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Apple's announcements

Today's announcements from Apple were pretty much what has been expected. Observations:
  • MacBook and MacBook Pro (not MBA) support the Apple Stereo Headset with microphone. Even play, plause, forward, backward work.
  • You can configure an area on the new trackpad that triggers a right-click.
  • The new 24" Cinema Display is cool: When used with a notebook, it serves as external speakers, external display, external webcam, and USB hub. Thus, it is almost a docking station.
  • Apple still does not support either BluRay or HSPA. The latter is a bit suprising, because Apple has always been avant-guard when it comes to wireless technologies.
  • FireWire: Talk about mixed messages. On one hand, FireWire 800 on the MacBook Pro is a sensible evolution, even though I'll never understand why FW800 has different plugs than FW400 (as opposed to the successful USB evolution strategy to USB2, where they kept the same plug). On the other hand, USB2 is reaching its limits when it comes to memory sticks, external hard drives or external video hardware (see throughputs below). By not including FW800 with non-Pro MacBooks, it seems that Apple will use USB 3.0 in future MacBooks and not push FireWire as the next-generation data plug.
  • German prices: Unbelievably badly converted from the US prices. Example: the MacBook costs $1299 (about €946) in the US and €1199 in Germany.
  • NetBooks: In the Q&A Apple indicated that it is still observing that market. I always liked the 12" PowerBook and think that a 12" MacBook Air would sell really well. I think that 12" is the smallest you can get without compromising on the keyboard.
  • Fast hard drive: 80 MB/s (640 Mbit/s). RAIDs are obviously faster.
  • Fast flash memory: read 200 MB/s (1.6 Gbit/s), write 100 MB/s (800 Mbit/s)
  • USB2: 480 Mbit/s
  • USB3: 4.8 Gbit/s
  • FW800: 786.432 Mbit/s
  • FW3200: 3.2 Gbit/s
  • Gigabit Ethernet: 300MBit/s (under real-world conditions)
  • Wi-Fi 802.11n: 130 MBit/s
Pros and cons:
  • USB3 (products: 2009 or 2010). Con: thick cables, even longer and more cumbersome plugs.
  • FW800 (products: now). Pro: robust plugs. Con: adapter needed for FW400 devices.
  • FW3200 (products: end of 2008). Plugs are the same as FW800.
Open questions:
  • Does the Apple Headphone also work if the MacBook is closed? That would be a better alternative to other notebooks having external buttons for play, pause, etc. Update: It does not work.
  • How does one drag beyond the area of the new clickpad? With traditional trackpads, you hold the button, lift the finger and continue dragging somewhere else. But with a clickpad, you cannot lift your finger and hold the button at the same time. Update: This requires a new gesture that pretends that there is still a button; you click with your thumb and move the cursor with your index finger.
  • Cinema display: Can one attach the MacBook Air DVD drive to the Cinema display? Update: Yes, one can.
  • Cinema display: Sound is enabled by plugging in USB, but is it transmitted via USB or via DisplayPort? The same question applies to the webcam, but as the built-in iSights use USB, DisplayPort is much less likely.
Update: Apple is removing (=censoring) threads that complain about the lack of FireWire in MacBooks.

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