Mark (mhaithaca) wrote,

Latest and greatest (215.0)

Those of you who pay some attention probably assume that I'm usually on the cutting edge of tech, and generally get the latest Apple gear as soon as I can. While I pay a lot of attention to Apple releases, not just because I write for TidBITS, I don't actually usually manage to be the first kid on the block with each new thing.

So you may be surprised to learn that I haven't bought myself a new desktop Mac since September, 2001. Yes, I'm using a dual-processor G4 desktop at home. I don't really use it heavily, and I'm sure I wouldn't still be using an 8-year-old Mac as my primary computer. I can get away with this because I've probably had four Mac laptops in that time, and used those as my primary computer.

I'd been vaguely contemplating replacing the G4 desktop, with its 17-inch Studio Display, with an iMac, and the opportunity to get one during the summer during Apple's "buy a Mac, get a free iPod touch" promotion for education customers was especially tempting. (No, I don't need an iPod touch, since I have an iPhone, but it would be fun to play with or I could resell it. I sold Doc the iPod I got with my MacBook in 2006.)

Today's announcement of new iMacs makes it really likely I'll take the leap. They're offering i3, i5, and i7 dual-core Intel processors, a quite reasonable amount of memory built in, 1TB or 2TB hard drives, and 21.5-inch or 27-inch screens, starting at $1,149. That's probably less than half what I spent on my last desktop. I'd likely get the $1,399 configuration, 21.5-inch display, 4GB of RAM, but upgrade it to a 3.6 GHz i5 chip and a 2TB hard drive. Yes, I'm also vaguely tempted to get the 27-inch display, since at work I'm using the 30-inch Cinema Display, but I'm sure I'll still just be using my home desktop from time to time, and I can't imagine I really need bigger than 21.5 inches. Is the bigger display worth the extra $200, or should I keep that $200 for something else?

At the same time, Apple introduced the Magic Trackpad, a desktop version of the trackpad that comes built into Apple's laptops. Yes, the iMac still comes with a mouse (the wireless mouse and keyboard are included at no extra charge, or you can get a wired one), but there are more and more programs that react to the "gestures" Apple has added to their laptop trackpad support, mostly after developing them for use on the iPhone. Thus, making a trackpad available for desktop machines will make them react well as users begin to expect to use gestures to move photos around, rotate things, zoom in and out, etc.

Those wireless mouse and keyboard products tear through batteries like crazy, and of course many of us have invested in rechargeables for exactly that reason. It's clever of Apple to have added their own battery charger, which comes with six NiMH AA batteries. If you buy this along with a couple of the wireless devices, two of your six batteries will come pre-installed in the devices for you. At $29 for charger and six batteries, this is priced reasonably by comparison to other retail products, it's easy for me to decide to buy it along with my Apple purchase, it's one more opportunity for Apple to make a few bucks rather than letting someone else do it, and pushing people to use rechargeables rather than throw-away one-use batteries is one more factor in their "green" column.

(Yes, it's entirely coincidental that I'm wearing one of my several Apple polo shirts today. I didn't know they had a product release today.)

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