Is it Time to Switch to an Apple Laptop?

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What Steve Jobs Emphasized

Artwork: Chip Taylor
Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO, emphasized the following points in today's Apple announcement event:

  • The new MacBooks consist of fewer pieces and use aircraft-grade aluminum.
  • Smaller and more rigid machines should prove to be more durable.
  • The laptops have backlit LED displays.
  • They also have big, bad mousepads. (Does that make them ratpads?)
  • The keyboard introduced on the original Air is now available on more MacBook models.

Many users considered taking the plunge into the Apple pool when the first MacBook Air came out. But unfortunately that stylish mobile PC lacked some things that matter (ports, for example). So now, with every new MacBook, we expect to encounter some additional mind-blowing industrial design innovation that will finally propel us off the high dive despite our reluctance.

During the company's press event today, the talking Apple heads spoke of the joys of ID and the unibody aluminum aesthetic of the Air. That's by way of explaining why Apple has stamped that style into just about everything else rolling down the assembly line. Here are the highlights.

Keyboards

With most of these machines, you'll see the same cut-out keyboard that Sony has been engineering for a dog's age. ("Cut-out" means that the frame of the laptop looks as though someone had punched holes in it to pop QWERTY keys through). That design is now Apple's standard.

Touch PADs

Another innovation is the big, glass touch screen that camps at the bottom of Apple laptops. The company says that the pad area is 39 percent bigger than before and that it now doubles as the button. You can perform the right-click function so beloved of PC users by mapping a corner of the oversize touch area to perform the task.

Ports

One thing I'm not completely sold on is the decision to stack all of the connectivity ports on one side. By jamming them together, Apple seems to be asking for trouble. Plug a beefy USB flash drive into one port and a USB mouse into another, and neighboring jacks might get covered up.

HD Video

Jobs today dismissed the Blu-ray format as a "Bag of Hurt." Of course, given his not entirely unbiased position, he could hardly have done anything else but assert that HD video from iTunes is better. How about the lack of HDMI in the new notebooks? It apprears that Apple is really trying to push DisplayPort technology. Hence, the miniports on new MacBooks, and the introduction of a new 24-inch display.

Battery Life

Though crisp backlit LED displays are always a good thing, I'm a little skeptical about the 5-hour battery life that Apple promises with these new notebooks. We'll have to put the laptops through our Test Center's workout regimen before we believe anything regarding longer batter life.

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