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Macworld Expo Keynote Offers Faster Macs, Sneak Peaks

At his Macworld Expo 2001 keynote in New York, Steve Jobs announced speed-bumped iMacs and Power Mac G4 machines, and highlighted features of the upcoming Mac OS X 10.1. On the hardware front, Apple’s faster machines seem to rely more on processor power than on design overhauls: the iMac line now comes in 500, 600, and 700 MHz PowerPC G3 configurations, includes CD-RW drives, and is priced at $1,000, $1,300, and $1,500 respectively. The case design is the same (dampening rumors of a flat-panel iMac), and moves away from the trippy patterns of the last round to more tried-and-true Indigo, Snow, and Graphite enclosures. The new Power Mac G4s sport a slightly modified silver enclosure, but it’s the specs underneath that provide the best performance at the show. Starting at $1,700, the entry-level machine has a 733 MHz G4 processor, 128 MB of RAM, a 40 GB hard disk, GeForce2 graphics card, and a CD-RW drive. The fastest chip, at 867 MHz, sits in the mid-level G4 for $2,500, which also includes 128 MB of RAM, a 2 MB Level 3 backside cache, a 60 GB hard disk, and Apple’s Superdrive (DVD-R/CD-RW). The $3,500 top-of-the-line machine includes dual 800 MHz processors, dual 2 MB Level 3 caches, 256 MB of RAM, an 80 GB hard disk, and the Superdrive; also, the machine includes a dual-display video card so you can expand your desktop across both an ADC and a VGA monitor.

Jobs also demonstrated Mac OS X 10.1, noting that it won’t be ready until September 2001 (but will be a free update). Mac OS X 10.1 offers DVD playback, CD burning in the Finder, faster menu and application-launching performance, a "scale" effect for faster animation of putting windows in the Dock, and the capability to anchor the Dock to the right, left, or bottom edges of the screen. The new version adds system menus, which are icons at the right side of the menu bar that access common controls like sound volume and video resolution adjustments. Other improvements include built-in SMB (Server Message Block) support for natively connecting to Windows and Unix networks, and the capability to connect to AFP servers over AppleTalk. Also, Mac OS X 10.1 takes advantage of built-in WebDAV support to connect to an iDisk only when it needs to, rather than mounting it and maintaining an open connection. A succession of companies like Microsoft, Adobe, and Quark demonstrated "coming soon" software, though only two featured shipping software: Aspyr’s Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2 game, and the impressive World Book Encyclopedia.

Jobs’s “one more thing” announcement at the end of the keynote was iDVD 2, also available in September, which adds “motion menus” (buttons can be interactive), background encoding, the capability to play music at the menu screen, and the capability to burn 90 minutes of video to a DVD disc (versus the 60 minute limit of iDVD 1). iDVD 2 will be available for Mac OS X.

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