The keynote is over, the cool stuff has been announced, so now it’s time to start talking about it. First up on this three-part series on WWDC is all about hardware (you can read about Mountain Lion and iOS 6 on their own). Yeah Apple pulled some killer rabbits out of its hat for this one, so let’s get right to it.
Let’s start with the MacBook Air. Speed bumps with dual-core Ivy Bridge chips (60% faster graphics folks), up to 8 GB of RAM, up to 512 GB SSD, USB 3.0 (w00t!), Facetime HD, and…same price as before for 11“ and 13” models. These updates put the MacBook Air firmly in the “this is a great basic laptop for just about everyone…” category. It’s light, great battery life, and has enough oomph for most folks. Pro photographers, video geeks, and hard-core audio editors might feel the Air is still underpowered for their needs, which is cool, because the MacBook Pros got a refresh too..
Like the MBA the MacBook Pro line has new chips (quad-core Ivy Bridge here plus the 60% graphics boost too), more SSD options, USB 3.0, and all the rest. A very nice speed bump I do think. Absent…the 17“ MBP. Yep, it’s gone. Kaput. Toast. Which also means that if you’re looking for a deal and you want something that is akin to a desktop…this might be a good time to look at the 17”.
The big news, of course, is the new MacBook Pro. All SSD, HDMI out, no Ethernet, no optical drives, two Thunderbolt ports, USB 3.0 and…Retina display. Oh and thin. Really thin (from the keynote liveblogs I gather it is thinner than a finger, but thicker than a MBA). What’s amazing is—like the new iPad and other super high res devices—the new MBP is mostly battery. You’ll need it to keep the thing running for 7 freakin’ hours! The new MBP (don’t know how people are going to keep the names straight, but when you see them you sure will be able to!) by all accounts has a display that makes angels weep (not Weeping Angels, because that would be bad). Of course having the hardware is only half the battle, you need software to match. Which is why there are special updates to Lion, core apps, and other third party apps to be able to handle the retina display. Oh and this baby is going to clock in starting at about $2200.
Not in the keynote, but announced later is a long, long overdue refresh of the Mac Pro line. Which is pretty niche even for this crowd, so I’ll let you check out (and bemoan, because I think even Thunderbolt was skipped for it) those specs on your own.
Conspicuously absent was discussion of iMacs. Still a great selling piece of hardware, but not in the keynote or later updates (that I’ve seen thus far). Is the iMac doomed? I doubt it, I just think that portables have really started to be the feather in Apple’s cap so they wanted to keep the focus on them this week. I’m betting a nice refresh of the iMac line for fall (pure guess).
The key now is…who are these machines for?
Like I said above, I think the whole MacBook Air line is a solid, solid option for the general purpose user. Myself, I think the 11“ would be too cramped, but the 13” just perfect. At home, hook up a second monitor and a keyboard and you’re off to the races. On the go I figure that most folks won’t need to look for a power outlet all day. I think this will be key for students trying to write, research, and take notes throughout the day.
The MacBook Pro line is the clear next step up for people who need more oomph than the MBA can provide. Photo, video, audio editing, science and engineering. The 13“ MBP has always struck me as an odd duck. I strikes me as the ”I need oomph, but I also need to save money and would rather a smaller form factor“, choice. I know a bunch of people with 13” MBPs and they seem really happy with them, so there you go. The 15“ MBP, for me, is the next, real logical choice for people who need more oomph than a MBA. I’m thinking if you need oomph you also need screen real estate and while 13” is fine for a lot of things, 15“ is just better. With both sizes and all models, if you can go for 8 GB of RAM, trust me you’ll thank me later. My aging 15” MBP (fall 2008-ish) just got a bump from 4 to 8 and it made a huge difference in day to day use.
Now let’s talk about the new MacBook Pro. This, this is a machine of wow. The screen will be wow. The speed will be wow. The weight and thickness (or lack thereof) will be wow. The price, is wow…and not in a bad way. This is a media professionals machine. Pure and simple, full stop. If you’re working with image, video, okay fine games too, this is the machine to cast your eyes upon. It’s the next generation of amazing and it’s what will trickle down to the other models in the next year or so. There is no 13“ model and no 17” model. Apple sees 15" is the sweet spot for both portability and power. At home, you have an external display (and with an HDMI port that could be a TV!) on the go the screen is still amazing. And since it’s mostly battery you still get 7 hours (wow, again) of use. Clearly leaving out an optical drive is a good thing in that regard.
Buying advice: First you have to think about looking at the previous generation models that will now be reduced. For the budget conscious, this is a great time to look for a deal. All of the new models just announced are shipping today, so that’s an awesome thing.
General use: MacBook Air, no doubt.
Media use, but still light: MacBook Pro 13"
Media, but with oomph and options: MacBook Pro 15"
Hardcore media: the new MacBook Pro.
BTW... if you missed the keynote or just want to watch it all, you can download the whole thing through iTunes.
Update: You can now pre-order the new MacBook Pro now!
You must be a registered user to add a comment here. If you've already registered, please log in. If you haven't registered yet, please register and log in.