Apple has released its new line-up of budget notebooks to very little fanfare, completing its transition from PowerPC to Intel chips. Having now replaced its entire line of iBooks and PowerBooks, all Apple laptops now come with Intel Core Duo processors and widescreen displays.
The MacBook line-up includes the:
- 1.83GHz 13-inch white MacBook -- AU$1,749
- 2GHz 13-inch white MacBook -- AU$2,099
- 2GHz 13-inch black MacBook -- AU$2,399
While the MacBook Pro line-up includes the:
- 2GHz 15-inch MacBook Pro -- AU$3,199
- 2.16GHz 15-inch MacBook Pro -- AU$3,999
- 2.16GHz 17-inch MacBook Pro -- AU$4,399
Copying the colour scheme of its iPod Nano music players, Apple has released black and white models of the MacBook, which is similar looking to its predecessor, the iBook. The MacBook comes with Apple's MagSafe power adapter, which is magnetised and so easily disconnects from the notebook to prevent damage from accidental trips over the cord. Apple also includes a remote control, the same one that's bundled with the iPod Hi-Fi and MacBook Pro, which can be used to control Front Row on the MacBook.
Weighing 2.36kg, the MacBooks come with built-in Wi-Fi (802.11g), Bluetooth 2.0+EDR (Enhanced Data Rate), gigabit Ethernet, one FireWire 400 port, two USB 2.0 ports and a Mini-DVI port. The lowest priced 1.83GHz MacBook comes with a slot-loading combo drive (DVD-ROM/CD-RW) drive, while the 2.0GHz models have slot-loading SuperDrives (DVD+/-RW/CD-RW). Both white models come with a 60GB hard disk, while the black model has an 80GB disk.
Software includes Apple's Mac OS X Tiger operating system and iLife '06 digital media suite, which includes iTunes, iPhoto, iMovie HD, iDVD, iWeb and GarageBand.
In its base configuration, Apple installs two 256MB sticks of SDRAM into the MacBook for system memory, upgradable to 2GB. The problem is that with two sticks of memory it's more costly to upgrade to 1GB later, as you can't simply add another 512MB. Conversely, the MacBook Pro comes with one 512MB stick of SDRAM installed.
The price of the 2.0GHz black model is AU$400 more than its white counterpart. The only extra you get for this price -- aside from the black polycarbonate case -- is a 20GB bigger hard disk, which costs only AU$90 to upgrade to through Apple's store.
Unlike the MacBook Pro, which has an ATI Mobility Radeon X1600 graphics card installed, the MacBook relies on 64MB of shared main memory for video with Intel's Graphics Media Accelerator 950.
Apple is getting itself into a fairly comfortable spot right now, with Boot Camp letting hesitant Windows users run XP on a Mac and Apple's laptop lineup including options for most budgets. Regardless of the extra cost involved, we can see people who want a notebook to match their Nano -- or those who just want something different from previous Apple laptops -- snapping up the more expensive black MacBook.
We'll also be interested to see how the first MacBooks off the manufacturing line perform. Although Apple hasn't admitted any fault with the MacBook Pros, users have come out in force complaining about processor "whining" noise, overheating above the function keys and on the base, and AirPort wireless connection problems.