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Monday, June 10, 2013

A New Hardware Form Factor Emerges for the Mac Pro-Plus the promise of OS X 10.9

A New Hardware Form Factor Emerges

When Apple introduced the new Mac Pro today, it pointed the way to a new form factor for all personal computers. The computer of the future will consist of mix-and-match units. A central unit for the CPU and RAM memory and all-flash storage, like the new Mac Pro (beat that, Dell! In your face, Acer!) that you can easily move, and external expansion chassis for expansion cards hooked up through the Thunderbolt 2 expansion bus. 4K displays hooked up through the all-purpose Thunderbolt bus, with an additional HDMI port for a big screen TV/projector for presentations (“This is what we’ve been up to here at Quest Laboratories”)


As great minds think alike, you can see this trend in personal computers toward the central core with peripherals added as needed. The Belkin and Matrox Thunderbolt expansion units geared toward the MacBook Pros and Airs show this trend in design.

For years, writers have whined for a Mac mini-tower with an external display and could handle PCIe expansion cards. Now Apple has given us their answer, and that answer is “Your wishes are granted, if you don’t mind how much it costs right now. The form factor for a Mac mini-tower will be a central Mac Mini/MacBook Pro/MacBook Air hooked up via Thunderbolt to an external expansion chassis and big 4K display.”

I’d wager that the cost will come down and the convenience factor will go up with the passage of time. I recall in 2004 buying a 19” LCD display, 1280 x 1024, for $599.95 at Costco. Today, I can walk into Costco and get a 27” 1920 x1080 display for $269.00. A 23” for $149.00 or less. So the expansion cage will cost you $399 now and let you add 1 or 2 PCIe expansion cards approved by Apple. I’d expect 4 to 6 cards of your choice for $99.00 in 2 years.


Did I say 4K display? I certainly did and I took my cue from Apple’s announcement that the new Mac Pro could drive 3 4K displays. The 27” Thunderbolt display is due for refreshing, and I would expect Apple to bring out a 4K display with additional ports (USB 3.0, Firewire 800, and Gigabyte Ethernet).

Software: Say Goodbye to the Big Cats!

Apple has had a good run with the big cat names for each iteration of OS X. Say hello to OS X 10.9 Mavericks. Mavericks is a Northern California surfing destination. We demand equal time for Southern California. 10.10 Solana Beach! That’s in San Diego County, just north of La Jolla and home to Nisus Software.

Mavericks will feature a new Finder with tabs, built-in file tagging, and-and!-support for multiple monitors. Now the hardware has long supported additional monitors, but the Full Screen App feature only supported one monitor. Now you can have a Full Screen App on each monitor.


Using AirPlay, you can use Apple TV as yet another monitor. Presumably with the 3rd party apps AirServer or Reflection, you can use another Mac or Windows computer as that second or third display.

Now you can get a lot of these features now as third-party add-ins. Default Folder X has given the File Dialog box a tagging/Spotlight comment box for some time now. PathFinder has had tabs for display panes for years and tagging and a whole host of other features. Expect these developers to add even more enhancements to their products. And XtraFinder adds tabs to the Finder for Free.

And more to come! iTunes Radio was announced today, June 10th, as well. It’s coming this fall. Until then, make do with Pandora and Spotify. As well as the gaggle of stations already listed in iTunes under “Radio”.

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