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It was no secret that Apple was planning to update its laptop range this month, but the early betting was on a new, budget-priced MacBook to win over even more consumers to the platform. Macs have been selling extremely well over the last year or so, edging towards ten per of the market in the US, compared to Apple’s traditional …

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No Firewire

Means more than no full speed transfers from External Disks, MiniDV cams, A ton of professional Audio kit, rendering Final Cut Express redundant and crippling the migration assistant.

It also means no Target mode which is a life saver when (not if), things go tits up and also precludes the use of the laptop as impromptu external DVD drive, again something that's saved the day on more than one occasion.

No Firewire makes this a FailBook.

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I want the Pro Model!

I bought the old MBP with 23 inch Cinema Screen about 6 months ago.

I'm very happy with it but I have to say after seeing one in the Apple store yesterday these new machines are gorgeous. That said there isn't a great deal of difference with the performance of the new Pro so I'm not too annoyed but for the first time I want to upgrade my computer for aesthetic reasons.

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Alert

Migration Assistant now works over Ethernet

See this:

http://www.appletell.com/apple/comment/direct-from-steve-migration-assistant-works-over-ethernet/

Query whether the speeds will be any good though...

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Scope for new smaller and cheaper range

I would hope that there is now scope for new smaller and cheaper range of "MacBook mini's", with similar specs to the outgoing white plastic MacBooks, which have (almost) been retired. Apple could wait long enough to get all the existing Macbook fans on to the new more expensive models, and use the new cheaper series to break new ground. I suspect they would still be twice as expensive as EEE PC's and its clones, but might appeal to those looking for something a bit more upmarket in that form factor.

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Flame

Dual-link DVI for large displays

At least the new Macbook now supports dual-link DVI for 30" displays, something previously supported only on the Pro range.

Removing firewire support seems short-sighted; Apple should have included a FW800 port with an adapter for FW400 compatibility. I suspect the majority won't miss it and be happy with USB 2.0.

A word to the haters: if you can't afford a Mac, just leave it to those that can yeah?

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Go

That is the strategy...

No firewire in the new MB's so that the "pro" users will not cheap out on buying the MBP's. Why pay more then $2000 if your sub $2000 MB support connecting to video devices and GPGPU performance editing them. (Ok, half of MBP but still effective)

So:

MB -> No FW, no MBP convertees.

MBP -> yes FW, MBP maintains it's users.

MB -> Gains graphics performance, more attractive to the average user.

old MB -> Better priced for those that reaally only do office work on their laptop.

Allthough not everyone likes it, apple created a good price / usability positioning of it's products.

No backlit keyboard on the cheaper MB is annoying but I will not let apple bully me into buying the expensive MB.

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Jobs Horns

Vaios...

Googling, I found this spec on the second result (the first being the Sony link):

Sony Vaio AR71S

* Processor - Intel Core 2 Duo T9300 / 2.5 GHz ( Dual-Core )

* RAM - 4 GB (installed) / 4 GB (max) - DDR II SDRAM - 667 MHz ( 2 x 2 GB )

* Hard Drive - 250 GB - Serial ATA-150 - 5400 rpm

* Operating System - Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium

* Screen - 17' TFT 1440 x 900 ( WXGA+ ) - X-black

* Optical Drive - DVD±RW (±R DL) / DVD-RAM / BD-ROM - integrated

* Graphics - NVIDIA GeForce 8400M GT - 256 MB

* Bluetooth - Yes

* Notebook Camera - Integrated - 1.3 Megapixel

* Warranty - 1 year warranty

for £950.

The only real downside compared to the Macbook is the speed of the memory, but hey, you're getting twice as much and a bigger monitor for the price of the lower end Macbook. So why compare it to an SZ? We already know that Macs will be more stylish than their PC counterparts, whereas PCs will offer better performance for less style. Once you get over the hurdle that computing is about using a computer and not paying extra for a style accessory, maybe the fact that the equivalent Apple system is now going to be £300 more should impact more on the review score. The difference between a Vaio and a Macbook is that you can choose to get a model without as much style for less, with a Mac you're stuck paying the extra...

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Jobs Horns

Reality distortion field

C'mon Jobs...you're taking the Michael Fish with that one...

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Anonymous Coward

@ jubtastic1

You can cancel your call to the waaaaambulance service, if you want firewire, either get the White Macbook, or a Macbook Pro.

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Anonymous Coward

Failbook?

I'm always slightly cynical of new Apple laptops but the lack of Firewire isn't exactly the end of the world. Losing Firewise is akin to PC's losing floppy drives.

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Unhappy

No Blu-Ray

I am very disappointed that there's no blu-ray drive on the new macbook & macbook Pro. i was considering replacing my old macbook with a new macbook pro, but I won't be now.

Steve Jobs claim that blu-ray is a world of hurt is ridiculous. Apple has been on the Blu-Ray board now for years.

We need more people to hassle Apple into integrating Blu-Ray drives into their notebook & desktop machines, soon!!!

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Stop

That style of keyboard...

...debuted with the MacBook, not the Air. The only adoption from the Air (in keyboard terms at least) is the colour of the keys themselves, not the style.

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Migration Assistant

My memory might be failing me, but I'm pretty sure I used the Migration Assistant over Ethernet about 6 months ago when I bought an iMac.

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Happy

Weight

@Shakje The Sony Vaio AR71S weighs a whopping 3.8kg (according to http://vaio.sony.co.uk/view/ShowProduct.action?product=VGN-AR71S&site=voe_en_GB_cons&category=VN+AR+Series), the new MacBook weights just 2.04 kg.

Sure, you might not care about style, but weight isn't about style, it's about the comfort and ease of carrying your laptop about.

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Jobs Halo

@Shakje

"The difference between a Vaio and a Macbook is that you can choose to get a model without as much style for less, with a Mac you're stuck paying the extra..."

Absolute bollocks, old Son.

The really important difference is that with the Sony you're provided with Vista Home Premium. With the Mac you receive OSX Leopard.

That alone is worth the difference in price - and then you can start looking at unquantifiables such as build quality etc.,

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Anonymous Coward

Apples and... Sony?

Interesting idea comparing the price of the Macbook to the Vaio SZ; but I don't think it's a good comparison.

For one thing the Macbook is quite significantly heavier; 4.5lbs vs 3.7lbs.

Personally I'd compare the Macbook against the Samsung Q310, which is similar in weight and spec. It comes in at ~£670.

So, in other words when you actually compare like with like, the Macbook costs nearly a third as much again.

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17" update?

Apple: where's the update for the 17" MacBookPro?

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Flame

Regarding the firewire connection

For all those coming up with smart-arsed comments such as "Losing Firewise is akin to PC's losing floppy drives" the general point of the complaints is probably something along the lines of expecting it to damn well have one when you've stumped up nearly 1000 on it. As for saying that if you want firewire then get a MBP - is that because forking out an extra 450 is so much fun?

Jobs has been a twat with this one and "@That is the strategy" probably has the reason right. For this money it should have firewire - it's common place on camcorders and it's by no means dead in the water for those that understand how it sh1ts on USB for sustained transfer speeds on external HDDs. If he'd added eSATA then it may be forgiveable, but leaving off a port that apple was a key promoter of and jacking up the price in a recession is idiocy.

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@shakje

Er, comparing a 13" laptop with a 17 " laptop with awful resolution ?

What's the battery life, what's the weight, what's the volume ?

I'll tell you...

Mac Book: 44% of the volume of the Sony

Mac Book - battery life 210 minutes longer (300 versus 90)

Mac Book - 54% of the weight of the Sony.

Or in other words, a simply list of specs like the one you gave is out-of-context and meaningless.

it might be handier when the 15.4" review comes out. Here are the numbers...

Mac Book: 52% of the volume of the Sony

Mac Book - battery life 180 minutes longer (270 versus 90)

Mac Book - 65% of the weight of the Sony.

... maybe not.

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ben

@Shakje

You're forgetting the operating system and bundled applications.

OSX is a completely different generation of OS to Windows XP (as found on the laptop you mention).

iMovie HD is an awesome application as is iPhoto, iDVD and Garage Band which are all included with every apple computer (the HD version of iMovie may still be on "pro" products only, I'm not sure).

Software is not free and has a huge impact on the experience of working with a computer.

Add the OS, these applications, plus others, plus the stunning attention to design detail, you begin to see where your extra money goes.

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@Shakje

...and Mac OSX+iLife, which for many is a good enough reason to pay the premium frankly, unless you think this is about comparing means of running Windows, which is another matter altogether...

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Paris Hilton

Barnacles

I may be out of touch with modern society, but on what planet is £719 "low cost" for a luxury gadget? I'm sure it's a wonderful laptop, but £719? For a device that mosy buyers will use as an MP3-playing internet terminal that can jot down notes? Question mark?

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E

Nice

I used a 15" Macbook Pro for the past two years. Very nice machine, more so after I swapped Mac OS 10 for Linux. I'd seriously consider buying this machine.

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Jobs Horns

Brain says no, heart says YES

Mr Jobs knows what he's doing. I'm in the market for an upgrade (currently got a 12" PB G4) and was anticipating a sub-£700 'netbook' earlier this week.

After only a few days, I'm already trying to justify shelling out £1150 for the top-of-the-range MacBook minipro.

A curse on your house, Jobs!

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@Shakje

You may also want to consider this that running a 17" display on an 8400 at 1440x900 will likely give you worse performance than a 9400 running at 1280x800. If you're in the market for a big screen, you'd want a better graphics card anyway unless your doing non-graphically intensive stuff, in which case why bother why that size anyway?

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Anonymous Coward

@Carl

Your memory isn't failing you, Migration Assistant works just fine over Ethernet (and wirelessly, too).

Although saying that, I still think the loss of FW connectivity on the MB is an oversight.

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Silver badge

What a weird coincidence

I bought a 2GHz, 160GB laptop yesterday!

Only mine cost £420, not £999.

Well, it's definitely a MacBook!

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Flame

@Shakje

Why are you comparing a 13" screened laptop to a 17" one? You might as well have compared the MBP to a desktop and proclaimed that the desktop is a quarter of the price for the same performance...

Fail.

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Paris Hilton

Not that'll buy one, but...

...why don't apple just make a laptop sized itouch and be done with it?

Paris becasue I wouldn't mind her touching my laptop

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N

and just a few more things...

I agree that entry price is important, but then if you dont have to buy all the bollox that you need with a PC - anti this, anti that & a decent firewall & take into account a Mac will retain a resale value five minutes after youve opened the box, it all starts to look more affordable.

I think no firewire is a bit short sighted, USB & Firewire 400 look similar on paper, in reality Firewire is a lot faster for sustained data transfer, so I find it strange they dropped the firewire port. Or is it a polite way of saying my next MacBook will be the pro version?

As for comparing specifications of PC laptops, its hard to quantify the annoyance factor of a PC with its endless yes/no permissions, meaningless messages & constant tinkering to make it do what it should do compared to the effortless power of a Mac that just does the job with minimal fuss.

I achieve far more with less stress on a Mac than I could with a PC & in a lot less time, I have a good few years before a free bus pass, but wasting time with a PC is no way to spend it!

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Jobs Horns

Hmm.

Much as this new macbook is nice, I think that apple got it wrong this time round. I would have kept the features/price the but called it a macbook pro, thus having a smaller cheaper bottom of the range macbook pro @1K

I think they should have replaced the old macbook with something that starts off cheaper (maybe ~ £400) , uses plastic to cut the costs, still has the 9400M maybeand tops out at around £800. That way they could pick up a bigger market share.

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ooh ... shiny ... pretty

Well, Apple has finally produced a computer which I am seriously - and, yes, I do mean seriously - contemplating buying. The one main thing which has always held me back is the crappy video cards they insisted on putting in otherwise decently specced machines.

As far as price goes, this model is pretty comparable to the Dell M1330 I purchased back in April: 2.5GHz Duo vs 2.4 Duo, 3GB DDR2 @667 vs 2GB @1066, 200GB 7200rpm HDD vs 250GB 5400rpm, 128MB DDR 8400GS vs 256MB DDR2 9400, same screen size, 2.2Kg vs 2Kg - except the Apple is about $400 less. I could even go for the 4GB of ram and 320GB HDD and still will pay less than my Dell cost.

And the best thing is, with BootCamp, I can run Vista on it.

I think I know what Santa's bringing me this year.

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Unhappy

blu-ray

I agree with what Aidan says about blu-ray... i am very disapointed too.

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Stop

Missing the point

Everyone blowing off the removal of firewire is missing the point. There are at least 3 reasons why this is a horrible move on Apple's part:

1) When floppy drives were phased out, there were low cost usb drives you could attach in order to still access your old disks. While there are a few USB to firewire dongles, they are windows only, and the performance is inherently crap, defeating much of the point of firewire.

2) When floppy drives were phased out, the 3.5" floppy was clearly antiquated. Not so firewire, which is still THE interface of choice for a lot of new equipment.

3) Apple users tend to have a large investment in firewire devices, which perform very nicely. Apple is basically using those devices as hostages to force their longer term customers to buy their more expensive kit.

However, what Apple seems to have forgotten is that their recent success comes in large part from people (like myself) who have made the switch in the last 3 years. Aside from my keyboard and mouse, everything I currently use is firewire. What's more, I'm not going to spend over $2,000 on a laptop; the macbook line is in my price range, but the macbook pro is not. So my options are: Replace all of my Firewire equipment, or buy something other than a mac. Guess which one I'll be doing?

-Daniel

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(Written by Reg staff)

@Firewire grumblers

Couple of points. First, Apple has form here. I complained when it dropped SCSI because I could no longer use my Zip drive. Dropping ADB for USB meant my fancy keyboard no longer worked. No serial ports now, so how am I going to use my analog modem? Older Mac users can add to the list, I'm sure.

Crucially, it's take about two or three users for Mac users to come round and just get on with life. I suspect many of them, particularly consumers, have long since gone to USB because USB-only drives tend to be cheaper.

And I think Apple expects most of the new machines to be picked up by Vista haters making the switch from a PC. You can bet most of them don't Firewire kit.

That's no excuse to drop Firewire, of course. But the writing was on the wall when Apple stopped building Firewire into the iPod.

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Jobs Horns

Wanted FireWire 3200 and BluRay

People are complaining about dropping FireWire 400? Hellz, I wanted FireWire 3200 and BluRay and eSATA.

Guess I'll be waiting for the next update.

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Go

Why is no one complaining about...

1. No Expresscard slot.

2. No built in 3G Wireless.

What I want is a 13.3" Mac Book Pro.

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Flame

@ Tony Smith @Firewire grumblers - Pardon?

- When the later Powerbook G3s dropped SCSI they had PCMCIA, you could easily keep on using your SCSI hardware. Back in the day, my own G3 was blessed with both USB and WLAN this way.

- When ADB was dropped, there instantly were USB-Adaptors. They work. Still. Perfectly. So does my Extended II which is why I bought one in the first place. It's the best Mac keyboard ever and I have no plans to give it up.

- Your average portable Mac tended to have a modem built-in for a good while before they were removed — as there was truly little need for them left, and a plethora of other options available (Bluetooth, WLAN, USB, Ethernet...). Also, a modem is a commodity item and no high$ specialized hardware in the three-digits.

The point is that there is no adaptor and no "better value" replacement (such as USB over ADB or Firewire over SCSI) present on this Macbook, there is no adaptor, and simply no way you will hook up a Firewire device to it. It simply lacks the port.

You also need to realize that since the sad disappearance of the 12" Powerbook, pros with a) a small wallet (do exist, plenty, think young video/audio artists) or b) a faible for small and light notebooks (think photographer/videographer who has enough to lug already or someone who just needs no 15" on the go) have been buying the "consumer" model. These people have investments in costly Firewire devices. I am not even getting started on how Firewire400 is superior to USB2 for a number of tasks that apply to both pros and consumers. These have been named already.

It is not that Apple had no choice. They could have taken away the ethernet port, as on the Macbook Air. Macbooks have wireless, CONSUMERS LOVE WIRELESS, and most of all, they so have a USB->Ethernet adaptor available. They took away the Firewire to state "this is not a pro model" and furthermore "go buy the bigger, heavier, even more expensive computer". They are essentially giving the finger to a good chunk of the real-world target group for this computer.

Yes, in the grander scheme of things it is a minor issue. But yes, this is a Mac needlessly crippled for no good reason other than Apple's books, and hell we have every right to be mighty miffed about that.

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Paris Hilton

Firewire

I'm pretty much an Apple phanboi and don't mind admitting it (no 12 step program needed at all) but I must say, I'm disappointed at the removal of FW 400 on the Al Macbook, and leaving only FW 800 on the MBP. It's an incredibly useful technology that Apple actually owns. Target Disk Mode alone is a great, great feature that is a shame to lose.

On price alone, the Macbooks are still a very solid value (including much highly useful software and a rock-solid operating system), but FW 400 on all of them would make them just about perfect.

Paris, because she's a solid rocker, too...

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Dead Vulture

@Tony Smith

Sir, you are still missing the point.

We are not talking about the same user base Apple had back when they dropped SCSI; at least, not entirely. Many of Apple's current generation of users haven't been with them that long, and aren't as psychotically devoted to them. As for myself, there are 4 computers in my household, and only one of them is a mac - the first mac I have ever purchased. All of them have firewire. I was using firewire before I ever purchased a mac. And I repeat, I won't be buying a mac that does not have firewire. Which is unfortunate, because I like OS X - but not enough to sacrifice every other piece of equipment I have for it.

-Daniel

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No TDM = Boo Apple!

Every Mac I've had for nearly a decade has been capable of Target Disk Mode, thanks to Firewire. I cannot count how many times TDM has allowed me to diagnose and repair problems without a trip to the service centre. I've used it twice this week alone and I only look after a dozen or so Macs.

Peripheral connection standards come and go--and most stuff is now USB2 anyway--but TDM was an incredible advantage for Apple. Eliminating it from the company's highest volume product is a strange, and frankly disturbing development.

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Bluray No way

I doubt Apple will ever ship Blu-ray, it's just re-hashed old-tech. I think total deletion of the optical drive is more likely. I rarely use the optical drive these days, and wouldn't miss it. I certainly don't want to pay for blu-ray and al of the hardware and software licensing fees that would entail.

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ari
Coat

Drop all antiquated ports, please

....but keep firewire.

Seriously, FW is in many ways superior to USB.

Most higher end amateur and and almost all pro audio gear (audio interfaces) are FW for a simple reason. USB doesn't ensure timing of packets transferred making it useless for audio work of any real quality. For me it doesn't really matter that much right now, but the next device on my shopping list is a FW audio interface. FW uses a different way of buffering which keeps the stream more even ensuring more accuracy.

FW also has a higher sustained data rate, again largely due to buffering methods. This makes a HUGE difference to everyone studying or playing around with audio or video.

Plus target disk mode is pretty neat.

Please guys, just ONE FW port.

I don't particularly like the reflective screen either, but doesn't bug me too bad. I don't always agree with their business or design decisions, but their design is still in general light years ahead of their competitors. Usability wise their hardware is the best I've used and OS X knocks anything else out of the water (any full OS for personal computers, that is) even with all its flaws.

Or as I sometimes put it, OS X is the least crappy OS on the market.

Mine's the one with all pockets stuffed full of Apple products

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Aluminium is far too flimsy.

Thin aluminium is far too flimsy to use for a (fairly) large portable device. I've got a PowerBook with an aluminium shell. Never again! It scratches and dents in no time. If you take it apart the whole thing flops about alarmingly.

Until Apple start using titanium again, I won't give them a penny. I'd rather have a plastic EEE - at least it'll bounce!

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@Alex Tingle

I have one of the new MacBook Pros, and I can attest to the fact that the new unibody construction is by far the most rigid laptop I've ever felt. Aluminum isn't flimsy, it's thin sheets of stamped aluminum which is flimsy. This is not stamped aluminum.

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@Ashley Pomeroy

You are out of touch with modern society

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Unhappy

hmmmm

I love my 2007 MBP, but I must say there is very little about these new machines that is actually *better*. There is plenty that is different, but really technically better? Particularly in the MBP's which already had discrete graphics. Hmmm. For example on a laptop of this price I would expect an eSATA port and the ability to have more than 4GB RAM. Also 1280x800 is getting a bit long in the tooth isnt it? I would think 1440x900 would be a better res for the MB and 1650x1000ish for the MBP.

And the whole blu-Ray thing? Come on, pathetic excuse or what? The most innovative thing about these new models seems to be the way the case is made. Woot.

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@ Bad Beaver

an excellent post there.

I am a young video professional/graduate with not very much money. I do a lot of live 3D rendering for musical shows and stuff. I used to have a 12" MBP back in the old old days, but in recent years have been doing my thang on my iMac (Nightmare to carry to gigs...)

So I bought a BlackBook. Turns out the X3100 IS a piece of crap, and I soon sold it on.

I waited for this release for aaaaaages... Now I'm sitting here with a MacBook pro and a decidedly shoddy looking bank balance.

Why? Because there is no 13" MBP. Seriously - I would've killed for a higher higher end MacBook w/ FW800... but noooo.... now I have to lug this 15" beast with me!

Not that I'm complaining (too much) - it's an excellent machine. It's just way more machine than I ever wanted!

(also, I can check out my hair in the mirror/screen)

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They look better built than the old ones

I've got a 2006 MacBook, first of the Core 2 Duo models, and I've been disappointed with the build quality from day one (it's just had the optical drive, and the top case replaced under John Lewis warranty). The new 'unibody' MacBook looks like a solid, well made, piece of kit. I'd like one, but it's out of my price range.

I'm assuming Apple will be bringing out a 'netbook' when they launch Mac OS X 10.6; I'll probably end up buying one of those eighteen months down the line.

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Games? Heat?

Nice mini review but what about a real-life test with games.

What about the heat? Are the edges as sharp as previous Mac Books?

How does the new Mac Books feel generally when using iPhoto, Safari or Quick View?

The basic tech numbers are ok but sometimes we can't relate their impact on everyday usage.

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