Apple updates iPad, Macbooks

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23 October 2013 | 0

Apple revealed a refreshed line of iPads, Macbook laptops and, finally, a price for the Mac Pro at an event in San Francisco yesterday.

The iPad got its first redesign since it debuted in 2010 and renamed it the iPad Air. The fifth-generation model of the popular tablet is thinner and lighter than previous models and will go on sale in November.

Chief among the cosmetic changes is a thinner gap between the right and left edges of the screen and the side of the body. The gap, called the bezel, is 43% narrower than on the previous iPad.

Apple has been able to slim down the iPad thanks in part to improvements in electronics, such as the miniaturisation of components. Overall, the iPad Air is 7.5mm thick, a 20% reduction from the previous model. Its weight has been reduced from 652g to 469g.

 

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The changes are more than just skin deep, however.

The fifth-generation iPad has been given a more powerful processor: the same A7 that’s used in the iPhone 5s. The new chip brings twice as much CPU and graphics performance.

The iPad Air will be available in many countries from 1 November. Pricing will begin at €489 for the basic 16Gb version with Wi-Fi and models with a SIM card will cost an additional €120. The top-of-the-range iPad Air with 128Gb and mobile network connectivity will cost €879.

Apple will continue to sell the current iPad, renamed iPad 2, for €100 cheaper. It’s the same pricing structure Apple used with the iPhone 5s and the $100-cheaper iPhone 5c – both of which will be released in Ireland on 25 October.

Apple will also put on sale a new version of the iPad Mini that comes with a higher 2048×1536 pixel resolution Retina display.

The iPad Mini will ship later in November at a date to be confirmed. It will cost €399 for the 16Gb version with Wi-Fi. Apple will keep the existing model on sale, again with a discounted price.

The tablets will ship with new versions of some of Apple’s flagship productivity apps, including iPhoto, iMovie and Garageband.

The iPad is Apple’s second-best-selling product after the iPhone. It continues to generate billions of dollars in revenue, although sales were weaker in Apple’s most recently reported quarter.

In the period from April to June this year, the company sold 14.6 million iPads, down from 17 million in the same period of 2012 and a disappointment compared to the sharply higher sales it had reported in the previous two quarters. At the end of 2012, the company scored record sales of 22.9 million in a single quarter, helped by the launch of the fourth-generation iPad and the first iPad Mini.

Macbooks

Apple also introduced new versions of the MacBook Pro laptops with reduced prices.

The MacBook Pro with Retina Display and 13" screen starts at €1,249. The 15" model will start at $1,999, while the previous-generation laptop was €2,049. Both are available now.

The company also introduced a new Mac Pro desktop, which will start at €3,099. The high end workstation is based on a new cylinder design and packs more storage, memory and graphics features.

The new computers come as Mac shipments continue to decline. Apple’s growth is being driven by tablets and smartphones.

"We’ve been hard at work on the Mac," said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, at a keynote during Apple’s event in San Francisco.

Cook took a jab at PC makers, saying they were confused between laptops and tablets.

"They chased after netbooks," Cook said. "They changed PCs into tablets and tablets into PCs."

The MacBook Pro with Retina Display laptops are lighter than their predecessors, starting at 1.57kg, with a thickness of just 19mm (0.75"). The new MacBook Pros incorporate some of the latest technologies including 802.11ac wireless and Thunderbolt 2, which will bring support for 4K displays. Thunderbolt 2 transfers data from Macs to peripherals at a rate of 20Gb/s and the technology is also being included in the Mac Pro desktop.

The laptops also include the latest Intel chips based on the Haswell microarchitecture, as well as faster flash storage. The chips have an integrated graphics processor called Iris, which will make graphics 90 percent faster than on previous laptops, said Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing, during the event.

The 13" MacBook Pro with Retina Display offers nine hours of battery life. The €1,349 price is for a configuration that includes a dual-core Core i5 processor running at 2.4GHz, 4Gb of RAM and 128Gb of solid-state drive storage. The laptop will be priced at €1,549 with 8Gb of DRAM and 256Gb of SSD storage, and $1,799 with a 2.6GHz dual-core Core i5 processor, 8Gb of DRAM and a 512Gb SSD.

The 15" MacBook Pro offers eight hours of battery life. The €2,049 configuration includes a quad-core Core i5 processor running at 2.0GHz, 8Gb of DRAM and a 256Gb SSD. The price rises to €2,649 with a quad-core Core i7 chip, 16Gb of memory, a separate Nvidia graphics processor and a 512Gb SSD. Buyers can customise the laptop to include 1Tb of storage.

The new Mac Pro is "our vision of the pro desktop," Cook said. The desktop was previewed earlier this year, but was officially announced on Tuesday.

The desktop has faster processors and throughput features. It will come with server-class Intel Xeon E5 processors with up to 12 CPU cores. It will include up to 30Mb of cache and faster ECC memory. It will have six Thunderbolt 2 ports.

The desktop will be able to accommodate up to two Advanced Micro Devices graphics processors with up to 4,096 graphics cores and 12Gb of video memory.

At €3,099, the Mac Pro configuration will include a quad-core Intel Xeon E5 processor with speeds of up to 3.9GHz, 12Gb of DRAM, two AMD FirePro D300 graphics processors and 256Gb of solid-state storage. A configuration with two AMD FirePro D500 graphics processors will be priced at €4,099. The desktop will become available in December.

Finally, OS X Mavericks hit the App Store for desktops yester and is available as a free upgrade.

IDG News Service

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