Going into Apple's October 16 press event, where new iPads and Macs are expected, it's a good time to look back at 2014 and see where each of Apple's computer lines stand.
While this has been a quiet year in terms of groundbreaking new product introductions, it's also been a very active year for Mac updates, and the majority of computer lines from Apple have seen some combination of spec bumps and price cuts.
The collection that follows will show you which Macs have already received 2014 updates, and which have not.
With the same CPU as the 13-inch version, but costing less (small-screen discount?), your choice between the two MacBook Air sizes comes down to portability versus viewability. A dozen-plus hours of battery life is great, but it's also hard to justify paying $900, £759, or AU$1,100 for a 1,366x768-pixel-resolution screen. Still, the 11-inch Air is one of the most usable ultraportable laptops we've ever tested.
The updated CPU resulted in a small bump to application performance, as well as a decent battery bump. More important is the price cut, which means the cost of the base model has come down under $1,000, £850, and AU$1,200 in just two years.
UPDATED: MacBook Pro with Retina Display (15-inch, 2014)
The small speed bump and added RAM make this a modest improvement over the 2013 version, but it's essentially the same machine. As that Retina MacBook Pro received a very strong recommendation as an excellent all-around premium powerhouse, this updated version does, too, even if we were hoping for something that felt a bit more "new."
How is the new entry-level iMac so much less expensive than the previous low-end model? It's because this is essentially a MacBook Air in desktop form, with a slower CPU and smaller hard drive than other iMacs. But, if that level of laptop-like performance is enough for you (and for most mainstream tasks, it is), here's a chance to get the exceptional iMac industrial design and build quality for less.
This cult-favorite small-form-factor desktop computer may fall into the category of products Apple calls "hobbies," but it still has legions of fans. It's a shame then, that the Mac Mini has not been seriously updated since 2012, which is pretty close to forever in computer terms. The current Mac Mini is a couple of generations behind in its Intel CPU, and could easily benefit from newer processors and newer integrated Intel graphics, plus more efficient SSD storage.
This unique desktop powerhouse was only released in December 2013, but that means it's nearly 1-year-old, and perhaps ready for an update. But, there's no newer version of the Intel Xeon processor than that in the model we reviewed at launch. The physical design is unlikely to change anytime soon based on the history of Mac Pro designs, but I suppose there's a small chance we could see lower-cost versions with consumer-level Intel CPUs, such as the new high-end Haswell-E series.
We saw a new 21.5-inch iMac model earlier in 2013, which hit a new lower price by essentially swapping in laptop-level internal components, making that new model basically a MacBook Air in an iMac body. One could conceivably see a similar update to the larger 27-inch version of the iMac, but if Apple decides to give the 27-inch iMac a more upscale makeover, it might include a Retina-like higher-resolution display.