Apple News from the Macworld Conference & Expo 2005

Computer peripherals and hardware just keep getting smaller, and Apple has thrown its hat into the industry ring to bring consumers the smallest devices possible. Macworld Conference & Expo revealed on Tuesday, in San Francisco, the latest additions to Apple’s family. The introduction of the Mac mini and iPod Shuffle had expo-g'ers and consumers looking to Apple for the latest incarnations of their most compact devices.

Mini Me? No! Mac Mini.

The Mac mini is the smallest Mac desktop computer, weighing in at 2.9 pounds for a street price starting at $499 ($479 educational discount price). This unreal size and price is a winning combination to sell like hotcakes. Comparable in size to an external hard drive (or a medium-sized book), this system stands two inches tall and only 6.5 inches square. This is the most affordable way to get a Mac OS X-based computer, to date, and it comes complete with iLife, a global collection that features the latest versions of iTunes, iPhoto, iMovie, iDVD, and GarageBand. One FireWire and two USB ports gives users plenty room to use external devices, when the stock model is not enough. The downside? Not much if you’re considering the low price. But, you would need your own monitor, keyboard, and other peripherals. You’ll have to buy these separately as they are not included in the base price.

Apple's Mac Mini

Two choices are currently available: 1.25Ghz/40GB or 1.42Ghz/80GB. In both models, memory can be expanded from 256MB to 1GB of RAM. And think of how much physical space new Mac users can save using the Mac mini. Its small size might also make life a little easier for techs who have to swap computers in and out of campus labs and classrooms. Spokespeople say that the Mac mini is ideal for anyone wanting to get started with Mac OS X, especially for first-time Mac users.

A few more seasoned Mac users are keeping an eye on one situation, however. They question whether the ATI Radeon 9200 graphics processor (with 32MB video memory) on board the Mac mini will support some of the Dashboard effects of Tiger, the latest in Apple’s operating system development efforts. Mac OS version 10.4 “Tiger” is scheduled to arrive sometime during the first half of 2005. What will happen when users want to upgrade past the Mac OS X version 10.3 “Panther” installed on the Mac minis? Maybe Apple is sorting out a potential problem here… Bloggers observed that a listing of video cards supporting Tiger mysteriously disappeared from Apple’s Web site Tuesday. But there’s still time…

Do the Shuffle

For folks who want the iPod but can’t afford the 60GB model, Apple has a new music player for you! Apple introduced the iPod Shuffle: The first iPod under $100. Smaller and lighter than a pack of gum, say Apple spokespeople. This is the ultimate budget Apple-brand media player. Two models are currently available: one with a 512 MB holding up to 120 songs for $99 and a 1GB that can hold up to 240 songs for $149. (Education users take heart—the 1GB version will be available with an education discount.) What is Shuffle? You can play songs randomly, or use a playlist. How about preloading with lectures and then recycle or toss like textbooks?

The iPod Shuffle

The other product introduction at MacWorld Expo of potential interest to education users (although not as exciting as the Mac mini and the iPod Shuffle) is Apple’s iWork ’05, billed as productivity software to present and publish professional-looking documents and presentations. It includes streamlined features to import photos and move them around easily within text—like you can in sophisticated page layout software. iWork ‘05 also features Keynote (presentation software), too. Price: $79. iWork ‘05 is available for purchase beginning Jan 22.

To learn more about these exciting new products and other Apple products, go to: www.apple.com

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