Apple unveils pumped-up MacBooks, MacBook Pros
They get faster Penryn processors, more storage and, on the Pro, multi-touch track pad
Computerworld - After several weeks of speculation, Apple Inc. today refreshed its laptop lines by shifting to faster, more power-efficient 45-nanometer Penryn processors from Intel Corp. and bumping up the size of the systems' hard drives.
"This is what we had been expecting," said Ezra Gottheil, an analyst at Technology Business Research Inc.
The high-end MacBook Pro line, which features models with 15-in. and 17-in. LCDs, received not only processor transplants and brawnier hard drives, but also the gesture-based multi-touch track pad first introduced last month in the ultralight MacBook Air. Unlike the Air, however, which offers a larger track pad, the MacBook Pro's version remains unchanged in size from previous models.
"Multi-touch is a nice differentiator for Apple," said Gottheil. "I just don't know how easy it is for others to do the same thing." Because it's a way for Apple to separate its wares from those of other vendors, the new track-pad feature will continue to expand its reach. "It's propagating through the line, and I'd expect it to end up in the MacBook the next time around," Gottheil added.
Todd Benjamin, director of Apple's notebook marketing, declined to comment when asked whether Gottheil is on the money.
The MacBook Pros also sport double the video memory of their predecessors, and the 17-in. system now includes an LED-backlit screen option to match the standard mercury-free displays in the 15-in. models.
The video RAM boost is an attempt to answer demands from hard-core gamers, many of whom run Microsoft Corp.'s Windows, either in a virtual machine or from Apple's own Boot Camp dual-boot application, said Gottheil. "It looks like they're trying to make it more viable as a flat-out game machine," he said.
Priced at $1,999, $2,499 and $2,799, the MacBook Pro models are powered by 2.4-GHz and 2.5-GHz Intel Core 2 Duo chips, include 2GB of memory, and pack 200GB and 250GB drives.
The MacBook lineup, which features three models, all sporting a 13.3-in. displays, now boasts Intel Core 2 Duo 2.1-GHz and 2.4-GHz processors. The trio also packs hard drives that boost storage capacity over yesterday's models by 33% to 56%. Other specifications remain the same for the three MacBooks, which still list for $1,099, $1,299 and $1,499.
The entry-level Apple laptop includes 1GB of memory, a CD-RW/DVD optical drive, integrated graphics and a built-in iSight video camera. The more expensive MacBooks feature 2GB of RAM, optical drives that also allow DVD recording, and in the highest-priced model, a black (rather than white) plastic case.
Missing from today's product rollout, however, were Time Capsule, the wireless storage appliance CEO Steve Jobs unveiled last month at Macworld, and the iPhone SDK (software development kit), which Jobs has also promised will debut this month.
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