Thoughts on the new MacBook Air, plus iMovie ’11 and studio names

Earlier today, I stopped off at the Apple Store to look at their newest versions of the MacBook Air, Apple’s solid-state-hard drive, optical-drive-less line of laptops. The new Air line now comes in 11″ and 13″ sizes. The former’s size and new entry-level price (US$999) should satisfy those who’ve been wanting an affordable small-sized Mac laptop (or remember the 12″ Powerbook G4). However, given the default configuration’s a bit underpowered (an Intel Core 2 Duo processor, only 2GB of RAM, a paltry-for-modern-computers 64GB hard drive on the 11″ model and 128GB on the 13″ model), it might be worth upgrading to the models with 4GB of RAM and larger hard drives (a 128GB drive for the 11″ model and a 256GB drive for the 13″ model). Of course, the Air also lacks an optical drive, though it comes with two USB ports (one on either side), plus Apple will also gladly sell Air buyers an external DVD drive. Assuming prices on solid-state drives come down further *and* the capacity increases, I’ll assume it won’t be long before Apple completely abandons mechanical hard drives across the line (and the rest of the computer industry following suit).

I also tried out iMovie ’11’s new feature, trailer templates that parody well-known movie logos (Paramount’s mountain, the Universal Studios globe, etc.). However, Apple’s blocked the use of using the actual studios’ names in the entry blank for “studio name.” If one attempts to type “Universal” as the name in the “spinning globe” template, the name turns into dashes; the same for “Paramount” in the “snow covered mountain” template, etc. While I suppose anyone using these templates would be likely to just make up a fake studio name (or a name that parodies the actual names), plus trademark considerations, it still strikes me as heavy-handed, especially since anyone could just grab the *real* openings if they really need the actual Universal globe/Paramount mountain logos.

Still, there’s one way around the DRM for most of the logos—just type a zero (“0”) instead of the letter “O” in “Paramount,” “Lionsgate,” and “RKO.” The fonts used are stylized enough that the difference between the zero and “O” shouldn’t be too noticeable. Though I wouldn’t be surprised if in some future iMovie update/revision, Apple tweaks the fonts to use a zero-with-a-slash/blocks entering a zero completely…

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