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Mac Blu-Ray notebook upgrade shows Apple lagging behind

post #1 of 109
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A new drive swap offered by FastMac is giving hope to Mac owners riding the cutting edge of movie editing and playback, but is leaving many others wondering why Apple hasn't been willing to help of its own accord.

On Friday, FastMac began offering a slim Blu-Ray drive designed to fit inside several of Apple's most popular desktops and notebooks of the past several years, reaching back as far as the venerable "Pismo" PowerBook G3 -- though ironically blocking MacBooks and 15-inch MacBook Pros due to their extra-thin cases.

Labeled as the first upgrade of its kind for any of Apple's portables, the swap-in drive gave the eligible Macs not just a chance to play high-definition movies but to burn 50GB dual-layer Blu-Ray discs and boot from a Mac OS X CD or DVD.

While undoubtedly a relief for determined video editors and avid fans, the $800 upgrade path has raised as many questions as it answers. It highlights the seemingly widening chasm between Apple and next-generation disc formats -- revealing that a small but determined third-party firm was able to edge out a proclaimed media powerhouse and release slimline Blu-Ray hardware seemingly months in advance.

Apple has not been completely silent. The Cupertino-based firm has made several gestures towards both Blu-Ray and the competing HD DVD standard in recent years, building early support for the latter into DVD Player and its pro-level Final Cut Studio editing suite. Apple was also one of the first to back the H.264 video standard inherent to Blu-Ray with Quicktime 7. In fact, its investments in new formats run so deeply that it joined the board of the Blu-Ray Disc Association in March of 2005 to gain a controlling stake well before the first disc readers had touched store shelves.

Yet the Mac maker has never actually made a public commitment to the hardware itself, having refrained from shipping Blu-Ray drives despite the existence of Blu-Ray drives as an option since mid-2006. The backing of the standard has often been left to its primary champion Sony, which offered its VAIO AR-series portable with the drive option since May of last year. Drives by LG, Pioneer, and Samsung have similarly been offered in recent months and have found their way into desktop-class add-ons for Mac users before Friday's FastMac release.



With Apple's most recent Mac Pro update continuing to leave both Blu-Ray and HD DVD by the wayside, however, Mac users are left without any clear indications as to when their computer creator will finally embrace HD in its hardware and which format it will ultimately adopt.

The company's best near-term chances appear to rest in next week's NAB expo, where rumors would have Blu-Ray support added to the next version of Final Cut Studio, and possibly system-wide in the official release of Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard later this spring.
post #2 of 109
Why are people so focused on disc formats when downloads and streaming are clearly right around the corner? If you have an AppleTV, watch a movie trailer. It's streaming from the Apple trailer site and it looks great (and obviously could be improved a little). How hard would it be for Apple to charge $10-20 a month and offer a streaming rental service? Really easy.

So while some companies are freaking out over trying to shove HD-DVD and Blu-ray into their machines, Apple could get screwed if they make the wrong choice. I think they're just being patient and letting this whole disc format thing pass.
post #3 of 109
Quote:
Originally Posted by ipodandimac View Post


So while some companies are freaking out over trying to shove HD-DVD and Blu-ray into their machines, Apple could get screwed if they make the wrong choice. I think they're just being patient and letting this whole disc format thing pass.

I reckon Apple are hanging on until a dual format unit exists that supports both HD-DVD and Blu-Ray, it kinda fits into their way of thinking - Super Drive II or something along these lines.
post #4 of 109
Quote:
The company's best near-term chances appear to rest in next week's NAB expo, where rumors would have Blu-Ray support added to the next version of Final Cut Studio, and possibly system-wide in the official release of Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard later this spring.

But you said above that

Quote:
The Cupertino-based firm has made several gestures towards both Blu-Ray and the competing HD DVD standard in recent years, building early support for the latter into DVD Player and its pro-level Final Cut Studio editing suite.

So I'm confused. I thought Final Cut has it already? Or did you mean to say Express? (if that doesn't have it).

-=|Mgkwho
post #5 of 109
Quote:
Originally Posted by i386 View Post

I reckon Apple are hanging on until a dual format unit exists that supports both HD-DVD and Blu-Ray, it kinda fits into their way of thinking - Super Drive II or something along these lines.

Maybe. And surely officially HD certified displays supporting HDCP or whatever it's called again. Otherwise "no HD for you, naughty boy!"

Leopard will probably support both formats quite nicely, and I expect dual drives in all bar entry level Macs within a year or so. Starting with the Mac Pro as a BTO. But then with Apple I also know to expect the unexpected.
post #6 of 109
Quote:
Originally Posted by i386 View Post

I reckon Apple are hanging on until a dual format unit exists that supports both HD-DVD and Blu-Ray, it kinda fits into their way of thinking - Super Drive II or something along these lines.

Apple can't release something like without making a big deal of it. You'll see Blu-ray options when the santa rosa machines and Leopard show up. There's also another reason, to make the 15" macbook pro as thin as possible, they went with a 9.5mm super slim drive (used on ultraportables) instead of the standard 12.7mm slim drive. There's not a super slim BR burner out there let alone a slot loading one. Apple wouldn't release Blu-ray if the Macbook Pro didn't have one. That's going to take either a slight redesign of the MBP or Apple getting panasonic to develop an ultraslim drive. Either way it takes time.
post #7 of 109
It's not just a case of Apple putting a new drive in. They have to rip the guts out of OS X to make it check hundreds of times per second for voltage irregularities along the video card bus, to ensure the data is not being pilfered.

The day OS X can play HD is the day OS X is ruined.
post #8 of 109
Quote:
Originally Posted by ipodandimac View Post

Why are people so focused on disc formats when downloads and streaming are clearly right around the corner? If you have an AppleTV, watch a movie trailer. It's streaming from the Apple trailer site and it looks great (and obviously could be improved a little). How hard would it be for Apple to charge $10-20 a month and offer a streaming rental service? Really easy.

So while some companies are freaking out over trying to shove HD-DVD and Blu-ray into their machines, Apple could get screwed if they make the wrong choice. I think they're just being patient and letting this whole disc format thing pass.

That is like the movie studios saying bak in the 1940s that people won't want to watch movies on a tiny little box. There is a market for optical media as it contains a great deal of information in a very small form factor.

Apple is clearly supporting Blu-ray as they are on the board. As I recall, commercial HD-DVD discs use both H.264 and VC-1 (Microsoft's codec) while Blu-ray only uses the former.

Quote:
Originally Posted by i386 View Post

I reckon Apple are hanging on until a dual format unit exists that supports both HD-DVD and Blu-Ray, it kinda fits into their way of thinking - Super Drive II or something along these lines.

It's typical for 3rd-party vendors to offer this before Apple does. I think the next version of the Mac Pro will offer this high-end, expensive solution as a BTO option but that is it. Then the 17" MBP. You won't see this as a default build item until the cost has dive cost has come down, the media is at DL DVD media prices, the public interest in Blu-ray has risen (this happens when the price goes down), and when Blu-ray has a more clear victory.

Was Apple the first to put CD players in computers? I don't think they were, but what they were first to do was to remove old hat tech, like the 3.5" floppy drive and replace it with only a CD-RW drive. That is the kind of forward thinking I expect from Apple, trimming of the fat, not adding expensive tech that that has no clear usefulness for the average consumer.
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post #9 of 109
Quote:
Originally Posted by ascii View Post

It's not just a case of Apple putting a new drive in. They have to rip the guts out of OS X to make it check hundreds of times per second for voltage irregularities along the video card bus, to ensure the data is not being pilfered.

Just because Microsoft's chose to cripple Vista doesn't mean that Apple has to follow suit. Microsoft caved to Universal but Apple did not. Apple has balls. Microsoft doesn't.
post #10 of 109
Quote:
Originally Posted by ascii View Post

The day OS X can play HD is the day OS X is ruined.

Can you clarify that for me?
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post #11 of 109
Haha so I guess OS X has been ruined for several years then huh?

-=|Mgkwho
post #12 of 109
Quote:
Originally Posted by ascii View Post

It's not just a case of Apple putting a new drive in. They have to rip the guts out of OS X to make it check hundreds of times per second for voltage irregularities along the video card bus, to ensure the data is not being pilfered.

The day OS X can play HD is the day OS X is ruined.

Can't it already play HD content? You can play HD in Quicktime. The appleTV is OS X and it plays HD, thats kinda the point of it actually (and especially after iTunes starts selling HD content--which will happen eventually). I don't understand what you are saying.

Edit: looks like i was beaten to it (twice)
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post #13 of 109
I seriously doubt there is much of a market for an $800 notebook optical drive at this point. FastMac won't exactly be selling a ton of these, so that's probably why Apple isn't in any hurry to make their own drives available. Once the prices drop and Blu-Ray becomes more mainstream, you'll start seeing them available BTO from Apple.
post #14 of 109
Apple is not lagging behind. It's too early for any professional to make a decision about Blu-Ray vs. HD-DVD without the potential for loosing a lot of money. And Apple doesn't want to be party of the fray.
post #15 of 109
with the new line of imac coming out and knowing how tight apple and sony are, i wont pay a penny for that drive, maybe apple already thought of it you know how they love to be ahead of everyone and now that they have apple tv, i think blu ray will complete the puzzle
post #16 of 109
Who cares. The debate on which disc format has greatly amused me over the last year, because the final answer will be neither.
post #17 of 109
Quote:
Originally Posted by fraklinc View Post

with the new line of imac coming out and knowing how tight apple and sony are, i wont pay a penny for that drive, maybe apple already thought of it you know how they love to be ahead of everyone and now that they have apple tv, i think blu ray will complete the puzzle

So you think that a drive costing at least $500 more than a DL DVD drive will be in the next iMac? And you think that the AppleTV--which can't access the DVD drive of current Macs despite MPEG-2's comparatively low bitrate--will be able to access the HD media on a Blu-ray drive?

I just don't see that happening.
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post #18 of 109
You'd think next-gen optical options might have been added BTO to the Mac Pro alongside the release of the 8-core model. It's the top Mac, with the most internal room, and the release was not tied to any specific event or date--seems a good place to start! And that would have avoided aggravating buyers who get the just-released top Mac now, only to have Blu-Ray option added a few weeks/months later.
post #19 of 109
Quote:
Originally Posted by nagromme View Post

You'd think next-gen optical options might have been added BTO to the Mac Pro alongside the release of the 8-core model.

Those that want a HD optical player/burner have been able to buy one for about a year now. Just like buying RAM from a 3rd-party is usually cheaper than getting it from Apple, it's probably cheaper to get your HD optical drive from a 3rd-party.
Quote:
Originally Posted by nagromme View Post

It's the top Mac, with the most internal room, and the release was not tied to any specific event or date--seems a good place to start!

And, as you say, it has a lot of internal room so installation is a snap.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nagromme View Post

And that would have avoided aggravating buyers who get the just-released top Mac now, only to have Blu-Ray option added a few weeks/months later.

If Apple added the drive next week it would only be a BTO option for at least $500 and the need for this device only affects a very miniscule user base so it isn't going to affect consumers the way it did when Apple upgraded the Core Duos w/ 512MB RAM to Core 2 Duos wi/ 1GB RAM.

The bottom line is thatif you need a Blu-ray drive in your Mac Pro or G5 then you have options. And now, if you really need one in your 17" MacBook Pro then you have an option. And if you have been saving your pennies for a Blu-ray drive by hanging onto your G3 iBook then you too have an option.
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post #20 of 109
Quote:
Originally Posted by ipodandimac View Post

Why are people so focused on disc formats when downloads and streaming are clearly right around the corner?

Around the corner? I am not convinced that this is so, especially when we talk about high definition video.
post #21 of 109
Quote:
Originally Posted by PB View Post

Around the corner? I am not convinced that this is so, especially when we talk about high definition video.

It's right around the corner with Wi-Max. DSL and and companies better look out.
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post #22 of 109
The fact is that most people don't need HD-DVD or BluRay at the moment. Sure some creative professionals would like to be able to have a built in drive, but their needs can be easily fulfilled with a third party add on. Apple is trying to position itself as the computer of the people, not just creative professionals like it was during the "dark years". I'd say that as soon as the market declares a winner, or a dual format drive arrives, Apple will look to include it; because at that point the price of the drive itself would allow Apple to place it in the iMacs and Macbooks.

Lets also not forget that most people still use a standard def. CRT TV... the HD revolution is more slow evolution. CD rom drives first appeared in the 80s, but they didn't start taking off till the 90s. Give it time folks..
post #23 of 109
Shouldn't there be some sort of note saying it's a sponsored news item?
post #24 of 109
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

So you think that a drive costing at least $500 more than a DL DVD drive will be in the next iMac? And you think that the AppleTV--which can't access the DVD drive of current Macs despite MPEG-2's comparatively low bitrate--will be able to access the HD media on a Blu-ray drive?

I just don't see that happening.


who the heck said that the drive cost $500, a regular ps3 which cost $499 comes with it not to mention it also comes with a hardrive and a state of the art CPU , why a iMac that cost $1999 like the 24" can't come with it, one more thing dont think apple TV is goin to stay that way long, just think for a sec, why did the put so much power to the unit that it can be a computer itself, all i know is that when the new line comes out apple always adds something that leaves everyone with their mouth open, and the open really big thing will be blu ray what more can the add to the imac ? because i dont see that its missing anything else, and dont say LED screen because although it will be included everyone knows it already
post #25 of 109
Quote:
Originally Posted by BenRoethig View Post

There's also another reason, to make the 15" macbook pro as thin as possible, they went with a 9.5mm super slim drive (used on ultraportables) instead of the standard 12.7mm slim drive. There's not a super slim BR burner out there let alone a slot loading one.

The Panasonic UJ-215 is a slot-loading Blu-Ray burner but it's 12.7mm. Apple was very foolish to make the MacBook Pro "unreasonably thin" as it eliminates most of the optical drives available. They could easily offer a Blu-Ray drive as a BTO option in the Mac Pro though. The only choice currently is two identical DVD burners.

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post #26 of 109
Quote:
Originally Posted by mgkwho View Post

But you said above that



So I'm confused. I thought Final Cut has it already? Or did you mean to say Express? (if that doesn't have it).

-=|Mgkwho

its amazing that with all the bracketing you did to make your point, you actually missed out the word LATTER which i believe was referring to HD-DVD as opposed to the former being Blu-ray... re-reading it might help?
post #27 of 109
Quote:
Originally Posted by fraklinc View Post

who the heck said that the drive cost $500, a regular ps3 which cost $499 comes with it not to mention it also comes with a hardrive and a state of the art CPU , why a iMac that cost $1999 like the 24" can't come with it, one more thing dont think apple TV is goin to stay that way long, just think for a sec, why did the put so much power to the unit that it can be a computer itself, all i know is that when the new line comes out apple always adds something that leaves everyone with their mouth open, and the open really big thing will be blu ray what more can the add to the imac ? because i dont see that its missing anything else, and dont say LED screen because although it will be included everyone knows it already

The PS3 is sold at a considerable loss. It's my opinion that Sony is doing this not to compete with the XBOX360 and Wii marketshare, but to guarantee that Blu-ray is the next optical standard. And it's working.

As for my wild specualtion on the bare miinimum upgrade price for an Apple branded Blu-ray drive, it is based on some simple research I did on Froogle: Blu-ray + SATA.

The AppleTV clearly is intended for loftier goals than currently presented, but I'd put my money on it being able to stream 720p movie rentals directly from the iTunes Store before it gets Blu-ray support. Can't imagine that Apple would ignore supporting the ubiquitous DVD players that are in every computer just to jump right to supporting a HD optical format that its far from being common, is excessively overpriced, and would definitely tax the AppleTV beyond its intended limits (the AppleTV doesn't support 1080p for a reason).
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post #28 of 109
Quote:
Originally Posted by floccus View Post

The fact is that most people don't need HD-DVD or BluRay at the moment.

Don't need? I would say we need it since the prehistoric times. The question is who and when will deliver the goods. The situation right now is quite fluid, to not say gaseous.
post #29 of 109
Price is not the issue here...
I believe that if Apple thought either the Blu-Ray or HD-DVD platform were going to be the next medium of choice, a higher priced version of the Mac Pro would be shipping with a drive capable of one of these standards right now.

They have not done this... Why? The Apple TV is the next generation of living-room fun. And while the market is still fairly bare, as far as competitive systems are concerned, it will only a matter of months, if not weeks, before the big players release a version of their own.

I don't know about you but if I can sit on my couch, click a button and have the newest coolest HD flick streaming to my TV right now, then why would I goto BlockBuster to wait in line and trudge through the snow just to rent a movie?

Granted, there will be a replacement to DVD... the days of Creative Suite fitting on one DVD are soon to be gone I'm sure, but for now, I don't think anyone feels like Blu-Ray or HD-DVD are going to be it.

Cheers,
bcode
post #30 of 109
Quote:
Originally Posted by bcode View Post

I don't know about you but if I can sit on my couch, click a button and have the newest coolest HD flick streaming to my TV right now, then why would I goto BlockBuster to wait in line and trudge through the snow just to rent a movie?

Granted, there will be a replacement to DVD... the days of Creative Suite fitting on one DVD are soon to be gone I'm sure, but for now, I don't think anyone feels like Blu-Ray or HD-DVD are going to be it.

Cheers,
bcode

1280x720p at 5Mbps doesn't do much for me. Whoops. Apple doesn't even offer that through iTMS yet. No reason why Blu-Ray won't be a successful replacement for DVD once prices for hardware and media come down. I've had too many hard drives die on me. I'm using a DriveDock to recover the data as we speak.

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post #31 of 109
Apple -is- behind. They still include an optical drive in laptops. Drives of any kind are going the way of the floppy. Remember those?

If you need an optical drive, Blu-Ray or whatnot, there are several USB and Firewire models available.

If you need one built in to your laptop because you need a clean desk, well, then you can get one of these 3rd party upgrades. I'd imagine that very few would be interested in paying the money for such a drive.
post #32 of 109
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

Can you clarify that for me?

There are certain requirements from the studios for computers that play HD content off bought optical disks. The entire pathway from the disk to the screen has to been encrypted, including checking hundreds of times per second that the video bus is not being tapped by some hacker with wires.

To implement these kinds of requirements will make OS X loaded with DRM at the deepest levels.
post #33 of 109
Quote:
Originally Posted by fraklinc View Post

who the heck said that the drive cost $500, a regular ps3 which cost $499 comes with it not to mention it also comes with a hardrive and a state of the art CPU , why a iMac that cost $1999 like the 24" can't come with it, one more thing dont think apple TV is goin to stay that way long, just think for a sec, why did the put so much power to the unit that it can be a computer itself, all i know is that when the new line comes out apple always adds something that leaves everyone with their mouth open, and the open really big thing will be blu ray what more can the add to the imac ? because i dont see that its missing anything else, and dont say LED screen because although it will be included everyone knows it already

The difference is that the PS3 is actually made for over $900, and sold at a loss. Sony fully expects to make all of their money in the PS3 division selling only games. Both Apple and Sony price their computers for profit because there isn't much money to be made in Software for them. All of the software Apple makes is massively undercut to be used as a selling point for their hardware.

Further, the drive built into the PS3 is very VERY basic. It's the most basic of basic of all the Blu-ray players. So yeah, it's not going to have a whole lot of features, and it will only read BD-ROM, and the DVD/CD formats it supports, which isn't the same as a BD-RW, which is far more useful, but there isn't a legitimate need for it in a game console.

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post #34 of 109
who cares about Blu-Ray discs, they are EXPENSIVE, and if you install the drive, its A LOT MORE EXPENSIVE. MAC is smart, we don't have time or money to waste on these things. Its all about HD-DVD. And most people download movies that are ripped from warez sites and stuff anyways so it really doesn't matter.
post #35 of 109
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

Was Apple the first to put CD players in computers? I don't think they were, but what they were first to do was to remove old hat tech, like the 3.5" floppy drive and replace it with only a CD-RW drive.

The first iMacs, the ones that dropped the floppy, only had CD-ROM drives. It wasn't until a couple years later that a CD writer was even offered with those machines, IIRC, a writer wasn't standard until the G5 iMac. They didn't have any included built-in means of recording removable media either. It was odd to have an all-in-one solution that required external, separately purchased products to do any media writing. This was well before a USB flash drive was even heard of.

Quote:
Originally Posted by icfireball View Post

Apple is not lagging behind. It's too early for any professional to make a decision about Blu-Ray vs. HD-DVD without the potential for loosing a lot of money. And Apple doesn't want to be party of the fray.

Obviously, some professionals have been making that investment already, with the numerous BR and HDVD titles that are available and selling now. Those discs didn't just make themselves. I'm pretty sure that the cost of the hardware is factored into the job bid. Stuff like that depreciates quickly either way, but that should be factored into the price of doing the work, and thus not really a loss but a gain for being able to take on a lucrative project.

The problem is that Apple likes to pretend that it's professional editing suite is leading-edge but they fail to properly support either leading-edge format. Right now, Apple-using pros don't have any means to tap that growing market because their software won't do proper BR/HDVD authoring, and the hardware options are scant. Contrast this when in Jan 2005, their consumer software can capture and edit HD, but even now, their pro software and hardware doesn't offer recording or distribution capabilities for that captured and edited HD.
post #36 of 109
Quote:
Originally Posted by jittery jimmy View Post

Apple -is- behind. They still include an optical drive in laptops. Drives of any kind are going the way of the floppy. Remember those?

If you need an optical drive, Blu-Ray or whatnot, there are several USB and Firewire models available.

If you need one built in to your laptop because you need a clean desk, well, then you can get one of these 3rd party upgrades. I'd imagine that very few would be interested in paying the money for such a drive.

Funny, last time I checked, you needed an optical drive for software. Flash drives are too expensive to replace optical discs and they can't be used if you want to play a home movie on the T.V. Yes, some Ultraportables do not have a optical drive, but are not in any way typical of the computer market as whole. Sometimes reality gets in the way of how it should be.
post #37 of 109
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

Apple is clearly supporting Blu-ray as they are on the board. As I recall, commercial HD-DVD discs use both H.264 and VC-1 (Microsoft's codec) while Blu-ray only uses the former.

Both can use MPEG-2, MPEG-4 (h.264) and VC-1
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post #38 of 109
Quote:
Originally Posted by BenRoethig View Post

Funny, last time I checked, you needed an optical drive for software. Flash drives are too expensive to replace optical discs and they can't be used if you want to play a home movie on the T.V. Yes, some Ultraportables do not have a optical drive, but are not in any way typical of the computer market as whole. Sometimes reality gets in the way of how it should be.

Not strictly true. I'd say about 80% of the software I use is downloaded and installed, not from a CD/DVD. However, unless Apple sticks some kind of bootable ROM environment where you can get online to download the OS, it'd be very annoying not having a CD/DVD drive.
post #39 of 109
Quote:
Originally Posted by fraklinc View Post

who the heck said that the drive cost $500, a regular ps3 which cost $499 comes with it not to mention it also comes with a hardrive and a state of the art CPU...

...and looses sony 250-300 dollars with each sale.
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post #40 of 109
Quote:
Originally Posted by aegisdesign View Post

Not strictly true. I'd say about 80% of the software I use is downloaded and installed, not from a CD/DVD. However, unless Apple sticks some kind of bootable ROM environment where you can get online to download the OS, it'd be very annoying not having a CD/DVD drive.

You're right, in fact the optical drive can easily become obsolete within 10 years if everything switches to downloads. Personally I don't see the need in one for sub notebooks if they use a dock. Maybe I'm crazy, but I'm still after a Macbook Something with no moving parts built into it, which is no doubt wishful thinking on my part...

Sebastian
Þ & þ are called "Thorn" & þey represent þe sound you've associated "th" wiþ since þe 13þ or 14þ century. I'm bringing it back.
<(=_=)> (>=_=)> <(=_=<) ^(=_=^) (^=_=)^ ^(=_=)^ +(=_=)+
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Þ & þ are called "Thorn" & þey represent þe sound you've associated "th" wiþ since þe 13þ or 14þ century. I'm bringing it back.
<(=_=)> (>=_=)> <(=_=<) ^(=_=^) (^=_=)^ ^(=_=)^ +(=_=)+
Reply
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