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Apple previews 'Tiger' OS, launches 30in. Cinema HD display

Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference featured some predictably tasty (and expensive) hardware, and a preview of the next version of Mac OS X.

Apple has gradually been turning its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) into a platform for new product announcements. This year, however, Steve Jobs's parade of gear was mildly underwhelming.

LCDs for the rich and famous

Every Jobs presentation must, it seems, feature at least one device to 'ooh and ahh' over. This year, the WWDC keynote showcased an aluminium-encased, ultra-flat, 30in. Apple Cinema HD display. The digital display is part of a new family of restyled displays, which includes a 20in. and a 23in. model. The flagship 30in. model will debut in August with a shocking £2,549 (inc. VAT) price tag, 2,560 by 1,600 resolution, and built-in FireWire 400 and USB 2.0 hubs. Now for the drawbacks (in case the £2,549 didn't knock you sideways): the display requires a 'dual-link' DVI interface found only on the £449 (inc. VAT) Nvidia GeForce 6800 Ultra DDL video card, raising the price of the whole setup to just under £3,000. The display also requires a Power Mac G5, which starts at £1,449 (inc. VAT).

In the slightly less stratospheric department, the 20in. (1,680 by 1,050) and 23in. (1,920 by 1,200) displays are due next month and will set you back £999 and £1,549 (inc. VAT), respectively. They also feature FireWire and USB ports and use a standard DVI interface.

Tiger out of the cage

But the gigantic display looks Lilliputian next to WWDC's biggest news: a preview of Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger (and the accompanying Tiger Server). The operating system update won't be available until the first half of 2005, according to Jobs, but like its predecessor Panther, it boasts '150 new features' (note to Apple: we'll be counting). Those features include, most notably, a system-wide search tool called Spotlight, which mimics the way iTunes searches your music library. Jobs says you'll be able to quickly find any file -- including email, hidden files or even application data -- anywhere on your Mac.

Tiger's preview also ignited a little controversy in the Dashboard department. A third-party developer accused Apple of borrowing heavily from a program called Konfabulator to build the new Dashboard tool, which Jobs says will give you quick and easy access to little widgets, from sticky notes to a remote control for iTunes. Apple denies the similarity, however, so look for the feature to remain in the final release -- which, by the way, will cost extra.

Although Tiger won't premiere for quite a few months, Steve Jobs crowed that it'll come out nearly a year before the next Windows revision, Longhorn, due out in 2006, saying the competition was following Apple's 'tail lights'. Ironically, he predicted that Microsoft would be the one doing the copying -- of Tiger's bag of tricks.

            

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