13" MacBook Introduced, 15" MacBook Pro Speed Bump
This Week's Mac Notebook News
13" MacBook Introduced, 15" MacBook Pro Speed Bump
All prices are in US dollars unless otherwise noted.
The headline story in the Apple portable orbit this week is the eagerly anticipated arrival of the new MacBook, which replaces the 12" and 14" iBook models and the 12" PowerBook. It features Intel Core Duo processors and a new 13" 1280 x 800 glossy widescreen display, all in a package that is claimed to be up to five times faster than the iBook G4 and up to four times faster than the 12" PowerBook G4.
Dan Knight covered the particulars thoroughly in his MacBook Value Equation column yesterday, so I'll just add some general comments here.
Back in Black
The most arrestingly visible changes compared with the preceding models are the widescreen display and the availability of the first black Apple 'Book in more than five years, since the PowerBook 2000 Pismo was superseded by the Titanium PowerBook G4 in January, 2001.
I think the glossy-black MacBook is über-cool looking and that Apple will sell a bunch, even with the slightly outrageous price premium they've imposed.
Together with the 15" and 17" MacBook Pros, the new MacBook completes Apple's Intel-based portable lineup. Apple's entire portable lineup now offers Intel Core Duo processors, so the Power PC laptop era is formally over. The 12" PowerBook and the 12" and 14" iBooks are quietly gone from the Apple Store.
It's a bit sad, but based on their looks and specs, the MacBooks portend to be very worthy successors to the models they replace.
"The complete MacBook lineup leads the industry with Apple's trademark innovative design and advanced mobile features - from top to bottom it is the best notebook line that we have ever offered," Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing, enthused at the unveiling. There is a bit of wait and see dynamic that will have to be played out, but I think he could be right.
Apple went with rugged polycarbonate plastic for the MacBook's skin - the sensible choice I think. Tough, durable polycarbonate is a better, more practical material for laptop housings than metal.
...drive swaps won't require major disassembly.
Another very welcome MacBook feature is that its hard drive lives in a bay accessible through the battery cavity on the underside of the computer, so drive swaps won't require major disassembly. That's the diametrical opposite of the iBook, whose hard drives were buried in the guts of the computer and challenging to access even for trained techs with well-equipped shops.
Less cool is that, like the Intel Mac mini, the MacBook uses Intel's integrated GMA-950 graphics chipset, which siphons off 64 MB of system memory for its graphics buffer plus 16 MB more for general startup, which means 80 MB less for running programs and tasks - not the most elegant solution.
Also in common with the Intel mini, the MacBook uses dual-channel system memory architecture, so it's recommended that you install memory sticks in matched pairs. Because of this, the MacBook comes with its RAM expansion slots full (2 x 256 MB), with optional configurations 2 x 512 MB and 2 x 1 GB. At least RAM upgrades are easy, also being accessed through the battery cavity.
At 1.1" thickness, the new MacBook is 20% thinner than the iBook and features a 13" glossy widescreen display that is 79% brighter than the iBook and the 12" PowerBook. According to Apple, it provides crisp images with richer colors, deeper blacks, and significantly greater contrast. At a resolution of 1280 x 800, the MacBook display provides 30% more viewing area than the iBook and the 12" PowerBook.
MacBooks come with a built-in iSight video camera for video conferencing on-the-go, Front Row media support with Apple Remote, gigabit ethernet, Apple's hard-drive protecting Sudden Motion Sensor, a scrolling trackpad, AirPort Extreme 802.11g WiFi for up to 54 Mbps fast wireless networking, built-in Bluetooth 2.0+EDR (Enhanced Data Rate), two USB 2.0 ports, combination analog and optical digital audio input and output ports, a mini-DVI video output port, and the MagSafe Power Adapter that safely disconnects from the computer when there is strain on the power cord, helping to prevent the 'Book from falling off its work surface.
Hard drives are 5400 RPM across the board and of 60 or 80 GB capacities. 100 GB and 120 GB drives are available as build-to-order options.
...the value is arguably there and then some.
The base 1.83 GHz MacBook sells for $1,099, a $100 price hike ($150 if you require a modem) over the entry-level 12" iBook it replaces, but the value is arguably there and then some. Moving upscale, there is a white 2.0 GHz MacBook at $1,299 and a black 2.0 GHz MacBook at $1,499. The latter model is the one whose value is questionable, although it does come with an extra 20 GB of hard drive capacity for the $200 higher price.
In summary, the three MacBook models stack up as follows:
1.83 GHz white MacBook, for a suggested retail price of US$1,099, includes:
- 13.3" glossy widescreen 1280 x 800 display with 250 cd/m2 brightness
- 1.83 GHz Intel Core Duo processor
- 667 MHz front-side bus
- 512 MB of 667 MHz DDR2 SDRAM, expandable to 2 GB
- 60 GB Serial ATA hard drive running at 5400 rpm, with Sudden Motion Sensor
- a slot-load Combo (DVD-ROM/CD-RW) optical drive
- Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 950
- Mini-DVI out (adapters for DVI, VGA and Composite/S-video sold separately)
- built-in iSight video camera
- Gigabit Ethernet port
- built-in AirPort Extreme wireless networking and Bluetooth 2.0+EDR
- two USB 2.0 ports and one FireWire 400 port
- one audio line in and one audio line out port, each supporting both optical digital and analog
- Scrolling trackpad
- the infrared Apple Remote
- 60 Watt MagSafe Power Adapter
Differences for the 2.0 GHz white MacBook, for a suggested retail price of US$1,299:
- 2.0 GHz Intel Core Duo processor
- a slot-load SuperDrive (DVD±RW/CD-RW) optical drive
Differences for the 2.0 GHz black MacBook, for a suggested retail price of US$1,499:
- 80 GB Serial ATA hard drive running at 5400 rpm, with Sudden Motion Sensor
- black finish
Additional build-to-order options for the MacBook include the ability to upgrade to 80 GB, 100 GB, or 120 GB 5400 rpm hard drives, up to 2 GB DDR2 SDRAM, Apple USB Modem, Apple Mini-DVI to DVI adapter, Apple Mini-DVI to VGA adapter, and the AppleCare Protection Plan.
I predict that used and refurbished 'Book prices will undergo a significant adjustment downward as a result of the MacBook release. Apple already dropped the price of MacBook Pro 15" refurbs by $100-200.
I wasn't at all surprised by the MacBook's specs., which were pretty much exactly what I had been anticipating they would be. It's a very nice piece of work, and I imagine I'll have one eventually.
- Link: MacBook, Apple
Coinciding with the MacBook release on Tuesday, Apple also increased processor speeds on both models of the 15" MacBook Pro at no additional cost. The US$2,499 model now includes a 2.16 GHz Intel Core Duo processor, up from 2.0 GHz, and the US$1,999 model now includes a 2.0 GHz Intel Core Duo processor, up from 1.83 GHz.
The MacBook Pro also offers the new glossy widescreen display as a Configure To Order (CTO) option on both the 15" and 17" models at no additional cost.
- Link: MacBook Pro, Apple
Recent News Roundups
- Tips for New MacBook Users, When (Not) to Buy AppleCare, and More 'Book News, 2012.12.29. Also inside Retina MacBook's asymmetric cooling fans, Windows 8 means lower Windows PC sales, and more 'Book news.
- Confessions of an Apple Store Employee, Refurb Mac Bargains, and More Mac News, 2012.12.29. Also save old RAM when upgrading, latest Geekbench results, use TextEdit as an HTML editor, and more Mac news.
- The Case Against PPC Linux, OS X Tiger on Facebook, ResExcellence Rebirth, and More, 2012.12.22. Also sharing files between OS X, Classic, and Linux; remembering the 20th Anniversary Mac, iMac, SuperDisk, and G3 PowerBooks; and TenFourBird 17 email client released.
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- 2012 a Year of Great Change in Apple Portables, Desktop to MacBook, and More 'Book News, 2012.12.22. Also can an iPad replace your MacBook?, EFI update for 13" Retina MacBook Pro, $249 Matrox Thunderbolt dock with video output, and more 'Book news.
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- iPhone 5 Is Time's Gadget of the Year, Fundamental iOS 6 Complaints, and More iOS News, 2012.12.17. Also former Mac evangelist an Android fan, iPad changes the way you write, Microsoft Surface falling flat, Google Maps for iOS 6, and more iOS news.
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Links for the Day
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