New Macbook – the ‘poor’ man’s MacBook Air?
Well, the Magic Mouse was a great replacement for the ailing (and now illegal) Mighty Mouse. Today, another product which is almost as long in the tooth, the plastic MacBook, finally gets a real upgrade. While I won’t rush out to buy the first of a new design, Apple have engineered a few very nice additions to the venerable laptop which may make it a good option for users 2006’s model. And interestingly enough, a page dedicated to its impact on the environment has been added to its product page.
While the judge’s retinue are still out as to whether the MacBook is fitted with the recycled (and underpowered) display of the former model, or the high quality MacBook Air screen, at least the display is backlit by a low-power LED. In any case, it still sports its ancient resolution of 1280*800 pixels adn 13.3 display size. The MacBook also comes with a glass trackpad and loses its lip which can cause discomfort after typing for extended periods of time. Perhaps the biggest design decision, however, is the addition of the now-ubiquitous built-in battery.
The new machine is stated to get 7 hours of light-load use, so it isn’t silly to expect 5-6 hours of real-world life. Where things start to go pear-shaped is where Apple insist on cutting costs and oversimplifying hardware details. Fine, the battery lasts longer, but considering the many battery woes since 2006, means that in order to replace a battery, your computer (and work) are gone have to go to an Apple ‘genius’ for replacement. But, for portable users who need a reliable external interface, gone is Firewire, and since there is no more Expresscard in any MacBook except for the 17 inch, no other way to interface with a variety of devices than via the weak 5V USB. Gone too are separate in/out audio inputs which makes using the MacBook for any hint of creative professional jobs, incumbent on the use of the afore-mentioned USB for Audio/storage/other interfaces – all uses for which it is horribly inferior and unstable in comparison to Firewire, or dedicated in/output.
Apple have given the 9400M nVidia graphics chip which is a far cry from the foul Intel graphics processor in last year’s model; that is, unless the nVidia 9400M suddenly spout the same logic-board frying problems of its predecessor. Finally, what may be an afterthought for many is probably one of the best upgrades: the old short-friendly magsafe connector has been replaced with the more robust MacBook Air model.
Overall, it is a good upgrade for those who need: longer battery life, mousing gestures, and that extra power for gaming. For professional on a budget who needed the advanced input configurations of the old model and insurance of a removable battery, there is now no MacBook anywhere for you.
Processor and memory
- 2.26GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor with 3MB on-chip shared L2 cache running 1:1 with processor speed
- 1066MHz frontside bus
- 2GB (two 1GB SO-DIMMs) of 1066MHz DDR3 SDRAM; two SO-DIMM slots support up to 4GB
- Built-in AirPort Extreme Wi-Fi wireless networking2 (based on IEEE 802.11n specification); IEEE 802.11a/b/g compatible
- Built-in Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR (Enhanced Data Rate)
- Built-in 10/100/1000BASE-T Gigabit Ethernet (RJ-45 connector)
- 13.3-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit glossy widescreen display with support for millions of colors
- Supported resolutions: 1280 by 800 (native), 1152 by 720, 1024 by 768, 1024 by 640, 800 by 600, 800 by 500, 720 by 480, and 640 by 480 pixels at 16:10 aspect ratio; 1024 by 768, 800 by 600, and 640 by 480 pixels at 4:3 aspect ratio; 720 by 480 pixels at 3:2 aspect ratio
Graphics and video support
- NVIDIA GeForce 9400M graphics processor with 256MB of DDR3 SDRAM shared with main memory3
- Extended desktop and video mirroring: Simultaneously supports full native resolution on the built-in display and up to 2560 by 1600 pixels on an external display, both at millions of colors
- Built-in iSight camera
- Mini DisplayPort
- Video output options
- DVI output using Mini DisplayPort to DVI Adapter
- VGA output using Mini DisplayPort to VGA Adapter
- Dual-link DVI output using Mini DisplayPort to Dual-Link DVI Adapter supports 30-inch Apple Cinema HD Display (optional)
- Built-in full-size keyboard with 78 (U.S.) or 79 (ISO) keys, including 12 function keys and 4 arrow keys (inverted “T” arrangement)
- Multi-Touch trackpad for precise cursor control; supports two-finger scrolling, pinch, rotate, swipe, three-finger swipe, four-finger swipe, tap, double-tap, and drag capabilities
- Built-in stereo speakers
- Built-in omnidirectional microphone
- Combined optical digital output/headphone out (user-selectable analog audio line in)
- Supports Apple Stereo Headset with microphone
Connections and expansion
- MagSafe power port
- Gigabit Ethernet port
- Mini DisplayPort
- Two USB 2.0 ports (up to 480 Mbps)
- Audio in/out
- Kensington lock slot
- 250GB 5400-rpm Serial ATA hard disk drive; optional 320GB or 500GB 5400-rpm drive4
- 8x slot-loading SuperDrive (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/
- Maximum write: 8x DVD-R, DVD+R; 4x DVD-R DL (double layer), DVD+R DL (double layer), DVD-RW, DVD+RW; 24x CD-R; 10x CD-RW
- Maximum read: 8x DVD-R, DVD+R, DVD-ROM; 6x DVD-ROM (double layer DVD-9), DVD-R DL (double layer), DVD+R DL (double layer), DVD-RW, and DVD+RW; 24x CD
Battery and power
- Built-in 60-watt-hour lithium-polymer battery
- 60W MagSafe Power Adapter with cable management system
- MagSafe power port