Article: Gossip and the New MacBooks

by on September 25, 2008

No doubt if you’ve looked around the web regarding when Apple is going to introduce new MacBook and MacBook Pros, it should have happened last month. Ideas such as all-aluminum enclosures, LCD-based trackpads with MultiTouch, rounded corners, fewer ports, more ports, or black glossy goodness around the screen all showed up on the Internet and we’re still waiting to see what the computers are going to look like.

Who cares?

I’m not trying to say that what Apple does is unimportant. Obviously new Macs mean new accessories, new capabilities, and the ability for owners of the current models to feel like their machine is inadequate. However, are the current Macs that much better than their predecessors?

The MacBook Pro, a fantastic machine (trust me, I own one), is much like its predecessor, the PowerBook G4 in design. A camera and an extra latch were thrown on the bezel. A remote sensor was added for Apple’s remote. A few ports were adjusted and shifted, but the overall design is much the same as the PowerBook G4 of 2003. Put some masking tape over the logo, ports, and camera (on the MacBook Pro) on a PowerBook G4 and MacBook Pro and the two machines look pretty much identical. How many computers can you say look like their 5-year-old ancestor?

The MacBook is a slightly different story. The iBook it originated from was flattened, widened, lost its latch, gained a camera, and gained the ability to span screens and accept audio input. The computer moved a bit more midrange compared to the iBook in this regard, but was still definitely not a MacBook Pro. The design is pretty good even after a couple of years, but plastic on the edges has been known to crack, show dirt, and run a bit hotter than the aluminum sibling.

With the MacBook Air, Apple’s design language changed a bit – a professional-style laptop with cues from the MacBook. Now many are expecting that both of the optical-drive equipped Apple laptops are going to get the edges smoothed out, a more unified design, and some additional changes.

I bought my MacBook Pro about a month ago. I could’ve waited, but I took advantage of the free iPod touch rebate. Today we’re seeing more evidence of new machines, but they look like yet another small evolution in Apple’s notebook lineup.

We’re almost looking at an Apple notebook lineup much like the late-1990s: the 1400, the 2400, and the 3400. It seems like no matter what, Apple will always have a small, budget laptop; a removable-media free, ultralight laptop; and a no-compromise, desktop replacement. What do you think is in store for Apple’s MacBook and MacBook Pro?

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