January 10, 2006
Bye, bye, PowerBook; hello, (gulp) MacBook Pro
So Apple managed to completely shroud much of what would be introduced today, and delivered higher-performance versions of the incredible iMac (formerly “iMac G5”) and PowerBook.
For some reason, Apple has chosen to set aside the “PowerBook”label, certainly one of the great brand names of all time, and has rechristened the Intel-driven portable line “MacBook Pro.” Steve Jobs said something about wanting the Mac name in their computer products, so it seems likely the consumer-level laptops, when introduced, will just be the “MacBook.” Somebody is bound to be manufacturing “PowerBook” stickers to cover the horrible name.
The MacBook Pro is an interesting hybrid. The sheet metal is very similar to the previous 15" PowerBook, but with a few notable changes. Most obviously, Apple has added a built-in iSight camera atop the display. The PC Card slot has been abandoned, replaced by the newer, smaller ExpressCard slot, for which I have seen exactly zero products. (Actually, there are 10.)
I'm also a little concerned that there was NO mention whatsoever of battery life. Intel's Centrinos have a good reputation on that, but this is a new processor. Presumably, if it was significantly better than the PowerBook, Steve would have mentioned it.
Strangest to me is the inclusion of a single FireWire port, limited to FireWire 400. One thing I was looking forward to in my next PowerBook was faster backups thanks to FireWire 800, but it's not to be, at least on the 15" model.
And why only a single form factor? If the existing 15" case could be re-engineered to take the new motherboard, and the iMac case could be re-engineered to take the new motherboard, why couldn't the 17" PowerBook case, or the 12" PowerBook, or the iBook? It looks like they're dipping a toe, to gauge how quickly people are going to migrate.
The iMac and the 15" PowerBook have been the meat-and-taters of Apple sales for years. The existing G4 and G5 models of each continue to be available -- no sudden influx of thousands of “refurbished” machines, no banishment from the Apple Store's front page. It looks to be, as with the first Power Macs and with OS X, another example of Apple soft-pedaling a transition, and taking it easy on its users.
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