The Digi-Cult

A New Religion for a Digital Age

New Apple MacBooks and MBP’s: Win, Draw, or Fail.

Posted by Rod Leland on October 15, 2008

Forecast: Good chance of win in the morning, with some regions seeing mild and isolated fail in the late afternoon.

So Apple dropped a few new portables today, and as is always the case, its BIG FUCKING NEWS.  And you can bet, without a doubt, the Apple marketing team is kicking back, having a glass of Champaign because it’s all anyone’s talking about.  New iPods make the local evening news for god’s sake.  Granted, as of Monday night, just about everyone who cared knew what was coming the next morning as today’s announcements were some of the worst ever for leaks.

It should be noted that Apple has a habit of pioneering change in computer design.  A lot of that has to do with ports, cables, and physical interfaces.  Apple also has a habit of “not-giving-a-fuck” about what everyone else is doing.  Ive and his crew wouldn’t (and don’t) hesitate at all to create a whole new standard if they need to. Apple has invented/pioneered new ports and cables many, many, many, many, many times before.  Today, they did it again.

No Blu-Ray. Jobs said Blu-Ray was “A bag of hurt” when asked about the lack of Blu-Ray support on the new portables.  The way I see it, not a huge deal, but it still sucks. I can get my HD content elsewhere, or from iTunes, and presumably those rocking new MBP’s have big ass TV’s and the PS3 or Blu-Ray player to go with them.
Verdict: Moderate Fail. Blu-ray won. It’s the official next-gen optical format. At least offer it as an option.

New Trackpad. The new trackpads that Apple is shipping are glass, support multi touch gestures, and have no dedicated button. I’m among the minority of people who use the dedicated button on my MBP’s trackpad so I have to reserve my personal bias from this evaluation.
Verdict: Win. The gestures are super useful.

DisplayPort. The announcement of the last-gen MacBooks revelaed that apple had created an all-new connector because the old connectors were too big.  Apple kind-of sort-of did that again today.  They took the regular DisplayPort interface and shrunk it.  Not a bad thing.  Just unexpected.  No one had ever heard of (or saw a need for?) “Mini-DisplayPort” until Apple came along. Now an interface half the size of a USB port can pump 4 000 000 pixels out to a monitor. Cool.

Verdict: Draw. New port means more bullshit adapters. But the New port is awesome.

No Firewire on MacBooks: Ok fine, Firewire 400 is slower than USB 2.0 but how the hell do use Target Disk Mode without Firewire? What about capturing DV from a video camera?
Verdict: Fucking Fail!  It’s not like there wasn’t room!

SSD’s.  Straight forward here.  SSD storage is finally at the point where Cost < Benefits.  Offering SSD’s with decent capacity is a no brainer here, and there are likely an army of people very, very excited about this.
Verdict: Epic Win.  Your files, now with more affordable and less crash.

Mandatory Glossy Screens. Uh-Oh. Apple is no longer offering matte screens on the laptops aimed straight for the pro graphics, photo, and design crew.  BAD IDEA.  I love my matte screens.  Color reproduction is more faithful, and when I work in the field, and end up stuck in my car filing photos remotely, it’s hard enough to keep glare down off my matte setup. I would rather the extra millimeter or two and no glass than the glare-monster make an appearance to slim down the computer a bit.
Verdict: Epic Fail. Matte screens are very important to a big part of the demographic.

Graphics CARDS (omfg plural?)  Apple now ships its MBP with TWO graphics cards. There are a ton of reasons this is awesome but it all ends in more performance, and that’s never a bad thing. Only problem is, you have to log out to switch modes between bad-ass monster power task-crushing laptop and battery-life-sipping endurance machine.  The other laptops (there are a few) that offer dual graphics cards just have a switch on the side.
Verdict:
Win. The performance gains are enough to offset the shitty switching.

Tally:  Win. The refresh was much needed and put Apple portables back in front on the bleeding edge where we all expect them to be.  Plus, everyone (like me) acts all outraged and heartbroken when Apple changes things viewed as important, but we all accept/love the changes eventually. Apple should keep gaining market share in the portable field.

-Rod

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One Response to “New Apple MacBooks and MBP’s: Win, Draw, or Fail.”

  1. jaron said

    The new MBP looks great, very FAIL for no Firewire on the MB.

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