Anticipating the Non-Pro MacBook

May 2006: Back when I was 13 years old, I wrote an article for Low End Mac called Guide to P1 Features (1999.02.24). The article was just me being excited about the rumored Apple iBook (codenamed P1), and I talked about what I thought Apple might release.

Tangerine Fusion

Seven years later, it’s time to write a new article.

tangerine iBookThe latest rumors point to Apple’s iBook replacement coming out this month, and the drama among penny-pinching Mac nerds could not be more intense. If you believe the rumors, the non-pro MacBook is shaping up to be a very attractive product. Having pored over the Mac rumor site bigwigs (MacRumors, Think Secret, and Apple Insider) I now delusionally speak with authority.

Here is what I read . . . er . . . what the sources tell me:

Screen: Rumor sites consistently state that the MacBook will sport a 13.3″ widescreen display with a 1280 x 720 resolution. Using the good ol’ Pythagorean Theorem, I calculated that this screen will be 1.91″ wider but 0.74″ shorter than one in the current 12″ iBook. That profile could make for a very sleek new case design, perhaps 13″ wide, 8.25″ deep, and the same 1.35″ thick.

Intel Inside: Rumors are mixed on what sort of Intel chip will be used. Will it be single-core? dual-core? low voltage? Ultra-low voltage? Somebody’s making this stuff up. My guess? There will be a single-core model and a more expensive dual-core model, like with the Mac mini. Speaking of which…

Graphics Chip: Uh oh. Rumors say the MacBook might get the Mac mini’s Intel GMA 950 graphics chip. On the Mac mini, it’s sluggish, hogs 80 MB of your total RAM, and requires you to install RAM modules in pairs. Then again, the Intel chip is no slower than the iBook’s ATI chip, power consumption is low, and Core Image/Core Video compatibility is added. This remains an entry-level graphics system, but iBooks were never made for hard-core gamers – and it looks like the MacBook won’t be either.

Drives: My guess is hard drives will be Serial ATA, 60+ GB, running at 5400 RPM and no faster. SuperDrives will be present on the high end – and maybe the low end as well. Nothing interesting here.

key lime iBookColors: iBooks have been all-white since 2001. Rumors have mentioned the potential availability of multiple MacBook colors. This must be taken with a grain of salt, since adding colors to the line means more models in the sales channel. Apple shouldn’t be expected to add more than a few colors. For those holding out for Leopard-print, Yellow Snow, or the return of Key Lime, don’t bet on it. That said, I wouldn’t be surprised by a black MacBook at the very least (to match the black iPods).

MacBook Pro Hand-me-downs: iSight, Front Row, and MagSafe are all expected. Remember the hype surrounding these a few months ago? Now I’m almost bored to mention them. Still, thinking of the iBook’s target markets: iSight makes video chat a no-brainer, Front Row is great for dorm rooms, and MagSafe means fewer broken power adapters and expensive power port repairs. These are all great additions.

White MacBookBlack MacBook
What the first consumer MacBooks looked like in white and in black.

Overall, the anticipated MacBook looks like it will be a winner. Apple says Intel Macs have sold strongly, and there’s no reason to believe the MacBook won’t do the same.

With all the rumored new features, it does remain to be seen what price Apple will set. On that, I’ll just have to hurry up and wait.

keywords: #macbook