On Tuesday, Apple announced at its “Peek Performance” event its newest line of hardware. Among the news announced:
- A new processor, the Apple M1 Ultra (basically two M1 Max chips stuck together).
- The new iPhone SE, which comes with 5G and an A15 chip. Prices start at $429 for the entry-level model, an increase of $30 from the 2020 SE. The Verge thinks the price hike is to cover the cost of 5G capability.
- A new iPad Air model with an M1 processor.
- Apple TV+ will launch “Friday Night Baseball,” consisting of two games on Friday nights.
- The iPhone 13 and 13 Plus will come in two shades of green. Ironically, it’s available on March 18, the day after St. Patrick’s Day.
- iOS 15.4 is out next week.
- A 27-inch 5K desktop monitor with an M1 Ultra chip, at $1599.
- The Mac Studio, the first new desktop Mac model in years; it’s a new desktop Mac model aimed at creative professionals. Its appearance resembles a thicker Mac Mini.
I’ll mainly discuss the Studio and Apple TV+ baseball news. They’re the two biggest announcements, plus everything else is mostly incremental upgrades.
The new Mac Studio
The Mac Studio marks the first new desktop computer Apple’s launched since (as far as I can tell) the Mac Pro in 2006. That said, its appearance reminded many people online of a few other models, such as the G4 Cube from the early aughts. At first, it reminded me of a few 90s-era desktop Macs. However, upon further thought, it looks more like the first generation Mini, which also had a “thicker” appearance versus today’s Mini.
What sets the Studio apart is its given specs, as partially shown in this infographic:
From the specs, it sounds like quite an impressive machine. It comes with: the M1 Max or Ultra processor; at least 32GB of RAM (and a less-impressive 512GB SSD); four Thunderbolt 4 and two USB 3 ports in the back; and two Thunderbolt 4 ports in the front, along with an SD card slot.
Prices for the Studio start at $1999 (for the M1 Max model) or $3999 (for the M1 Ultra model). While more than most other Mac models, it’s still way less than the $6000(!) starting price for the Mac Pro. Like the Mini, the monitor, keyboard, and mouse are sold separately (or user-supplied).
This sounds like it’ll be an impressive machine for whoever needs such horsepower. That said, my one criticism is the presumed lack of user upgradeability, if it’s like recent Mini models. Recent Minis’ RAM is soldered to the motherboard, making post-purchase upgrades impossible. Still, I’d upgrade the SSD to at least 1TB, either through Apple or via an external drive.
Apple TV+ to stream Friday Night Baseball
Rumors have been flying about Apple TV+ streaming professional sports. As it turns out, the home of “Ted Lasso” and “Peanuts” will stream sports after all… however, not football (as expected), but baseball.
Starting this season, Apple TV+ will carry two baseball games under the “Friday Night Baseball” banner, along with pregame and postgame analysis programming. There’ll also be a 24-hour livestream of game highlights, as well as an on-demand analysis show.
“Friday Night Baseball” sounds like a nice benefit for baseball fans who’re already subscribed to Apple TV+. For those that don’t have Apple TV+, it’s admittedly one extra streaming service to add. Hardcore baseball fans that want every game will need, along with Apple TV+, MLB.TV and a cable TV or live TV streaming subscription (for local team coverage via a regional sports network).
Mac Studio photo by Apple.