Creatives looking for additional processing power in mobile form factors have cause to celebrate, as Apple has announced new versions of its Mac Mini, MacBook Air, and iPad Pro products, set to release on November 7th. The MacBook Air and iPad Pro announcements are especially exciting, considering Adobe’s recent focus on adapting its Creative Cloud applications to mobile devices.
After being largely ignored since the previous version in 2014, the Mac Mini is back and in space-grey along with several performance enhancements and upgrades. The base system ships with a 4-Core 8th-generation Intel processor, 8GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD system drive, with options for a 6-Core CPU, 64GB of RAM, and 2TB of storage. Connectivity is also a focus on these new systems, with four Thunderbolt 3 ports, two USB-A ports, HDMI, audio and Ethernet (including an option for 10Gbps).
While these pro-focused Mac Minis are the most expensive models to date, with prices ranging from $799 to $1099 depending on configuration, they pack a significant punch for creatives on a budget. Apple claims that Paramount is using them for post-production on the Elton John biopic Rocket Man, and suggested linking three of them together to accelerate Apple Compressor video encoding.
Claimed by Apple CEO Tim Cook to be the “most loved laptop ever,” the 3rd generation of MacBook Air was also announced, with the biggest news being the inclusion of a Retina display into its standard light and mobile form factor. The new 13.3-inch display handles screen resolutions of up to 2560x1600 pixels, blowing the older Air’s 1440x900 resolution out of the water. The new model manages this while also having a 17 percent smaller footprint and weighing even less than its predecessor, giving an enticing new option to users where mobility is vital.
Unfortunately, Apple is standing by its two USB-C port setup with this model, though these ports do support Thunderbolt 3.
The base model ships with an 8th-Generation Intel Core i5, 8GB of RAM, and a 128GB hard drive (so storage is the primary performance bottleneck), and costs $1199. The new MacBook Air is available in space gray, silver, and gold.
With Adobe’s announcement of Photoshop integration with the iPad platform, as well as recent improvements to the iPad’s multitasking and split-screen features, creatives on the go may find the newest iPad Pro announcement to their liking. The top-of-the-line 12.9 inch iPad has done away with the Home button and bezels in favor of FaceID and a larger display, maximizing screen real estate on this compact, 1.39-pound device. Under the hood, the new iPad features the A12X Bionic chip, which includes an 8-core CPU, and a 7-core GPU well suited for machine-learning tasks and AR processing.
All this tech comes at a price; the 12.9-inch model starts at $999 with only 64GB of storage. 1TB capacity is possible but priced at $1749 (not including peripherals like the Apple Pencil or smart keyboard). The 11-inch model is a little more reasonable at a $799 price point for the same hardware.
Apple also announced improvements to its Pencil stylus. The Pencil 2 can now be charged wirelessly by magnetically attaching it to the new iPad, and there are customizable tap and swipe gestures available that can be tweaked on a per-application basis. The Pencil 2 retails at $129.
MacBook Pro Graphics Update
Finally, Apple announced that it is including Radeon Pro Vega graphics cards in its MacBook Pro laptop line, which up to this point was only in desktop systems (including Apple’s iMac Pro). Apple claims the new cards provide “up to 60 percent faster graphics performance for the most demanding video editing, 3D design and rendering workloads.” Unfortunately, the Radeon Pro Vega is for the more expensive 15-inch model of MacBook Pro, available on November 14th.
If you have any questions about Apple’s new products and how they could impact your production pipeline, reach out to Nodal! Gizmodo has some in-depth reviews of all the new equipment, and check out Engadget’s previews of the new Mac Mini and MacBook Air.