Thoughts on Today's Apple Event

What an event…I’m left excited, but not all that surprised by what we learned today about the Apple Watch. But what has stirred me more than anything is the introduction (or reintroduction) of the MacBook. Before I lay down to sleep, I wanted to get a few thoughts out of my head. I’m sure there will be much more to say as we learn more about these products in the coming days and weeks.

The MacBook 

Wow. The design of this computer alone is almost enough to make me buy it on the spot, almost. (Except for the gold - yuck!) I’ve known for some time now that I wanted a smaller computer. My current computer is a Mid–2012 13" MacBook Air, 2GHz Intel i7. When I bought this machine there was no 13” Retina MacBook Pro option. Based on my standard upgrade cycle I’m due to sell this machine and get something new. But I’ve been waiting. Waiting to see what Apple would do with the MacBook Air line, waiting got see whether the fabled 12" MacBook Air would materialize.

When Mark Gurman first broke the news about the Rumored 12" "MacBook Air" back in January, I hoped he got the details wrong. Today we learned he was spot on (except about the name). This first generation of the new MacBook feels a lot like the original MacBook Air, a compromised computer. I noticed Apple didn’t tout any benchmarks in today’s keynote. I suspect when the reviews come out the they will show the 1.1 GHz Intel Core M processor and Intel HD Graphics 5300 will be a bit sluggish with processor-intensive tasks. But I don’t do much heavy lifting with my computer these days, so maybe that isn’t as much of a concern. What worries me more than anything is the lack of ports.

I have to have a laptop, and I choose to use one as my primary Mac. While I’m writing this blog post right now from the comfort of my bed, most of my serious work is done at my desk, plugged into a 24" Apple Cinema Display (mini-DisplayPort) and connected to a number of USB devices and Gigabit Ethernet. That’s going to be difficult, and perhaps impossible with the new MacBook. At a minimum, to use the new MacBook the way I’m accustomed will require a number of expensive adapters. While the USB-C port provides native DisplayPort 1.2 video output, I’ve yet to find a way to connect my Apple Cinema Display to it while simultaneously having power and connecting to a USB hub. (If you know how to do this, please drop me a note with details.) 

I suspect as things progress, Apple, and likely third parties, will provide solutions to these problems. USB-C will gain in popularity and we’ll see more accessories come out. But these solutions may not come for months, or years. I really don’t want to buy another display until I can buy a retina display for my desk. If I can’t use my current workstation with minimal adjustments, it may be a deal breaker. 

At this point I’m not sure what I’ll do. While the new MacBook is tempting I’m going to take a wait and see approach. I’ll need to see how the reviews come back with benchmarks and what accessories and adapters are available and how easy it is to fit this MacBook into my existing system. While I would love to buy this MacBook it may make more sense to either buy an updated 11" MacBook Air or the 13” Retina MacBook Pro and sit out another few upgrade cycles to see how things progress.

Apple Watch 

Perhaps the most surprising thing about the Apple Watch announcement today is that there wasn’t much surprising. In many respects this was a repeat and perhaps a bit more detail of the information we heard last September. I was happy to see the “a day in the life of” demo at the event which gave us a better idea of some of the practical applications of the Apple Watch and showed off some apps that we can expect to be available at launch. We also learned  answers to a few of the lingering questions such as battery life, pricing and band availability. Though, the answers in retrospect, were predictable. 

There are still a few unanswered questions and perhaps a few missed opportunities. We didn’t hear much about the water resistance. Tim Cook told employees at a retail store in Germany last month that he wears his Apple Watch in the shower. But I don’t think we heard anything about it today other than it can be worn while exercising, while washing your hands or in the rain. As Gruber points out, the fine print on Apple’s page says the Apple Watch has a "water resistance rating of IPX7 under IEC standard 60529." IPX7 supposedly allows for 1 meter of submersion for up to 30 minutes. Not sure I’d want to test this anytime soon, I think Apple is hedging their bets by not mentioning it further. 

We also didn’t hear much about the retail experience of buying the Apple Watch. We know the Edition model will only be available at select stores, but will stores stock all the multiple combinations or will watches and bands be put together on site? What about on board storage? We know there’s a music app, and the iPhone can be paired with Bluetooth headphones, but there’s no mention of this. I was expecting to see Apple launch bluetooth headphones, perhaps in conjunction with Beats, but nothing. 

Apple TV 

I almost forgot about the Apple TV. Apple got the temporary exclusive on HBO’s new service, but that won’t last long. The price drop on the Apple TV is nice, but that doesn’t change the fact that it has fallen woefully behind the competition. I can only assume this was a stop-gap because Apple didn’t have anything better ready at this point. Hopefully dropping the current model Apple TV to $69 (note there are a few available on the Refurb store for $59) opens up a position for a higher end Apple TV starting at a price point above $100 in the near future.

Final Thoughts 

The MacBook has given me a lot to think about. I really want to buy one of these computers, but I’m afraid the time just isn’t quite right. It may be too soon. We’ll see. 

As for the Apple Watch, not much has changed. I’m still planning on buying the entry level model. Though adding on the $149 Milanese Loop is tempting, I’ll have to wait and see how things go with the standard band. AppleCare+ is available for the watch, but no pricing information as of yet. With a first generation product I’m tempted but the cost/benefit may not be there for a product that I’ll only keep a year or two.

I’m setting my alarm for 2:50 a.m. (Eastern) April 10th to get my pre-order in. I’ll see you then…