New MacBooks Unveiled

October 14, 2008  (Jeffrey Kabbe)

Apple unveiled new MacBook and MacBook Pro models today. A few things that caught my attention:

  • The 13″ MacBook and 15″ MacBook Pros are all new. The 17″ MacBook Pro received a small bump, but is based on the old architecture. The MacBook Air was “refreshed” also.
  • The appearance of the MacBook and MacBook Pro are now identical apart from the size difference. No longer do we have the plastic MacBooks and aluminum MacBook Pros.
  • Ok, that’s not totally true. The white MacBook lives on as a sub-$1000 model. It’s not very compelling from a spec perspective (only 1GB RAM and an Intel GPU), but it does make Macs seem more affordable. I am curious to see how well it will sell.
  • Apple spent a lot of time at the launch talking about the new production process. The new models are crafted from solid blocks of aluminum. I assume that means fewer screws.
  • The new MacBook and MacBook Pro models have a larger glass trackpad that supports multi-touch.
  • No more antiglare displays. The new models have glossy LED displays. This isn’t a big deal to me, but I know it is for many people.
  • No more Firewire 400 on the MacBook Pros. It’s Firewire 800 only.
  • No more Firewire on the MacBooks – at all. It’s USB only. Color me shocked. Apple always seems to find a way to differentiate their consumer models from their pro models. I guess this is one way they are doing it now.
  • No Blu-ray. Steve said Blu-ray is a “bag of hurt.”

I am impressed with how large hard drives are getting in laptops. My first generation MacBook Pro isn’t that old, but these new laptops have 2-3 times the hard drive capacity. It’s getting to the point where a laptop is having enough storage to be a primary work computer for creative types (some would argue that has been the case for a while, but I have found the disk space lacking).

This time the “one more thing” from Steve came at the beginning. Apple also announced a new Cinema Display with built-in USB hub, iSight, microphone, and speakers. Most interesting is the combined cable with plugs for the display, USB, and (the surprise) MagSafe power to hook up your laptop. The MagSafe plug is a nice touch, meaning I wouldn’t have to crawl under my desk to plug in a power cord.

Update: Apple Insider has posted a photo set of a tear down of the new MacBooks. It’s amazing how few pieces there are when it’s all disassembled.

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