Oct 14 2008
At Apple’s “Spotlight on Notebooks” event in Cupertino (video) this morning, Steve Jobs announced and unveiled a new line of MacBooks and MacBook Pros with a new design that more effectively “unifies” the family of notebooks. Whenever Apple makes an announcement like this that drastically changes the way they approach a specific product line, the internet begins to buzz as each gadget blog discovers a new piece of the puzzle that wasn’t mentioned in the presentation, or a whenever shortcomings of a newly applied technology are unearthed. You’re going to see a lot of links in this post as I try to connect you with what went on today. Let’s start with the announcements themselves…
One big happy family
Previously, only the MacBook Pros were constructed of aluminum while the MacBooks were made of polycarbonate plastic. The new designs of both models consist of a unibody enclosure milled from a single block (the “brick” rumored in the last few weeks) of aluminum. The new ‘Book bodies are now thinner and more durable. The whole family of notebooks also sport NVIDIA graphics processors, glossy LED-backlit displays (no anti-glare screen option available) and large glass Multi-Touch trackpads.
The new MacBooks (video) are available in two models: the 2.0 GHz MacBook with a 160GB 5400 rpm hard drive (selling for USD$1,299), and the 2.4 GHz MacBook with a 250GB 5400 rpm hard drive and a backlit keyboard (selling for USD$1,599). Neither MacBook model offers Firewire.
The new 15-inch MacBook Pro is available in two models: a 2.4 GHz model with a 250GB 5400 rpm hard drive (selling for USD$1,999), and a 2.53 GHz model with a 320GB 5400 rpm hard drive (selling for USD$2,499). Neither MacBook Pro model offers Firewire 400, though they both have the faster Firewire 800.
Also updated was the MacBook Air which now includes NVIDIA GeForce 9400M integrated graphics, a 120GB 4200 rpm hard drive, a new 128GB solid state drive (in the USD$2,499 model) and sells at prices starting at USD$1,799
Here’s a breakdown showing the differences between the MacBook, MacBook Pro and MacBook Air.
The Mini DisplayPort and the 24-inch Cinema Display
The new MacBook, 15-inch MacBook Pro and MacBook Air include a new oriface: the Mini DisplayPort (why?). This port was included to facilitate the connection of the new Apple 24-inch LED Cinema Display with a built-in iSight, mic and speakers in an iMac-like aluminum and glass enclosure. The Mini DisplayPort is ultra-compact at just 10 percent the size of a full DVI connector. Adapters are available for using the MacBook’s Mini DisplayPort with older generation VGA, DVI/HDMI and Dual-Link DVI displays.
Wither the 17-inch MacBook Pro
The 17-inch MacBook Pro, though now showing updated specifications, keeps its the original aluminum MacBook Pro design and was pretty much left out of the fun today. It now comes with a high resolution 1920 x 1200 LED-backlit display and a larger 320GB hard drive or an optional 128GB solid state drive, but does not appear to have the new glass trackpad nor is it compatible with the Apple 24-inch LED Cinema Display without the use of an adapter. On the plus side, it does still come with an anti-glare screen option. The 17-inch MacBook Pro sells for USD$2,799.
UPDATE (10/15/08 – 19:02 PT): According to MacInsider, the 17-inch MacBook Pro will be upgraded to the next generation stylings in a few months. So if you want Firewire 400 and anti-glare screens, get ‘em while you still can.
Addressing the question of upgraded optical drives in the new notebooks and, indeed, in Apple’s entire line of computers, Steve Jobs has been quoted as saying that Blu-ray is a “just a bag of hurt” and that Apple is waiting until licensing requirements for the technology settle presumably after the format takes off more in the home theater market. This was said following the presentation of these new computers, at a brief Q & A session for the attending journalists.
The Apple Online Store
Once the new products were announed, the Apple Online Store came back online with the new Macs ready for purchase. Apple’s websites geared toward other countries took a bit longer to return from the break and, apparently, Apple French language site went live with a graphic displaying placeholder text reading what translates to English as “perfectly stupid, nobe,” and “New design. New functions. New technologies. Entirely designed from criteria not defined yet.”
Oh, and one more thing…
These new notebook computers have hardly been released long enough for many to have been sold and Apple has already issued MacBook, MacBook Pro Software Update 1.2, an update that improves compatibility with external displays and includes a variety of software fixes.