Update: Apple revamps laptops, offers faster graphics and glass track pads

But it cut the MacBook price by just $100, to $999 -- not to the rumored $800

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At the upper end, however, Apple is now sticking two graphics processors in the MacBook Pro, Jobs added. The new graphics architecture includes both the integrated GeForce 9400M processor and a separate GeForce 9600M GT processor. Users can switch back and forth between the two, opting for the 9400M when on battery to extend the away-from-a-socket time, then turn on the more powerful discrete 9600M GT when the laptop is connected to an outlet.

Ironically, just last week, Apple said that some MacBook Pro notebooks sold since May 2007 may contain faulty Nvidia graphics processors and that it would fix crippled machines for free for up to two years after the purchase date.

Also new to the revamped MacBook and MacBook Pro is the expanded glass track pad that features a multi-touch surface that allows for gestures. Apple's iPhone debuted the technology last year, which translates a gestures into commands such as shrinking or expanding an image.

new 15-in. MacBook
The new MacBook Pro features a multitouch glass track pad.

The entire track pad, which is 39% larger than the previous version, also acts as a single button, said Apple, while software can enable extras such as right-clicking via virtual buttons.

Although Apple updated the graphics and hard drives in its thinnest model, the MacBook air, its design remains largely unchanged. The new MacBook air won't be available until "early November," according to Apple.

Baker sees Apple as being well-positioned going into the crucial holiday selling season, even in today's tough economic conditions. "It's always good to have a general refresh before the holidays to give buyers a good reason to come in," he said, citing the look-and-feel refresh of the MacBook and MacBook Pro.

"But the internal stuff is really just more of the same, and although the graphics upgrade is great, I don't think it's going to drive a lot of buyers to spend extra," Baker said. "People who were going to switch [from Windows] before will, but this isn't going to set off a stampede."

Apple said that its new laptops are available now from its online store, in its own retail outlets and at other authorized dealers.

Computerworld blogger Seth Weintraub live-blogged Apple's announcement as it unfolded.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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