Wednesday, October 15, 2008

My Take on the New MacBook Family

The Good
  • Better Graphics: Anybody who works with photos, graphics or videos, or plays games has to be ecstatic about this. I've been reading that the new NVIDIA GeForce 9400M will deliver, at maximum, a 6 times performance boost over the old MacBooks. The new MacBook Pros also feature the integrated 9400M as well as a discrete NVIDIA GeForce 9600M GT graphics chip. The 9600M GT does graphics 2.3 times as fast as the 9400M. This translates into a great leap forward in graphic processing power and makes for a smooth upgrade to Snow Leopard.
  • Air Power: With the new NVIDIA graphics the MacBook Air now jas enough power to function as a main computer, rather that a second notebook for travel.
  • Design Refresh: Uniform designs for MacBook, MacBook Pro and iMacs consolidates styling across the notebook line and ends the white/black MacBook thing. No more whining that real men don't carry white notebooks, or having to pay premium for a black MacBook.
  • 24" LCD Monitor: Pricy. As of now only works with the new MacBooks, MacBook Pros and MacBook Air. The following comes from an AppleInsider Article at

    The new LED Cinema Display will be available in November through the Apple Store, Apple's retail stores and Apple Authorized Resellers for a suggested retail price of $899. It will require a MacBook, MacBook Air or MacBook Pro with the new Mini DisplayPort.
  • Low-End Pricing: Sure the old MacBook, with a SuperDrive, now goes for $999, but Apple seems to be ceding the sub-$1000 notebook market to PC makers. Maybe they're not interessted. I'd like to see a stylish, entry-level notebook for $799.
  • No netbook: If Apple came out with Netbook at around $500, people would line up like it was gas at a dollar a gallon. Is Apple simply not interested in this market, or merely waiting for a better entry point?
  • Mac mini: It ain't a notebook, but I'm still waiting for a Mini upgrade. All Apple has to do is put the NVIDIA 9400M inside.

Apple's Yen Surcharge

It's always interesting to see what Apple comes up with for Japanese pricing. The yen's been strenghening against the dollar,and one always hopes for prices that reflect the current exchange rate. What prices reflect is a 13 to 14% premium across the MacBook line for Japanese consumers. The situation is a little better for education buyers, with the bargain being the 24" LCD display at 4 bucks off the U.S. retail price. The Apple Tax is a bunch of crap, especially in light of the Vista Tax or the MS Office Tax, but Apple is definitely sweetening its profit margins with what it makes off the dollar-yen exchange rate.

U.S - Japan Apple Store Price Comparisons (1 dollar - 101.40 yen)

Model U.S. Japan  Japan Edu.
MacBook 2.0 GHz $1299 $1467 $1407
MacBook 2.4 GHz $1599 $1822 $1702
MacBook Pro 2.4 GHz $1999 $2254 $2157
MacBook Pro 2.53 GHz $2499 $2846 $2611
24" LED Display $899 $940 $ 895

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Japan Apple Store is Down

It's 10;16 PM, Tuesday night, and the Japanese Apple online store is down for updating with the new MacBook and MacBook Pro models. It will be interesting to see if Apple uses the current exchange rate of 102.68 yen to the dollar, or if the Japanese MacBooks and MacBook Pros will be pricier than the U.S. models. John Gruber has a rundown, complete with prices, over at Daring Fireball. The new MacBook Pros will have two GPUs. Sounds killer.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Much Ado About Cases

Apple has a mystique and following other companies can only dream about. As Apple's October 14th notebook event draws near, there's been a flurry of articles about new case designs and port configurations popping up all over the Internet. This photo spread from AppleInsider sums it up. Has this ever happened when Dell, HP or Acer have trotted out new designs?

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Apple Goes Cheap

Dan Reisinger at CNET recently wrote about the possibility of Apple competing with PC makers on price with the rumored $800 MacBook. The truth is that Apple computers are just as cheap as their Windows counterparts when compared feature to feature. If you want to try this at home, head over to the Dell site and configure a notebook using the specs off the MacBook or MacBook Pro. Every time I've tried this the Apple computers come off about equal, or even cheaper, in price. 

What Apple hasn't done is compete in the lower-priced segment of the market. They don't have models to compare with anything in the sub-$1000 market, let alone the $350 to $500 netbooks like the  ASUS Eee PC, or the Dell Inspiron 9. The lure comparatively cheap notebook with OSX and the usual Apple good looks should make for increased notebook sales, albeit at slimmer profit margins.

Friday, October 10, 2008

New MacBooks to Have NVIDIA Inside

Apple Insider reports that new MacBooks will ship with Nvidia chipsets and integrated graphics and will "significantly outperform Intel's current GMA series architecture."

New MacBooks at Last

Enough about the iPhone. It's nice to know that Apple hasn't forgotten about its computer business. Apple has finally confirmed the October 14th notebook event. While speculation has centered around new aluminum cases for both the Macbook and Macbook Pro, it's more interesting to consider what might be inside. Which CPUs will Apple use and how much will they boost video performance? There have also been rumors of an $800 notebook from Apple. Will this be powered by a dual-core Atom processor? And what about the Mac mini--is it too much to hope for an upgrade?

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Leopard Stages Bloodless Coup, Erases My Administor Privileges

I'm not sure when it happened, but about a week after my Leopard install I noticed that my account had been reclassified as Standard and that I was no longer able to manage my Mac fiefdom as was my wont. Help was only a Google away and I found that others had suffered the same unjust fall from grace. Apple support offered this fix via the Reset Password utility on the installation disk, but I used this method from MacFixIt Forums. It uses the command line in single-user mode and restored me to supremacy in a couple of minutes.

Friday, November 02, 2007

New Gmail Knocks Out Scrolling on Firefox

My problem is that the new version of Gmail doesn't coexist with Firefox--the scroll bar on the right side of the screen disappears and I'm no longer able to scroll using the keyboard or touchpad. At first I thought this was because of the Gmail Super Clean script I run on Greasemonkey. I disabled the script, but the problem hung around. The recent Firefox upgrade, didn't chanage a thing.

The new version of Gmail works fine on Camino. Safari seems to automatically load the old version of Gmail.