like I said, they both have their advantages and disadvantages. The SoundDock is smaller and takes up less space. The iPod hi-fi can run on batteries and has audio-in. Therefore it can be used as a speaker system for other sources such as streaming from your AirPort Express or directly connected to your notebook for presentations.

Now it’s 2007 and there is a new kid on the block. Check out the New Altec Lansing iMV712 (what a catchy name). The new iMV712 comes in at the same $350 price as the iPod hi-fi, but offers an 8" LCD screen so that you can actually watch content on your iPod video without having to hold it right up to your face (exaggeration alert). While 8" is not all that big, it’s big enough for comfortable personal viewing from a reasonable distance.

The minute the iPod hi-fi came out, people (critics) started saying it should have had this and that. One of those things that people said it should have is a screen. Sure not everyone has an iPod video. However, since it would have come from Apple the screen could have had the iTunes visualizer built-in. It could have displayed the Album art nice and big while you were just listening to music whether it was an iPod video or not.

I don’t have the new iMV712 and have no plans to buy one. I’m pretty set between the speakers I already have and my Apple TV’s. However, if I were in the market for a higher end speaker system, this is the one that I would start my research with.

Griffin Technologies Does It Again

Dock Adapter for iPod shuffle

Although I don’t really have a need for the new “Dock Adapter for iPod shuffle“, I still think it’s a cool product. This little adapter goes into a standard Apple iPod dock, say the one on top of the iPod Hi-Fi and let’s your 2nd Generation iPod shuffle be a full fledged citizen on your iPod speaker system. It not only allows you to enjoy your music, but it also allows the shuffle to be charged as well.

It’s $19.99 and is available online or at your local Apple store.