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15 January, 2008

MacWorld Tuesday Eve Update

After spending 2 hours in the freezing San Francisco wind, I never made it in to see Jobs. The line was huge and wrapped almost completely around Moscone.

Instead, I grabbed posts from Their feed was fine as I got the general idea of what was going on inside the hallowed halls.

Once the Keynote was over, they let us in ... after a suitable wait of course.. I headed straight to the OS X server course I had signed up for. Suffice it to say, I enjoyed the class and may have even learned a few things.

As for my predictions - let's see how I did.

Mac Air - the new ultra portable. This laptop weighs 3 pounds, is 3/4" thick at it's thickest narrowing down to just a bit thicker then dime. It has minimal ports - USB 2.0, audio (analog - yes but no digital? What the?), mini-Digital Video Interface and power a la MagSafe.

It does not have an Ethernet port nor alas Firewire. The Mac Air connects to your network wirelessly via 802.11n. Accessories connect via the latest version of BlueTooth 2.1 or the single USB 2.0 connector. Yes, you can connect your wireless keyboard and mouse via BlueTooth and plug in your external display whenever you find yourself at home. But you will need a USB hub if you want to connect your USB printer, camera and USB coffee warming plate.

The processor runs at 1.6 or 1.8 GHz. 2 Gigs of RAM are standard and it is not expandable. Hmm, I expected something a bit faster and with an option to upgrade it to 4G of RAM, but o.k., our iMac G5 only has 2G of RAM and it runs Leopard fine.

No touch screen but the touchpad works with gestures similar to the iPhone. -- cool factor.

No wireless charging - I guess I'm just ahead of my time.

The standard hard drive is an 80 GB parallel ATA drive. Don't they make 1" serial drives? For the well healed, there is an optional 64 GB Solid State Drive that replaces that tiny old fashion spinning hard drive. This is expensive (thus the need for well healing) and pushes that $1800 laptop to 3 grand before taxes, license and dealer preparation charges!

Look, I know Solid-State Drives are expensive, but I was hoping Apple would just cut a great deal with the supplier and then give everyone a non-mechanical drive for a small premium. I suppose my definition of "small premium" and reality needs a bit of work.

On the plus side, Apple appears serious about bringing Solid Drives to the masses. For that I'm happy.

As for the DVD/CD drive - there is an optional $100 external drive. Apple did me one better and has included a way to use a DVD drive from almost any other computer. All wirelessly. I wonder if our old iMac DVD with a USB 802.11b d-Link adapter would be suitable. I somehow doubt it.

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