Archive for July, 2010

Why Apple’s 27 inch Cinema Display is a Bad Deal

I predicted some time ago that Apple would release a new 27-inch Cinema Display and retire their 30-inch model.  What I didn’t see coming was this would drive Apple’s turn to the Dark Side, and they would also discontinue support for the 24-inch model.  This is a really bad deal for us MacBook Pro owners who set up our notebooks as desktops using Apple’s Cinema mini-Display Port displays, and I urge all of you that are impacted by this to protest to Apple directly.

It’s not that I don’t understand what they’re doing.  They no longer need any 24-inch iMac panels and I’m sure maintaining a separate LCD supply just for external monitor users is not the best for the company line.  But they sold the 24-inch displays and the MacBook Pro’s as an “integrated system”, even though that was more by implication than by downright statement.  It certainly is why my wife and I got rid of our iMacs and dropped down to operating our notebooks as desktops.  Now, if either of our displays croak, our choice will be to see if we can get them fixed or spend $1000 a pop just to stay where we were, at least as far as our workflow is concerned.

In other words, Apple, having only one choice for desktop display pricing and resolution sucks.

Now, I’ve been wanting one of these new displays for my Mac Pro, and I probably will fork out the cash to get one, even though I could save several hundred dollars buying a third party design.  I like the higher resolution Apple brings to the 27- incher (opposed to the 1920 x 1080 resolution most PC monitors 23 inch and higher seem stuck at), the fact that it’s backlit, and I like the integrated iChat camera. I’m willing to plunk down the money to increase both screen size and resolution for the Mac Pro where I can really use it as opposed to being forced to do so on my MacBook pro where it’s nice to have.  With a job loss staring me in the face sometime next year, I have to look a lot more closely at what is really needed instead of being able to get what I want; and the economy in general is going to be like that for a while.  So, Apple is either saying they’re going to stop supplying monitors for their systems in the near future or they’ve made a marketing mistake that will bite them in their you-know-what.

Frankly, if the company can’t afford to continue with the 24-inch line (and their capitalization suggests they can afford it), then they can at least offer another Cinema Display using the 21.5-inch panels they get with the smaller iMacs at a significantly reduced price point than a grand.  I dare say for most MBP owners that size monitor would be sufficient, though not as nice as the 24-inchers they have now.  The only other solution that would make a single choice acceptable is a reduction in the price point, and that’s something Apple is unlikely to do considering what they used to ask for and get for the 30-inch display.  But failing to do either of those things mean it’s much more likely that, if one of our displays croaks, we’ll be buying from some company other than Apple and the need for Apple notebook “updates” will go away.

Apple and Optical Media: A Sinking Ship?

It was only about a month ago when Steve Jobs made it clear that Apple would probably never be moving to Blue Ray.  Now, it appears that Apple may be moving away from the use of optical media for movies and slideshows altogether, if the rumors that surfaced yesterday about the next version of iLife are correct.  According to those, that update will not even include iDVD, though it will still be available via download.  That’s another way of saying that Apple is flushing iDVD down the drain.  The downloaded version certainly won’t be updated in any way; it will more than likely be the iDVD version from iLife09.

We all know that Apple’s belief (or need I say Jobs’?) is that optical media is passé.  Downloaded media is the future.  Well, that belief may be correct in the long run (and I suspect it is) but it also runs blindly into the future, taking the carcasses of Apple’s pro and prosumers users with it.  It certainly will be a long time before that becomes true in the US where internet providers are all capping data download volumes rather than increasing bandwidth to handle them.  Jobs must have forgotten to talk to ISP’s…

If I look at my own family, there aren’t many of us that have Blue Ray players or HD camcorders.  My wife and I have both, but then we tend to run near the technological edge with my son Michael as a close second.  The camcorders I usually shoot with are SD, though, and because all the family does have standard DVD players, anything I distribute to them is on DVD.  There’s no one who routinely uploads to YouTube or any online distribution point, though it does happen on occasion.  There obviously are plenty of people who do; and at some point, we’ll join them.

I own Final Cut Studio which includes the wonderfully done but languishing DVD Studio Pro.  Frankly, for the first time in a decade, when it came to upgrading that suite, I took a strong look at moving to Adobe Premiere and Encore.  For all the bad blood that often spills between Apple and Adobe, the reason I did so was because of Apple’s lackadaisical attitude toward DVD Studio Pro and its lack of Blue Ray support.  I’d like to move to all HD camcorders and be able to make HD movies for our use, and at some point, I will.  The big question is whether that alone will be enough to move me back to Adobe.  Right now, my answer is “probably not”, at least as far as my editing suite goes.  I like Final Cut.  But the risk that Apple runs by ignoring Blue Ray is that I’ll change my mind and bail out of FCP altogether.  I like integrated applications and workflows; it’s the major thing that made me switch to the Mac in the first place.

As Apple grows, some of its attitudes need to change.  A smaller market with loyal users will put up with some things that a larger, more fluid market will not.  Apple may be right about not supporting Blue Ray in the long run, but in the short run, they have it wrong.  Likewise, a premature move to eliminate regular DVD media from its otherwise excellent iLife suite might also give consumers pause as they are now moved back in Windows’ direction because of a lack of Mac support.  (If I have to buy third party apps to deal with this, why move?)  Apple may be in danger of running too fast and leaving its consumer base behind.  There are a lot of pro users out there who are already feeling that’s the case.

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