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#644: Macworld 2009 News, Product Announcements and More

 
     
 

Happy Tuesday,

While I’m saddened there won’t be another Macworld keynote address, I’m thrilled that this last one was so exciting. The Places feature in iPhoto ’09 is both endlessly cool and useful; iMovie’s long list of improvements, particularly the image stabilization feature, brings the product into true prosumer territory; the 8GB of RAM option, green features, and huge advances in battery technology in the new 17” MacBook Pro further demonstrate Apple’s commitment to environmental stewardship; and the iTunes store will pull even further into the lead as it eliminates DRM from every track offered by the big four record companies.

Phil Schiller was eloquent and focused in his delivery, and I look forward to seeing him on stage at other events in the future. Ed put it well: “Steve is like your crusty old austere grandfather, while Phil is the uncle you sneak beers with behind the barn.” This said, crusty old Steve did invent the reality distortion field and Phil couldn’t quite get it up and running.

Macworld is really just starting now. Don, Geoff, Art, and I are solidly booked all week with vendors, various Apple boards, industry colleagues, and, of course, lots of parties. Keep an eye on Barkings as we share our experiences throughout the week!

As always, thanks for reading and keep in touch.

 
   
     
  Correction!  
   
 

In “6GB of RAM in your MacBook?” published last week, my description of eligible computers included 2.33GHz MacBook Pros. Unfortunately, these models have a capacity of three gigabytes, not six. If there is any question whether your machine can handle the upgrade, give us a call at 800-511-MACS and we’d be happy to confirm for you. Sorry for the confusion!

 
   
     
  Survey: What Was the Best Announcement of Macworld 2009?  
   
 

Click Here to take our post-Macworld keynote survey!

 
   
     
  New 17" MacBook Pro!  
   
 

Today at MacWorld, Phil Schiller introduced a brand-new 17” MacBook Pro. The new MacBook shares the revolutionary aluminum unibody construction offered on the MacBook and 15” MacBook Pro. Other specs:

  • .98 inches thin
  • 6.6 pounds
  • The world’s lightest and thinnest 17-inch notebook
  • Features an LED backlit display, with 1920×1200 resolution. 700:1 contrast ratio, and 60% greater color gamut than the previous 17-inch display.
  • Apple says “This is the best display we’ve ever shipped in a notebook.”
  • 2.93GHz Intel Core 2 Duo Dual Core
  • 6MB L2 Cache
  • Up to 8GB memory at 1066 MHz DDR3.
  • Glass trackpad with four-finger gestures and multi-button support.
  • 320GB hard drive
  • Three USB ports
  • Mini DisplayPort for connecting to Apple’s new 24” LED display
  • FireWire 800 (no 400!)
  • Digital audio in/out
  • ExpressCard slot.
  • Gigabit Ethernet
  • MagSafe power adapter (duh)
  • Built-in, non user-replaceable battery. This is an adaptive “smart battery” with built-in chips to maintain maximum charge and lifespan
  • The battery can last up to eight hours, is good for about five years, and can be charged 1000 times. It is also fully recyclable.
  • Battery life varies depending on graphics card used. With the 9600GT, battery life if seven hours. It is up to eight hours with the 9400M integrated graphics.
  • All told, this is three hours longer than the previous 17-inch MacBook Pro, equalling a 60% increase in battery life.
  • Also, for the first time with the new unibody MacBooks, Apple is offering an anti-glare option. It costs $50 more than the glossy display because the bezel has to be removed after it’s already assembled.
  • $2799.99

Click here to see this MacBook Pro on our website.

 
   
     
  iWork '09: New Features  
   
 

Some big changes were announced to the iWork suite of productivity applications today. Like iWork ’08, iWork ’09 includes Pages, Keynote and Numbers. Integration and sharing have been vastly improved across the suite, and it still offers excellent Microsoft Office compatibility.

The addition of iWork.com is huge. Much like Google Docs, you will be able to collaborate on projects by accessing your files online. Apple has not launched this yet in its full form, but it is available as a public beta once you have purchased iWork ’09.

In the following articles, you’ll find an overview of the highlighted new features.

Read more about iWork here.
Check out our coverage of Macworld 2009 on our blog.

 
   
     
  iWork '09: Keynote  
   
 

Featured updates:

  • Easily create sophisticated animations with Magic Move.
  • Add dramatic object and text transitions using new visual effects.
  • Visualize your data with new styles and animations for 3D charts.
  • Dramatically reduce file size without compromising quality.
  • Create dynamic flowcharts and diagrams using connection lines.
  • Choose from eight new Apple-designed themes (44 total).
  • Open, save, and email Microsoft PowerPoint files from within Keynote.
 
   
     
  iWork '09: Pages  
   
 

Pages received a bunch of updates this time around, most notably:

  • 40 new Apple-designed templates (for over 180 total).
  • A new full-screen view option so that you can focus only on your writing!
  • Dynamic outlines allow you to organize your ideas as they come.
  • Mail merge with Numbers makes adding addresses, names and more really simple.
  • MathType 6 and EndNote X2 (both sold separately) integration allows you to insert equations or bibliographies (respectively).

As always, you can open, save, and email Microsoft Word files from within Pages.

 
   
     
  iWork '09: Numbers  
   
 

Noted features:

  • Easily create formulas, using visual placeholders with plain language text.
  • Perform calculations using over 250 functions.
  • Organize your data instantly using Table Categories.
  • Check your calculations at a glance with Formula List view.
  • Create two-axis charts and combine line, column, and area series in a single mixed chart.
  • Choose from twelve new Apple-designed templates (30 total).
  • Open, save, and email Microsoft Excel files from within Numbers.
 
   
     
  Changes in the iTunes Store  
   
 

Millions of cheers were heard ‘round the world when Phil Schiller announced some of the changes coming to the iTunes Store in April. The main one: all DRM-free music, meaning that songs can be played and burned without restriction. The four major record companies (Sony, Universal, Warner and EMI) are all now on board with the change, which was crucial to feature songs without the DRM encoding.

Beginning today, over 8 million songs in the iTunes Store feature:

  • No DRM restrictions
  • Higher-quality 256 kbps AAC encoding for audio quality virtually unchanged from the original
  • Same price for song downloads onto iPhone 3G over their 3G network

The remaining 2 million songs in the 10 million+ iTunes library will be available without the DRM restrictions by the end of March. According to Apple, they will offer a “simple, one-click option to easily upgrade their entire library of previously purchased songs to the higher quality DRM-free iTunes Plus format” for 30 cents per song or 30 percent of the album price. Sounds intriguing, but it could get expensive… I say choose your favorites wisely!

In April, songs will be available at three price points: 69 cents, 99 cents and $1.29. This will be dictated by what the music labels charge Apple for the above licensing.

Read Apple’s entire press release here.

 
   
     
  iLife '09 Update: iPhoto  
   
 

iPhoto has gotten many updates in the iLife ’09 edition. iPhoto is arguably the most-used application in the iLife suite, behind iTunes.

For starters, there are now three ways to sort your photos:

  • Events
  • Faces
  • Places

Events was a new way to view and sort photos with the last iLife release, but both Faces and Places are new.

Faces relies on face recognition, and assists in tagging photos. Amazingly, it will find a face and ask in other photos if it is the same person… I guess we’ll see! There’s also integration with Facebook and Flickr.

Places works with Google Maps to zoom in on a location. It uses latitude and longitude, and will automatically add a location to your photos. This is great because you’ll be able to ‘geotag’ your entire set of photos. Phil uses the example of “Yosemite” in that if you have just taken a vacation there, it will geotag all of your photos from the trip!

I’m really excited to check iPhoto ’09 out, especially the tagging and face recognition features. As Don mused, “will it be able to recognize dog’s faces, too?” We’ll be checking out iLife ’09 in detail soon and will give you our feedback in upcoming issues of Tech Tails!

Learn more and pre-order iLife 09 here.

 
   
     
  iLife '09 Update: iMovie '09  
   
 

Apple has updated iMovie ’08 to iMovie ’09 as part of iLife ’09. iMovie ’09 was introduced with the statement that iMovie ’08 “didn’t have all the features that older customers wanted.” Apple has added “a bunch of features that should please everyone.” Phil Schiller continued to say that Apple has added “depth and power” to iMovie ’09.

Some of the new features include:

  • Precision editor with expanded timeline for advanced users. Improved drag and drop of video clips and audio clips. Easier to insert, overlay, replace, and add audio straight from clips. Sound can now be extended from the first clip over audio from the second clip to give pro continuity to edits. Also now easier to skim and see edits before and after cuts.
  • Automatic video stabilization. The software identifies jittery/bumpy motion and reduces it by comparing frames of video to subsequent and previous frames. Video stabilization along with image stabilization in camcorders can practically create still photos. Two-step process. The first-pass is processor intensive.
  • Now possible to integrate maps into iMovie projects, including an option for Indiana Jones-style flyovers with a beginning and end point.
  • iMovie once again supports DVD chapter makers and titles for use with iDVD ’09, which is very welcome news.

Other features include new themes complete with titles, transitions and credits. “Clip adjustment” includes a slider to speed up or slow down video clips (which was mystifyingly absent in iMovie ’08). A new Project Library shows you all your film clips. New video effects have been added with instant previewing; no rendering is necessary. Read all new changes by clicking here.

Personally, the announcement of iMovie ’09 was the most exciting event at this Macworld. I can’t wait to try it out. It sounds like creating engaging, attractive videos will be more fun than ever.

Learn more and pre-order iLife ’09 here.

 
   
     
  iLife '09 Update: GarageBand  
   
 

At Macworld, Phil Schiller introduced a new version of GarageBand. The biggest new feature is called “Learn to Play.” It is designed to teach people to play instruments such as guitar and keyboards. You see the a representation of the instrument on the screen with a video of the instructor facing you.

Celebrity instructors include Sting, Sarah McLachlan, John Fogerty, and more. Apple says “learn to play a hit song from the artist who made it famous,” which I think sounds pretty cool. Additional video lessons can be purchased from the new GarageBand store for $4.99.

 
   
     
  iLife '09 Update: iWeb, iDVD  
   
 

iWeb also received minor updates for Macworld. In iWeb, it’s now easier to upload websites and website changes to MobileMe or to your own server via FTP with a single click. Like iWeb ’08, iWeb ’09 uploads only your changes when you publish, so you’ll enjoy quick site updates.

iWeb will now notify your Facebook friends when you update your site. Simply link any iWeb site to your Facebook account. Following an update, iWeb adds the changes to your profile, alerting your friends and providing them with a handy link. It’s now also easier to add web widgets to your site that update automatically.

iDVD didn’t appear to get any new features beyond performance and stability improvements. iMovie once again supports DVD chapter makers and titles for use with iDVD ’09, which is very welcome news.

Learn more and pre-order iLife ’09 here.

 
   
     
  Picasa for Mac - Better Late Than Never!  
   
 

On Monday, Google finally released a public beta of Picasa for the Mac. Picasa is a free desktop app for importing, editing, organizing and sharing digital images—particularly digital photos.

Picasa for Macs is a free download from Picasa.google.com/mac/. You need an Intel Mac running OS 10.4 or later.

Picasa has been a popular photo app on the Windows side for years. It shares some features with iPhoto, and adds some unique killer features. These include the ability to sync your Picasa desktop and Picasa Web Albums edits, screen captures, create and edit movies within Picasa, add text/watermarks to photos, manage folders on your computer, a collage creation, screensaver creation, and Facial-recognition technology. Privacy and sharing settings can be adjusted for individual photos, collections or for your entire library.

Preliminary tests show Picasa to be as fast or faster than iPhoto and easy and elegant to use. We’ll test further and review Picasa in detail in the future.

Google also offers Picasa Web Albums, which is an excellent web service for sharing and organizing photos. This has been Mac-compatible for years. There is an iPhoto plugin if you want to use Picasa Web Albums without necessarily using the desktop version of Picasa. Click here to download this.

Also, the new version of iPhoto ’09 looks amazing. News about Picasa for Mac has been swept under the rug with the announcement of iPhoto ’09.

Picasa Web Albums integrates tightly with Google’s Blogger service, along with many other blog platforms and web services. Picasa Web Albums is very easy to use, uploading is a breeze, and photos are nicely displayed online. Picasa Web Albums offers up to 1GB (“enough space for 4,000 wallpaper-size photos”) of photo hosting for free.

Flickr is still more popular and has deeper social network components then Picasa Web Albums. Again, we’ll do a detailed comparison in the near future.

 
   
     
  FEATURED SPECIAL | 01/06/09 - 01/13/09  
   
 

MacBook Pro 15in 2.5GHz, 4GB RAM, 250GB, SuperDrive, Free Case, Free Shipping!

1,819.99

This week we are reviving a very popular special offer on previous generation 15-inch MacBook Pros. This special offer includes a MacBook Pro with 2.5GHz Core 2 Duo processor, 4GB RAM, a 250GB hard drive, SuperDrive, a free Isis sleeve, and free shipping. Click here to see this.

Before the introduction of the unibody MacBook Pros in late 2008, these were the top-of-the-line 15-inch MacBook Pros. We sold out of them a couple of weeks ago, but fortunately were able to find a few more at one of our distributors. It’s a great price on a fully loaded portable Mac.

Note that this bundle is also available with AppleCare for $2199.99.

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