Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Mac Book Pro

As the proud owner of 4 Powerbooks (1.5GHz 17", 1.33GHz 15", 550MHz 15", 500MHz 15" - yeah I know, I must get round to eBaying the last two), I have to say that I wasn't expecting the replacement Powerbook to be one of the first Intel Macs on the block - all the pre-announce chat and rumour was focused on the Mac Mini and iBook replacements. Looks like Apple finally got their wish to completely fool the rumour sites!

Also, the Powerbook seemed too focused on the pro market, given that most of the professional software (Adobe CS2, Soundtrack Pro, Final Cut Pro etc.) aren't likely to be in Universal (that is Power and Intel compatible format) versions anytime soon. Finally, the size and profile of the Powerbook looked too difficult to shoehorn in a new processor (even if it was to run cooler).

However, new Powerbook is what we have - the horribly named MacBook Pro...

First up, the name... I know they probably had to move away from "Power"book given that it is so clearly linked to the IBM PowerPC chipset, but I cannot believe that they could come up with a less unwieldy name than MacBook Pro! To me, it sounds like some kind of eBook Reader, rather than a top-of-the-range laptop. Also, one supposes that this means that the new iBook will now become the Apple MacBook, or should that be Apple MacBook For Those That Cant Afford a Pro!?

Secondly, there are some odd omissions for me, the lack of Firewire-800 (this is really going to cheese off a lot of Pro video and music engineers that have invested big time in FW-800 peripherals), and the reduction of the PCMCIA slot to the new ExpressCard/34 slot (I know PCMCIA has been dying a death, but then I would have abandoned the slot completely and provided a third USB2.0 port).

However, the biggest concerns for me relate to battery life - the new Intel Duo Core chipset is not thought to be particularly power-efficient, and the signs are that this one is probably going to give less battery life than the old Powerbook - it has an 85W power supply for example.

But there are so good aspects too - 3x-4x processor speed improvements (note this won't give an overall performance bump of that ratio - the rest of the components will still run at the old speeds), new power supply with magnetic connector (how many times have I nearly pulled my beloved Powerbook onto the floor by tripping over the supply), built in iSight camera and FrontRow, plus brighter display. Plus it should run both Mac OS X and Windows (though the latter is still up for discussion).

All in all, a good though not perfect improvement to the Powerbook, but Steve you have to get that name changed! Most of all though, you have to feel sorry for those that bought a new improved Powerbook just 3 months ago when the new displays were added. I am sure glad I sold the 1.67GHz 15" one that was given to us as an insurance replacement back on November!


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