I didn’t write my annual look at the state of the Mac for the upcoming year this time around mostly because it seemed what was ahead was fairly obvious, with the notable exception of what “one more thing” Steve Jobs might pull out of his hat at some point during the year. I had already called for–and been wrong about–a true “convergence” device and I would have called for it again this year (although the iPhone has some of those qualities and will probably get more.)
Movie rentals were pretty much a given, as was some kind of sub-notebook. The iPhone update had been leaked reports were spot on, right down to the cartoony jiggling of the icons to show they can be moved. I was a little surprised that the iPod touch got so many of the iPhone’s capabilities. That moment was marred, though, by the dead silence that greeted the news that adding them would cost $20. The only thing missing was the sound of crickets chirping.
The movie rentals are priced right, I think, and along with the direct Internet access make the Apple TV Take 2 much more appealing. One thing that Dave Hamilton of The Mac Observer noted, though and I agree 100% is that 24 hours is a little too short a window to start and finish a movie. He gave the example of parents who can’t really start a movie until the kids are in bed. If they start a rental at 10 and don’t finish it that night, they can’t pick it at 10 the next night–the rental period will have expired. Even 28 hours would be alright–it would allow that kind of two-night spanning and still be a reasonable tight window: start at 8 on night one, for example, and you have until midnight on night two to finish.
The MacBook Air was a real disappointment to me, though I admittedly am not Apple’s target market for a sub-notebook. I came away thinking there was a lot missing on the “but” side of the description: “It doesn’t have an optical drive but it has… it doesn’t have an Ethernet port but it has…, etc. The only thing that could have been filled in after the “buts” was “it’s thin and light.” For me, that’s not enough; for others, it may be everything: time will tell. Jobs also mentioned that the optional solid state hard drive was “pricey,” but didn’t mention how pricey: an extra $999.
I like Time Capsule, Apple’s AirPort Extreme wireless router and network attached storage device in one, and I think the price is fair. The next time I’m in the market for an 802.11N router, I’ll probably consider it, but lots of people may already have separate components to do the same thing. One thing is still unclear: does the fact that Time Machine supports the network storage within the Time Capsule mean it will support other networked drives? I asked two separate Apple “Blue Shirts” (the experts the booth staff directs you to if you have a question they can’t handle). One implied the answer was no and one implied it was yes. My guess is that neither of them is sure. I also suspect that–supported or not–it will be possible, although it may well involve a terminal command to do it.
One more note: Jim Gianopulos, the CEO of 20th Century Fox Studios, is by far the best “Guest CEO” I have seen at a Macworld keynote in recent memory, and a refreshing improvement to the stiff PR-speak of AT&T’s chief last year.