Hi everyone! New year, new tech!
Apple had their first new product announcements in a few months. Here’s what’s new.
But first, the eternal question: is it safe to upgrade to macOS 13 Ventura yet? Yes, it is. We have seen no significant problems with machines running Ventura. As always, please be sure you have a full backup first. And, if you’re on an older system such as macOS 10.14 Mojave or earlier, you’re due, but please talk to us first. You can check to see what you’re running under Apple Menu > About This Mac.
MacBook Pro 14″/16″ with M2 Pro, or M2 Max, chip: Apple’s MacBook Pro computers received a major redesign in 2021 (not counting the 13″ model, which is more like an Air). They are outstanding portable computers for power users, content creators, and anyone who likes a larger screen.
The 14″ and 16″ Pro have now received minor improvements for 2023: a somewhat faster M2 Pro or M2 Max chip, slightly longer battery life, and support for Wi-Fi 6e. More esoteric features include support for 8K displays and a whopping 96 GB memory option on the top-of-the-line configuration.
Other than that, not much has changed. If you already own a 2021 MacBook Pro 14″ or 16″, and it’s got enough capacity and performance for you, there’s certainly no reason to replace it with the new model. But, if you’ve got an older, Intel-based Mac laptop, then these computers, or the M2 MacBook Air, are superb upgrades. (I don’t recommend the M2 Pro 13″, as the M2 Air is superior to it in nearly all regards, despite costing less.) The MacBook Pro 14″ and 16″ start at $1,999 and $2,499, respectively, as before.
If you want to read more details about these machines, read our report on the 2021 model: https://ivanexpert.com/newsletters/new-macbook-pros-and-airpods/
(And, while on the topic, an aside: After being used to my 2020 M1 MacBook Pro 13″, I recently used a 2019 Intel-based model that externally is all but identical. What a difference a year makes! The 2019 Intel-based machine was notably worse at absolutely everything. It pinwheeled, it woke up from sleep more slowly, it ran down its battery in only a couple of hours, I could hear its fan, and the bottom got hot. And that was doing ordinary, uncomplicated computing on a nearly empty drive. Apple’s technical achievement in seamlessly transitioning their computers to superior processors of their own design can’t be overstated.)
Mac Mini with M2, or M2 Pro, chip: The Mac mini, Apple’s diminutive desktop computer to which you attach a separate display, was relatively forgotten for much of its existence, because most desktop computer buyers elected for the all-in-one iMac, which was available in 21.5″ and 27″ sizes. The Mini has new relevance, though, for those who like a 27″ screen, because the iMac now only comes in a 24″ size.
Instead of an iMac, you can buy a Mac Mini and pair it with a 27″ 5K display such as the Apple Studio Display, the LG UltraFine 5K, or the forthcoming Samsung ViewFinity S9. It can also be used with a less expensive 4K display, of which there are many models, in many sizes, from many vendors.
Some power users, though, might have been unsatisfied with the M1 Mac mini’s capacities, which topped out at 16 GB of memory, 2 TB of storage, and two external displays. For those buyers, Apple introduced the substantially more expensive, and physically larger, Mac Studio, a kind of “Super Mini.”
Apple’s 2023 updates to the Mac Mini are satisfying not only for people who need a general computing desktop machine, but also those who might want more capability without having to shell out for a Mac Studio.
The standard model Mac Mini receives performance improvements via Apple’s M2 chip, and happily has had its price lowered by $100 to start at $599 for 8 GB of memory and 256 GB of storage (but remember that the keyboard, mouse, and display must be purchased separately). Better and cheaper! Customization options offer a maximum of 24 GB of memory (which is more than enough for almost everyone besides video editors) and 2 TB of storage. In other words, it is like a desktop version of the M2 MacBook Air or M2 MacBook Pro 13″. The cheapest model with 256 GB, if it is like its portable cousins, may have somewhat slower disk performance than higher capacity models.
Apple also introduced another Mac Mini, presented as a higher-end configuration, but which could conceivably be named “Mac mini Pro.” It fills a gap between the standard Mac Mini and the Mac Studio. The new configuration features the M2 Pro chip, making it like a desktop version of a less expensively configured 14″ or 16″ MacBook Pro. This high-end Mini offers not only superior performance over the standard model, but considerably higher capacities, within the same petite design. It starts at $1,299, which gets you 16 GB of memory and 512 GB of storage, and can be customized with up to 32 GB of memory and 8 TB of storage. It also has four Thunderbolt 4 (USB-C) ports, as opposed to two on the base model, and supports three external displays, rather than two on the base model. Like the base model, it has two USB-A ports, an HDMI port, and an Ethernet port (with a 10 Gbps option), and adds support for Wi-Fi 6e.
After seeing Apple release several bummer models in the previous decade, it’s exciting to see them getting it right.
HomePod 2nd Gen: Apple’s smart speaker, the original HomePod, was one of the company’s shortest-lived products, but it was survived by the less expensive HomePod mini. Well, the original is back, in an updated edition that leans heavily into Apple’s ecosystem. Siri capabilities have been expanded, as has integration with home automation devices. The original HomePod did have fantastic sound, so I assume this new generation does as well. If you want to be able to talk to Siri in your home, and use Apple Music, or just like the idea of Apple products integrating with each other, HomePod might be for you; it costs $299. Otherwise, Sonos is still the brand to beat when it comes to digital audio speakers for your home, though it costs more for comparable sound quality.
Let us know if you have any questions about these new Apple products, or need any help making buying decisions.
And a very happy and excellent 2023 to you!