Steve Jobs and his reality distortion field apparently put on a relatively quiet show at MacWorld today. Apple stock dropped about $10 on comparatively underwhelming (to the analysts) product announcements- basically, there was no iPhone this year.
The big announcement was the MacBook Air. From my perspective, this is a rather boring release: a very thin MacBook with an underpowered processor, low-end (Intel) video processor, and no user ability to add RAM, upgrade hard disk capacity, or replace the battery. Nothing about it appeals in any way beyond its impressive industrial design: it *is* pretty thin, I’ll give them that. But it still weighs over three pounds, so it isn’t exactly what I’d call “light”. Of more interest to me were the Time Capsule NAS/Airport hub and the improved Apple TV set top device.
Time Capsule is basically network attached storage built in to an AirPort (802.11n) and Gigabit Ethernet hub. But the important consideration is that it works with Leopard’s Time Machine backup application to perform wireless continuous backups. I like backups, so much so that I now have about 1.2 terabytes of hard disk storage dedicated purely to backing up my computers. Unfortunately, I just spent several hundred dollars setting up backup for my MacBook. Buyers remorse…yes, that’s what they call this.
Apple TV has been around for a while. It is essentially a small set top box to store and stream video to your TV. The idea originally is that folks would have digital movies and such, or DVDs that they would rip and store on the Apple TV. Unfortunately, its lack of any built-in mechanism for acquiring legal movie or TV content limited its appeal. The MacWorld announcement regarding Apple TV doesn’t really change the device at all: it gets a software update, and that is about it. The big news is the introduction of licensed movie content available for rental and download directly using the device. 20th Century Fox, Paramount, Touchstone, MGM, New Line, Sony, Miramax, Lions Gate Films: they are all on board to provide movies for Apple TV. Oh, you live in Canada? Oops, sorry, no movies for you.
Yes, that’s right: once again the CRTC has managed to impede another cool technology. It took us years to get satellite radio, TiVo is only just arriving, and TV shows on ITunes are limited to Canadian only content like Corner Gas and NHL hockey. Hurray for Canadian content…. Oh well, maybe one day someone will take the CRTC and its regulations, pack them up in one of those ugly metal shipping containers, and ship them to some country that wants them. Like maybe Zimbabwe: that would be a good home for the CRTC.