Do New Apple Products Make the Grade?

Opinion: As Steve Jobs touts the Mac mini, the iPod shuffle and other flashy releases at Macworld, David Coursey takes a look at each product's potential.

If Apples new products were school projects and I were the teacher, Id grade them like this: an A for the Mac mini, a B+ for iWork, a C+ for iLife 05, and a C- for the iPod shuffle.

I purposely avoided Steve Jobs Macworld keynote, instead relying on the Apple Web site, news releases and a couple of calls to people who were at the keynote to fill me in.

I did this because Apples new products always seemed so much better when I attended the love fest than when I considered them later in the harsh light of reality. This time, I decided to avoid the brainwashing and consider Apples products as I do everyone elses.

Heres my immediate reaction:

Mac mini: A $499 Mac ought to be the ultimate "switcher" box. Not that most Windows users actually switch to Macintosh, but many have bought a Mac for use at home. Buy a KVM (keyboard/video/mouse) switch, and the Mac mini can share mouse, keyboard and screen with your PC. This gets users a Mac without a lot of work and for a minimal investment.

/zimages/4/28571.gifRead more here about products announced so far at Macworld.

Having this machine in the Apple product line allows Mac fanatics to tell their Windows friends that instead of upgrading their Windows machine, they should add a Mac to their desktop or home—and save money in the process.


The downside of the Mac mini may be performance in the graphics-intensive applications toward which Mac users tend to gravitate. I want to see an independent, hands-on review before committing to a final score, but as a preliminary grade, I think an "A" is right on target. Im about ready to pull out my credit card for this one.

iWork: So, this is the Microsoft Office competitor Apple was rumored to be releasing? Clearly, thats not what this is. But I am looking forward to using iWork nevertheless. First, Keynote is a very useful presentation package, and Ive been looking forward to a new version.

/zimages/4/28571.gifCan the Mac do without Microsoft Office? Click here for a column.

Second, the Pages word processor is intended to be a tool that offers more layout options than a word processor without the complexity of desktop publishing. Thats a need I often have. For $79, Id be willing to take a chance on this one. Meanwhile, the Office competitor, if it exists, must wait for another day. A B+ seems appropriate.

Next Page: Does iLife 05 make the grade?