AMITIAE - Tuesday 17 March 2015
Cassandra: Mid-week Comments - Availability, MacBook and AppleTV; Coming to a Halt with Google
By Graham K. Rogers
One slight difficulty with Apple TV is that it is one of the few current devices in the Apple lineup that does not have the latest 802.11ac WiFi capabilities. I keep harking on about this, but I see it as an essential part of Apple's in-home strategy and why each generation of devices sees fewer options for connection, especially cable ones.
The MacBook, for example, that was just released only has a single USB-C port for charging and linking to external devices. If one of the sources you read has implied that this is wrong in some way and that Apple had better add lots of ports before people start buying it, they just do not get it.
I must admit, I find this Wifi connectivity attractive as not so long ago my home office would have cables all over the shop; and each cable has the potential to trip someone up, or drag a device down to the floor. I know I am defeating that argument slightly because the MacBook no longer has the MagSafe connector (which has saved me a few times), but the point of a notebook computer is that it is not connected: these work fine if the battery is used; and connecting all the time to a power source will not do that battery any good.
While before, batteries in a notebook computer had been like AA cells shoved inside a box, by flattening the cells, Apple was able to use the wasted space for more battery. The terraced cells on the latest MacBook is an extension of that: why have one lump when slices will do the job as well?
I commented when Tim Cook walked on with the MacBook that I had thought he was carrying an iPad. It does have a full OS X version installed and not iOS, but the similarities are clear. "Why not have a touchscreen", some ask, well the trackpad is better suited to input and the new one, which does not click when power is off, has some new gestures that depend on the force of input.
And I want that screensaver. . . .
In the United States these will be available on 10 April, the same day as Apple takes orders for the Apple Watch, but here there is no date shown as yet. Just Coming soon and "Pending Regulatory Approval": it has wifi and Bluetooth so the local organisations have to sign off on this. It is usually pretty swift, but Thailand is rarely among the first to have a new product from Apple.
Ordering page for MacBook - Online Store for Thailand (English pages)
My heart sank when I read that. It does every time a new service for AppleTV is announced. What appears in the USA is somewhat different to the thin lineup I have available on my AppleTV here: heavens, we don't even have TV shows on the iTunes Store; and the movies available have all been on sale for several months in Klong Thom before I am allowed to buy them.
Dan Thorp-Lancaster on iMore had another take on the idea and suggests a subscription "price range of $30 to $40 per month" (about 1,000 to 1300 baht); while AppleInsider tells us that there will be "official details at its Worldwide Developers Conference in June".
Then there is the price of the device itself: I wrote about this last week and there has been no change. Although the price when the device first arrived in its original metal enclosure was a hefty 15,301 baht it has come down, but the reduction in the USA was not mirrored here where the 3,300 baht is over 800 baht more than the US price when VAT is taken into account. Less for more.
I do not see this as an Apple-to-customer link, partly because of the cost, but also because governments are highly likely to want to step in and insist on either taxing it or having access to the data transmitted. However, sending the vast amounts of information to country bases - such as from one of Apple's data centers in the USA to a similar construct in China - might be an attractive way for tech companies to reduce their reliance on the submarine cable networks that the Internet currently depends on. Boeing of course is not the only company who recognise the value of owning the satellites that send the essential data.
My wish of course would be that both the new services, and the satellite links to bring those new channels, were made available to users here. Neither the current cable service, nor Apple TV channels provide anything like the quality of choice they should.
While Google mail did still arrive, the rest seems to have come to a halt. As he wrote, "This case underlines how you are not a customer of Google; that there is no free lunch."
For information, there is an Apple Store for Thailand should it be needed. . . .
Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand where he is also Assistant Dean. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs. He is now continuing that in the Bangkok Post supplement, Life.
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