Wednesday, January 7, 2009

MacWorld Keynote Total Roundup

If you are like me, who live in a completely different time zone to the US, you'll have missed the MacWorld 2009 Keynote. Well, no fear, we have a complete roundup just for you.

17" MacBook Pro

Apple just confirmed the totally expected yet eagerly anticipated unibody 17-inch MacBook Pro. They're calling it the world's thinnest and lightest 17-inch laptop. It features a 1900 x 1200 LED backlit display, with a 700:1 contrast ratio, wider color gamut and a glorious $50 matte option. Most of the specs are otherwise quite similar to the 15-inch MacBook Pro, but unfortunately Apple went with a MBA-style non-removable battery, claiming that the lack of removable mechanism allowed for more battery -- they're speccing it at 8 hours of lithium polymer juice on integrated graphics, 7 hours on discrete, and it's rated at 1000 recharges. There will also be an exchange program, like with the iPod. The base model hits at $2799, spec breakdown and more shots after the break.

iTunes: DRM free, OTA downloads
At today's Macworld Expo keynote, Apple announced several changes to the iTunes store.

Starting today, 8 million of the iTunes Store's 10 million songs are now available DRM-free via iTunes Plus. All 10 million songs in the iTunes Store will be offered DRM-free by the end of March. Apple will also offer users a one-click solution to upgrade their entire library to iTunes Plus for 30 cents per song or 30% of album prices.

Additionally, the iTunes Wi-Fi music store is now compatible with 3G, allowing iPhone users to preview and download the entire iTunes music catalog over the 3G cellular network. Songs are available at the same price and quality as over Wi-Fi.

Finally, beginning in April, the iTunes Store will offer pricing in three tiers ($0.69, $0.99, and $1.29) based on the prices the music labels charge Apple.

Several users have reported that iTunes Store downloads are also working over AT&T's slower EDGE network.

iLife 09

At MacWorld San Francisco today, Apple announced a major update to its iLife suite of applications. iLife '09 will be available by late January 2009. Upgrade costs are $79, with a family pack at $99. It is shipping on all new macs. Here's a quick breakdown of some of the standout features of the new apps:

iPhoto '09
- Faces: Addition of facial recognition to events. Photos can be tagged to recognize faces, as in Facebook.
- Places: Uses geotagging to find information about the latitude and longitude of a photo. This information can be supplied either by a newer camera with built-in gps capabilities, or manually by user input.
- Slideshow Themes: Uses facial detection to properly position pictures in a slideshow. There's also support for Facebook and Flickr, with built-in geotagging.

iMovie '09
- Dynamic Themes: Context-sensitive menus for clips, along with animated travel maps
- Automatic Image Stabilization: Helps reduce motion in shaky video
- Precision Editor: Video and audio
- Advanced Drag and Drop: For placing video wherever you want it in the timeline
- Video Effects: Brings back special effects to iMovie

GarageBand '09
- Learn to Play: Teaches how to play an instrument with video instruction from professionals/celebrities. Nine basic lessons included, with additional downloads available at $4.99 each from within the app.

Since OS X 10.5.x is required to run the new iLife, Apple is also offering a package of OS X 10.5, iLife '09 and iWork '09 for $169. This "Mac Box Set" will ship in late January when iLife '09 ships.

iWork 09
In addition to iLife '09, Apple announced a major revision to its iWork suite of applications. iWork '09 is available now for $79/single user and $99/family pack, or only $49 with the purchase of a new Mac. It begins shipping today.

New transitions, chart options. There's also a new Keynote Remote app for the iPhone and iPod touch to control Keynote wirelessly with video preview that changes depending on orientation.

Full screen viewing of documents, dynamic outlines, and a new mail merge with Numbers, which can connect with tables and lists in Numbers. Pages will also offer integration with MathType and EndNote. Additionally, there's a new set of 40 themes coming with the app.

Table categories and 250 new functions will make things easier to understand.
A beta of this will be announced soon - offering collaboration options for notifying other people that you've changed documents, and allow others to review and edit them online. This will be a fee-based service offered by Apple once launches.

Since OS X 10.5.x is required to run the new iLife, Apple is also offering a package of OS X 10.5, iLife '09 and iWork '09 for $169. This "Mac Box Set" will ship in late January when iLife '09 ships.

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