Apple’s iPad mini event has recently finished. Since there will be so few people willing to share their views on it, I thought it best I step in.
Retina 13” MacBook Pro
After the boring stuff about how Apple have sold loads of things and that they do it from shiny stores where people regularly high-five each other, the first interesting announcement was the 13” Retina MacBook Pro. This wasn’t any great surprise. It looks like a nice machine. I’m currently writing this on a 13” MacBook Air, but right now I don’t feel like I need to upgrade. I just don’t feel I ever get my face close enough to my laptop screen to notice the pixels. I’ve looked at the 15” version in the Apple Stores and it looks nice, but not tempting enough for the money.
Yes, they squeezed in a Mac Mini update too, but I don’t have anything to say about that. The new iMacs are interesting though. Firstly, Phil Schiller made a really big deal about how thin they are, but I’m not sure I really cared about the thickness of my iMac. I do care about the stupid places they keep the sockets for the thing though, and the fact that the lack of room on the side has moved the SD card slot to the back seems really stupid. Indeed, the SD card slot was about the only thing on the iMac that was in the right place. If they made an iMac with a headphone jack on the side, then I’d be more interested.
The device is clearly very thin, but the photos on the site, and Schiller’s movements on stage seemed very carefully designed to keep us from seeing the huge bulge in the back.
The dual SSD/HD 'Fusion Drive' was intriguing, but they didn’t seem to make much noise about how much it would actually cost. In fact, my current iMac has the old school version of that (two drives, an SSD that’s 256Gb, and an HD that’s 2Tb), and it’s handy and certainly makes the device a lot faster. I would hope that Apple’s software advances in these drives should make that even better, and removes the annoyance of having to manage data between two separate drives.
And then onto the main feature. The iPad mini wasn’t full of surprises. As expected, it was essentially an iPad 2, but smaller. No retina screen, also as expected, but even with the A5 and no retina screen it should make for a machine that could well feel as fast than the sometimes slightly underpowered iPad 3.
The only real surprise is how uncompetitively it’s been priced. In the UK it starts at £269 making it only £120 cheaper than the cheapest iPad 3. Considering that’s the difference in cost for adding 3/4G, or an extra few Gb of storage on the current iPad 3s, it’s clear they’re selling the mini as a device in its own right - not as a cheap, entry-level iPad, but as an iPad that’s better because it’s small. That’s a very Apple-like approach, but it’s going to disappoint and confuse a lot of the pundits who were expecting Apple to enter that section of the market because it’s the only way Apple could make a device that’s as cheap as the Kindle Fire or Nexus 7.
Despite the reasoning, and the fact it's entirely in Apple's character to make premium devices, it still feels pretty damn expensive. I looked at the images and thought that I really like how cute and compact it is, but even I can’t justify spending that much on yet another Apple device.
There was no mention of iTunes though, despite the fact the website says 'Coming in October'. That only leaves a week...