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Apple Debuts New Hardware and Software

New iLife apps expand video, DVD, audio production; Xserves now G5-based; Final Cut Express updated to 2.0 By Dave Nagel
At the Macworld Expo in San Francisco this morning, Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced new versions of several of its consumer-level "iLife" applications, as well as an updated version of Final Cut Express, the company's semi-professional video editing suite. He also announced new hardware products in the pro and consumer arenas, including G5-based Xserve servers, new Xserve RAIDs and an expanded iPod line.

On the hardware side, the new G5-based Xserve line now includes a dual 2 GHz G5 and a single 2 GHz G5 model, as well as a dual 2 GHz 5 Xserve "computing node." The new models, which will ship in February, include a new system controller with support for up to 8 GB PC3200 ECC memory, three hot-plug Serial ATA drive modules with support for up to 750 GB of storage, dual 133 MHz PCI-X slots and a slot-load optical media bay. It's available in three configurations:

  • A single 2 GHz G5, 80 GB hard drive, 512 MB of PC3200 ECC RAM, dual gigabit Ethernet and FireWire 800 and USB 2.0 ports. It comes with Mac OS X 10.3 Server with an unlimited client license and sells for $2,999.
  • A dual 2 GHz G5, 80 GB hard drive, 1 GB of PC3200 ECC RAM, dual gigabit Ethernet and FireWire 800 and USB 2.0 ports. It comes with Mac OS X 10.3 Server with an unlimited client license and sells for $3,999.
  • A dual 2 GHz G5 cluster-optimized compute node, 80 GB hard drive, 512 MB of PC3200 ECC RAM, dual gigabit Ethernet and FireWire 800 and USB 2.0 ports. It comes with Mac OS X 10.3 Server with a 10-client license and sells for $2,999.

Jobs also announced new version of the Xserve RAID line, now qualified for use with a variety of third-party hardware and operating systems. The new versions are 3U models with 14 independent ATA/100 drive channels. It also adds RAID set slicing for using the storage systems with up to 16 servers. The new versions start at $5,999 for the 1 TB model and run up to $10,999 for the 3.5 TB model.


Apple has also introduced the new iPod Mini, an expansion to its iPod line. It offers 4 GB storage and most of the features of the regular iPod line, but in a smaller form factor. It sells for $249 and will be available in February with support for Macintosh and Windows systems. Apple also bumped up the low end of the iPod line, bringing the 10 GB model up to 15 GB. Available now, it sells for $299. Apple also says it's sold 2 million iPod units, about 730,000 in the last quarter alone.

In terms of software, Apple launched Final Cut Express 2, a revamped version of the company's video editing application. he new version 2.0 supports up to five DV streams in real time, with an increased number of real-time effects via the adoption of RT Extreme technology carried over from Final Cut Pro 4. It also offers an enhanced user interface, with customizable buttons, dynamic windows (position and resizing) and a new, user-adjustable timeline. It also gets improvements in the audio department, with real-time, multi-track audio support, real-time volume and filter adjustments and other new features. It's available now for $299 for the full version, $99 for upgrades from the previous release.

Apple has also dramatically revamped its iLife line of consumer creative applications. This includes a new version of iPhoto with improved performance and organization features, improved performance and support for more than 25,000 images. iMovie also gets an update to version 4, with a more flexible timeline and new transitions. It also supports direct input from Apple's iSight camera. Also updated is iDVD, coming up to version 4.0 with new templates, new menu transitions, a DVD map for viewing the DVD's structure and new slideshow functionality.

Finally, as part of iLife, Apple introduced the all-new GarageBand application, which is designed to function as a home music production studio. It includes support for MIDI and audio recording and comes equipped with more than 50 software instruments, more than 200 effects, more than 1,000 audio loops (incorporating some of the technologies from SoundTrack and a variety of amp styles for processing live instruments directly on the Mac. It will be available Jan. 16 for $49 and will also be included free on new Mac models. As a complement to GarageBand, Apple has also introduced the Jam Pack, a collection of additional software instruments, effects and amp styles. It will be available separately Jan. 16 for $99.

For more information, visit http://www.apple.com.


Contact the author: Dave Nagel is the editor and producer of Creative Mac and Digital Media Designer; host of several World Wide User Groups, including Synthetik Studio Artist, Adobe Photoshop, Apple DVD Studio Pro, Mac OS, Adobe InDesign, Adobe LiveMotion, Creative Mac and Digital Media Designer; and executive producer of the Digital Media Net family of publications. You can reach him at dnagel@digitalmedianet.com.

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