Originally Posted by waffle911
So, a few things I'm hearing after reading this thread that stuck out in particular:
1. Someone commented that Apple needs to return to a tray-drive because slot-drives can't do mini-DVD's. Well, the Nintendo Wii handles half-size disks just fine alongside regular ones, and it still slot-loads. People at the time said it couldn't be done, but they did it. Granted, it would likely require a thicker enclosure than Apple design would allow. Also, Apple switched from tray loading to slot loading in the original iMacs because the tray drives were obscenely easy to break. And that's on a stationary machine. Not to mention a tray-drive requires more thickness than a slot-drive.
2. Blu-Ray. Sony's not the only one holding them back. There is also power consumption. A BD drive sucks unbelievable amounts of energy to power that blue laser. DVD's use red lasers, which operate at a lesser frequency on the light spectrum and thus require less energy to produce (hence red stars are relatively cool compared to blue stars). BD drives are still a developing technology, and current notebook applications are just not practical right now.
3. Carbon-Ceramic? Ceramics are very heavy, hence the NASA shuttle only has it on the bottom, to keep it upright entering the atmosphere and so it has less weight on lift-off. It deflects heat from the atmosphere very well, but there's a reason the shuttle is largely unchanged after the 2003 Columbia disaster, besides the fact that NASA's pretty much broke comparatively. My understanding is that carbon-ceramics are used as the primary materials for the brakes in ultra high-end sports cars, not necessarily for weight savings, but for their resistance to brake fade, or rapid degradation due to the extreme forces of friction and heat when under heavy, repetitive abuse. It is also my understanding (though probably incorrectly so) that the rotor and the caliper are each made of either carbon-fiber or ceramic, but not both in the same part. As it is, Apple is already hiring for people with experience in carbon-composite materials; the problem being that, starting from scratch, it will be some time before the fruits of this endevour come to market. But is will produce Toughbook-competitive products at some point.
4. First revision always bites. Well, historically, whenever Apple has done anything radically new or different in their design, then yes. But everything they are churning out now that isn't an entirely new product line has elements previously explored and refined in older products even if the product itself is all-new. Any new design they include will have been tested, such as the backlit keyboard on the MBA was a combination of the backlight of the MBP and the overall design of the MB, while considering current complaints about the backlight not contrasting with the keys under all conditions. Mag-clasp? It works, its been done, little can go wrong. Even better, its cheaper to produce than a multi-piece fastener that is prone to breaking. Also, the beveled edges of the MBA actually help its rigidity at the same thickness of aluminum. Look at the pointed arches in gothic-style cathedrals compared to the venerable Roman arch: it is a functional evolution of the design. There IS a reason old cathedrals didn't use tall rectangular windows with no arches over them (as the current MBP does, thus causing the bent disc slot problem).
5. 15 & 17" MacBooks. 15" ok duh, the iBook did it. But 17" is pushing it at a consumer level. For 17" to function at Apple-acceptable standards, it has to have beefier hardware than the non-Pro lineup standard would allow. Sometimes you just have to accept that Jobs is as stubborn as a mule. That's why he was fired from Apple in the 80's. Coincidently, the reason he got fired was because he refused to put either case vents or fans in a particular product design, which ultimately created beige-colored plastic and metal toaster ovens for silicon. That hasn't changed much since, except that technology is catching up to Steve's ridiculous demands. Also, a "true" ultra-portable will probably not come in a notebook form factor simply because making the keyboard any smaller is just not ergonomic to type on. The Air is the (almost) practical limit for notebooks.
6. Making any critical component in an Apple product easily user-replaceable is against good sales strategy. It sucks for the end user, but it makes money. By the time something goes horribly wrong, the consumer will ave been so happy with it until that point that they want to stick with the brand. It will usually be about the time where the product itself is obsolete, and the complexity and frustration involved in repairing it will not really be worth the trouble, thus making an entirely new machine a more desirable option (especially with credit towards its purchase with the trade-in of the broken unit). The ability for particularly resourceful end users to replace the batteries and HD's in old iPods wouldn't make Apple as much money as making them replace a broken unit with a newer better one, and this has held true. Not to mention, making any product easily serviceable or even modular adds a lot of extra bulk to the unit. Why are iPod Nanos so thin? because they don't need a modular hard drive like the Mini did; they have the flash storage soldered to the mainboard directly.
7. Metal enclosures vs. Plastic. Well, that's precisely why the AirPort Extreme and TimeCapsule still sport the outdated white plastic. They wouldn't have shipped TimeCapsule in a design scheme they were phasing out if there were practical alternatives aside from adding ugly external antennae. Also, notice that the iTouch has that one plastic corner where the WiFi antenna is, and the iPhone has that entire black section on the bottom. Apple knows that metal hinders WiFi. They just haven't found a way to use this effectively in something the size of a full metal notebook without adding an ugly plastic panel on the monitor (strategically the best location for an antenna in a notebook) in an unsightly location, lest it detract from the overall design appeal of the machine. But they insist that plastic is dead and the way of the future is brushed aluminum and stainless steel.
8. You want color options, you say? well go to colorwarepc.com. They do most of their business colorizing Macs and iPods in any crazy color combination you can come up with, and now they do game consoles and TVs as well. It costs serious coin, but get this: their paint process uses a completely scratch proof clear coat, even on the screens of scratch-prone iPods (but not iTouch, iPhone or any other device screen). They will even match a 50" TV to the color of your walls.
But again, this ain't cheap. Think $99 for a mono-tone iPod Classic paintjob, and work your way up from there.
9. Firewire 800/3200? Are you serious? Firewire is a dying breed. It failed to be picked up by the rest of the industry and is now limited in use mostly to Macs,, and even Apple is spotty in their support for it (no FW cables with iPods anymore, consumer products get slower FW, etc.). It would be better for Apple to help develop and refine a legacy-compatible USB 3.0, which they almost did with the MBA's extra-high-powered solitary USB port and its exclusive external superdrive.
10. The current MBP design goes all the way back to 2003-ish. Well, it goes back further than that, the design itself originated in the Ti-Book in what, 2000? but its a timeless design that doesn't need much updating, much like Ray-Band Aviator sunglasses, or any given electric guitar from a notable maker. Only those with a trained eye will be able to tell the difference between any two given vintages of a Gibson Les Paul.
A few things I do think Apple really needs to address, however, is the possibility of including a dedicated number pad on the keyboard of MBP's, and especially need to rethink about having the eject button right next to the delete key, and the shift button right next to the up-arrow. So many times, I've hit eject instead of delete (though I rarely have anything in my disc drive), and the up arrow instead of shift, which causes me to start typing in the middle of the line above, creating a big mess of things. Then, there's the keyboard on the laptops. Not tat this doesn't happen to other brands too, but the glossy screen has scratches etched in the pattern of the keyboard layout. Also, as Hemantvt83 said, the palmrests do chip on the MB's, and the plastic does scratch easily (mine's covered in a Spec hard-shell case). Also, using plastic instead of metal restricts how thin you can make a laptop; you need much thicker plastic to have the rigidity of metal.
Let's see, did I miss anything important?
Oh, screen dithering. Yes, I see it on a day-to-day basis, but it is mostly noticeable only when working with photos from a point-and-shoot camera or when I tilt the screen all the way back and look at it from a low angle. That said, they do accomplish a very convincing dithering effect, especially compared to PC laptops. Although, I'm only using a MacBook with CCFL backlighting.
Any other takes on all this?