Apple held a news conference today and announced several products, including one that had long been predicted and others that were surprises.
As expected, the company announced a new, smaller version of the iPad tablet with a 7.9-inch screen. I think that's close enough to call it an 8-inch screen. The new iPad will run almost all, if not all, of the existing iPad software. It's 1024-by-768 pixel display is exactly the same as the number of pixels used on the larger iPad 1 and iPad 2, so all of today's software should run properly on the new, smaller iPad Mini. It weighs only 0.68 pounds so it should be a lot easier to carry and use than the previous larger iPad although obviously with a smaller screen. With a 10-hour battery life, keeping it charged shouldn't be much of a problem. It will sell for $329 for the version with 16 gigabytes of memory. Apple will begin accepting orders on October 26 with hardware shipments scheduled for November 2.
A big surprise was the introduction of a new full-sized iPad. The present iPad was only introduced a few months ago and Apple doesn't often update its products all that quickly. However, the latest full-sized iPad will work on more wireless networks worldwide, provide faster wi-fi connections, have a front-facing camera with 720p HD video capture (great for FaceTime), and a 10-hour battery life. Prices remain unchanged from the previous model.
Apple also added a new laptop to its line-up: a 13-inch MacBook Pro with a Retina Display with a native resolution of 2,560-by-1,600 pixels that weighs in at 3.57 pounds. The new system has a base price of $1,699 and starts to ship on Tuesday. The previous laptops with Retina Displays were only available with 15-inch screens. The new laptop is described as "super thin and light." It won't be quite as small as the MacBook Air or the various Windows ultrabook light systems, but it's not much bigger. Indeed, it will have a better display than any of its competitors.
Not to leave desktop computers behind, Apple announced a significant upgrade to to its iMac series. The new iMac is super slim. It looks like a painting to hang on the wall. Available in both 21.5- and 27-inch displays, it is 5 mm thin at its edge and a bit larger in the middle as it is convex, with a protruding center bulge. It contains either an Intel i5 or i7 processor with the fastest being a 3.4GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 (Turbo Boost up to 3.9GHz). Shipment is expected in November for the 21-5-inch models, December for those with 27-inch displays.
Finally, a new Mac Mini was introduced. The new tiny (7.7-inch-by-7.7-inch-by-1.4-inch computer will be much faster than previous units, primarily thanks to its dual or quad-intel Core i5 or i7 Ivy Bridge processor. The Mac Mini starts at $599 for a 2.5GHz computer with 4GB of RAM and a 500GB hard drive. There's also a server edition for $999 that has a pair of 1TB hard drives. It ships today.
Further details may be found at http://www.apple.com.
So what is the impact to genealogists? Very little, in my opinion. In most cases, diehard Mac fans will applaud the new models but few others will pay any attention. I doubt if any genealogists will switch to Apple simply because of the new products announced today.
The new mini iPad will appeal to some. Unlike Microsoft's new tablet computer due to ship in a few days, the two new iPad devices already have tens of thousands of programs available, including ten or more for genealogy purposes. It may attract a few new customers who did not care for the older, larger tablet design of the earlier iMacs but otherwise won't make much difference to Apple's already overwhelming share of the tablet market.
The new iMac and Mac Mini are very nice incremental improvements but are evolutionary, not revolutionary.
Having said that, I will admit that I find the new 13-inch MacBook Pro with a Retina Display to be very appealing. I have been using a MacBook Air since they first were released and my aging computer is now a bit slow by today's standards. I had decided to not replace it with a bigger system simply because I love its small size, making it easy to carry. However, the new 13-inch MacBook Pro is only slightly larger and slightly heavier, and has a much better screen, more storage space, and is much faster. The new system is tempting...
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