On the heels of one of Apple Computer's most successful holiday seasons, Chief Executive Steve Jobs yesterday introduced new stylish products that build on the company's growing...
SAN FRANCISCO — On the heels of one of Apple Computer’s most successful holiday seasons, Chief Executive Steve Jobs yesterday introduced new stylish products that build on the company’s growing mass appeal.
At the annual Macworld Conference and Expo, Jobs showed off a new “Mac mini” computer that doesn’t include a monitor, keyboard or mouse and retails for $499. The square, brushed-aluminum computer is just 2 inches tall, with a width and depth of 6.5 inches. For $100 more, Apple sells a version with a slightly faster processor and an 80 GB hard drive — twice that of the basic model. Both versions are expected to go on sale Jan. 22.
If the Mac mini is now Apple’s tiniest desktop, the “iPod shuffle” music player announced yesterday makes the company’s svelte iPod mini look bulky. The iPod shuffle is a flash memory-based player that weighs less than an ounce and is smaller than a pack of chewing gum.
It’s available now in two versions: a 512 MB model for $99 can hold about 120 songs, and a 1 GB model for $149 that can store about 240 songs.
The device doesn’t include a screen, unlike the other iPod models. Music playback is controlled by buttons on its front, arranged in a circle to suggest the popular Apple click wheel found on the other iPods. It connects to a Mac or Windows PC via a USB 2.0 connector, which also enables it to be used as a flash-memory storage device. The device gets it name from the random playback mode that has become popular now that users can store their entire song libraries on one device. A switch on the back of the iPod shuffle changes from shuffle mode to playlist mode to listen to songs in a specific order. A new feature is the desktop iTunes music software can automatically collect random songs from one’s library to fill up the iPod shuffle’s memory.
On the software front, Apple introduced iWork ’05, a productivity suite made up of a package that includes the updated presentation tool Keynote 2 and a new word-processing application called Pages. Although Pages might appear to be a direct shot at Microsoft’s dominance of office applications, the program seems more like a pared-down Microsoft Word with an Apple polish.
It doesn’t include all of Word’s features, concentrating on what most everyday users need in a word processor, but can produce documents that look more slick and professional than what Word offers. A set of templates, pre-filled with placeholder text and images, make it simple to create brochures, newsletters and other documents.
That way, according to Phil Schiller, Apple vice president of worldwide marketing, “you don’t start with a scary blank page.”
Apple’s other consumer suite, iLife ’05, was refreshed with new versions of iPhoto, to store and edit digital photos; iMovie, to edit videos; iDVD, to create and burn DVDs; and GarageBand, to create music. iMovie HD, as its name implies, adds high-definition video support, the ability to import and edit the MPEG-4 videos created by many digital still cameras, and a feature that can import video from a camcorder and automatically add transitions and titles. GarageBand 2 gains up to eight recording tracks and true music score notation.
Apple’s only nod to more advanced users during the keynote was the introduction of Final Cut Express HD, the company’s mid-level video-editing application. Priced at $299 (or a $99 upgrade for existing Final Cut Express owners), the new version adds support for high-definition video and rolls in an animated text title generator called LiveType, and a music-editing tool called Soundtrack that previously retailed as a separate application for $299. Final Cut Express HD will be available in February, according to Apple.
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