Thursday, August 09, 2007

No HDCP on aluminum iMacs?

I can't seem to find any reference to High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection or HDCP support in the new iMacs on the Apple website. In fact, I can't find HDCP mentioned anywhere on the site at all.

That is a real disappointment. If the new iMacs truly do not support HDCP, that means they may essentially already be obsolete if you're interested in the next generation movie formats. Even if you were to add an HD DVD or Blu-ray drive to the iMac, even if full-fledged HD DVD or Blu-ray playback software existed on the Mac, and even if the OS (ie. Leopard) supported all the formats' features, the new aluminum iMac still would not be able to play back these movies at full resolution, if at all.

[Update 2007-08-09]

Thanks to readers that have pointed me to the Ars article that states that HDCP is in fact supported in the new iMacs. If true, perhaps Apple has not yet mentioned it simply because they have not yet implemented it on the software side, and may activate it later in an OS upgrade.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

iMovie '08: G4s (and some G5s) are obsolete

Apple released iLife '08 today, but there is one big gotcha that some may have overlooked: iMovie '08 has obsoleted many, many Macs. The iLife '08 System Requirements state that "iMovie requires a Mac with an Intel processor, a Power Mac G5 (dual 2.0GHz or faster), or an iMac G5 (1.9GHz or faster)." This means that no G4 Macs at all are supported, and not even dual G5 1.8 Power Macs make the cut. This is rather lame, considering that a dual G5 1.8 is much, much faster on average than a 1.9 GHz G5 iMac.

Furthermore, Apple has restricted AVCHD support from some camcorders in Movie '08 to only Intel Macs.

With this new version of iLife, Apple has announced the death of the G4. May ye rest in peace.

Apple releases new aluminum iMacs

As everyone already knows, Apple nixed the 17" iMac but introduced new 20" and 24" models with a thin aluminum frame, and at the same time, they dropped the prices significantly. Some specific points:

- It can support up to 4 GB. The previous model could only utilize up to 3 GB, because of limitations with Intel's chipset.
- The screen is now glossy. If you plan on getting a new iMac, hopefully your light setup isn't glare prone.
- The graphics has been updated to the Radeon HD 2400 XT on the low end model, and the HD 2600 Pro on the two higher end models. While the 2600 Pro is an improvement over the previous Radeon X1600 and the GeForce 7300 GT, it may be inferior to the previous 7600 GT option in some real world usage, although we have yet to see Mac benchmarks with these two models. There is no option to configure a higher end GPU in the current iMacs.
- All models now have Firewire 800.
- The CPU is up to 2.8 GHz, utilizing Core 2 Extreme. This is a pleasant surprise.
- As expected the bus speed has been increased to 800 MHz. However, memory remains at 667 MHz, since SO-DIMMs are used.
- The wireless keyboard has no numeric keypad, and uses a keyboard design similar to the MacBooks.

Overall the new iMacs represent an incremental upgrade, with some curious changes such as the less than impressive top-of-the-line GPU, and loss of the numeric keypad in the wireless keyboard. The loss of the matte screen is also going to be annoying for some users, but I'd expect most people won't care, or will actually prefer the new glossy screen.

However, I'd recommend that most Core 2 Duo iMac owners stick with their current machines. Also, this may represent an excellent opportunity to pick up the previous white iMacs for cheap.