Apple announced the long awaited successor to the iBook laptop line this morning. The new laptop is known simply as the MacBook. Though the MacBook is the little brother of the MacBook Pro, it sports an impressive set of specs nonetheless. To start with, the MacBook is available in both black and traditional iBook white. The black option is only available on the high-end version of the laptop, but is a stunning addition to the lineup.
Apple is currently offering the MacBook in three standard configurations. The base model sports a 1.83GHz Intel Core Duo processor, 512MB of RAM, a 60GB hard drive, and a combo optical drive. This is a lot of computer for $1099. For $200 more, Apple upgrades the processor to a 2GHz Core Duo and adds a SuperDrive. But for those looking for that little something extra, Apple offers a third version of the MacBook for $1499. That machine includes an 80GB hard drive and is available exclusively in black.
Apple currently offers free shipping on all three configurations. Both white models list a shipping date of 1-5 days, while the black model ships in 3-7 days.
The rest of the specs on the MacBook are impressive as well. For example, the screen is now larger than the previous iBooks. The new display is 13.3” and runs a native resolution of 1280×800. The machines support up to 2GB of RAM and the hard drive is now SATA. The entire line comes standard with both AirPort Extreme and Bluetooth 2.0 support, and now includes an integrated iSight video conferencing camera. The new machines ship with Apple’s FrontRow support including the wireless remote. There is one FireWire 400 port and there are two USB 2.0 ports. And, for those concerned with battery life, Apple claims the MacBook can run for up to 6 hours on one charge. Wired networking now supports Gigabit speeds, and the entire iLife 06 software package is included.
All in all, the new MacBook gives consumers a lot to work with. But there are a few down sides. To start with, the new machines ship with both memory slots occupied. For anyone looking to avoid Apple’s overblown memory upgrade prices, this means having to remove one of the 256MB chips in order to add more third-party memory. On top of this, there is no dedicated video memory to drive the display. The laptop uses the Intel GMA 950 graphics processor. This chip shares system RAM with the computer and thereby offers hindered video performance. The integrated graphics chip is a disappointment, but also to be expected. Customers looking for a more performance conscious machine will be encouraged to upgrade to the MacBook Pro.
All things considered, the new MacBook will be a solid performer for Apple. It offers what customers want, and at prices that most can afford. Like the rest of the Intel based Mac lineup, the MacBook can also utilize Apple’s Boot Camp beta and boot into Windows XP. Other users might be interested in Parallels as an alternative that allows them to run Windows side by side with the Mac OS. And with the iBook line officially phased out, only two machines are left before Apple finishes its transition to an entirely Intel based lineup. Look for replacements for the G5 tower and G5 based servers before the years end.