Apple has so far released only two new products this year

apple-store

It is mid-year 2012, and Apple has only released two new hardware products this year. The products are off course the new iPad and the 3rd generation Apple TV.

Typically Apple products are launched in a predictable cycle. For iPad, iPhone and iPod, it is a yearly refresh. Macs are a different story but it is usual to have two refreshes each year for MacBook Pro notebooks, and a yearly refresh for MacBook Air. 

Macbook Pro misses its Q1 refresh this year, all due mainly to the delay in Intel’s Ivy Bridge processors. But wait no further, as all signs point to a confirmed launch of Macbook Pro refresh next week during the WWDC conference keynote on June 11 morning.

In fact there are rumors that Apple will refresh not just the Macbook Pro but its entire Mac line including accessories during the keynote. That will include Mac Pro, Mac Mini, Macbook Air, iMac, Thunderbolt Display, Time Capsule and Airport routers. Stay tuned!

Summary of March 7 Apple Event: iOS 5.1, new Apple TV, new iPad, iPhoto for iOS

apple-event-mar-7

Apple just completed its March 7 media event at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco. If you want the full coverage, please visit the usual suspects such as Engadget, MacWorld etc websites. For those in a hurry, here are the quick summary:

  • iOS 5.1 will be available later today. Those with iOS 5 can update directly from within Settings app.
  • As part of iOS 5.1, Siri will add Japanese language support.
  • iTunes in iCloud now support movies with the ability to re-download movies you’ve purchased on any device. iTunes movie now come in 1080p.
  • Apple unveils third generation Apple TV with 1080p support with a streamlined new user interface. The price is the same as existing model at $99. Available next week March 16th, order starts today.
  • Apple launches new iPad. It is not iPad 3 or iPad HD, just iPad. Or the new iPad. Or third generation iPad.
  • New iPad comes with 264ppi 2048×1536 resolution Retina Display. This is twice the resolution of existing iPad and more than 1 million pixel more than HDTV 1080p (1920×1080) standard. The new screen also boasts 44% greater saturation.
  • New iPad has a new A5X processor with quad-core graphics and is twice as fast as Tegra 3.
  • New iPad has a 5M pixel iSight camera with backside illuminated sensor, 5-element lens, Hybrid IR filter, face detection and ISP (signal processor) module built into the A5X chip. It can record video at 1080p with video stabilization and temporal noise deduction features.
  • There is no Siri for the new iPad. Instead it comes with voice dictation for US English, British, Australian, French, German and Japanese.
  • The new iPad supports World Ready 3G and next-generation 4G LTE wireless. It is capable of 21Mbps HSPA+ and DC-HSDPA at 42Mbps, and LTE at 73Mbps. (Compare with iPad 2 which is capable of 3.1Mbps on EV-DO and 7.2Mbps on HSPA).
  • The new iPad has a 10 hours battery life. The battery life is 9 hours on 4G LTE. It is 9.4mm thin and weights 1.4lbs, which is slightly heavier than iPad 2.
  • The new iPad has the same pricing as iPad 2: $499 for 16GB Wi-Fi, $599 for 32GB Wi-Fi and $699 for 64GB Wi-Fi. The price for 4G LTE version is $629 for 16GB, $729 for 32GB and $829 for 64GB.
  • The new iPad will be available March 16 for US, Canada, UK, France, Germany, Switzerland, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia. Pre-orders starts today.
  • The new iPad will be available March 23 for Austria, belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Macau, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden.
  • Apple updates iOS apps: iWorks, iMovie, Garage Band. Free update for existing users.
  • Apple releases new iPhoto for iOS with photo editing and organization features. $4.99 available today.
  • iPad 2 16GB will be made available at $399, a price drop of $100.

Apple TV is now about $10 cheaper at $89.99

Apple TV price drop

Apple TV is now at $89.99 at Amazon and Best Buy, a price drop of about $10. At Apple’s online store, Apple TV is still listed at the usual $99.

The price drop might be an indication that retailers are making room for a newer model. Mid-November is unusually late for a product launch ahead of Christmas shopping season. But it is nevertheless good bargain if Apple TV is in your shopping wish list.

Apple TV at Amazon.com

Apple cancels TV show rental on iTunes and Apple TV

Apple has canceled TV show rental on iTunes and Apple TV, as “iTunes customers have shown they overwhelmingly prefer buying TV shows”.

“iTunes customers have shown they overwhelmingly prefer buying TV shows,” Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr said. “iTunes in the Cloud lets customers download and watch their past TV purchases from their iOS devices, Apple TV, Mac or PC allowing them to enjoy their programming whenever and however they choose.”

Priced mostly at 99-cent per episode, TV rental debuted as an option when Apple launched its second generation Apple TV last September. With only ABC and Fox joining the program, Apple has not been able to get other studios such as Warner, NBC and Viacom to offer their programming on TV rental.

All Things D: Apple Pulls the Plug on TV Rentals

Apple adds TV show purchase option and Vimeo streaming in Apple TV 4.3 update

Apple has pushed out a new version 4.3 firmware update to Apple TV. New in this update is the ability to purchase TV shows. This is a shift in direction as 99 cents rental-only approach is the only option when Apple released second-generation Apple TV back in September 2010.

You can now buy TV episodes directly from Apple TV and your purchase will appear under the “Purchased” section of iTunes on both desktop and iOS devices. You can redownload and restream the purchased shows for repeat viewing.

TV shows is generally $2.99 a pop but most will welcome there is such an option. Fox and ABC remains the only two major networks offered in Apple TV, with CBS and NBC missing. With the offering for purchase option, lets hope more studio willl offer their contents in Apple TV.

Apple-vimeo

The new update also adds Vimeo as a service accessible directly from Apple TV. A strong endorsement for Vimeo video site.

XBMC released for AppleTV2 and iOS

xbmc.jpg

XBMC, the best-loved open source media platform for TV, is now ported to AppleTV2 and iOS devices. This makes AppleTV2 the cheapest full featured brand name media streamer you can get. This must worry other media streamer makers such as Roku and Popcorn Hour, as you can get the best of iTunes world and best of media player in one box.

XBMC completes the AppleTV2 as a media streamer and player. With XBMC, you can now view media outside of iTunes, with codec not supported by AppleTV2 such as divx and MKV. And XBMC will transcode 1080p media to play on AppleTV2. XBMC is installed as an app within AppleTV, which means you can keep using stock player for your iTunes content and rental. All these in one of the best user interface for a media platform on your TV.

One caveat is you need to jailbreak your device in order to run XBMC on your AppleTV2, iPad or iPhone 4. But it is better than nothing.

You asked for it: XBMC for AppleTV2, iPad, iPhone4

Wish list for Apple TV 3

AppleTV is an attractive media player if you live by Netflix, iTunes TV rental and your movie collection are all on H264 AVI format. There are however a number of area it can be improved. The next Apple TV revision is not expected till around September, here is our wish list for version 3 of Apple TV:

  • Support 1080p HD. Apple can continue to support only 720p for the content it is streaming, but 1080p is crucial to attract more hard core home entertainment users.
  • One can only hope for Apple to support additional formats such as Divx and MKV. But Apple should provide a mechanism or plugins so that third party codecs can be used within the whole iTunes eco.
  • Support third party app so that users need not go via the jailbreak route to run XMBC or Boxee. Apple should create a new market for apps specifically support the 720p/1080p format of TV.
  • Support games on AppleTV which uses iPhone/iPod touch as controllers.
  • Support the ability to define network shares as sources of media files. This is an unlikely feature as Apple still wants you to use iTunes.
  • Support bit perfect output of audio. Current AppleTV converts all audio to 48kHz for its output. The audio quality for output should follow that of the source.
  • Support 24bit audio from 96kHz up to 192kHz. 24bit 96kHz audio seems to be the standard spec for audiophile digital music.