Be Good Not Bad by Brian Warren

12 January 2005

Apple’s New Offerings

Note: This spike in Apple-related posts (three in a month) isn’t meant to show a new trend. It’s pretty much just coincidence. I’ve had this blog for 9+ months, and with this one, it’s a total of four posts about Apple stuff. We are still averaging less than 1 post every two months. Disclaimers disclaimed, I bring you today’s post:

Apple announced a whole slew of new products this week. Chief among them is the Mac mini.

the Mac mini, a $499 computer from Apple.

This 6.5” by 6.5” by 2” computer costs $499. I have to say, I’m impressed. The footprint of this mac is about the size of a half-sheet of 8.5”x11” paper. But let’s be practical here. You need a keyboard and a mouse, not to mention a monitor. Apple is assuming you already have these items – or don’t mind picking them up on the cheap as all of Apple’s computers work with standard monitors, usb keyboards, and mice (even ones with the word Microsoft on them). So, depending on whether you have any of these things lying around your house, you may be thinking it’s a good or bad thing. In my opinion it’s good either way.

If you are thinking of getting a computer, and you don’t have a keyboard, mouse or monitor, you can buy exactly the accessories you want. If you’re going cheap, you can get a cheap mouse, keyboard and monitor for $100 easy. If you’re upgrading to the Mac mini, all you have to do is move out your big computer and plug in the mini. The thing about the Mac mini is that you get plenty of choice, and you don’t end up paying more for something you don’t need. On the other hand, Apple didn’t use super-wimpy components. For $499 you do get a dedicated video card. You also get USB 2 and Firewire. These are things that many bulk manufacturers really skimp on to save a few bucks. The Mac mini comes with an impressive software suite too, including iLife.

The Mac mini isn’t for everyone, but it’s going to be a hit with a lot of people, many of whom wouldn’t consider one otherwise.

Apple announced a few other products this week. One is the iPod shuffle. It’s a $99 iPod that weighs about the same as four quarters. I may or may not pick up one of these at some point. I listen to podcasts on my way to and from work, which means I’m constantly picking up more and more stuff to listen to and trading the old stuff out, so I could see using this. I already have an iPod, so I’m not really feeling the need. Of course I hog the iPod all the time, so Anna may want me to get her one.

And yet another thing that Apple announced is iWork. A $70 office suite that includes Keynote 2 and Pages. Pages is a program for writing and layout (think Word and Publisher, but with more beautiful and professional results). Keynote is for presentations (think PowerPoint with better graphics and far more amazing and classy results). I use an older version of Keynote, and whenever I use do, my Windows brethren ask me “How come I can’t do that with PowerPoint?” I’m sure Pages will bring similar responses. The one thing missing from this is a spreadsheet application. So for now, I’ll just use Excel for mac.

It was a big day for Apple on Tuesday. Basically I like all the stuff they announced, but I don’t see myself grabbing any of it aside from iWork. Over time it’s possible, the Mac mini and the new iPod could show up at our household.