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  1-30-04 | This column originally appeared in the Houston Chronicle.


The Rest of iLife ‘04:
iPhoto 4, iMovie 4, iDVD 4, and iTunes 4


By Bob LeVitus

I’ve been so fascinated with Apple’s new GarageBand that I have barely said a word about the other iLife ’04 offerings—iPhoto 4, iMovie 4, iDVD 4, and iTunes 4—in my last two columns. All four are new and improved (some more than others), and now that I’ve finally been able to tear myself away from GarageBand for a few minutes, here’s the scoop.

Let’s start with iPhoto, which impressed me the most. I take a lot of digital photos and currently have more than 6,000 of ‘em stored in iPhoto 3. Alas, performance on my fastest Mac (a dual 1GHz G4 with 1.5GB of RAM) was pathetic and it was almost unusable on our other (slower) Macs. I was on the lookout for a better solution at Macworld Expo when the announcement of iPhoto 4 stopped me in my tracks.

Now that I’ve given it a try, I’m happy to report that it is at least a zillion times faster than version 3, even on our slower Macs, and maybe even two zillion times faster. In version 3, when I clicked the scroll bar, I could expect an extended encounter with the dreaded spinning rainbow cursor. In iPhoto 4, scrolling happens instantly, usually without even a glimpse of the spinning rainbow. It’s like a miracle.

But wait, there’s more! Smart Albums are another new iPhoto 4 feature, which let you organize photo albums based on date, keyword, or rating (much like iTunes 4’s Smart Playlists). And new Rendezvous photo sharing lets our family share photos effortlessly among the four Macs on our home network.

iMovie 4 now lets you edit directly in the timeline, which makes using it even easier and faster. New graphical audio waveforms and live audio scrubbing make it easier to find specific edit points in audio tracks. You can now import video directly from an iSight camera. Plus, the “Star Wars” title generator, which my wife has already used to great effect in her latest opus, Basketball Wars: The Rockets (my son’s basketball team) Strike Back.

As for iDVD, version 4 includes 20 new high-quality theme templates and a new Map view that makes it easier than ever to construct multi-menu DVDs, and new professional-quality encoding that lets you burn over two hours of video on a single DVD-R disc.

If you are into digital photography, iLife ’04 is worth buying just for the speed improvements in iPhoto 4. But the bottom line is that if you’re a heavy user of any of the iLife applications, this upgrade is well worth $50. Heck, in my humble opinion, any of the five programs alone would be worth $50; iLife ’04 is a steal at $49 for all five applications.

iLife requires Mac OS X v10.2.6 or later, QuickTime 6.4 or later, a Macintosh with a PowerPC G3, G4, or G5 processor, 256MB or more physical RAM and a 1024x768 or larger display. A 600 MHz G3 processor or faster is required for GarageBand and a G4 or G5 processor is required for GarageBand software instruments.

The iLife ‘04 applications are included with all new Macs. An iLife Up-To-Date upgrade package is available to all customers who purchase a new Mac on or after January 6 that does not include iLife ‘04. The iLife Up-To-Date package is available for a shipping and handling fee of $19.95. iTunes version 4.2 is currently available as a free download

iLife ’04. S.R.P. $49
Apple Computer, Inc. Cupertino, California

Bob LeVitus is a leading authority on Mac OS and the author of 41 books, including The Little iTunes Book and Mac OS X for Dummies, 2nd Edition. E-mail comments to [email protected].

Copyright © 2003 Bob LeVitus

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