Steve Jobs took the stage once again today at Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, California to bring the world up to speed on some new innovations in the company’s successful line of laptop computers.
This new generation of MacBooks is notable for its unique construction technique. Apple creates each one from a single block of aluminum (aluminium for those with a preference for the UK spelling). This design reduces the complexity of the laptop while increasing strength and minimizing weight. Apple had already employed a similar technique for the MacBook Air, so it made sense that they would leverage this experience for the rest of their line.
Beyond the new body, the big news with the MacBook refresh is the incorporation of a multi-touch trackpad, made entirely of glass. If you’re familiar with the interface on the iPod Touch or iPhone, you’ll be right at home with the new MacBooks. The trackpad takes the already super-minimalist design of the MacBook and goes one further: there’s no mouse button at all. Instead, the whole trackpad is the button. Software installed on the machine lets users define all kinds of custom properties so though it may take some getting used to, this new interface holds plenty of promise for improving one-handed interaction with a computer. Speaking of hands, or rather fingers, the trackpad can sense 2, 3 and even 4-finger gestures. Looks like Mac users will be learning a whole new language if they want to get the most from their laptops.
Rounding out the new features are some familiar faces:
- LED back-lit displays
- Slot-loading SuperDrives
- Magnetic power couplings and latches
- Back lit keyboard on some models
- New NVIDIA graphics chips (up to 6x faster than Intel’s integrated graphics)
- iSight Webcam
- Stereo speakers
These are also, according to Apple, the most environmentally friendly MacBooks ever made, though no direct comparisons were offered to show exactly how friendly they have become.
New price points should please anyone who was thinking of jumping on the MacBook bandwagon, with the entry-level 13.3" model going for just $1299 USD, a savings of $700 by Apple’s estimates.
While this announcement was certainly welcome, no mention of other rumoured products such as Apple Hi-Def TVs optimized for net-connectivity, or a new sub-$1,000 laptop, or a possible entry into the very hot netbook category which Steve Jobs characterized as "nascent" (read: we’re not there yet).
Jobs also took a moment to take a shot at the Blu-ray HD format which he called "a bag of hurt". Steve cited complex licensing fees and the lack of widespread adoption as two reasons why there was no Blu-ray support in the current batch of MacBooks. He was also down on the HDMI port option that many other laptops are sporting these days, saying that it had "limited resolution".
There was also a passing nod to the ongoing debate about Steve Jobs’ health. The questions period was opened with a slide showing Steve’s blood pressure: 110/70. But there’s no question about Jobs’ appearance – he doesn’t fill out that trademark black turtleneck like he used to.
Thanks to Engadget.