"An era can be said to end when its basic illusions are exhausted." - Arthur Miller

Friday, October 17, 2014

Apple Updates iPad Line-Up

As expected Apple has announced its updated line of iPads with the iPad Air 2 and the iPad Mini 3. Like the iPhone, they are really just a marginal update for those that have the previous generation of each device. The Air 2 just have a slightly faster chip and Touch ID while the iPad Mini 3 is really the Mini 2 with Touch ID added (for $100 more). In addition they officially released the next OS X update called Yosemite, announced that Apple Pay begins next Monday, the iOS 8.1 update features and showed up their refreshed Mac Mini and iMac. For anyone rocking an iPad that can already handle iOS8, the news is meaningless. Unless you are a hard core gamer, the slight boost in chip power is irrelevant. You are not going to notice the different in speed. Its the equivalent of buying a porsche to sit in traffic all day while living in a city full of speed traps. Technically the car can go fast but when will you actually use all that expensive power?

Ironically, the real tech news comes from Apple's decision to start moving away from the SIM card with their reprogrammable SIM card called "Apple SIM" that can be used from carrier to carrier simply by using software instead of swapping SIM cards. Basically it would give consumers greater latitude to go "month-to-month" with which ever carrier they choose for that month. The carriers still hold a lot of the power so classic SIM card tray still exists but this is the first of probably a bunch of smaller moves to hopefully eventually retire this tired 20 year old "technology" that really exists to give carriers the power as it acts as a form of DRM protection on their mobile hardware while providing no real benefit to consumers. Now to the announcement highlights.

iPad Air 2
- Essentially the cuts of the iPhone 6 with more battery and larger screen
- Does have iPhone 6's Touch ID but not NFC so Apple Pay's "touch to pay" option not available
- Available next week.
- iPad Air 1 now $100 cheaper (while supplies last)
- Price: $500 (16GB); $600 (64GB); $700 (128GB); add $130 for LTE versions
- Hands-On
- Competition Comparison

iPad Mini 3
- Literally the iPad Mini 2 only with Touch ID (for $100 more)
- Not exaggerating. The internal guts are identical/ See Apple's own comparison chart
- In short, do not buy as it is a terrible deal
- Hands-On
- Competition Comparison

- Apple iMac: All in one with 5K resolution, 27" monitor for $2500.
- Mac Mini: Updated internals so better computing power, graphics and improved power efficiency. Available now for $500
- iOS 8.1: Besides bug fixes will also include return of the Camera Roll and iCloud Photo Library beta
- OS X Yosemite: Next major update of OS X, available now.

So to sum it up, I am assuming you are already in the Apple ecosystem and have already decided for yourself the Apple vs Android side of things. This is about should you replace your old Apple stuff with the new. The answer over all is no. For the iPad Air 2, as I said above, the extra CPU boost only helps the hard core gamer where every graphical bit matters. If you are still using that iPad 3 or below you might want to consider it as the Retina Display alone would be worth it. As for the iPad Mini 3 it is a do not buy. If you really want that smaller form factor, save a few bucks and get the iPad Mini 2 but not the 1 as again the Retina Display is worth the extra bucks but the addition of Touch ID is not worth paying an extra $100. As for the Apple iMac, that is for the hard core Apple fan, most people do not need a computer that expensive. If you are looking to dip your toe in the Apple OS X world (which is completely different than PC, Android, and iOS from a user interface perspective), then the Mac Mini might be a good relatively cheap starting point. You have to supply the monitor, keyboard and mouse but chances are you already have all three of those.

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