|Tuesday, May 16, 2006
08:45 - BlackBook
Well, it's here:
No real surprises, except I'm wondering what their rationale is for putting an iSight and FrontRow in every Mac model, even the ones with tiny screens. And the Core Duo is unexpected—I think everyone was prepared for a Core Solo, which makes me wonder whether this machine (which features the MagSafe connector and other Pro features) will cannibalize MacBook Pro sales. About the only thing the Pro has, aside from the option for a bigger screen, is the ability to drive a secondary monitor. Oh yes, and this MacBook comes in black, for a mere $200 more. (Huh?)
Okay, so maybe there are quite a few real surprises.
Like, for example, this one:
Thanks to a 13.3-inch glossy widescreen display that’s 79% brighter with 30% more viewing area than the iBook before it, MacBook provides the perfect combination of pixels and portability. Photos feel crisper. Movies play vividly. Even daily tasks like surfing the Web and checking email take on a whole new sheen.
If this means Apple is jumping on the inexplicable bandwagon of LCD manufacturers making screens with a mirror-polished surface, every one with its own dorky name like "X-Sheen" or "Gloss-Coat" or "Windex-Gleem", then it means my days of buying Apple laptops are over. What on earth is the purpose of this bizarre "feature"? To enhance the reflections of your face and the fluorescent lights behind you in your laptop's screen? Hello, guys—the matte finish on LCD panels is meant to diffuse reflections. What could possibly justify dispensing with the matte finish, calling it a "feature", giving it a technobabbley trademark name, and charging extra for it? This is like car manufacturers dipping back to the technology of the 1920s to give us push-button ignition separate from the starter key. Oh boy! More steps in the process! Sure, I'll fork over $500 for the privilege!
I mean, just look at the thumbnail image they use right next to the marketing-speak. Does that look like something you'd want to watch a movie on? Let alone try to do work? And do you know how hard it is to keep fingerprints off a surface that smooth? Hint, Steve: the glossy shiny back of the iPod does not need to be replicated on the surfaces of our laptop screens.
Hhh... I dunno. Maybe I'm just in a bad mood. GAAHH! I am going to MURDER the guy in the next cubicle unless he changes his goddamn cell phone ringtone from the default Nokia one. And maybe, just MAYBE, keeps it on his desk so it doesn't follow the same freaking script EVERY SINGLE TIME:
<muffled> Beebee BOO bee beebee BOO bee beebee BOO BAH BEE!
<he digs around in his pocket for it, and finally drags it out>
<loud>Beebee BOO bee beebee BOO bee beebee BOO BAH BEE!
<pause while he fumbles around looking for the mysterious unlabeled sliver-shaped button that answers the call>
UPDATE: More pictures here, including close-ups of the funky new keyboard. Looks quite nice, but as Chris notes, it's not necessarily a good thing to have the keys perfectly flat with no bevels. No more tactile indication that you're drifting off the edges of the keys...
UPDATE: As various people have written to point out...
• The MacBook can indeed drive a secondary monitor. That's previously been a big differentiator between the iBooks and the PowerBooks. I wonder if they differ in whether you can swap the battery without shutting down the machine, as before?
Here's a handy comparison chart from the Apple Store.
• The hard drive is apparently user-replaceable. That's huge. Especially considering how frequently the hard drives have died in PowerBooks past, especially the 12".
• Yeah, I know the thumbnail screen image is just a demo meant to illustrate the difference between glossy and non-glossy screens. Yeah, maybe if you're looking at it from 120 degrees off-angle or something. Every time I see monitors lined up for sale in Best Buy or wherever, the colors all look identically rich and fresh whether or not the monitors have OptiSheer or X-Brite or whatever. But if they do, the screen images are obscured by wobbly little reflections of everything in the store behind me. And these are the monitors that are up at eye level with premium prices and top-of-the-line endorsements. Ridiculous.
But I'm told by a correspondent who works in an Apple Store that the MacBook screen looks better than a comparable glossy-screened Compaq, so maybe they did come up with some magical way to make it glossy without making it impossible to use on a planet with ambient photons.