After dinner yesterday evening, we swung by the new swanky Apple store in my neighborhood. It was an interesting experience. We used to have an Apple store when they first built the Southlake Town Square complex (Phase I). However, that store didn’t make it. It was also right before the iPod revolution. Well, they are back.
I liked the store layout. Just like the machines, everything was clean and modern. As I walked in the door, I was greeted by 4–5 employees congregated in the front door area.
As I scanned the room, I saw the first set of machines I wanted to look at. They had an entire island of 15.4” MacBook Pro laptops. Ooo la la. I messed around with one for about 5–7 minutes and someone finally asked me if I had any questions. I did of course and we’ll get to that.
I picked up one of the machines to see how heavy it felt. It’s a lot lighter than my current laptop. The case is smooth and beautiful. The screen was plenty bright even in the brightly lit store. I’m used to running my laptop at 1400x1050 so the 1440x900 resolution looked natural to me. I played around in OS X to get a feel for the performance. It performed very nicely. I didn’t see any decent game loaded on the exhibit machines so I had no time to see how it handled something like Half Life 2. I did play some videos, worked with the picture viewer, and compared it to Windows Vista (in my mind). The MagSafe power connector should become an industry standard.
In the back of the store, they were having a class on business blogcasting. Very very kewl.
Oh, I almost forgot (and the reason for this update), there was a kids section right next to the public class section in the back. I watched a youngster playing a game on the iMac (I think it was an iMac) while Mom or Dad learned to blogcast. Now that was a very very good idea.
I kept circling the store clockwise and arrived at my preferred destination. The Mac Mini. I agree, small is beautiful. I spent some time playing around on one. Really decent performance in a small package. I don’t really need a laptop but would love to have one of these. $599, I’ll take it. Then it dawned on me… What was I running?
The Not So Good
I moved next to look at the display of displays. Gotta love those 23” and 30” Cinema displays. As with the other products, excellent fit and finish. However, and this is where it starts to get into the not so good, what’s up with the price? The Apple 23” Cinema is $1299. Dell had their 24” widescreen on sale this week for $639. The Apple 30” is $2499. Are they worth it? You tell me.
On the not so good note, the employees I did talk to weren’t very knowledgeable about the products. They couldn’t or wouldn’t articulate the value of OS X on the new laptops versus the G4. They couldn’t really tell me which was faster. I asked how difficult it is to move from the Windows world to the Mac hardware and software… blank stare.
They looked bored. They actually said that to me on my way into the store. Bored? With the goodies in this store? How is that possible exactly? My daughter and her boyfriend were having a blast with the camera and some photo booth software. They were laughing and showing me their art. The employees looked annoyed that they were having fun.
I then arrived at the iPod section. I have often considered buying one. Not just any iPod, the most expensive iPod on the planet. The 60gig video iPod. There’s just one or two problems. First, the iPod needs to knock the current small form factor video king off the block. Sorry, I like my Sony PSP better for playing video. I wish the PSP had a 60gig drive, but I’ll take the screen over the drive any time. Second, price. Please reduce it.
I also asked one of the employees how to transfer video to the iPod. He said to use the Apple iTunes store to buy videos. I said, but what about videos I have on my Mac? He said, I don’t know. Excuse me, but if you are a product rep for a product like the iPod, please go find out. You might first check into other Apple products like QuickTime Pro (which I own).
Regarding my comments on the Mac Mini, most if not all of the tags next to the display machines read $599. I turned a couple of the cute little boxes over and they were the $799 dual core versions. Grrrrrrrrr.
All in all, it was a worth while trip. I got to spend about 35 minutes touching the various products. The common theme for me was price on most of the products. The MacBook Pro 2.0GHz Duo, 2gig RAM, 100gig 7200rpm drive laptop goes for $2899 from the online Apple store. The Lenovo ThinkPad T60 similarly equipped is about the same price. The Dell Latitude D820 is currently discounted several hundred dollars below.
There’s no doubt Apple has some kewl products. I looks like they’ve priced the MacBook Pro very competitively. Go touch. Go feel. It will be interesting to see how they do.