Apple notebook hits and misses

Summary:The Apple product transition mentioned by Apple's CFO has arrived. Like other industry watchers, Storage Bits looked into its crystal ball to predict what it would look like.

The Apple product transition mentioned by Apple's CFO has arrived. Like other industry watchers, Storage Bits looked into its crystal ball to predict what it would look like. Overall, Apple did OK, with some surprising omissions and changes.

Hits: Product = notebook In the first post (see Apple's coming notebook transition) I spent way too much time establishing that notebooks were the focus.

Nailed that one.

Tablet Mac? Nope, as I predicted (see Why there’s no Mac tablet this quarter).

But that was easy. Apple isn't going to intro a tablet Mac until someone demonstrates that there is a tablet market. Tablet fans, give it up!

More solid state drives? Yes. A bigger, 128 GB one on the MacBook Air. And an optional one of the new MacBook Pro.

Oh, and no promises of higher performance with the SSDs - just better durability. Very wise.

LED backlights Yes-s-s! On the new MacBook as well as the new 15" MacBook Pro.

Switchable graphics The MacBook Pro can switch between the NVIDIA GeForce 9400M and 9600M GT. The latter cuts battery life by 20%.

Longer battery life - or lighter 'Books? How about both? The new MacBook is half a pound lighter and has a half hour longer battery life - with a smaller 45 Wh battery.

The new MacBook Pro is 0.1 of a pound lighter with a 10 Wh decrease in the battery spec with the same battery life. Which means some other components got heavier. The second graphics processor? Something else must be different.

The smaller batteries show that Apple paid much attention to the new 'Book's power management, as predicted.

Larger trackpad with multi-touch gestures Yes! Next up: just put the entire iPhone screen down as the trackpad with context sensitive soft buttons. I expect that in a year.

Misses: Quad-core? No quad-core. I expected quad-core processors on the Mac Pro, but no go. Apple's insistence on thin cases is hurting high-end performance. The 17" will get them - HD video requires it.

Blu-ray Nope. Steve's comment is telling:

The licensing is so complex, we're waiting until things settle down before we burden our customers with the cost of the licensing and the cost of the drives.

That is a shot across the bow of Sony: fix your licensing or we'll take our sweet time about incorporating Blu-ray on Macs. Sony is working hard to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

Memory Predicted greater than 4 GB RAM - but Apple didn't oblige. 4 GB isn't enough to run FCS2 and other apps well. Apple is leaving its loyal pro users behind.

WiMax Not today, Josephine.

The Storage Bits take Out of 12 predictions, 8 were correct. The other 4 will come in later 'Books - perhaps even in the next 17" MacBook Pro.

For me the lack of FireWire on the MacBook means I'll wait to see what the new 17" MBP looks like. I need FireWire for video.

That disappoints now that the MacBook has graphics that can handle Motion and Final Cut Pro. But the dual-core 15" is slow handling HD video. I'm waiting for a quad-core system with more RAM capacity.

A good update, but not the one I was looking for.

Comments welcome, of course.

Topics: Apple, Hardware, Laptops, Mobility, Tablets


Robin Harris is Chief Analyst at TechnoQWAN LLC, a storage research and consulting firm he founded in 2005. Based in Sedona, Arizona, TechnoQWAN focuses on emerging technologies, products, companies and markets. Robin has over 35 years experience in the IT industry and earned degrees from Yale and the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton... Full Bio

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