January 25, 2007
Is there a miniBook in the pipeline?
Apple Recon is reporting on rumors that Apple has a subnotebook in process, with specs and pricing in between the MacBook and MacBook Pro. The rumors suggest a 3.5 pound package, with a 12" 1280 x 800 monitor, hard drive and optical drive (and possibly a new caching flash drive as well), and 6 hour battery life.
I know such a machine is possible -- I'm currently using one, even if it has a Dell logo. It's not 3.5 pounds, and I'm sure Apple will bring other innovations to theirs (Apple Recon speculates on an LED backlight and the flash drive), but my Dell XPS M1210 matches this rumor, to be announced in June, today.
The base system is 4.3 pounds, and about the same size as a PowerBook 12", but it's got a lot of features I would be surprised to see in the final Apple release, as well: S-Video out, 2 gigs of memory with support for 4 gigs, and an ExpressCard 54 slot. Mine's got an extended battery, and it's good for 4-5 hours of wireless use, enough that I haven't really noticed the battery life. The 256-meg nVidia 7400 video card drives my 20" widescreen display alongside the internal LCD, and nVidia supplies a software wizard to gracefully set up multiple displays. There's plenty I don't like, of course: Something about the keyboard feels like it's coming off on my fingers, and there are media keys along the front of the case that I keep bumping by mistake. The topcase is a black plastic that picks up oil from my hands every time I pick it up. It's got the glossy screen, which is very bright, but I've found myself in two situations where I had to move the laptop to eliminate glare. If I were using it in the field, that number would be higher.
I love the rumored specs for an Apple subnotebook, although I wish it could fit an ExpressCard, since its target market (knowledge workers and execs on the go) are likely to take advantage of high-speed cellular wireless connections. Also, I hope the rumor is wrong about a 2-gHz ceiling on clock speed. If Apple addresses this giant, yet tiny, hole in its portable line, the machine should have at least a nominal speed increase over the MacBook.
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