Wanna hear this morning’s news?
Wanna hear this morning’s news?
When Apple used yesterday’s Macworld Expo keynote to confirm rumors that the new 17-inch MacBook Pro would have a sealed battery, it laid the news on the audience gingerly. The keynote included a rather lengthy video in which Apple engineers discussed the new laptop’s sophisticated battery. In between sound bites on its impressive chemistry, long life, and green characteristics, they explained that battery compartments, doors, and latches take up a lot of room, and that you can put a bigger battery into a notebook if you just seal it in.
The new MacBook Pro is the second Apple notebook with a sealed battery (last year’s MacBook Air being the first). It also joins all iPods and the iPhone. It seems entirely possible that Apple will eventually sell no products with removable batteries, starting whenever it replaces the current 13- and 15-inch MacBook designs.
While Apple’s video didn’t explicitly confront the obvious objections to a notebook design with a battery that can’t be removed, its reasoning is obvious. The primary reasons you’d want to remove a laptop’s battery are to swap in a new one for longer cord-free productivity, and because batteries lose their ability to be fully recharged over time. The company says that the 17-inch MacBook Pro runs for an impressive “up to” 8 hours on a charge, and that it can be fully recharged 1000 times, versus a few hundred times for most laptops. Therefore, historic reservations about sealed batteries are no longer an issue. Right?
Well, maybe. I’m instinctively cautious about the idea of a battery I can’t remove. (I had toted a second one with me when I liveblogged yesterday’s keynote, just in case.) But Apple’s claims about the new battery leave me willing to at least consider the notion of a sealed notebook. (I want, of course, to read what kind of battery life folks other than Apple say the new MacBook Pro has–I’ve never owned any notebook from any manufacturer that consistently came anywhere near the promised “up to” amount of life.)
That’s just me. I’m curious whether Apple’s move will have any influence on the rest of the industry. Offhand, I know of no other company that sells sealed laptops. (HP sells optional batteries based on technology from Boston Power that also promises 1000 recharges, but they’re traditional replaceable models.) One suspects that most other manufacturers will be a lot more cautious–Apple is simply bolder about making seemingly sacrilegious design decisions that other computer companies. Often for good, sometimes for worse. And I’ll bet most IT department staffers within big companies would recoil at the idea of laptops with fixed batteries.
Of course, if the new 17-inch MacBook Pro is a smash hit, all bets are off, and we might see sealed designs catch on really quickly. For now, though, I’m still thinking that a meaningful percentage of people who might otherwise be enthusiastic about a 17-inch Mac notebook will be intimidated, at least, by Apple’s decision.
How about you?
Along with the other announcements from what has been a really low-key keynote is a new 17-inch MacBook Pro model. Inside will be Core 2 Duo up to 2.93-GHZ and up to 8GB of RAM. Dual GeForce graphics will be standard as well as a 320GB HDD. Biggest news here? The battery within the laptop is embedded, and non-removable. However, enhancements are making it possible to have an 8-hour battery life and can be charged up to 1,000 times. Phil indicated this is the future for Apple: soon none of its laptops will have removable batteries. No price change will come with this model: it will remain at $2,799.
Those spy shots we’ve been seeing were real — as promised the new MacBook Pro came with a new unibody aluminum enclosure, switching out the old silver buttoned keyboard for one closer to that of the current MacBooks. Gone is the trackpad button as well, meaning Apple is ready to bring the finger gestures that has become part of iPhone navigation to the world of Apple notebooks.
Yes, the rumors of Apple creating these machines out of a single block of aluminum are true too, by the way. The trackpad is made of glass, which Apple says will allow users to employ 40 percent more tracking area, and virtual buttons can be used in order to use right clicking from the mouse pad (Yaay! no more control-click!).
The new MBP will swap out the Intel integrated chip for NVidia’s chips, including BOTH the GeForce 9400M and 9600 GT, allowing for better graphics capability when the user needs it. They can be switched on the fly, which is pretty cool if you ask me.
Apple has also opted to use the Mini Display Port, which is best explained by AppleInsider:
“DisplayPort is a new license-free, royalty-free, digital audio/video interconnect, intended to be used primarily between a computer and its display monitor, or a computer and a home-theater system.”
That would allow the MBP to connect to the new Apple Display, also introduced today for $899.
What the enthusiast sites apparently missed in their guesses was the SSD option, which brings one of the Air’s signature features to the MBP line. This along with the new manufacturing process would also allow Apple to shrink its laptops even further — the new model measures in at .95″ thick.
Operation Foxbook–my experiment of dumping my MacBook Pro and desktop apps for an HP Mini-Note netbook and Web-based apps within Firefox–continues apace. And the hardware side of things is turning out to have as big an impact on the experience as the software aspect.
The MacBook Pro I use most of the time is relatively thin and light given how powerful it is, but it’s no subnotebook. And it’s the largest, heaviest machine I’ve carried in years. I used to be addicted to subnotebooks like the Fujitsu Lifebook B112 and Fujitsu P-1000, but in 2004 I had an epiphany and bought my first Mac in years–the 12-inch PowerBook, which was a bit larger and heavier. Then I replaced that with the even larger, heavier 13-inch MacBook. And when I started Technologizer, I decided I wanted more screen space and resolution, and bought the MacBook Pro.