New MacBooks Look Great!

I’ve been holding off getting a new laptop at work because I knew Apple was due to come out with some major changes to the MacBook line. So I’ve been plugging away with my now 4 generation old 2.33 GHz MacBook Pro. It’s still a fine performer, but it’s starting to show signs of its age. Well yesterday Apple revamped the MacBook lineup and after what I’ve seen, I’m glad I waited!


The New MacBook Pro

Apple has come up with a new process that involves making the case for the MacBook Pro out of a single piece of aluminum. This of course makes the case more sturdy and offers some potential weight benefits. too. All of the ports have been moved to one side and the slot loading Superdrive is now on the side. Apple has done away with the Firewire 400 port in favor of a single Firewire 800 port. Since Firewire 800 is backwards compatible (with the proper cable) to Firewire 400, this really isn’t a big deal although I will miss having two ports.

Apple also made access to the internal hard drive easier by locating it right below the battery. The front of the display is designed more like an iMac. The big news however is in the new trackpad. I’m going to reserve judgment until I actually get to play with one, but I’m not sure that I’m going to like not having a physical trackpad button. That’s right! It’s gone! You now tap the trackpad itself for everything. The new glass trackpad is like an iPhone’s touch screen. It supports multi-gestures things like a “right-click” via software. The older MacBook Pros allow you to turn on “Clicking” and “Dragging” and while some of my friends swear by this feature, I actually hate it!. So again, I’ll have to see what it’s like not having a physical button.

Apple also made a significant leap forward by going with Nvidia’s latest and greatest graphics chip. They are claiming 5-6 times performance gains, which will be great for the new Photoshop CS4 which takes advantage of your GPU.

One last thing, Apple made a new 128GB SSD (solid state disk) hard drive available across the line. So far I’ve not been impressed by this technology because for the price, you don’t really see a huge bump in speed or savings in battery. The MacBook Pro starts at $1,999. The 17″ MacBook Pro seems to have been left out of this round of updates. While Apple still offers it for sale on the store, it’s no where to be seen on the MacBook Pro page of Apple’s site.

Check out this clip of the New MacBook Pro Trackpad in action. Both Photoshop CS4 and InDesign CS4 take advantage of these new gestures. 


The MacBook gets a price drop and a new pro like model

The MacBook has always been like the baby brother of the MacBook Pro. It’s not as powerful, but also not as expensive. Apple lowered the price of the base model to $999, but also came out with a higher end ($1,299) model with many of the same features of the $1,999 MacBook Pro including the same aluminum case design. If you don’t need Firewire, an ExpressCard slot, a larger screen (13″ vs. 15″) or a faster processor (2.0GHz vs. 2.4GHz), then you could save yourself $700 and go with the new higher end MacBook.


MacBook Air gets a couple of bumps too

I resisted temptation when the original MacBook Air came out because I just couldn’t live with a paltry 80GB internal drive. Although 120GB is still not enough for my day-to-day use, it is enough for my wife. So her MacBook goes to my daughter and my wife gets the new MacBook Air! The MacBook Air also gets a much needed bump to the Nividia 9400M graphics card! The MacBook Air is still priced at $1,799 and up.


One more thing…

Apple also (finally) announced a New 24 inch Cinema Display that is LED based. I can’t believe that it has taken Apple all these years to begin to refresh their display line. Apple seems to have geared this display for portable Mac users. For one thing it has a MagSafe power adapter to power your MacBook directly from the display. Besides being LED based, it also has a built-in iSight camera, which is good and bad. It’s good because Apple stopped selling stand alone iSights years ago, but it’s bad for the locations that don’t allow cameras of any kind on the premises. I’m also stunned by the price. This puppy is $899 and that seems like a lot for a 24″ display. Yeah, I get that it’s LED based (which costs more) and that it has a built-in iSight and that Apple usually makes really good displays, but that still seems like a lot for a display.


The Bottom Line

Aside from the new Cinema Display, I’m psyched about these new products. I can’t wait to get my new work MacBook Pro. I’m a little hesitant about the new trackpad design, but I’m open minded enough to give it a shot. I am a little disappointed in the lack of Blu-ray support. Apple seems to be dragging their feet on this one in hopes that Blu-ray is just a fad and everyone will move to downloadable HD content from the iTunes store. While that may happen some day, I’d love to see Blu-ray movie playback on the MacBook Pro. If you’re in the market for a new laptop, you have a range of options here that should satisfy just about any user.

See yesterday’s Steve Jobs keynote address video here.

13 Replies to “New MacBooks Look Great!”

  1. The new MacBook / Display setup looks very promising. The cable management on their current displays was not designed for laptop use. Here is a photo of my current connection:

    But cable management is not worth $1000 when Dell monitors are now less then half that. I guess pretty and LED comes with a price.

    It would have also been interesting if they ran ethernet through the monitor to the laptop as well.

  2. No matte finish on the screens. WTF? Guess we’ll all have to sit in complete darkness to work on our photos in order to avoid the insane glare that these glossy screens provide.

    What was Apple thinking?

  3. Hi Terry,

    From what I understand, the new mouse trackpad on the MacBook Pro does physically click … it’s just the whole pad that is the button. Seems cool to me, but like you, I need to play with one before giving a real opinion.

    Josh Kaufman

  4. Hey Terry, I’d be curious to see how the glossy displays perform. That’s one of the reasons why I’m holding off on upgrading to this model…

    I hope you do a review when you get your new machine! 🙂

  5. Terry, in the Q&A session they said that the 17″ will be updated in due time. At least that’s what I gathered. =) No matte screens is indeed a big pain, especially for the new Cinema Displays…

  6. Terry,

    Had a chance to play with both models today. The new MacBook is a reincarnated 12″ PowerBook with a ton of modern features. The trackpad on both is a thing of beauty and design excellence.

  7. Terry, What do you think about apple using glossy screens on the macbook pros. I know that with glossy screens have a smaller color gamut, and i was wondering why there hasn’t been an uproar in the creative community yet. I also was wondering what you think about HP and Sony coming out with the laptops with adobe RGB capable screens, raids, and wacom tablets built in, even though I know you are apple guy.

  8. Jonathan,
    I think the Glossy screen is a potential issue, but it’s not the first glossy screen on a MacBook Pro. It’s the first glass one. Rather than pass judgement on the unknown, I’m waiting until I actually have mine in front of me and can do some real-world testing to see if it’s an issue or not. I’ll report back with a new post as soon I actually put it to the test.
    As far as HP and Sony coming out with the things you’ve mentioned, I think it’s cool and keeps the pressure on Apple. More competition is always a good thing.

  9. I had a chance to play with the new Mac Book Pro today at my local Apple store. It’s nicely designed, thin, and light. The new trackpad is terrific. But, it’s likely not for me. I like the added real estate of the 17-inch screen AND I need a matte screen since the vast majority of my work is with photos. I loaded up a photo on the new Pro and the screen picked up the reflections of every light in the store. The glare was awful and my nearly white shirt cast a nice reflection on the screen as well. The photo was basically unwatchable and working on it in Photoshop was nearly impossible. The loss of about half the i/o ports is also an issue. I assume that the “refreshed” 17-inch Mac Book Pros will be available sometime in January, 2009 and have the same “features” as the 15-inch model including that dreaded glossy screen. Apple may have screwed the pooch on this one and with that glossy screen, it’s basically useless to me. No sale here unless it’s for the old 17-inch model with the matte screen. I’d give the new Mac Book Pro 2 out of 5 stars.


  10. It is my understanding that the glass screen design is integral to the stability and the structure of the unit. With a large amount of complaints and griping from pro users (often photographers on location) I feel it is only a matter of time before Apple will figure out how to integrate a glass screen that has an anti reflective coating.

    Those that have purchased the 15 inch in that last 8 months now have a hot commodity until that happens.

    I like the other adjustment that have been made, especially moving the cd drive.

    With respect to the Wacom or Wacom type tablet integration on the pad, Ive often thought why on earth have they not done that. Its probable that its more than just a design issue such as technology licensing and such. Much like Dobo not having firewire from the get go and Adobe not allowing music in slideshow exports from Lightroom.

    Minor issues that no doubt will not swing most users one way or another. The macs are still the sexiest machines by far on the market.

  11. Hi Terry!

    I like the look and the design of the new MacBooks as well and I welcome the much needed boost in their graphics performance, however I don’t think it was wise for Apple to remove their Firewire 400 port.

    I’ve read your very recent comments about this, and although I might not like what they have done, I too have noticed the trend of moving away from Firewire in the Consumer space. I’m just glad I bought one of their new iMac models 2 weeks ago which HAS both Firewire 400 and 800 ports, so it won’t really bother me that much.

    The other thing I don’t like though Terry about the new laptops from Apple is that they have changed the display connector on them for their new line of Cinema Displays. Anyway, I’ll quit whining on about the things I don’t like about Apple and just be greatful, which I really am about my new iMac 20inch 2.66GHz, connected to a HP 22inch HD display it ROCKS!!!!

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