Today Apple announced the latest generation of MacBook Pros. These models are more of a refresh than a redesign but do come with some welcome new features.
Thunderbolt and Expanded IO
Finally there’s another port whose name sounds even cooler than FireWire, Thunderbolt. Thunderbolt is a new IO port that is up to 12 times faster than Firewire 800 and twenty times as fast as USB 2.0. The new port will be used with external drives, high-speed peripherals and even external monitors. You can daisy chain devices and the port is included on the 13″,15″ and 17″. Speaking of including ports, all models of MacBook Pro now include the FireWire 800 port.
Processor & Graphics
Per usual, the processor and graphics get a boost across the line. New quad-core i7 Intel processors and AMD Radeon HD 6750M 1GB GDDR5 video cards are now available on the higher end 15″ and 17″ models. The 13″ has the option for either an i5 or i7 processor which should help out with it’s speed considerably.
The iSight camera gets an update to 720p resolution, up from 640×480. The new MacBook Pros will include a new FaceTime app that will allow the Mac to talk to other iOS devices using FaceTime. The FaceTime app is available for older Macs via the Mac App Store for 99 cents.
The new 13″ MacBook Pro starts at $1199, the 15″ starts at $1799 and the 17″ starts at $2499. The new models are now available at the Apple Store and through Authorized Resellers.
[ New MacBook Pros ] [ Thunderbolt ]
Eye-Fi, makers of Wi-Fi enabled memory cards, has announced a new Direct Mode for sharing photos from your camera to your mobile device without the need of a Wi-Fi network.
The new Direct Mode works by creating an ad hoc wireless network with your iPhone, iPad or MacBook so you can instantly send photos from your camera to your mobile device.
The main benefit of this solution is the ability to use your favorite digital camera and immediately get the photo sharing and tagging benefits of your smartphone or mobile device.
The new Direct Mode will also be available as an update for current Eye-Fi X2 cards later this year.
[ Eye-Fi ]
New evidence in the latest iPhone SDK makes mention of a front facing camera which could mean that video iChat could finally making it’s debut in the next iPhone.
Bandwidth requirements more than software development or hardware costs have probably been keeping this feature out of the iPhone. If AT&T can’t keep a phone call from dropping, how could they handle 2-way video chat? With recent investments in their infrastructure, maybe AT&T is ready to allow this type of communication (in exchange for more iPhone exclusivity?)
Wether or not video chat finally becomes part of our day to day communication will come down to the quality of the experience.
One of the ways video chat could be improved is to get rid of the separate camera all together and integrate the camera sensor into the display itself. This way, the display will act like a true window (or mirror) and help people make proper eye contact (no looking at a camera.) This tech is in development but no word on when this will make it way into consumer devices.
The ability to switch the video feed the other user is receiving from your front camera to the back camera would also be pretty useful. If you’re witnessing an event or want to show someone something, you can both share in the experience.
If there’s a company who can make mobile video chat work, it’s definitely Apple.
With the new iPod Touch most likely to be announced next week at Apple’s September 9 event, we thought we’d compile our own wish list of features we’d like to see.
A 3 megapixel built-in camera is widely expected to be part of the new iPod lineup. As more and more apps use the video camera for augmented reality apps, having a camera will become more and more of a must have feature.
Many apps use device location to provide relevant content to the user. While the iPod Touch can use wifi to help determine location, having GPS would really help make this more accurate.
The compass on the iPhone seemed almost gimmicky at first until you relaize how useful it is when combined with augmented reality and map apps.
It’s doubtful that Apple would include this feature (it would help turn the Touch into an iPhone.) You could use voice activated apps and place VOIP calls when on wifi.
Larger memory capacity, lower price points and built-in cameras are widely expected with the new iPods. We’ll find out soon enough what else Apple has up their sleeve.
Barnes & Noble has released a free iPhone App. Cool and all, but what’s so exiting about that?
In addition to the standard stuff like a store locator and local events, this app allows you to search the B & N store for media just by taking a picture of the book, DVD or CD you’re looking for.
Barnes & Noble iPhone App. Search using your camera.
This is great for price shopping while at other retailers and searching via picture is a lot faster than typing. If you’re over at a friends house and like the coffee table book, a quick pic and you’ve got the details. I tried it out on a number of books and DVDs and the technology is very accurate.
This app is a great example of using the hardware of the iPhone (camera and location) to make a faster, better user experience than you can get via a standard web interface.
[ Barnes & Noble App ] Side Note: My local B&N was offering a free cup of coffee with download.