MacBooks Get a Facelift

Drew Rattray : Design vs. Functionality
Drew Rattray
| News and views on design vs. functionality balance across the communications and technology space.

MacBooks Get a Facelift

MacBook is Apple's most popular Mac, and for some reason, Apple decided to start over with their new versions.

The first order of business... out with the polycarbonate and in with the aluminum case design.  The key to the new enclosure is it's unibody, which is machined from a single piece of aluminum.  This allows the new MacBook to be thinner and lighter by not having to accommodate multiple parts.  Aluminum has a great strength to weight ratio as well as giving it a very crisp and clean finished look.

The display is seamless glass with an LED backlight.  LED turns on instantly and has no warmup time, and makes for a 30% more energy efficient display.  It is also sporting the NVIDIA GeForce 9400M graphics processor, helping the MacBook reach new levels of performance with out sacrificing the life of the battery.  The graphic subsytem is 5x faster than Apple's previous product.

Another new feature is an all-new, smooth glass multi-touch trackpad.  They removed the button to give more room for gestures, but turned the entire trackpad itself into a button.  The whole pad is now clickable.  Neat idea, but I generally hate trackpads.  I've got abnormally large hands, and I have a lot of trouble navigating them.  I'm also very forceful on my keypads and computer navigation tools, and I just imagine myself accidentally clicking the pad with every gesture.

There are a few more things to note though that I'm not too thrilled about, one of which is the complete loss of FireWire.  FireWire is the peripheral interface that Apple has built into almost every Mac since 1999.  A lot of camcorders have relied on FireWire and a lot of home movie makers have relied on the iMovie software in recent years.  If you upgrade your MacBook, and you still want to send Grandma a video of little Billy getting bit by goat at the petting zoo, it looks like you might need to upgrade your camcorder as well to one with USB 2.0 connectivity.

Also... what's with this new mini display port?  Yet another port standard change to a format  no one else uses yet.  Sounds like something that's going to require adapter, after adapter, after adapter.

All in all, I like the new design and I like the increased focus on graphics and appearance. However, I think Apple changed a few elements that didn't necessarily need to be changed and may have decreased it's "need-to-have" value for some repeat customers.

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