28 February 2006

Apple announcements

$99 for a leather iPod case? And he wasn’t laughed off the stage?

That iPod Hi-Fi looks like it was stolen from the set of Space: 1999, doesn’t it? Come to think of it, a G5 would fit the decor of John Koenig’s desk perfectly. Perhaps the Apple iPhone will look like a commlock?

Then there’s the Intel Mac Mini. We all knew that was coming. However, while the MacBook Pro comes with a Mobility Radeon X1600, the Mini comes with a craptastic Intel GMA950 integrated graphics chip. The old Mini had a slothful Radeon 9200, but at least it had dedicated RAM, whereas the Intel shares its video RAM with the main CPU.

In addition, the CPU speed has dropped from the MacBook’s 1.83GHz dual cores, to 1.5GHz single core. If that wasn’t bad enough, the entry level price has quietly risen by 20%–the $500 PC is now a $600 PC, $800 if you want dual cores or a DVD burner. Price up comparable Dell machines, and that price looks pretty hard to defend.

There are a couple of problems leading to the high price and hardware nobbling. The first is that Intel are charging over $250 for a Core Duo processor, whereas a G4 was well under $200. The second issue is that Apple have to be careful not to make their new cheap Intel boxes embarassingly faster than the PowerPC systems they’re still selling. The Intel iMac was almost as fast as the top end quad G5 workstation, so making sure the Mini wouldn’t be too fast was probably a requirement. Hopefully by the end of the year the G5 will be history and we can have an improved Intel Mini.

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