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Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Stephen Hackett

The Hackett File: Dead products walking?

If you had asked me the future of the Mac mini one year ago, I would have been worried that the smallest Mac in Apple’s lineup may have been on its way out. Thankfully, 2018 proved this fear misplaced, and we have a new Mac mini that is a noticeably better and more flexible computer than it was.

Looking at Apple’s lineup, there are some products that feel like they are on death’s doorstep. Will 2019 breathe new life into these devices? My crystal ball runs Windows 95, so I have no idea.

iPad mini

The smallest iPad costs $399 for 128 GB of storage. It’s the only size available; the only options you have when ordering are the color and whether you want LTE or not.

For your $400, you get a 7.9-inch laminated Retina display, but just behind the glass is Apple’s A8 system on a chip, which first showed up on the iPhone 6 back in 2014. It isn’t even the A8X found in the iPad Air 2.

The A8 is coupled to 2GB of RAM, the same as the 6th-generation iPad introduced in the spring of this year. (The RAM in the iPad is faster than that in the mini, which is a bummer.)

Like that iPad, it has Touch ID, a headphone jack, and a Lightning port. However, it also has the camera from the iPad mini 2, and no Pencil support.

The iPad mini may be the smallest and slowest tablet Apple makes, but at $70 more than the standard iPad, it’s not the cheapest. It has a mix of older and newer parts. If it were $299, I’d be a lot more enthusiastic about it as a tablet for kids or for reading, but I don’t think Apple can justify ignoring it for another year.

iPod touch

If the iPad mini 4 is frustrating, the iPod touch is just plain heartbreaking. The last product to wear the iPod name runs on the same A8 processor as found in the iPad mini, but it drives a 4-inch screen.

Remember that screen size? It felt big when the iPhone 5 was new in 2012, but today it is hilariously small. I have one of these 6th-generation iPod touches for playing music at Relay FM live shows and every time I get it out, I think I grabbed an even older device, just due to its size.

The iPod touch does have price going for it. The 32GB model is just $199, and the 128GB model is $299. It’s such an old device, its store page doesn’t match Apple’s updated web design.

Some people say the iPod touch is still around for kids, but I don’t think I buy that. I can’t remember the last time I saw an iPod touch out in the world, especially in the hands of a kid. It’s iPads all the way down, and it is time for the iPod brand to head to that great product bin in the sky.

1080p Apple TV

The 4K Apple TV starts at $179 for 32GB of storage, and for some reason, Apple sells a second, 64GB model for $199. Both of these prices are too expensive compared to the sea of Roku, Fire TV, and Chromecast devices out in the world.

Apple’s answer to these sorts of complaints is to keep old devices around for sale, sometimes way too long. That’s where our old friend, the 4th-generation Apple TV comes in. Announced in 2015 under the ridiculous banner saying “The future of TV is apps,” this Apple TV is only capable of driving a 1080p panel.

This is where I’d love to tell you this model of Apple TV can be purchased for a mere $99, a full $80 less than its 4K offspring.

But I can’t, because it’s $149. A mere $30 separates the 1080p and 4K Apple TV models. That’s a gap Apple should cross. A 4K model can drive a 1080p TV just fine, and lets users future-proof their setups.

Trashcan Mac Pro

If this machine survives 2019, someone will need to check on John Siracusa. Apple, don’t let him down!

[Stephen Hackett is the author of 512 Pixels and co-founder of Relay FM.]

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