Apple never fails to amaze me, and today’s announcements were no exception. Today Apple announced some not-so-great updates to the PowerBook line, some great changes to the PowerMac line and a new pro application for photographers called Aperture.
Not being a PowerBook user I wasn’t really that excited about the expected PowerBook announcements. However, I think if I were in the market for a PowerBook today’s announcements wouldn’t have done much for my wanting of the slick-looking laptops.
The top of the list of improvements were improved battery life and new higher resolution displays on the top two models. The 15" model’s display resolution was bumped up to 1440×960, an impressive resolution for a laptop while the 17" model had an even larger boost to 1680×1050, which is the same resolution as my 20" Apple Cinema Display at work. Wow. The battery life for the PowerBooks was also moved up closer to 5.5 hours.
All-in-all some pretty modest improvements in my book.
Rumors have been flying around for the last week about what we hoped would be upgrades to the PowerMac line, since it has sat in a dormant state for some time. Apple, again, didn’t dissapoint us. With all of the systems being bumped up to dual core processors and the best model sporting 2 dual core processors (called the QUAD) the current PowerMac line is looking pretty tough.
All three of the PowerMacs now support DDR2 memory and the low-end model has a higher memory capacity! Previously the low end model could only support up to 4Gb, now all three come with the same 512 Mb and are expandable up to 16Gb! All three models also include PCI-Express expansion slots, again only available before on the mid and upper models.
Another wonderful improvement that has been requested from PowerMac users for years was video card specs. The new PowerMac line now sport Nvidia GeForce 6600 LE cards with the mid and upper models having 256Mb of RAM and the lower model having 128Mb. Maybe not as much video memory as we had hoped for on the low model, but an improvement. As a matter of fact, the new video cards are now powerful enough to run the 30" Cinema Display (and you can run four of them at a time if you have 4 video cards).
The single processor dual-core Power Mac G5 systems,
available at speeds of 2GHz ($1,999) and 2.3GHz ($2,499) are available
now, while the dual-processor dual-core 2.5GHz system ($3,299) will
ship in November.
Another rather exciting announcement from Apple today was Aperture, a photo management and editing tool for professional photographers. Now, being only an ameture I don’t expect that I could take advantage of all of the features of Aperture. However, I’m a pretty strong Photoshop user so I can tell that this application is pretty amazing. Not only does it work increadibly well with photos taken in the RAW format (which Photoshop doesn’t do very well) it also looks to be one of the best interfaces I’ve ever seen for photo management. Apple does it again with their wonderful human interface design.
I watched a couple of the video tours of the new software and was instantly amazed at how quickly the program deals with these increadibly large RAW images. Of course that’s mostly a product of the wonderful G5 it was demoed on, but still. One of the only bad things about it is the $499 price tag. The student version is only $250, but that’s still pretty steep.
So now what?
If nothing else todays announcements made it clear which of Apple’s computers I’m going to buy. The new PowerMac specs have put my fears at ease and have set it apart more from the iMac. Will I be buying a QUAD? Not likely, but we’ll see.