Tag Archives | Laptops

New MacBook Pro, MacBook, and Cinema Display…in Person

Want some beauty shots of Apple’s new products? Sorry, don’t have any–Apple’s Web site is now rife with ’em, though. What I do have are a few fuzzy photos I took at this morning’s event, plus some hands-on impressions.

One striking thing is that while the naming conventions of MacBook and MacBook Pro live on, the difference in industrial design does not. And even in terms of specs, the differentiation between the two classes of machine is blurry.

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Final Apple Notebook Scuttlebutt Before Bedtime

[SHAMELESS PLUG: Technologizer will be liveblogging the Apple notebook event on 10/14/2008 @ 10am PT. Please join us.]

his is, I’m reasonably sure, the last time I’ll write in any detail about what Apple may announce tomorrow at its notebook event. I’m about to hit the hay, and will be at the event itself not too long after I wake up. But information (some of which may turn out to be misinformation) is still hitting the blogosphere, and I thought a quick update made sense.

First of all, if you read only one more pre-event post, make it this one by Daring Fireball’s John Gruber. He’s the furthest thing from a rumormonger, and he seems quite positive about the following:

–the new MacBook Pro combines elements of the MacBook (latchless case), MacBook Air (black keyboard), and iMac (black frame around display) and indeed sports a case made out of one piece of aluminum;

–it has a glass touchpad with no button–you press the entire pad to click;

–this is a 15-inch MacBook Pro we’re talking about; there’s no new 17-inch one.

John then says “I have some educated guesses as to what else will be announced,” and I can’t quite tell if he means that everything after that sentence is less definitive. But he says that there are new MacBooks that are similar in industrial design to the new 15-inch Pro; that the MacBook Air is getting bigger hard drives; that all the systems have Nvidia’s 9400M GPU; and that the MacBook Pro also sports an Nvidia 9600M GT. (Yup, it supposedly has two GPUs.)

Oh…he also says that there is no $800 MacBook. (I’ll channel Joe Biden and say that again: There is no $800 MacBook.) But the current white MacBook will hang around at $999. And Apple will also introduce a 24-inch LED-backlit Cinema Display.

Okay, once you’ve read Daring Fireball, go to Engadget for a fuzzy photo of the new MacBook Pro. It certainly looks legit.

Actually, I think those are the only two posts you really need to read. See you at 10am tomorrow for our live coverage from Cupertino. Happy thought: By around 11:30am tomorrow, there will be absolutely no Macbook rumors to sort through. For a little while, at least…

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Hey, Let’s Build an $800 MacBook!

[SHAMELESS PLUG: Technologizer will be liveblogging the Apple notebook event on 10/14/2008 @ 10am PT. Please join us.]

Fact: There’s no better way to spur debate among technology fans than to start talking about whether Macs are overpriced in comparison to Windows PCs. I did that in a series of stories back in August, and they remain among the most-read, most-commented-upon pieces that Technologizer has published to date. (I found that my conclusions varied depending on which Macs I was looking at, and which PCs I compared them too…and I got feedback both from people who said I was too partial to Macs and from folks who said that I was unfair to ’em. I took that as a sign I was reasonably balanced.)

With new Apple portables due next week, I’ll need to update my assessment. Whatever Apple announces, it’ll change the comparison at least a little–and it seems a dead certainty that any new models will sport more RAM, larger hard drives, and faster CPUs than the ones they replace.

From a pure price standpoint, the most interesting rumor about next week’s news is that it will include an $800 MacBook, which would be the cheapest Apple portable ever. (Current MacBooks start at $1099.) It’s an entirely plausible idea, and while that doesn’t mean it’ll turn out to be true, it got me to thinking about what a machine might be like.

So why don’t we try to configure it, spec by spec?

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New Apple Portables Due Next Week: A Rumor Recap and a Poll

When the crescendo of rumors about upcoming Apple products gets really deafening, it’s usually a sign that the company is about to hold a press event to unveil something (or several somethings). And it’s true again: Journalists have received invitations for an event at Apple in Cupertino next Tuesday, and to nobody’s surprise, that event involves notebooks:

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IFA: A Cow-Spotted Yoda Laptop Vesta Makes

The Empire Strikes Back’s Yoda has appeared on notebooks–of the spiral-bound kind. PC manufacturer has been synonymous with cow spots for more than two decades–but if they’ve ever made a cow-spotted PC, I’ve forgotten about it.

And then there’s Turkish electronics and appliance manufacturer Vesta. Here at IFA, they’re showing a notebook that A) has a “Yoda” label (though no imagery of the little guy–it may have nothing to do with Mr. Lucas’s creation) and B) is covered in cow spots:

Maybe this makes sense if you’re Turkish…

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Are Macs More Expensive? Round Two: Survival of the Cheapest

On Thursday, I began my multiple-part look at the cost of Macintoshes by comparing a mid-range MacBook to some Windows laptops which I’d configured to be as similar to the MacBook as possible. Compared to those machine, I concluded that the MacBook was in the zone in terms of price and power, or, in other words, “not expensive.”

I also managed to stir up lots of controversy, in the form of dozens of comments and discussion elsewhere on the Web. So as promised, I’m back with another round of price comparisons, and based in part on comments to my original post by a reader named Michael, I’ve decided to stick with the MacBook and compare it to Windows laptops that happen to be on sale at Best Buy at the moment.

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New Airport Security Laptop Rules: Simpler? Maybe!

“Good news from the TSA” sounds a tad oxymoronic, but I guess that’s what we have here: The organization charged with protecting the nation’s skies has announced that it’s loosening the rule that has made laptop-toting travelers remove their notebooks from their cases before putting them through the X-machines at airport security lines.

If you own a case of a certain style–essentially one that’s simple enough that the X-ray machine can clearly see the laptop within it–you won’t have to remove the computer. Here’s the TSA’s infographic on good and bad laptop case designs:

The TSA says it’s working with bag manufacturers to put labels on bags that are security-friendly, and also tells travelers to make sure that:

–Your laptop bag has a designated laptop-only section that can lay flat on the X-ray belt
–Your laptop bag has a designated laptop-only section that can lay flat on the X-ray belt
–There are no metal snaps, zippers or buckles inside, underneath or on-top of the laptop-only section
–There are no pockets on the inside or outside of the laptop-only section
–There is nothing in the laptop compartment other than the laptop
–You have completely unfolded your bag so that there is nothing above or below the laptop-only section, allowing the bag to lay flat on the X-ray belt

The organization describes the new procedures as being simpler but that’s up for debate, I think. Until now, everybody’s known exactly what to do with a laptop: take it out of its case. From now on, presumably, some people will try to send their computers through the X-ray in the case and learn that they’ve got the wrong kind of case only once it’s inside the X-ray. And the rules about other stuff in the case seem like they’ll lead to people frantically repacking their luggage while in line.

Me, I usually double-pack my laptop–I put it inside a sleeve, which I then slide into a traditional briefcase. I’m reasonably sure that I’ll have to remove the sleeve from the briefcase, but it sounds like even the sleeve may be a no-go: It’s got pockets on both sides, which usually have stuff such as power cords and earphones in them. I guess I’ll learn the ropes as I go.

If the time ever comes when the TSA can keep us safe without making anybody do the laptop shuffle at all, it will be a great day–I speak as someone who once managed to leave a laptop at Logan Airport in Boston, and only realized what had happened when my plane touched down in San Francisco. (I’m still amazed that I got it back.)

I tend to be a grim pessimist about security lines and rules, but you never know–the liquids-in-Baggies rule is pretty darn complicated, and it doesn’t seem to have bogged the traveling public down too much. Once people know the rules, they have an impressive ability to follow them in a reasonably efficient manner…

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SFO’s Bizarre Laptop Theft Story

Here’s yet another airport security tale that would be perversely funny if our safety wasn’t at stake: A laptop containing personal information on 33,000 travelers who are members of the Clear program for expedited security-line service went missing at San Francisco’s SFO airport last week. The latest word is that it’s mysteriously reappeared in the same locked office that it vanished from.

I’m not sure if that sounds more like a high-tech Harry Houdini trick or the plot of a novel that Agatha Christie would write if she were still with us; I do know that it’s pretty dang unsettling on multiple levels.

Clear members go through extensive screening (and pay a $128 fee) in order to skip normal airport security procedures; if this were a movie, the laptop would have ended up in the hands of some terrorist organization, which would use it to steal those travelers’ identities and send armies of fanatics onto the nation’s planes. But a spokeswoman for Verified Identity Pass, the company behind Clear, told the San Francisco Chronicle that there’s no reason to panic: The laptop contained info such as names, addresses, and birthdates, not biometric stuff like fingerprints. While it wasn’t encrypted as TSA regulations mandate–oops!–it was protected with two levels of passwords. And a preliminary inspection indicates that the data wasn’t compromised.

Then again, the TSA has told Clear that it can’t register any new members until it gets its act together, but the enrollment page on Clear’s Website merely states that they’re “currently updating our software and are unable to process enrollments at this time.” I’m not sure if Clear is skirting around the truth or what, but if that’s a reference to what’s going on, it borders on a bald-faced lie. Which is not something you want to hear from a company that’s involved with airport security.

And the privacy page at the Clear site refers to “a comprehensive information security program to ensure the privacy of Clear applicants and members as well as the integrity of our systems” that’s impossible to reconcile with a laptop full of unencrypted data apparently sneaking out of an office and then sneaking back in.

I travel enough that when I’ve walked by Clear kiosks at airports, I’ve sometimes considered joining up. The main reason I haven’t is that among the airports I use most, the ones that Clear first tended to be the ones with the fastest security in the first place. (I rarely wait more than about three minutes at the United terminal at JFK, but if Clear served the nightmarish McCarran airport in Las Vegas I’d probably be a member today.)

But in the back of my mind, I think, I’ve always been uneasy about the idea of a background check and money overriding airport security practices…and yes, I feel that way even though I know just how lame many of those practices are.

So I never signed up. And I’m glad that I’m following this story as a bystander, rather than as someone whose personal information information might have been sitting on the amazing disappearing laptop…