Macworld keynote leaves Canadian users wanting

Macworld 2008 saw Apple starting the new year bringing out four new products that wowed the audience at CEO Steve Jobs keynote speech this morning. But despite the enthusiasm in California, only a couple of Apple new gadgets and services will be of benefit to Canadian Apple fans.

The big product of the show was the Macbook Air, an incredibly thin and light new laptop with a full-size 13.3 inch screen, an 80 gig hard drive (with the option of a 64 gig solid state drive), and a mousepad that uses many of the same multi-touch gestures of the iPod Touch and iPhone. The Macbook Air also uses 802.11n, but gets rid of an optical drive, instead opting for a potentially unwieldy “remote disc” feature that lets users install software via another computer’s drive. While the Air is a triumph of ergonomics and engineering, it remains to be sen if Apple’s innovations are a little ahead of the current state of laptop computing.

Not surprisingly, there was no indication that the iPhone is coming north of the U.S. border anytime soon, so the new features (including maps with location, webclips, screen customization, and multiple SMS) aren’t of much use to us. A new set of software, including mail, maps, stocks, notes and weather will be added to the iPod Touch (at a cost of $20) for existing users, which Canadians will be able to use.

Apple also introduced Time Capsule, an Airport Extreme station with a built-in hard drive which backs up via Leopard’s Time Machine feature. Time Capsule will be available in 500 gig and 1 terabyte models.

The other big announcement was the introduction of iTunes movie rentals, along with a revamped Apple TV that lets users who don’t even have a computer rent movies from the iTunes movie store right on their television. While Apple plans to roll out international support for movie rentals quite soon, Canadian users don’t even have the option of buying movies yet, so don’t hold your breath.