nullstream weblog - Macworld 2008

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Macworld 2008


January 14, 2008 05:30 PM PST


"There's Something in the Air"

Tomorrow this post will be full of comments on the latest Macworld announcements. For now, we can only guess what's in store based on the slogan above. Many people are predicting some sort of Wi-Max or 3G card built into Macs, or at least the iPhone. Maybe wireless USB will make its debut and remove more clutter from Paul's desktop. Others have noticed that the font style used is new: Myriad Ultralight, possibly pointing to the rumored ultralight Macbook incorporating a solid state (flash) hard drive, LED backlight and no optical drive. Interestingly, new desktop and server Macs were announced last week at CES, so Apple must have enough other new hardware to fill tomorrow's keynote! Then again, the slogan may just refer to over-the-air downloads to the iPhone/iTouch. Or maybe Apple is partnering with Google for 700mhz bandwidth... :-)

In addition to tomorrow's hardware announcements, I imagine we'll get a new option for video and TV downloads. No way Jobs is going to let movie and TV studios desert iTunes. Whether this is new hardware, new pricing, or new formats (HD?), something has to change. Most players are looking for HD video downloads to be the new "format" - beating both Blu-ray and HD-DVD in the long term. I also feel that .mac has been a bit stagnant lately, so there potentially could be some updates to that. We probably won't get much info other than reassuring words about the "ecosystem" when it comes to the Nullstream anticipated iPhone SDK, slated for February.

Thoughts, reactions?

Comments (24)

John, January 14, 2008 05:44 PM:

I'm sticking to my previous predictions. Tablet, bluetooth and of course downloads to Apple TV. Actually I expect a new Apple TV model of some sort.

George, January 14, 2008 11:12 PM:

HD content is way overdue. Without HD content, Apple TV has little advantage over an ipod with video cables.

Regarding other h/w, I'll go way out a limb but I think Steve announces a light weight connected device that uses wifi or your iPhone for it's data connection (similar to the cancelled Palm Foleo or the Nokia 810 internet tablet). Announced now, available when the 3G iPhone releases in a few months. Combined with the .mac service you have a remote connection to your desktop using the "back to your mac" feature. At home the "airBook" allows multiple users to access one desktop (yes John, this is something MS showed off a few years ago).

John, January 14, 2008 11:40 PM:

Apparently not everyone got the memo that the Foleo was still born. The folks over at Celio marched ahead and developed their own competitor called RedFly. They were showing it off at CES.

No George, MS didn't just show it off, it was an actual shipping product - The MS Smart Display (code name Mira). It was / is a very cool idea that was unfortunately doomed by 3 factors. 1. Price. 2. Wifi B. It was all that was available at the time and made it too slow for video. 3. MS's refusal to follow through with their promise to release a 2 user version of Windows. Without that feature the device lost it's number one value proposition. -It is truly amazing how much money and effort a company can blow due to in fighting and lack of vision.

And you can only imagine how ticked I'll be if Apple releases a device like that.

Paul, January 15, 2008 12:33 AM:

John, just give into the light side of the force.

Paul, January 15, 2008 06:46 AM:

Spore on the Mac this year. Nice!

John, January 15, 2008 07:09 AM:

New rumor that the Macbook Air will have built in ATT data access.

If that is true I'll laugh if they make you buy a second data plan rather than just let you tether your iPhone - even if it is HSDPA instead of edge.

John, January 15, 2008 09:53 AM:

So far..
Time Capsule 500G and 1TB hardrives with built in Airport extreme + ports in the back.

New software for iPhone. Maps with location.

5 new apps for iTouch, but cost 20.00 - lame.

iTunes movie rentals - 2.99 old, 3.99 new releases. All major studios. 30days after DVD release. 30 days to start, 24 hours to finish. Streams while downloading.

Apple TV take 2 (told you). No computer required. Direct download. DVD quality and HD. HD costs 1.00 more. Connects direct to Flickr, youTube, podcasts etc. 5.1 Sound (duh). This time you buy on Apple TV and it syncs BACK to your computer. New UI.

John, January 15, 2008 10:36 AM:

Now for the new MacBook Air:
13.3 led backlit display.
3 lbs
.76 - .16 thickness (slant)
Magnetic latch.
Full size keyboard. (Backlit)
Large Multi-touch Trackpad.
1.8" hard drives. Ships with 80G with option of a 64Gb solid state disk (expensive).
CPU = 1.6 - 1.8 GHz Core 2 Duo. Special chip made for this device?
WiFi N and Bluetooth 2.1.
5 hours batt life.
Ships in 2 weeks.
Aluminum case, mercury and arsenic free glass.
2GB Ram
USB 2x2
Micro DVI
Headphone Jack.
Magsafe power connector.

No optical disk, USB DVD drive available for 99.
Remote disk feature lets you 'borrow' an optical disk. Big deal, can just connect to a share already with Windows or OSX.

Paul, January 15, 2008 10:55 AM:

Why is there still a double size caps lock key on the ultra portable? Who the hell uses that?

John, January 15, 2008 11:41 AM:

Well getting an ultra thin under 2k with reasonable performance is impressive. But man $3,100 for the SSD version, ouch.

John, January 15, 2008 12:59 PM:

I noticed that they had to put holes on the bottom of it for cooling. I wonder how hot this one gets.

John, January 15, 2008 01:58 PM:

All sub-notebooks have trade-offs and limitations. What are the some of the potential limits of the MBA?

1. CPU speed. 1.8G slow for a notebook, fast for a sub.
2. Single USB port. Could be a limitation for some things like trying to power a portable HD that requires two ports.
3. Sealed case prevents user upgrades to RAM or HD as well as replacing the battery.
4. 4200 RPM 80G drive. If you can remember what life was like with 4200 RPM notebook drives years back you'll know what I mean. All the CPU power in the world is for not as soon as you start paging to disk.

Note I don't count lack of Ethernet or optical drive as limitations. You might miss the ability to play the occasional DVD, but these days there are a lot of ways to work around that.

J, January 15, 2008 03:12 PM:

Are you sure it doesn't support upgrading RAM or HDD? I heard that the battery is not replaceable, but not sure about the others. That could present a big problem with price. I've upgraded my Macbook RAM and HDD myself because Apple wanted far too much for those upgrades.

Interestingly, the hard disk is ATA, not Serial-ATA. And you're right - 4200 is slow. I'd want at least 4 GB of RAM to avoid paging.

I didn't notice holes on the bottom... There is a cooling grate near the back like the current macbooks though.

John, January 15, 2008 04:51 PM:

So I have to say again that holding back 5 iPhone apps from the initial iTouch launch only to release them later for 20.00 is totally lame. Technically Weather and Stocks are widgets in Apple speak, not even full apps.

If I were an early iTouch buyer I'd be mad. (Fred, are you mad?)

The right thing to do would be for Steve to say he was sorry, give the update away free, and then send every owner a $20.00 gift certificate.

Paul, January 15, 2008 05:24 PM:

And then Apple could all give them ponies too!

There are legal issues, I believe, when adding functionality like that to a sold device. Remember the whole deal with the upgrade of Wi-Fi speeds for $2? The same might apply here.

Or not. After all, Apple charges $30 for the ability to save a Quicktime stream, and $700 for an extra 2 GB of RAM, so maybe Mac users just like giving money away.

John, January 15, 2008 08:48 PM:

Personally I think that whole $2 thing was a load of crap. Besides if that is the reason, how do you explain them upgrading existing Apple TV owners for Free? Or iPhone users to the new location based maps for free? (Not to mention SMS to multi people, chapter in videos, subtitles etc.)

Paul, January 15, 2008 11:48 PM:

Wil Shipley weighs in on the Macbook Air in his usual amusing tone. He's got a point.

Hap, January 17, 2008 09:39 AM:

All right first thing 20$ to get the app(let)s that the IPhone already had is silly. However it is different legally from the IPhone and Apple TV because of how the revenue is recognized. It all revolves around the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (a lecuture for another day that I am not qualified to give). Why they didn't do that with the touch I have no idea.

FredB, January 17, 2008 03:39 PM:

Honestly, I was not mad. Excited to finally get them is more like it. Color me stupid, I don't mind. I'm just glad to get them.

Paul, January 18, 2008 12:38 PM:

Apple TV is Divx?

John, January 18, 2008 02:05 PM:

Hmm, Divx (the disc format) was priced somewhere between a rental and a DVD purchase. (Around $4 at the time). It let you watch the movie for a limited amount of time, something like 48 hours from when first play (better than iTunes). After that you would be charged a lesser amount for each additional play. Also I don't believe you had any limit on when to start watching it after you brought it home. So in that regard it was better than the current download rental model. For some (but not all) discs if you liked the movie you could then 'buy' it for some discounted price which would unlock it - but it would only play in your player not your neighbors. (I'm sure iTunes could do something similar). If you didn't want to buy it after watching you just chucked it in the trash.

Consumer backlash for Divx was extreme. The discs required a special $200+ player (hmm like the Apple TV). The viewing restrictions, i.e. DRM, were considered excessive - especially for discs you unlocked and technically 'owned'. And you could end up having to pay again for a disc that remained in your possession. All that to just avoid returning a DVD? Circuit city, a big backer of the format, took a huge financial beating.

Yes, I guess this download model IS the new Divx. Interesting how consumer opinion changes over time. One of the biggest fears of Divx was that the studios would stop selling open DVDs and all movies would be DRM'd, pay per view, DIVX. The pay per play model was what really got the movie giants like Disney excited. What comes around goes around.

J, January 18, 2008 10:16 PM:

Yeah, it pretty much is the original divx. On another note, I went to the Apple store today. Not only did they not have a demo model of the Air, they also had NONE of the products announced at Macworld. No Time Capsule, no 8 proc machine. I actually told one of the "Geniuses" that the prices on the AppleTV had not been updated either! It still listed the $299/399 prices. That one is inexcusable.

I didn't expect to buy these products at the store today, but at under 200 stores worldwide, they could have sent out at least some models under glass so we could see them. This really makes my impression of Macworld more negative.

Ian, January 25, 2008 08:18 PM:

MacHeist II a Runaway Hit, Raises $500K for Charity

Paul, January 26, 2008 01:27 AM:

Macbook Air, not so fast.

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