Apple Follows CES with More Lackluster Updates
I was somewhat hopefully the Apple MacWorld Keynote would bring exciting new things to computing, but it looks like Apple is following the rest of the industry and providing a few evolutionary speed bumps to existing products. Apple TV got a price decrease and an upgrade that supports downloading movies without needing a computer - I still plan to stick with Xbox Live for this type of service for the foreseeable future. Microsoft won't admit it, but the Xbox is practically a home entertainment device that happens to play games at this point. Sure Apple increased their movie library substantially, but so did Xbox Live, so I'm not sure which solution offers more downloadable content by the time the dust settles. If you do have a PC, Amazon Unbox fills in many gaps in the Xbox Live catalog. Getting Fox onboard with offering iTunes digital copies seems to be in line with the free Windows Media file bundled with Harry Potter.
A smaller, lighter laptop (the MacBook Air) is nice but not newsworthy. I could point out that my EEE PC is even smaller and lighter (although thicker), but it's not in the same class as the MacBook Air or any of the Windows-powered notebooks it currently beats in size. On a price/performance comparison the $400 EEE PC might do more per dollar even outclassed by the MacBook Air.
Updates to the iPod Touch and iPhone are to be expected. Too bad it seems that existing iPod Touch owners will have to shell out for the features. Adding Mail, Notes, Weather, Maps, and Stock info doesn't really seem like a pay-worthy upgrade. I think this marks the first time that a portable music player will be upgraded to new features for a fee; hopefully not a sign of things to come. As a side note, this feature should be interesting for Apple shareholders, since it marks one of the first software products since QuickTime that Apple is actively selling to Windows users.
Time Capsule gets my vote for best new Apple product. Nobody (including me) takes backup as seriously as they should, so any product that makes it easier is important. The $499 price for the 1TB Time Capsule isn't even out of line compared to other solutions. Wireless N is forward looking. Integration with Leopard's Time Machine is just plain smart. For Windows folks, look at Microsoft's Home Server to do something similar or possibly something like a Western Digital MyBook.