MacBook Pro: A PowerBook by Any Other Name?

2007 – It’s hard to believe, but the MacBook Pro has been around for almost two years now. I can still vividly remember watching the Macworld keynote in 2006 when Steve jobs used his trademark “one more thing” technique to surprise the audience with a final Mac revelation.

As a result of Apple delaying the release of the keynote online until the day after the event, I did my best to avoid any kind of news regarding what was announced during the presentation.

15" MacBook ProUnfortunately, practically every news site on the Web with a technology column posted the new products Steve Jobs revealed as soon as it happened. This meant that I was already aware that there was a replacement for the PowerBook G4, and it was called the MacBook Pro.

“The MacBook Pro?” I thought to myself. “Could Steve find a cornier name?”

Straight away, I didn’t like the name change. The PowerBook tag sounded professional, demanded respect, and was synonymous with the Macintosh. To me, PowerBook was an Apple institution – but I would reserve judgment until I watched the keynote. I also avoided any other details regarding Steve’s announcements that day.

Finally, Apple posted the streaming QuickTime video of the keynote presentation, and I couldn’t wait to get it started. A simple click on the link, up popped QuickTime, and the video started buffering. The video was choppy and kept dropping frames all the way through the presentation, thanks to the huge volume of Apple fanatics (such as myself) eating up the bandwidth available to Apple’s server.

I watched, and I was blown away by the introduction of the MacBook Pro: Finally an Apple portable that would allow us to reclaim the title of most desirable notebook from the PC sector, a title Apple had lost when the G4 chip was bled dry from minimal successive PowerBook updates. It looked the same as the PowerBook G4 (how can you improve on that design?) while adding everything we wanted from the Intel transition – and then some.

So the dust settled, Steve walked off the stage, and we were left with a brand new Apple notebook with the processing power to beat its Windows counterparts. It was an awesome machine, 4-5x faster than the latest 1.67 GHz G4 PowerBooks Apple had been touting as state of the art just days before.

But I still didn’t like the name, and Steve’s dismissal of PowerBook didn’t sit well with me.

“We’re kinda done with Power,” he said, “and we want Mac in the name of our products.”

A fair point, but PowerBook still sounded cooler then MacBook Pro.

Two years on, I’m eagerly anticipating Steve’s keynote at Macworld next month, as I do every year, and now I feel at home with the MacBook Pro name. This happened by accident: I didn’t decide one day Hey, I think I’ll try to like MacBook Pro. All of a sudden I simply felt totally at home calling an Apple portable a MacBook.

Black MacBookI still have fond memories of the PowerBook brand, but I like the way that MacBook tells you exactly what sort of computer you’re talking about in a way that PowerBook didn’t. Right now I’m in the throes of upgrading from the 13″ MacBook I reviewed on Low End Mac this past May to a beautiful 17″ MacBook Pro, reclaiming my beloved huge screen and the dedicated graphics card I lost when I moved from my 17″ PowerBook to the MacBook. I’ll post a review on LEM when I’ve had a few days with it.

The PowerBook is dead; long live the MacBook Pro.

Keywords: #powerbook #macbookpro

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