MacWorld Keynote Impressions

I’ve been getting IM’ed a lot last day or two about all the new Apple announcements during Steve Jobs’ MacWorld SF Keynote yesterday.
(although I’m completely cross-platform at work, I prefer Macs at home where I do more audio/video work). That being said- here’s my post-keynote braindump from yesterday (edited down significantly)…

Final Cut Express HD.Did this announcement really surprise anyone? After Final Cut Pro HD was released as a free upgrade last year, I and many others had a strong suspicion they’d be making users of their two lower-level NLEs upgrade to get HD resolution. However, it’s still a great ‘prosumer’ NLE solution at a good price for those looking to graduate from iMovie.- iWorkiYawn. Consisting of Keynote 2 (presentations) and Pages (word processing), this productivity suite is still missing a dedicated spreadsheet and database application to be a contender against Office. But at $79, the bar isn’t nearly that high to begin with. However- as JD reported yesterday, Keynote 2 adds export to Flash, and import of SWFs by way of the QT import filter (which can grok much of the v5 SWF format). Okay, now that’s a bit more interesting… :)Pages seems pretty straightforward- as with other iApps the Apple value proposition seems to be the volume and elegance of their ‘starter templates’ and less on huge feature sets. Nice looking, though.- iPod Shuffle.Jury’s still out here, although if you follow the rumor mill sites, this also shouldn’t have come as a shock. On first glance I’d have no use for one (as a 40GB iPod owner). The part I can’t get over is the lack of control- I would go crazy without being able to browse/play by genre/artist/album/playlist on the fly. However, the cheap price and micro-small footprint are pretty compelling arguments to the contrary… ;)-Mac MiniHate the name, love the box. In fact, I’m purchasing one- not for myself but for my wife, who’s about beat her old Powerbook into the ground, and doesn’t require tons of horsepower. No audio in that I can see (only headphone/line out jack), which means you’re stuck with a separate USB or FW interface if you need audio-in capability (or perhaps an iSight). Makes sense, tho – in the interest of keeping costs down. Time will be the ultimate judge, but this is really the first Apple solution to the ‘cheap PC’ dilemma available in quite some time. We shall see whether the shrewd strategy of wooing PC users thru the iPod translates to actual sales or platform conversions now, indeed.- iLife ’05.Good stuff. I’m not sure this is as much a ‘revolutionary’ upgrade as as an ‘evolutionary’ upgrade, but it’s still a great suite for the price to bring strong media editing and management down to a consumer level. Highlights include:1) GarageBand’s new pitch correction and 8-simultaneous-input capability (on that note- what happened to the rumored audio interface that was to be announced?). But it doesn’t stop there, MIDI input (sweet), notation view, an instrument tuner, and ‘save as loop’ features round things out nicely. A new orchestral Jam Pack (i.e. loop library) was also announced, which (based on a quick review) sounded rather well put together. This app is finally getting to where it can finally play well with other audio editing/DAW systems, and is my favorite app in iLife right now.2) iMovie adds support for HD video and 16:9 aspect ratios (again, not much surprise there) and lots of performance enhancements/expanded transition libraries. The ‘Magic iMovie’ feature sounds frightening on a creative level, however- connect camera, hit a button and have iMovie capture, place, and export your automatic iMovie to iDVD for burning. Not being a fan of push-button art, this isn’t too scintillating for me, but iMovie’s still great for general consumers looking to do something with all those DV tapes.3) iPhoto 5 adds a long-needed feature- calendar-based searching of your photo archives – along with RAW format support, additional book sizes and styles (including paperbacks), and some performance enhancements (always nice). Not a huge upgrade in my opinion, but solid nonetheless.4) iDVD adds many new themes, a Map view (showing DVD components and their relationships more directly), better drag-and-drop support for clips, and (as with iMovie) a ‘OneStep DVD’ feature allowing you to connect a camera and stick a blank DVD into the drive and let iDVD do the work. This may work for archiving or doing ‘preview discs’ of uncaptured footage on tape, but honestly I see these one-button solutions as a recipe for creative disaster. On the other hand, you can also archive a project as a Disc Image now, which could be quite handy for making backups too.5) iTunes appears to be the unchanged since the recent update (v4.7) which added iPod Photo support and (secretly) iPod Shuffle support. But it’s free anyway and you probably already have it installed, so not much to add.My iLife summary- still a solid suite, but it’s new feature curve is starting to flatten over time.Well, there you have it- my post-keynote braindump. Comments?

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