Apple Shows New Intel Notebooks, Software

By Daniel Drew Turner  |  Posted 2006-01-10

Apple Shows New Intel Notebooks, Software

SAN FRANCISCO—Once again, Apple Computer Inc. CEO Steve Jobs succeeded in confounding any one rumormongers prognostications. During his Tuesday keynote address opening the Macworld Expo conference here, he unveiled not one but two of the first-ever Macintosh computer models to be based on chips from Intel Corp.

In addition, Jobs demonstrated updated—and Intel-ready—versions of Apples iLife and iWork software suites of creative and productivity applications, respectively.

Midway through his speech, Jobs introduced Intel Corp. CEO and president Paul Otellini, who entered the stage through a curtain of smoke, clad in a "bunny suit," or clean suit used in the production of processors.

The two said the companies were "a little ahead of schedule" in their goal, announced last June, of producing Macs powered by Intel processors.

As proof, Jobs debuted a new iMac model based on Intels new dual-core Core Duo processor, formerly code-named Yonah. The new iMac became available Tuesday.

Perhaps to minimize the perception of a sea change in the product line, or to reassure potential purchasers of these or the remaining Power PC-based models, Jobs stressed that the new iMac will retain the same design, the same features and the same pricing as the models introduced in October.

Inside, however, the new iMacs will be all-new. The 17-inch model, which retails for $1,299, includes a 1.83GHz Core Duo processor with a 667MHz bus, 512MB of RAM, a 160GB hard drive and an 8x SuperDrive, as well as Airport Extreme wireless connectivity and a 128MB ATI Radeon X1600 PCI Express graphics card.

The 20-inch model, priced at $1,699, ups the processor spec to a 2.0GHz Core Duo and the hard drive to 250GB.

Jobs said the new models were two to three times faster than the previous model, the PowerPC G5. He quoted SPECint (integer) and SPECfp (floating point) test ratings to support this statement.

However, he said, in real-world usage, not all applications will see that corresponding speed gain.

All of the days presentations were made on the new Intel-based iMacs, with no glitches. Jobs said the new iLife 06 and iWork 06 suites ship as UB (Universal Binaries); that is, with Intel-native and Power PC-native versions.

In addition, Jobs introduced the MacBook Pro, a PowerBook replacement laptop.

"Were done with Power," Jobs said, referring to both the name and the PowerPC processor. He said the company had struggled, and failed, to mitigate the heat issues of PowerPC G5 processors in notebooks.

Jobs said that from now on, there will be a dual processor in every MacBook Pro, making the new model four to five times faster than the PowerBook G4.

"Its the fastest Mac notebook ever," he said, "and the thinnest." The MacBook Pro, which will ship in February, will weigh 5.6 pounds and be only 1 inch thick.

Read more here about the first Intel-based iMacs.

The MacBook Pro will feature a 15.4-inch LCD display that, Jobs said, "is as bright as our Cinema Displays." The notebook will also include a built-in iSight video camera, an Apple Remote with Front Row, DVI (Digital Video Interactive) out, one FireWire 400 port, two USB 2.0 ports and an ExpressCard slot.

The notebook will also feature Mag Safe, a new power adaptor connector held onto the case by magnets. If the cable is tugged, the adaptor will release safely, preventing the possible fall of the notebook.

"Nobody thinks of the details as Apple does," said Bob ODonnell, vice president with IDC in San Mateo, Calif., adding that the notebooks price was at the high end. "Its a premium expression and an equally premium price—classic Apple in that regard."

Next Page: Modem issues and updates to iLife and iWork.

Modem Issues and Updates

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Two models of the MacBook Pro will be available. The $1,999 model will feature a 1.67GHz Core Duo chip with 2MB on-chip shared Level 2 cache, a 667MHz front-side bus, 512MB of RAM, an 80GB hard drive, a SuperDrive and ATI Mobility Radeon X1600 graphics.

The $2,499 model boosts the processor to 1.83GHz and the hard drive to 100GB. Both will come with the iLife 06 suite.

Neither, however, will include an internal modem. An external modem will be offered for $49.

For insights on Apples modem option, check out Peter Coffees Weblog.

Key to the transition is Rosetta, an emulation technology that allows PowerPC-native applications to run on Intel-based Macs.

Jobs demonstrated Microsoft Office: Mac 2004 and Adobe System Inc.s Photoshop running under Rosetta, and admitted that the emulated versions will not run as fast as native versions would, or the existing versions on PowerPC-based Macs.

However, he said, the overall performance of Photoshop should be good enough for all but professional users.

Jobs also spent time outlining the changes made to the iLife 06 and iWork 06 software suites.

The iLife 06 suite, which includes iPhoto, iDVD, iMovie, iTunes and GarageBand, has gained a new application called iWeb.

Jobs demonstrated the Web-page builder, saying it integrated simple usability with the ability to make "beautiful" Web pages.

What does Apple have planned for OS X on Intel-based Macs? Click here to read more.

iWeb allows users to choose and modify Apple-designed templates, much as iWorks Pages does.

Jobs demonstrated how users can drag and drop graphic and other elements, as well as browse through other rich media content from iLife, such as movies, music and photos.

In addition, iWeb offers a simple interface for blogging within the created Web page, as well as RSS integration for blog entries and Podcasts.

The new version of iPhoto is optimized for speed and raises the limit on photos to 250,000. It also offers full-screen editing, one-click visual effects and new options for higher-quality books, calendars and Shutterfly-like cards.

In addition, Jobs demonstrated the "photocasting" feature of the new iPhoto. Calling it "Podcasting for photos," Jobs showed how iPhoto users could invite others to share a photo album. The other users could use their copies of iPhoto or an RSS reader to subscribe to the album and see new photos added by the original user.

iMovie has gained animated themes, real-time effects and titles, and new audio tools and sound effects, as well as allowing users to open multiple projects at once.

iDVDs updates included widescreen presentation, new themes, improved slideshows, support for third-party DVD burners, and "Magic iDVD", a simple, one-screen approach to DVD creation.

Jobs also demonstrated Garage Band, which can now be used as a Podcast studio, with Podcast artwork track support, automatic ducking and iChat integration for interviews over Apples own IM application.

The iWork 06 suite was also updated, with new versions of the PageMaker-like Pages and Keynote presentation applications. Jobs did not give many details, but he said Keynote will support 3-D charts, advanced image editing, reflections, masking and tables with calculation.

Both suites are available for $79 each, with a five-user license costing $99.

Apple-branded professional applications, including Final Cut Pro, Aperture and Logic Pro, will be available in Intel-native versions by March, Jobs said. Owners of current versions will be able to upgrade by trading in their disks for $49.

Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis on Apple in the enterprise.

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