The 'Book Review

Tablets Out to Kill Laptops, New iPad vs. MacBook Air, $799 MacBook Air This Fall?, and More

This Week's PowerBook and iBook News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2012.05.11

General Apple and Mac desktop news is covered in Mac News Review. iPad, iPod, iPhone, and Apple TV news is covered in iOS News Review. All prices are in US dollars unless otherwise noted.

News & Opinion

In This Week's Mac News Review

Rumor Roundup


Bargain 'Books

News & Opinion

Tablets Are Out to Kill Your Laptop

ReadWriteWeb's Antone Gonsalves notes that the key finding of a new Forrester Research report authored by analyst Tablets Are Out to Kill Your LaptopFrank E. Gillett [see Tablets Will Become Our Primary Computing Device in the April 27 iNews Review] is that laptops are doomed, and that in the next five years, tablets will displace notebook-style computers to become the dominant personal computing platform - a transition that's already begun among users who were born between 1980 and 2000, ergo: the millennials. The report, "Tablets Will Rule The Future Personal Computing Landscape," notes that in the US, 30% of tablet owners in this age group have purchased a tablet in place of a PC, compared to 20% of baby boomers.

"For this growing body of [millennial] users, PCs will seem like clunky trucks rather than sleek cars, dampening their long-term propensity to buy conventional PCs," Gillett says, but predicts that Cloud services such as Box, DropBox, SugarSync, and Apple's iCloud will be critical enabling technologies helping nail down the laptop's coffin-lid. As will a new type of large stationary display the analyst calls a frame, predicted to be commonplace by 2015, used to wirelessly display video, documents and other tablet-based content. Forrester expects frames to become fixtures in homes, offices, hotel rooms, coffee shops and conference rooms, accelerating displacement of laptops.

New iPad or MacBook Air: Which Is Best for You?

Gadgetmania notes that notwithstanding the hype over Intel's Ultrabooks, Apple actually released the first "Ultrabook" (the original MacBook Air) almost half a decade ago, and it's always had the features and size that pretty much matchthe Ultrabook specification. With the Air's current price comparable with PC Ultrabooks now on the market, there's really no reason not to choose it unless you need to run Windows or Linux on the device (and you could actually do that on the Air).

However, a bigger question is, "Should I go with the iPad or the MacBook Air for my next computer?" Both the iPad and MacBook Air are perfect as replacements for a desktop or laptop computer for the average user, but Gadgetmania suggests there are a few things you should consider before deciding which way to jump.

Editor's note: This article is a pretty good overview of what obtains, although I don't entirely agree with the conclusion that the respective machines' capabilities are closely equivalent. If that were fact, the iPad would be a superb value for the money, but sadly, while it's a great platform for content consumption, not so much for content creation. cm

Should Apple Discontinue the 17" MacBook Pro?

MacNews' Dennis Sellers notes that the 17" MacBook Pro is nearing its end-of-life, and it's being speculated that Apple will turn its entire laptop line into MacBook Airs with 11", 13", and 15" models differentiated by different specs, which is where Sellers thinks Apple is heading.

He notes that like the Mac Pro, the 17" MacBook Pro has a limited niche market, but it's a powerful, creative market with specific needs Apple has met for years, citinng Redmond Pie's Paul Paliath's arguments not killing Apple's biggest laptop:

  • Many users, especially creative professionals, need to be able to burn CDs and DVDs.
  • People in certain professions require lots of screen real estate while on the go, along with decent storage options and lots of speed.
  • Many content creators have traditionally turned to Apple for their computing needs; they shouldn't be "exiled" by the company.

Sellers notes the counter-argument - that the 17" MacBook Pro can be replaced by a 15" MB Pro coupled with a 27" Thunderbolt Display for times when more screen real estate is needed - observng that pro users have stood by Apple over the years, including the hard times, and he'd hate to see them shunted aside in favor of nothing but consumer-oriented products.

Rumor Roundup

Apple Pondering $799 MacBook Air in 3Q12?

DigiTimes' Monica Chen and Joseph Tsai say that Apple is reportedly considering responding to upcoming second-generation ultrabooks by launching a $799 MacBook Air in the third quarter of 2012, according to unnamed insider sources from the upstream supply chain. Currently, Apple's least expensive 11" 64 GB MacBook Air is priced at $999

Last week, Focus Taiwan's Jeffrey Wu cited Intel Taiwan's country manager Jason Chen commenting that thin and lightweight Ultrabook notebooks may be priced as low as $599 in the second half of this year, with the adoption of new and cheaper case materials, such as a mixture of plastics and aluminum.

Chen and Tsai note that even though Acer recently reduced its ultrabook shipment target, Intel continues to aggressively push Ultrabooks and is aiming to have Ultrabook devices selling for $699 in the second half of the year. However, much hinges on whether Intel will really be able to reduce Ultrabook ASPs to that figure, also recapping that Intel has previously set aside a $300 million fund for ultrabook promotion and another $100 million for developing its own application store. In addition, they say that with its heavy investment in product promotion, the company believes the investments will help strengthen notebook brand vendors' morale and help increase Ultrabook market share in the notebook category. However, Chen and Tsai's sources are convinced that ultrabooks are unlikely to achieve strong sales performance until Windows 8 launches later this year, since many potential customers are now deferring system upgrades in anticipation of Win 8.

In the meantime, a major MacBook Pro and MacBook Air redesign/refresh is widely anticipated to be imminent from Apple. A pertinent question is, would Apple really want to dilute the sales impact of that with a low-ball $799 MacBook Air release hard on its heels? Unless, of course, an entry-level MacBook Air price cut is part of Apple's new model notebook strategy.

2012 MacBook Pro to Include SSD and Larger Battery?

SlashGear's Chris Burns reports that while the dominant rumor buzz thus far for the new MacBook Pro 2012 models has been that they'll adopt the thinner, lighter MacBook Air form factor, a new tip he's received disputes that postulate and predicts instead that Apple's Pro laptops will get a new case with no optical drive and the space formerly occupied by the latter to be used for a much larger battery and a SSD boot drive just for the OS, with main data storage still relegated to a traditional hard disk drive.

Publisher's note: Apple would not be well served to keep the MacBook Pro models as thick as they are while eliminating the optical drive. My guess is that Apple will continue to offer more pro-oriented MacBooks that include a hard drive, a larger battery, and a space for the SSD modules used in the MacBook Air, all of which could be done while making them thinner than today's nearly 1" thick MacBook Pro line. dk

Tech Trends

Intel: Cheaper Ultrabooks Likely Later This Year

Focus Taiwan's Jeffrey Wu reports that Intel said that thin and lightweight Ultrabook notebooks may be priced as low as $599 in the second half of this year with the adoption of new and cheaper case materials, such as a mixture of plastics and aluminum.

Wu cites Intel Taiwan's country manager Jason Chen commenting at a press event discussing the company's technologies used in Cloud computing data centers that "It is likely there will be $599 [Ultrabook] models in selected regions, but the mainstream price should fall around $699," and that the new models to be launched in the third and fourth quarters will support new functions, such as touch-enabled screens and gesture sensors, expected to drive overall demand.

Chen told Wu he expects Ultrabooks to account for 30 to 40% of the global notebook shipments in 2012 thanks to introduction of lower priced models.

Bargain 'Books

For deals on current and discontinued 'Books, see our 13" MacBook and MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, 13" MacBook Pro, 15" MacBook Pro, 17" MacBook Pro, 12" PowerBook G4, 15" PowerBook G4, 17" PowerBook G4, titanium PowerBook G4, iBook G4, PowerBook G3, and iBook G3 deals.

We also track iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, iPod classic, iPod nano, and iPod shuffle deals.

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