It would be great if Apple did a live stream of their special events every time. The broadcast started at noon my time, and I watched the 75-minute presentation via my Apple TV while sitting on the couch eating lunch. It was great.1

It was fun to watch Tim and Phil tag team the event, and I thought Phil Schiller’s time on stage was one of his best. These aren’t just media press events, it’s like a global show and tell. Apple is bringing something they’ve been meticulously building in secret and showing it to the world. They’re not just selling the products, they’re inviting the media into their “living room” per se.

13-Inch MacBook Pro With Retina Display

My daily driver Mac is last year’s 13-inch MacBook Air. Usually running in clamshell mode, I have it hooked up to an inexpensive 27-inch IPS LCD monitor I got off eBay from the Korean grey market.

The 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display will most likely be my next Mac. I love the size and portability of my Air, but the Retina Mac’s slight increase in weight is negligible to me when trading for a nice increase in power and that display. But not for a while since the Air is still doing great. Which is why I was secretly hoping for an update to the Thunderbolt displays. I would love to see a thin Thunderbolt Display that mirrors the hardware design of the new iMacs.

There was a time when I used two computers: a Mac Pro and a MacBook Pro. Syncing technology has come a long way since then, but I still have little interest in returning to a 2-computer setup. However, if I were wanting (or needing) to return to a two-computer setup then you could bet a dollar that I’d be holding my breath until December to pick up the new 27-inch iMac.

The New iMac

I’m a laptop man. But the new iMac is superb, and it is the just-announced-today product I am most interested in. I loved nerding out over Phil’s introduction of the iMac’s specs and what went in to building and engineering it.

Something I have never liked about the iMacs (and, in turn, the Thunderbolt displays) was the thick sheet of glass covering the front of it. Primarily because of the distance the pixels sat under that glass and the reflection. In short, I much prefer matte displays. But with the new iMac, the they’ve laminated the display to the glass. The pixels are closer to the screen, and the glass is 75-percent less reflective.

This is no insignificant update to the iMac lineup. And, to make it better, Apple’s shipping them with an optional Fusion Drive. It’s a combination SSD + HDD drive, and Mountain Lion is smart enough to know which apps and documents you use on a regular basis. It then keeps those in the SSD portion, while keeping the files you use less often on the slower HDD portion. You get a considerable boost in speed compared to a spinning platter for a less-considerable boost in price compared to a solid state drive.

It’s funny to me that Apple brags about how thin the edge is, and yet the back is still a giant bubble. When comparing the edges of the new iMac side-by-side with the previous generation iMac it certainly is thinner and more attractive. Now, maybe I’m being nit picky, but every single image (save for one) on the iMac website show the computer at just the right angle to compliment its ultra-thin edge. But it’s not like the whole computer is that thin (yet).

Mac mini

One of the best moments of the event was when Phil Schiller moved on to introduce the new Mac mini. He said: “You knew there’d be something called mini in this presentation.”

It reminded me of when Steve Jobs first introduced the iPhone 4 and made the joke about maybe some of us had seen it before. Moments like that, when the Apple exec steps out into the audience for a moment and joins in the fun, are memorable.

iPad 4

This is the rumored product I was convinced wasn’t going to ship today. I was sure Apple wanted to keep something for the spring, and I was sure Apple wanted to keep the economies of scale on the iPad 3 and to keep their profit margins as high as possible before moving to a new hardware design and new internals. But I was wrong.

Marco Arment’s case for a pre-holiday release cycle makes sense. Sooner or later Apple needed all of their top-selling products to be brand new just in time for the holidays.

It stinks for those of us who bought an iPad 3 just a few months ago — will it be a year until the iPad 5? — but so it goes. The iPad 3 is still just as awesome and I don’t have any plans on upgrading mine.

iPad mini

It’s the 11-inch Air of iPads. Designed to be just as powerful as its larger-screened sibling while being even more portable.

I was somewhat taken back to see Apple bill the iPad mini as a full-fledged iPad. Focusing just as much on using it for work as they did on using it for play. Even the tagline — “Every inch an iPad” — plays to the established usability of the full-sized iPad.

Two things I think people were crossing their fingers for: a Retina display and a price point of $299 (or less). $329 is an odd price; why not $30 less or $20 more? My guess is that this is the price it has to be. It’s as low as it can go. And the non-Retina display proves that.

A Retina display in the iPad mini is just a matter of time. The price, however, will likely stay as is for quite a while.

A Concentration of the Original

Thinner. Lighter. Faster. And not a drop lost on quality.

What Jony Ive says in the iPad mini video stands true for all the announcements today. They didn’t take an iPad and shrink it down, they concentrated it:

There is inherent loss in just reducing a product in size. We took the time to go back to the beginning and design a product that was a concentration of, not a reduction of, the original.

In a way, nearly all of the products announced today (and last month) embody that same idea: thinner, lighter, more dense, more powerful. Concentrated.

  1. In addition to the “Special Events” channel Apple added to the Apple TV, you could watch the event from your computer, iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch. It would be interesting to know how many watched the live stream of the event. Was it as many as 5 or 10 million? That sounds like an insane number, but I read reports that 8 million people watched the live stream of Felix Baumgartner jumping out of space. And I’ve also heard that popular sites will see as many as 30 to 50 million visits during their liveblog updates of an Apple keynote.