New MacBooks! New iMacs! New iPads! New mini! (what’s a mini? lol) Never let it be said that I am not excited about new product releases from Apple. But new for Apple over the past few years has also meant the loss of something, too, in the interest of “the future.” Unfortunately, that always hasn’t been a plus for us. Here’s a brief history.
ADB to USB Sure, makes sense. The PC world is a glut of USB devices such as keyboards, mice, external drives, printers and more which would be simple to use on the Mac – and cheaper. Plug and Play has never been this easy on the PC.
Floppy drive for SuperDrive Great! Well, kind of great. Yes, CDs can store about 72 floppies’ worth of data, but for the longest time, I would still come across the odd floppy disk that needed the data taken off of it. I still have my USB floppy drive just in case.
SCSI to Firewire You bet. Get rid of those monster cables, SCSI ID numbers and termination woes that would help coin the term “SCSI voodoo,” add simple connections and speed. Sure, I had to replace a couple of devices, but in the end, it was well worth it.
USB2 to USB3 Awesome! It’s really about time. Now we can have even faster data transfer for our backups and data streaming. And, it’s backward compatible. A win-win in my book.
Firewire to Thunderbolt What? Apple is trying to repeat the SCSI to Firewire scenario, but this time, I think people are more invested in Firewire, with hard drives, scanners, video cameras and the like to make the switch without a lot of clawing and scratching. Plus, there aren’t a whole lot of devices that support it just yet.
SuperDrive to… nothing? Ack! Hello? What do you do with an edited iMovie or Final Cut project? Install software much? Listen to or rip CDs? Watch DVDs? I mean, not every app is available in the App Store or is available for download and not every movie or TV show is available in iTunes. But that is what the new generation of iMacs and MacBooks are doing. Yes, I can get an external optical drive. Ohhh, that’s what I want, right alongside my Magic Trackpad, external hard drives, USB hub, printer, scanner, etc. Not.
The App Store, iTunes and the web are great resources for software, music and books. But not the only source. And Apple shouldn’t be forcing us to limit our ability to choose. Yes, a 5mm edge on an iMac is sexy (though it’s only the edge, it suffers from a bulge around its middle), and the new MacBook is only .75″ high, but those features are not deal-makers for me. I would rather have an optical drive. In the meantime, I will keep my previous generation iMac and MacBook, if it’s all the same to you.
One thing that really interests me in the new lineup of iMacs and Mac mini is the option of getting a Fusion drive, a hybrid of solid-state and traditional mechanical hard drive technology. It comes as single unit, 128GB SSD and either 1- or 3-TB hard drive. Mountain Lion determines your application and data usage and automatically places the more frequently used data on the SSD portion, increasing the relative speed of data access to almost as fast as a SSD drive by itself, only less expensive than buying one of the equivalent capacity. If this works as claimed, this might be the best thing to come out of the new announcements.
As for the iPad, Apple has introduced the iPad 4, which sports a new chip with 2x the CPU speed of the previous model and they re-engineered the iPad 3 into what is now the iPad mini, a 7.9″ display device. As a recent purchaser of an iPad 3, I am only a little perturbed. I really like the full-size iPad and if I want something smaller in the future, I might go for an iPhone or iPod Touch. For web browsing, productivity apps, reading books and especially comics, you can’t beat the iPad with the Retina display. It’s lovely.
I love Apple for its commitment to evolving the platforms they have come to dominate. My hope for them is that they eventually understand their customers can’t upgrade as fast, especially in this economy. Introduce the new, but leave room for the current.