MacWorld 2005, Mac Mini And iPod Shuffle

“Its all in the family.” Apple has done it again and is going to give Windows manufacturers a run for their money and Windows users who are already sitting on the fence slightly more to think about in 2005. And the year’s only beginning. For the prospect switcher held back by a tight budget, Apple introduces the Mac Mini and for the athelete who still found the iPod Mini still too big for their sporting activities, Apple now has the iPod Shuffle.

Introducing The New Mac Mini

20050112084851317_3Coming in, from nowhere the Mac Mini looks set to blaze the path to WinTel decimation in 2005. Over the years a huge demand was reported for multimedia computers which were small and light resulting in the ever popular Shuttle PC rigs from Taiwan. Apple has responded with the Mac Mini, geared with a G4 PowerPC processor and small enough to be carried in your school knapsack. Measuring 2 inches tall and weighing less than 2.9 pounds. The Mac Mini is a ‘BYODKM’, which translates to Bring.Your.Own.Display.Keyboard.and.Mouse.

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Mac Mini Specs

The Mac Mini comes in two main specs, one with a higher processor than the others and a host of optional extras that you can customise at the point of purchase:

1.25GHz Mac Mini for a suggested retail price of USD$499 includes:

  • 1.25GHz PowerPC G4 Processor;
  • 256MB of 333MHz DDR SDRAM, expandable to 1GB;
  • 40GB Ultra ATA hard drive;
  • Combo (DVD-ROM/CD-RW) optical drive;
  • ATI Radeon 9200 graphics processor with 32MB video memory;
  • One FireWire 400 and two USB 2.0 ports;
  • 10/100 BASE-T Ethernet networking and 56K V.9.2 modem;
  • Internal support for Airport Extreme wireless networking and Bluetooth;
  • DVI or VGA out(adapter included), composite/S-Video out with optional adapter and;
  • Built-in speaker and headphone/line-out.

1.42GHz Mac Mini, for a suggested retail price of USD$599 includes:

  • 1.42GHz PowerPC G4 Processor;
  • 256MB of 333MHz DDR SDRAM, expandable to 1GB;
  • 80GB Ultra ATA hard drive;
  • Combo (DVD-ROM/CD-RW) optical drive;
  • ATI Radeon 9200 graphics processor with 32MB video memory;
  • One FireWire 400 and two USB 2.0 ports;
  • 10/100 BASE-T Ethernet networking and 56K V.9.2 modem;
  • Internal support for Airport Extreme wireless networking and Bluetooth;
  • DVI or VGA out(adapter included), composite/S-Video out with optional adapter and;
  • Built-in speaker and headphone/line-out.

    *both models ship with Mac OS X 10.3 and Apple’s latest, iLife’05

    For both Mac Mini’s built-to-order options and accessories include:

    • 1GB of RAM;
    • SuperDrive(DVD+/-RW/CD-RW);
    • Airport Extreme Card;
    • Internal Bluetooth module.

Both models will ship on 22 January 2005 in the USA and 29 January 2005 worldwide. With its small form factor, its ideal for space limited offices that currently sport a slew of Dell and HP desktops and the ever ardent upcoming artiste who’s into audio/video engineering. Although, sporting the aging G4 PowerPC platform, its sufficient for home users and light commercial use. Higher-end users can hop up a notch to the earlier launched iMac G5. The Mac Mini completes Apple’s desktop line-up with an option for every segment of the market. Finally, it looks like Apple has learnt to move on from lessons learnt back in the day when Apple and IBM started manufacturing consumer-level computers. PCs dominated the consumer market partly from Apple’s reluctance to license manufacturing of their computers to third-party manufactureres but in 2005, Apple looks set to right previous wrongs.

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Introducing The New iPod Shuffle

First we had the iPod and then the iPod Mini and eventually Apple decided to spruce up the iPod family with a coloured screen iPod Photo capable of syncing with your iPhoto album and blowing away friends and family with the ability to do slideshows from your iPod Photo given that you carry your iPod Photo dock and cables around. Not forgetting the special edition iPod U2, ideal for consumers who were caught up with the initial iPod media releases where an iPod was seen cast in the shadows mimicking a black iPod. The iPod U2 is also a superb accessory for those of us into Goth.

Apple seemed to have taken care of the market segments from the middle-income commuter to the tech geek who could afford to dish out a little extra to add some colour to their world. The iPod Mini aimed at atheletes took care of the need for tunes while heaving away at various sporting activities. In 2005, as Apple promised since MacWorld’s 2004 keynote speech, Apple releases iPod Shuffle, with a price that’s affordable by almost any gadget freak and a form factor that will suit almost any activity. From running, communting to flying off the coping of halfpipe for skaters. At press time, the suggestsed retail prices of the iPod Shuffle were USD$99 for the 512MB iPod Shuffle and USD$149 for the 1GB iPod Shuffle. Typically, the 512MB iPod Shuffle holds up to 120 songs and the 1GB iPod Shuffle holding up to 240 songs.

The iPod Shuffle comes in two flavours, size and the capacity of songs its capable of carrying being the main distinction.

iPod Shuffle Specs

  • Storage: 512MB or 1GB;
  • Battery Life: Up to 12hrs;
  • Skip Protection: Skip-free playback;
  • iPod Ports: USB connector, stereo minijack;
  • Dock Ports: iPod shuffle Dock-compatible USB connector;
  • Connectivity: USB 1.1 and 2.0 through integrated USB connector;
  • Charge Time: About 4hrs(2hrs fast charge to 80% capacity);
  • Audio Support: mp3(8 to 320Kbps), mp3 VBR, AAC (8 to 320Kbps), Protected AAC (from iTunes Music Store, M4A, M4B, M4P), Audible (formats 2,3 and 4) and WAV;
  • Size: 3.3 x 0.98 x 0.33 inches;
  • Weight: 0.78 ounce
  • Included Software: iTunes for Mac and Windows;
  • Included Accessories: Earbud, headphones, lanyard, USB cap;
  • Requirements: Mac with a USB port; Mac OS X 10.2.8 or 10.3.4 or higher, or Windows PC with USB port; Windows 2000 Service Pack 2 or later or Windows XP Home/Professional Service Pack 4 or later

Available Apple Accessories:

  • iPod Shuffle USB Power Adapter (M9837LL/A);
  • iPod Shuffle Backup Battery Pack (M9759G/A), claimed to extend iPod Shuffle to 20hrs;
  • World Travel Adapter Kit (M8794G/B);
  • iPod Shuffle Dock (M9757G/A);
  • In-Ear Headphones (M9394G/A);
  • iPod Shuffle Armbad (M9760G/A);
  • iPod Shuffle Sport Case (M9758G/A);
  • AppleCare Protection Plan (M9404LL/A), extends 90-day support to years worldwide support.

20050112084851317_5Unlike the iPod, the iPod Shuffle works off an ‘AutoFill’ function that works with iTunes 4.7.1 and higher. AutoFill selects tunes randomly from your iTunes library and loads it into your iPod Shuffle. At a flick of a switch you can elect to either play songs in order or shuffled. Charging can be carried out via USB ports of a mac of PC or by connecting the iPod Shuffle into an optional dock that facilitates charging directly from an electrical outlet. Mimicking the iPod, iPod Shuffle also doubles up as a portable flash drive with storage space to back up portable files and exhange them between computers. What’s wonderful is that you can even set the amount of space to reserve for your backup files on your iTunes preference pane. You can also manually import songs into iPod Shuffle if you’re not a fan of Autofill.

The only obvious disappointing feature of the iPod Shuffle, is the USB cap. You’d have thought that with the plethora of USB devices already in the market, Apple would have designed a cap that would flip open and stay attached to the iPod Shuffle chasis. Expect to buy a lot of iPod Shuffle caps or leave yours at home and risk frying your iPod Shuffle’s USB port or filling it with grit. I suppose this is a good reason to be buying the iPod Shuffle Sport Case then? Yet another question that comes to mind is the audio output of this tiny device. Is it going to be loud enough for the rockers and trance hoppers?
Overview

Apple has been renown as a marketing company first and a computer manufacturer second. From the release of the Mac Mini and iPod Shuffle its obvious that Apple is closing the loop on the noose around Windows rigs. What began as a campaign of using the iPod as an evangilistic tool to woo Windows users, has eleviated to an all out onslaught. Now the premise is, “buy a relatively inexpensive iPod Shuffle, and then if you like that, buy a relatively inexpensive Mini Mac companion that you can use with your existing Windows monitor. Just chuck out the Windows rig.” If that isn’t enough Apple has also recently announced working with car manufacturers, Volvo, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Alfa Romeo and Ferrari, in efforts to deliver full iPod integration into their vehicles in 2005.

Apple seems set on wooing the Windows users in 2005 and the year’s just started, you can be sure that there are more surprises in store in 2005, from this resilient company.

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