Apple Archive

Video iPods and iSight in the iMac Put Apple Firmly at the Hub of the Digital Lifestyle

- 2005.10.14

"Did you see the new iPod?!", a friend asked me today. Apparently he had just bought a Nano and now pines after the new video iPod.

Yes, Apple introduced an iPod that plays video on Wednesday. And it still shows photos and plays music. You can also control it with a remote control (which looks like an iPod shuffle) when it's in a special dock - nice if you decide to connect it to your stereo system.

Pretty soon it'll be downloading the music off the iTunes Music Store for you.

Outside of the fact that it can download and play video, iTunes 6 has almost no improvements over the just-released iTunes 5. In fact, when I installed it, it only took up an additional 644 KB over iTunes 5, which was already installed.

Why didn't they call it 5.1 or 5.5? Your guess is as good as mine.

The video iPod is all well and good, but the most interesting announcement was the new iMac G5.

Yeah, it looks pretty much the same as the old iMac G5 - except for the little hole at the top where the built-in iSight video camera resides. The G5 is a bit faster, of course, running at 1.9 GHz on the low-end 17" iMac and 2.1 GHz on the high-end 20" model.

iMac G5The best feature - the one I wish I had in my G5 - is Front Row. This is also where the aforementioned remote really comes into play. Much like Microsoft's Media Center Edition of Windows, Front Row is an application that runs on top of Mac OS X allowing you to control music, movies, and DVDs with a remote control and a large-print interface.

This means you don't have to sit right in front of the computer to control what media it's playing for you. It's not quite as fully featured as Microsoft's Media Center, but it certainly has the potential to eventually allow you to watch TV and record television shows if you've got a capture device (and who knows, perhaps Apple will add that in in the next iMac).

Then again, perhaps not - because you'll soon be able to purchase ABC television shows from the iTunes Music Store and download them to your computer, or, if you like, your new video iPod. An episode of Desperate Housewives is going to cost $1.99. Not a bad deal, really, for an hour-long TV show, and I'm sure you'll be getting it commercial-free as well (which probably cuts it down to 40 minutes).

Apple's now no longer just a computer company, as they admit themselves. With the latest products they're branching out into realms that no one would have predicted 5 years ago.

They keep getting closer and closer to directly competing with Microsoft, and they certainly are a serious contender when it comes to digital music and video on the go. Windows Media Player still can't compete - it's complicated, loaded with features and options that people don't understand how to use, and it tends to be buggy and slow even on a fast computer.

The most important thing that Apple has built up over the past few years, first with Mac OS X 10.1 (which actually worked properly and wasn't intolerably slow), then with the iPod and the new iMacs, is a credible name. Apple lost much of the credibility it had built up in the 70s, 80s, and early 90s by offering inferior products and poor customer service, which resulted in a static installed base, declining market share, and many people criticizing the brand and hardware.

Within the past few years we've seen Apple gone from "oh, you have a Mac? You should've bought a Dell" to "oh! You have a Mac? You have an iPod, too? Did you see the newÖ"

The megahertz war is over, and now people are buying the digital lifestyle from Apple and paying no attention to how fast the computer in the center of it is.

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