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MacBooks: Apple over Dell; Air sell-through; new models slower

post #1 of 62
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Apple has eclipsed Dell as the No.1 supplier of notebooks to higher education in the United States. Meanwhile, thin supply of MacBook Airs suggests demand remains high for the super-slim notebook a month removed from initial availability. And the entry level Penryn-based MacBook is reportedly slower than its predecessor.

Apple blasts past Dell

One grossly overlooked revelation made by Apple chief operating officer Tim Cook during his recent speech at the Goldman Sachs Investment Symposium is that Apple has recently overtaken Dell as the largest supplier of notebooks to US-based universities.

"We just received word on Monday that Apple surpassed Dell as the number one supplier of portables to US higher education for 2007," he said. "The ceiling for the Macs is nowhere in sight. Even if the market itself isn't growing, for us, switching Windows users is an enormous opportunity."

As noted by Computerworld, that's a considerable turnaround for Apple, which saw Dell outpace its notebook sales to higher education by two-to-one just one year prior.

The emerging trend towards Apple notebooks on the part of universities saw yet another player added to the mix this past Friday, with Oklahoma Christian University announcing that as part of its own move away from Dell, all faculty and students attending New Student Orientations this summer will be issued an Apple MacBook.

"Current students also will be given the opportunity to trade in their PC laptop for an Apple MacBook," the university said in a statement. "This MacBook mobile learning initiative and the reliable campus-wide wireless infrastructure will allow OC to continue to provide opportunities for anytime, anywhere access to media-rich distributed course content."

And on the heels of reports that Apple holds big plans for 'iPhone University' on college campuses, OCU said it will also offer students an option to acquire either an Apple iPhone or iPod touch as part of its mobile learning initiative.

MacBook Airs still hard to come by

Meanwhile, ArsTechnica this past weekend performed some checks and has concluded that despite being on the market for a full month now, Apple's new MacBook Air sub-notebook is still hard to come by in most markets.

The ultra-thin portable was reportedly sold out in most of Boston, New York City, Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Apple is said to be keeping the supply lines extremely thin -- either because it grossly underestimated demand, or because it hopes to maintain the buzz by limiting availability.

Apple retail stores are receiving shipments daily, as demand for the Air is reportedly "increasing as people see it in action," according to one retail employee speaking to Ars. Initial demand has also been strong enough that Amazon.com, one of Apple's largest resellers, won't have stock to ship to customers until March 16th.

New MacBook slower than old

Finally, the folks over at Primate Labs have completed a set of Geekbench 2 benchmarks comparing Apple's just-released 13-inch Penryn-based MacBooks with those introduced just prior to last year's holiday shopping season.

The results, according to the developer, were somewhat disappointing: while the new 2.4GHz MacBook is slightly faster than the 2.2GHz model it replaces, the same can't be said following a comparison of the entry-level models.



"Despite having a slightly faster processor, the smaller L2 cache of the Penryn processors means the base MacBook (Early 2008) is slower than the base MacBook (Late 2007)," Primate wrote. "If youre considering buying a base MacBook, you might want to shop around and see if you can snag an old one rather than a new one."
post #2 of 62
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post #3 of 62
Entry-Level MacBook

I don't agree with Primate's conclusion. While there are certain processor aspects that are slower, they are very minute. That weighed against the additional battery time of Penryn makes it a shoe in for me, if I were looking for a base-model MacBook.

Additionally, if this were not the entry-level MacBook the issue would be more complex, but this model is not made for power users and therefore it's other benefits should be considered.
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post #4 of 62
Two things:

1. Big news about higher education, but not surprising to anyone who has been to a campus in the last year. Everyone is buying macs. Every single other graduate student i know who has had to replace a machine in the last 2 years has bought a mac. parallels/bootcamp/fusion just seal the deal.

2. New macbooks being slower: that truly sucketh. I'd like to see some real world benchmarks first and not just artificial ones. The only test that has a really big difference is the stream test. Its too bad apple isn't discounting the low end machine a little more though, considering it's using a much cheaper processor.
post #5 of 62
Quote:
Originally Posted by freakboy View Post

New macbooks being slower: that truly sucketh. I'd like to see some real world benchmarks first and not just artificial ones. The only test that has a really big difference is the stream test. Its too bad apple isn't discounting the low end machine a little more though, considering it's using a much cheaper processor.

1) It's not using a "much cheaper processor." They cost the exact same (per 1000) as the generation before it and the generation before that. Right down to the penny.

2) I don't think the article was clear enough in stating that the slower performance was ONLY on the base/entry-level MacBook and that it was only slower on some processor tests. The difference is that these new processors have 3 or 6MB of L2 Cache while last generation's had 4MB across the board. Even some MBPs went from 4MB to 3MB but the difference in processor speed is greater, whereas the entry-level MB was only a 100MHz increase.
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post #6 of 62
So much for the claims of the Air being the new Cube.
post #7 of 62
I know my Air order from Amazon shows no signs of shipping \

I guess those mythical ultraportable users with tons of USB devices and cables that they lug around everywhere in a sack don't actually object to tossing an $8 hub into the sack

I do think it's very likely that the Air (a product for a specific need) is NOT selling as well as the mainstream MacBooks--and that the shortage is caused by Apple underestimating how many to build. But if so, that's still a good thing for the product's success: Apple anticipated a certain level of sales, and demand exceeded their expectation.

Re one model of MacBook being slower in some tests: wait for software written to take advantage of SSE4, and your grief will ease
post #8 of 62
loool.

my friend just bought a macbook, three days before the new ones came out. i was hesitant to tell him about the new ones, but with this news I feel a lot better.

=]
post #9 of 62
Quote:
Originally Posted by nagromme View Post

I know my Air order from Amazon shows no signs of shipping

And yet it's still #17 in notebooks with only the MBP being a more expensive machine ahead of it. All the non-Apple products in that list are 2 HP notebooks under $1k, 6 Asus Eee PCs uner $500 and 2 Nokia MIDs around $300.

For an item that isn't in stick nor has shipped yet it sure is doing well.

Quote:
Re one model of MacBook being slower in some tests: wait for software written to take advantage of SSE4, and your grief will ease

I dont' believe that will make a difference in the raw CPU tests that AI referenced. But that doesn't really matter as a 7-15% battery increase for less than 1% performance hit in some tests isn't, to me, really newsworthy considering this is base-MB with a Combo Drive.
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post #10 of 62
The Woz was critical of the Macbook Air in an interview in Sydney today.

Despite that I like its look and feel, I have to agree. Too much has been removed from it at too high a price.
post #11 of 62
And still no SSE4 optimized benchies.
post #12 of 62
Primate Labs is forgetting one important thing: power efficiency. The gain in battery life (which is roughly 7-15% as you've probably read) will likely be much more important, to the base-model MacBook customer, than the slight loss in synthetic benchmark performance.
post #13 of 62
Quote:
Originally Posted by gastroboy View Post

The Woz was critical of the Macbook Air in an interview in Sydney today.

Love the Woz.
However, you can see why he is (mostly) out of Apple. His main criticism of the Air is that it isn't the computer he wants.
"I'm trying to figure out a way to make the Air a part of my life because i'm a one-laptop-only person."
Apple is trying to carve out or grow a new niche here--its not an easy thing to do because people comfortable in their own niches often don't know how to take it. The easy way out is criticism.

I'm not saying the Air is perfect. I don't have one and I will be buying a MB or MBP as soon as I can swing it. I can't see spending that amount of money for the reduced functionality (mostly processor speed). But I see the use of it. I would *love* to have a computer that size. There is nothing missing on the Air that I use on a regular basis. When the price comes down or the processors catch up, I am going to be glad Apple has helped create the market!
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post #14 of 62
Quote:
Originally Posted by blufire View Post

Primate Labs is forgetting one important thing: power efficiency. The gain in battery life (which is roughly 7-15% as you've probably read) will likely be much more important, to the base-model MacBook customer, than the slight loss in synthetic benchmark performance.

Is it the battery life that is "roughly 7-15%" better or is it the processor power usage that is "roughly 7-15%" better. Not trying to be snarky here, but those are two different things and I've not seen the same rigorous testing methodology applied to the Penryn vs. Merom MB that we all saw with the MBA (e.g. 4200rpm 80GB HDD vs 64GB SSD).

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post #15 of 62
Quote:
Originally Posted by heffeque View Post

And still no SSE4 optimized benchies.

Exactly! Once those optimisations are made I'd like to see the real-world speed tests particularly video encodes.

Geekbench only gives the basics which is as useful as testing car engines with the turbos switched off!

McD
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post #16 of 62
I do agree with Woz's criticisms, although if you can live without all the extras, it really is one sleek computer. Got my mitts on one this past week. Very slim and sexy. It's the Keira Knightley of computers.

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post #17 of 62
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Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

It's the Keira Knightley of computers.

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post #18 of 62
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

Very slim and sexy. It's the Keira Knightley of computers.

Maybe Apple will come out with a new MacInTalk text-to-speech voice based on Keira's. It will be available only on the MB Air.
post #19 of 62
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich

It's the Keira Knightley of computers.

Nonsense, Keira Knightley isn't all looks with no substance.

(and yes, that was sarcasm - I'd say anything to stop you people from crying )
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post #20 of 62
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Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

Very slim and sexy. It's the Keira Knightley of computers.

32,000 results for: keira + knightly + macbook + air
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post #21 of 62
Wow. You think they might be intentionally gimping the macbook so more people step up to the macbook air or pro?
post #22 of 62
Quote:
Originally Posted by 4metta View Post

Wow. You think they might be intentionally gimping the macbook so more people step up to the macbook air or pro?

They aren't gimping the MB unless it's a conspiracy with Intel as this is the chip-over-chip upgrade. ONLY the cheapest MB with the slowest CPU was slower... and ONLY by a small margin, while it gained substantial battery life. The cheapest MB still whoops the MBA in any performance tests, including battery life.
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post #23 of 62
Quote:
Originally Posted by 4metta View Post

Wow. You think they might be intentionally gimping the macbook so more people step up to the macbook air or pro?

If the increase in battery life is true, then I don't see it that way. The performance loss is negligible, and that's on a totally artificial benchmark at that. Given that notebook computers are already pretty potent little beasts, I'd love to see more emphasis on battery life.
post #24 of 62
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

If the increase in battery life is true, then I don't see it that way. The performance loss is negligible, and that's on a totally artificial benchmark at that.

Gizmodo and AnandTech both have tests with better battery performance, but I'm guessing they are using the antiqued battery in the antiqued system instead of swapping batteries or buying a new one for the older machines. Still, the voltage use of Santa Rosa/Penryn is definitely lower.
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post #25 of 62
Quote:
Originally Posted by TenoBell View Post

So much for the claims of the Air being the new Cube.

Uhhh... I went and played with one a few weeks back, and I tend to agree with the "or because it hopes to maintain the buzz by limiting availability." camp.
I was seriously disappointed. No wow factor at all.

Reading this kinda confirmed my thoughts. First-Class Lap Sculpture.

http://www.barefeats.com/macair.html

That being said, the Air is a fringe computer with a very limited lifespan. I'm sure it won't be long before a truly sub-notebook comes out, or the iPod touch gets a little more advanced.
I can see how it may appeal to women. I expect the next revision will be hot pink.

I'm looking forward to see what Apple does with OELD technology.
post #26 of 62
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

32,000 results for: keira + knightly + macbook + air

Wow. My quote got 3rd place on Google. LMAO! Where's my ribbon?

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post #27 of 62
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Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

Wow. My quote got 3rd place on Google. LMAO! Where's my ribbon?

Speaking of... It's amazing how fast Google spiders the net these days.
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post #28 of 62
What were you expecting exactly. The Air is exactly what its advertised to be. If it already was not the notebook you wanted seeing live does not change anything. It is strikingly thin though.
post #29 of 62
Quote:
Originally Posted by TenoBell View Post

What were you expecting exactly. The Air is exactly what its advertised to be. If it already was not the notebook you wanted seeing live does not change anything. It is strikingly thin though.

Tech Specs can only take you so far. I didn't care for the "fatty" Nano until I saw it in peson and held it in my hand. I think the same can be said about many Apple products regarding their UI. many a Windows users can't understand why Mac users love their Macs so much until they try it out. Segue: Which ci swhy i see the Apple Stores as having 10x the "halo effect" that the iPod ever had.
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post #30 of 62
I use my mbp for internet surfing. I am retired now, so no need for applications. When this machine dies, it is an Air for me!
post #31 of 62
I'm more excited about battery life than overall performance. I doubt a typical MacBook user would notice the difference other than he or she not resorting to the wall outlet as often... unless he or she has to deal with a lot of Flash.
post #32 of 62
I agree this is disappointing, albeit probably not noticeable in the real world. It's too bad Apple is exposed to all the bad publicity, though; has anyone asked Intel why they reversed a 20-year trend and put less L2 cache on their latest chip?
post #33 of 62
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

1) It's not using a "much cheaper processor."

It's cheaper to manufacture, but then the 6MB version is also cheaper to make than the old Merom 4MB.

Penryn die size 107 sq mm
Merom die size 143 sq mm

I am not sure if Penryn 3MB has the same die size with half the cache disabled or a smaller die.

Either way Penryn 3MB will be cheaper again to make than a the Penryn 6MB. If the cache is there but disabled it is a way of improving yields as they can sell a CPU when some of the cache may be faulty

Of course if it has a smaller die they can make more CPUs from the single wafer of silicon.
post #34 of 62
Quote:
Originally Posted by retroneo View Post

It's cheaper to manufacture, but then the 6MB version is also cheaper to make than the old Merom 4MB...

I was referring to what Intel charges. They sell the 2.1GHz w/3MB L2 for the same price as the Merom 2.0GHz w/ 4MB L2. Same goes for the 2.2GHZ Penryn and the 2.4GHz Merom.

I have no idea if Intel is increasing their net profit on each chip revision, but their aggressive pricing and push to newer chips sure does suggest that they are.
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post #35 of 62
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatesbasher View Post

I agree this is disappointing, albeit probably not noticeable in the real world. It's too bad Apple is exposed to all the bad publicity, though; has anyone asked Intel why they reversed a 20-year trend and put less L2 cache on their latest chip?

The processors have 50% more L2 than before, Intel sold 2MB Meroms before (there is one in the lowest end Mac mini and there was one in the lowest end previous Core 2 Duo iMac.)

It's just Apple is now choosing the lower-end CPUs now instead of the higher end ones.
post #36 of 62
Quote:
Originally Posted by retroneo View Post

The processors have 50% more L2 than before, Intel sold 2MB Meroms before (there is one in the lowest end Mac mini and there was one in the lowest end previous Core 2 Duo iMac.)

It's just Apple is now choosing the lower-end CPUs now instead of the higher end ones.

That isn't true. The previous two revisions of MacBook and MacBook Pro had upto 4MB L2 Cache. The previous base-MacBook had 4MB L2 cache running at 2.0GHz. It now has 3MB L2 running at 2.1GHz for the exact same pricepoint as before. These are still the high-end, non-Extreme, processors.
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post #37 of 62
Quote:
Originally Posted by TenoBell View Post

So much for the claims of the Air being the new Cube.

What? I'm sure the Cube also sold extremely well when first released. The Air has only been out for less than 2 months!
post #38 of 62
Quote:
Originally Posted by TenoBell View Post

What were you expecting exactly. The Air is exactly what its advertised to be. If it already was not the notebook you wanted seeing live does not change anything. It is strikingly thin though.

The TV adds with the Air coming out of the brown envelope get more anoying by the day. BF deal.
However , the new iPod Touch adds are amazing!!!!!!!!
post #39 of 62
Quote:
Originally Posted by teckstud View Post

What? I'm sure the Cube also sold extremely well when first released. The Air has only been out for less than 2 months!

Hope springs eternal for the MBA haters.

Its ok not to like the MBA. Its not for everyone.

Its also ok to admit you're wrong.
post #40 of 62
Quote:
Originally Posted by backtomac View Post

Hope springs eternal for the MBA haters.

Its ok not to like the MBA. Its not for everyone.

Its also ok to admit you're wrong.

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