By Charlie Sorrel
Tomorrow sees the unveiling of Apple’s new notebooks. What can we expect?
The official invitation, sent out just last Thursday, doesn’t offer much. We get the slogan, “The spotlight turns to notebooks” and a picture of a notebook, probably metal, partially illuminated by – you guessed it – a spotlight.
Reading the hieroglyphs of Apple’s promo material doesn’t bring much. Could the “spotlight” reference have something to do with the Mac’s Spotlight search function? Probably not.
Apple’s famous lock-down on product information has become less secure of late. Almost the only part of the iPod “Let’s Rock” event that wasn’t leaked beforehand was the shake-to-shuffle feature on the new Nano. This launch is shaping up to be just the same: Several Chinese forums have posted pretty convincing pictures of the case designs,
Both the MacBook and the MacBook Pro will be aluminum. The aluminum MacBook has been rumored since forever, and if we take the leaked shots as real, Apple is finally going all-metal in its Mac lineup.
We can also be pretty certain that the MacBook Pro will gain the chiclet-style keyboard of the Air and the stock MacBook, most likely in backlit black. Ditto the magnetic latch which holds the MacBook Pro closed — that little button is so 2001. The other advantage the current MacBook has over the MBP is the easy-to-swap hard drive. Along with the RAM, the HDD is a simple five-minute slot-in replacement. Expect to see this in the Pro.
Internally we can expect some more changes. Mac Cultist Leander Kahney hopes for 4GB RAM as standard in the MBP, and two in the MacBook. He also lists integrated NVIDIA graphics in the MacBook, something that rumor site Apple Insider corroborates, claiming to have “confirmed” the inclusion of NVIDIA’s MCP79. While this still shares the system memory, it is apparently faster and – probably more important for Apple – smaller than the Intel GMA950 which is currently used.
So far, so evolutionary. What about surprises? The big expectation is a touch screen. We say no. Touch screens are just too hard to use in a notebook, unless Apple has also invented some kind of iSling to support your arm. We’d like to be wrong on this, but we doubt it.
Nope. We want it, desperately, but we don’t hink Apple is going to give it to us.
This is more likely, although it won’t look like any of the other netbooks we know. Apple customarily comes late to the game, sitting and watching and then releasing its own, usually better, take on the current offerings. If Apple went to a party, it would turn up last and leave with the hottest girl there.
I think that the problem with an Apple netbook is the Intel Atom chip. Apple will be waiting for the new dual-core version. It’s entirely possible that Intel has already made a version for Apple, just as it released a smaller chipset early for the MacBook Air.
Another problem is screen size: Many application windows are just too big for a 10” screen”, so Apple would need to either update OS X (which neatly brings us back to the “resolution independent display” rumor of old) or add some fancy new workaround to the netbook, similar to the Air Disk for the MacBook Air.
We’d also expect to see some kind of 3G internet connectivity. Given that Apple has iPhone deals in place with telcos around that world, this should be pretty easy. And remember the musings from analysts about that $800 price point for a new MacBook? This could be achieved by a carier subsidy. A cheap Mac netbook with cheap, unlimited, always on data? Who wouldn’t buy that?