Reactions to revamped Apple laptop line all over the map
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Reactions to revamped Apple laptop line all over the map

He writes: "Although Apple’s new notebooks are awesome pieces of engineering, the laser-tooled bricks really deflated my expectations, and I’m sure the expectations of many analysts and Apple faithful as well. Look, it’s really cool that the new case is a single piece of aluminum, precision manufactured with CNC machines, just like NASA gadgets and all, and I suppose the new glass track pad is a step into my Touch future. But the specs of the machines in this lineup are little changed from their prequels, and the pricing does not make me want to run down to my local Apple Store and empty my pockets. What happened to an $800 MacBook?"

Uh, for one thing, Apple never promised or even hinted at an $800 laptop. That was speculation on the part of the rumor mill and some pundits, such as Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray. However, the analyst told USA Today that he was initially "disappointed" by the announcements.

"But when you see the computers back to back with the old ones, you'll realize it's a really significant form factor change," he says. "I expect Apple to sell a lot of MacBooks."

Matt Singer, director of web operations for J&R Music World, told USA Today that the entry-level, sub-$1,000 MacBook (basically a holdover from the previous generation) was "a real shot in the arm."

"With this economy, it's going to be a a tough holiday season for laptops," he says. "By bringing the price down under $1,000, it doesn't quite put Apple into the PC arena, but it gets them closer."

The sub-$1,000 price point is a "sweet spot" for customers, Singer told USA Today. And he said that Apple has "never been there before."

Meanwhile, Wired says that Apple has "quietly killed" FireWire 400.

"The MacBook Pro still has FireWire 800. The MacBook is now USB only. Pro buyers do get an ExpressCard/34 slot, to which they can add FireWire, but MacBook buyers have no such option," writes Charlie Sorrel. "It's not really a surprise: The old MacBook Pro shipped without FireWire 800 for a short while before it was added back, and the iPod line lost FireWire support bit by bit. The biggest problem with this is that you can't use FireWire hard drives, which remain a lot quicker than USB 2.0. It also means that you cannot use the rather useful FireWire Target mode, which turns a Mac into a FireWire external hard drive. Perhaps there will be a new USB Target mode to make up for this, but right now we don't know."

FireWire may be a bit ill at Apple, but it's not dead. The iMac, Mac mini and Mac Pro offer FireWire 400 ports. Also, you can buy FW 800 to 400 cable and adapters. However, I do think that the absence of FireWire on the new MacBooks is a mistake. C'mon, Apple, you invented FireWire. Why not push it?

Some are also accusing Apple of helping off Blu-ray. Despite some predictions, the technology isn't even offered as an option on Macs. In fact, Apple CEO Steve Jobs called the optical disc technology "a bag of hurt."

“I don’t mean from a consumer point of view -- it’s great to watch movies -- but the licensing is so complex," he says. "We’re waiting until things settle down and Blu-ray takes off in the marketplace before we burden our customers with the cost of the licensing and the cost of the drives.”

There's some doubt that Blu-ray will ever take off; "normal" DVDs seem to suit most folks just fine. Still, Apple is a member of the Blu-ray Disc Association so some folks think the company should offer support. However, Blu-ray use would require an additional $30 per Mac sold integrating the technology, and "there’s also a host of deadly dull issues around DRM," notes Distorted-Loop.

Despite the hoopla, I think that Apple will sell a lot of the new MacBooks and MacBooks Pros (less of the Airs, which remain a boutique item).

Also, here's a thought from Macsimum Contributing Editor Don Foy: "I'm really concerned about the lack of an update to the 17. That's what I use, and mine's a couple of years old now. I love it. I'd rather use it than my iMac at work, but it's pretty disappointing to see the same old case for the 17. Maybe we'll get a surprise and MacWorld and his Steveness will drop a new 17-incher on us."

"Macsimum News" is a proud supporter of Planet Gumbo, which feeds the hungry. We urge you to help them in their efforts.

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