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Apple rolls out Watch, MacBook, hints at iTV

10 Mar 2015  | Brian Dipert

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Cool(er) MacBooks

Last week, I also predicted that Apple would soon roll out Intel Broadwell-based Macs, both upgrades to existing designs and all-new variants, and following in the footsteps of other computer OEMs that had already done so. Indeed, this ended up being the case. The conventional MacBook Air is new Broadwell-upgraded, as well as Thunderbolt 2-enhanced; the 13in Retina MacBook Pro also gets the Broadwell treatment, extending its battery life by an hour in the process (to 10 estimated total hours of runtime between charges).

And yes, Apple also unveiled a new (and completely fanless) Retina display-equipped 12in MacBook Air descendant, splitting the difference between the conventional MBA and Retina MPB product lines. It's quite an impressive design, beyond the display resolution upgrades; only 2lbs in weight, and only 13.1mm at its thickest point (24 per cent thinner than the 17.3mm of the current 11in MacBook Air). Commensurate with the more svelte case is a new keyboard design, along with a redesigned trackpad. Notable, too, is the connector narrowing to a total of only two, one handling analogue audio and the other (USB Type C) tackling power, video output and data I/O functions. Presumably, Apple will be offering an external "hub" adapter that supports multi-peripheral daisy-chaining capabilities.

Apple Watch

And last (but not least) were more details on Apple Watch, initially unveiled last September. In reading through the liveblogs from the folks that actually are at the event, I'm struck by the overall lack of anything revolutionarily new here today, although the refinements and enhancements to last year's public data are welcome nonetheless. First off, we know that preorders will begin on April 10, with initial shipments set to occur later that same (next) month, on April 24 to be exact.

We also have more detail on estimated battery life ... 18 hours (therefore necessitating an overnight recharge each day), to some degree dependent on the percentage of active-vs-standby operation driven by any particular usage profile. The activity level of the screen (and associated GPU), CPU and wireless connectivity options are all obvious modulators of the actual battery life any particular owner will experience in a given day. Other factors include the use (or not) of the integrated speaker and microphone, which I now realise my last-September writeup didn't emphasise ... and which, yes, are Dick Tracy-reminiscent capable of making and taking phone calls via a tethered smartphone ... as well as being Siri-supportive.

And we also know more about pricing, something that's been robustly debated of late in cyberspace (see here and here also). Apple reiterated that the aluminium-based entry-level Sport pricing will begin at $349 and extend to $399, depending on case dimensions. Stainless steel mainstream Watch prices will range from $549 to $1,099, again depending on size along with band material. Then there's the 18-karat watch edition, again coupled with various band material and dimension options, whose pricing is still nebulously revealed as only "beginning at $10,000."

Beyond that, we got only a bunch of (admittedly intriguing in many cases) application demonstrations from Apple and its developer partners. As is often the case in situations like this, the "rest of the story" will only appear in the coming hours, days and weeks, as Apple spokespersons accidentally (or not) let more details slip during the post-presentation product showcase, as developers leak more details in the process of finalising their applications and associated services, and certainly as initial review units show up at doorsteps.

What did you think of the Apple announcements today? Share your thoughts below.

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