Apple NL Press Conference: First Glance At New Products

Today, the Dutch headquarters of Apple held a press conference concerning the announcements made by Apple’s CEO, Steve Jobs, last week during MacWorld in San Fransisco. During the conference, the new products would be presented by speakers from Apple Europe, and afterwards there was time to get hands-on with the new products. I got invited to this event, so read on for a few notes.

Apple’s office in The Netherlands is just off of the A12 highway towards Arnhem, in Bunnik. I must say, from the outside it’s a rather un-inspiring office building, but on the inside it looks very clean, almost Apple Store-like. Due to the major traffic jams which gridlock my country for 6 hours in total each day, a trip that should take me little over an hour actually turned out to take 3 hours (of course it didn’t help I missed an exit, but let’s just pretend that didn’t happen).

So, I got in a little late (about an hour, but I only missed the check-in). I took a seat in a conference room, and watched two men from Apple Europe talk about iLife ’06, iWork ’06, the Intel iMac, and of course the MacBook Pro. Little new information got presented here, since I already watched the keynote from Steve Jobs.

After the presentation, the opportunity was there to ask questions. Here are a few notes, things Steve Jobs did not mention in his keynote:

  • iMovie HD now works with iSight. This was an often-reuqested feature;
  • The speaker was not sure if PPC plug-ins for iMovie worked using Rosetta;
  • GarageBand automagically optimizes for which microphone you are using (built-in, USB, etc.);
  • iWeb also works without .Mac. You can just save the webpage to a directory and then upload that to your own webspace;
  • They removed FireWire 800 and S-video because customers had shown little interest in them.
  • The remote on the MacBook Pro is the same as the one on the iMac, but this one can also be used with Keynote;
  • They could not provide information on battery life yet, as they are still tweaking the software for better battery life.

    MacBook Pro

    Then we got on to the really interesting part: actually using the Intel Macs. My attention was obviously drawn to the MacBook Pro. The machine is blazingly fast, but I’m not sure how much of that speed can be attributed to the for me enormous amount of RAM it packed (2 GB, I’m only used to Macs with either 512MB or 1GB). Front Row was noticeably faster than on the iMac G5 1.9Ghz 1GB I reviewed. Same goes for the entire iLife suite; especially iPhoto ’06 is so much faster than its predecessor (which is close to unusable). Again, it is difficult to say if this can be attributed to the machine, or to the new version of iPhoto.

    I’m not sure what to think of the MacBook Pro. While I find it a good looking machine, I’m having a hard time trying to find the usefulness in adding a webcam and Front Row to a laptop targeted at professionals. On an iBook, I can understand it. However, I think professionals have more use in PCMCIA slots and modems (ie. digital photographers go to every corner of the globe, and broadband isn’t as widespread as dial-up internet).

    In any case, expect a detailed review of the MacBook Pro somewhere in February. I’ll withhold my final word until I’ve used it more extensively.

    Intel iMac, More

    The two Intel iMacs also pack the speed improvements I noted in the MacBook Pro. Again, one can especially notice this when using the iLife applications. For the rest there is little to see here.

    Rosetta is indeed completely transparent. I used Office:Mac and Photoshop, and they loaded without problems. Word even seemed to load faster than on the iMac G5. Photoshop was usable, but my fellow members of the press who appear to be heavy users of Photoshop (I ain’t) said it was noticeably slower than running it native on PPC (obviously).

    The FM radio/remote control for the iPod works fine, but the radio lacks auto-search, and as such you must search for channels manually which can really be a pain in the butt when traveling. Some RDS/EON functionality would be appreciated, Apple. Now, this remote/radio simply is not worth its whopping EUR 55 (or $49 in the US).


    Obviously, there is little to conclude. I got to use the new products fairly little, so it would’nt be fair to make any final judgments. Expect reviews of the mentioned products on OSNews in the coming months.

    –Thom Holwerda

    Note: My apologies for not having any photos, but I was not allowed to take any.

    If you would like to see your thoughts or experiences with technology published, please consider writing an article for OSNews.


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