Focused May MacBook Revision Thread

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
A lot of AppleInsider newcomers and regulars are interested in upcoming product updates. Let's keep a very focused and concise thread on the upcoming MacBook refresh expectations.



What I think will come:



(Not all but most of the following, with thorough justification below)



Mid-May update

Same case, possibly slightly slimmer and lighter

13-inch LED

2.1GHz and 2.4GHz Penryns

1GB memory

120GB and up hard drives

Combo drive for the bottom end

Slightly better battery life (10-20% better)

Air-like trackpad

Maybe starting from $999





Reasoning:



I think it will come in mid-May, like the last two years (this makes sense because the MBP has priority and because May's a good time for back-to-school sales).



The update will be relatively minor, as has been in the past, and because the current MB is fine and doing well and Apple as a company has a lot going on taking resources now. Again, I don't expect all of what I'm suggesting to come, but I think these define a certain range of things to expect.



An LED display is likely: Apple could use the same as the Air's, it is environmentally friendlier, slightly brighter and better, its brightness basically lasts forever, and it allows for a slightly slimmer lid.



The case will stay the same for this refresh, save for maybe a slimming down, particularly of the lid.



The processors will be 2.1GHz and 2.4GHz Penryns, which cost roughly the same as the currently used, although they have 3MB caches instead of 4MB--bigger caches are not needed for a consumer laptop and the differentiations (2.1 v. 2.4, and 3MB cache v. 6MB for the MBPs) are good for business (same goes for the Combo drive).



The slightly better battery life would come from the new processors (http://www.anandtech.com/cpuchipsets...spx?i=3195&p=5) and maybe some tweaks.



The price could be lower, given that Apple lately is being very aggressive on matching competitors, has been lowering some prices (shuffle, Logic Studio, iPhone, Aperture), has an interest in expanding market share for the network economics, is well aware of the contraction of the economy, and is having right now a window of opportunity with considerable momentum. The MacBook Pro update that will come before this May MacBook Mprovement will provide good justification for the price differential (twice the cache, 2.1 and 2.4GHz v. 2.5 and 2.6, possibly a revised MBP case, MBP starting at 2GB memory, 160GB, larger display, backlit keyboard, ports, discrete video card, SuperDrive for the lower end) and will have a 2 month head start. Plus, the MBP after that will probably come out with Montevina full force in June-August.



A Dell XPS M1330 configured similarly to my prediction today costs $1,324 (incluiding an LED display, webcam, 5xWhr battery, N Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, a CD/DVD burner, and even a thinner and lighter form factor [depending on I-don't-know-what configuration options]), but component prices have 3 months to fall and this MB has to remain competitive almost until the next refresh, presumably in November (and, yet again, I'm not expecting 100% of these changes to come). And, according to Dell, configuring the M1330 with an LED display makes it .3lbs lighter and .1 inch thinner.



How do you like them Apples?

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 16
    [QUOTE=DoctorRobert;1219590]A lot of AppleInsider newcomers and regulars are interested in upcoming product updates. Let's keep a very focused and concise thread on the upcoming MacBook refresh expectations.



    What I think will come:



    (Not all but most of the following, with thorough justification below)



    Mid-May update

    Same case, possibly slightly slimmer and lighter

    13-inch LED

    2.1GHz and 2.4GHz Penryns

    1GB memory

    120GB and up hard drives

    Combo drive for the bottom end

    Slightly better battery life (10-20% better)

    Air-like trackpad

    Maybe starting from $999

    *******************************



    Agreed, except for the Air-like trackpad. My understanding (though I am not sure) is that the new trackpad requires a new controller chip, and, if so, incorporating it would require a motherboard revision. I don't think Apple would revise the motherboard just for the trackpad, and would wait until Montevino when the motherboard needs to be revised in any case.
  • Reply 2 of 16
    I've been hoping for a lot, too



    * = maybe



    Aluminum case

    LED display

    optional black/aluminum keyboard (default black)

    Backlit keyboard

    Track pad like MacBook Air's

    Multi touch innovations (like MacBook Air)

    Price drop* (Starting at $999)



    Available SSD*

    Colored cases (including black) (you can choose colored or white keyboard to go with it)

    Black glossy glass border (doesn't have to be glass)*

    Right click button

    Bigger default hard drive

    (I'm sure there is more I can't think of now)



    Everything above the space is what I am expecting, everything below the space is what I'm dreaming of.



  • Reply 3 of 16
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by cerebrito View Post


    Agreed, except for the Air-like trackpad. My understanding (though I am not sure) is that the new trackpad requires a new controller chip, and, if so, incorporating it would require a motherboard revision. I don't think Apple would revise the motherboard just for the trackpad, and would wait until Montevino when the motherboard needs to be revised in any case.



    That's interesting. With no knowledge regarding trackpad hardware whatsoever, I wouldn't think such a chip could require a completely different motherboard, given that it is just an interface. If in fact it doesn't, fitting the chip in a MacBook wouldn't be too difficult, as pretty much the whole MacBook Air fits inside a MacBook (I'm exaggerating, of course). And if indeed it is possible to somehow add an Air-like trackpad without a revised motherboard, failing to equip with it the next six months' worth of MacBooks, Pro and not, would be unwise, as gestures are a promising extension of the Mac interface which could yield serious value and differentiation to Apple.
  • Reply 4 of 16
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by bobertoq View Post


    I've been hoping for a lot, too



    * = maybe



    Aluminum case

    LED display

    optional black/aluminum keyboard (default black)

    Backlit keyboard

    Track pad like MacBook Air's

    Multi touch innovations (like MacBook Air)

    Price drop* (Starting at $999)



    Available SSD*

    Colored cases (including black) (you can choose colored or white keyboard to go with it)

    Black glossy glass border (doesn't have to be glass)*

    Right click button

    Bigger default hard drive

    (I'm sure there is more I can't think of now)



    Everything above the space is what I am expecting, everything below the space is what I'm dreaming of.







    I think a case redesign is extremely unlikely for now. The MacBook Pro has definite priority for that, as the MB case is not even 2 years old while the 17" MBP is over five years old, and the current MacBook is truly excellent (I've owned both, and the MB absolutely owns the MBP). The MB keyboard is also new and excellent and an MB backlit keyboard would be too much cost for Apple to develop and build, is really not needed for now, and its lack serves well as a differentiator to the Air and the Pro (especially since it's truly non-essential and "luxurious").



    One has to keep in mind that there is a tendency to expect way too much change. The last MB revision was:



    2.16GHz->2.2GHz

    2GHz->2GHz

    667MHz FSB->800MHz FSB

    2GB max official mem, 3GB max effectively->4GB official and effective memory

    Intel GMA 950->Intel GMA X3100

    Very, very minor other changes, like some function keys and the ventilation grill in the back being tweaked



    That's it.



    The previous two revisions six and twelve months prior were similarly modest.



    I think the predictions I posted are quite reasonable even though considerably more aggressive than the three prior.
  • Reply 5 of 16
    No Aluminum - need to remain distinct from MBPs

    No Backlit Keyboard - that's a pro feature (MBA is a pro-priced machine)

    No SSD - seriously? A $2500+ Macbook?

    No colors - more SKUs means more inventory requirements means less profits



    Honestly, at this stage, if Apple's not added a rightclick button, why would they start now? Especially as they're moving to gestures for this sort of stuff.



    We'll see a clockspeed boost, some extra battery life, a bigger drive, and maybe the new trackpad.
  • Reply 6 of 16
    I understand what you mean but I think you need aluminum.



    just look here:

    http://images.apple.com/getamac/imag...ly20080115.jpg



    The macbooks are the ONLY plastic item in the whole entire mac lineup, I think the new MacBooks have to have an aluminum case, black keyboard, and an LED display. along with extra battery life, a bigger drive, and maybe the new trackpad.
  • Reply 7 of 16
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by DoctorRobert View Post


    What I think will come:



    (Not all but most of the following, with thorough justification below)



    Mid-May update

    Same case, possibly slightly slimmer and lighter

    13-inch LED

    2.1GHz and 2.4GHz Penryns

    1GB memory

    120GB and up hard drives

    Combo drive for the bottom end

    Slightly better battery life (10-20% better)

    Air-like trackpad

    Maybe starting from $999



    What a shame--they updated them in half the time period with half my predictions. I hope this means we can at least get Multi-touch in May, when they usually update the MB for the education buying season (which i presume is when most MBs get bought), and don't leave gestures, which I think are important strategically, out of a very popular product line.
  • Reply 8 of 16
    As I imagined could be the case, MacRumors is now suggesting this MacBook update makes little sense and there may still be a mid-year MacBook update:



    "The biggest question is why Apple bothered speed bumping the MacBooks which were not yet due for revision. According to our sources, Apple was forced by Intel into upgrading the MacBooks at this time. Intel is aggressively phasing out the older generation 65nm Merom chips over the coming months. As a result, Apple needed to upgrade the MacBooks in the interim to maintain a proper supply. One could speculate that, consequently, the next MacBook refreshes may occur mid-year, ahead of their expected product cycle."



    http://www.macrumors.com/2008/02/26/...er-than-later/
  • Reply 9 of 16
    pbpb Posts: 4,233member
    I could not believe that Apple would update the MB line so soon, but I think that the update is not pointless. Example:



    Previous MB black: 2.2 GHz, 1 GB RAM, 160 GB hard drive

    Current MB black: 2.4 GHz, 2 GB RAM, 250 GB hard drive



    This looks like a nice update and keeps the line fresh. That's all the point I think. Oh, and Apple likes to be unpredictable, so that people keep buying regardless of the rumors floating around.



    The really weak ring in the chain is the entry level Macbook. A combo drive at this age and price is a joke.



    Now, one more update in May... Who knows? But I personally don't expect it.
  • Reply 10 of 16
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by PB View Post


    I could not believe that Apple would update the MB line so soon, but I think that the update is not pointless. Example:



    Previous MB black: 2.2 GHz, 1 GB RAM, 160 GB hard drive

    Current MB black: 2.4 GHz, 2 GB RAM, 250 GB hard drive



    This looks like a nice update and keeps the line fresh. That's all the point I think. Oh, and Apple likes to be unpredictable, so that people keep buying regardless of the rumors floating around.



    The really weak ring in the chain is the entry level Macbook. A combo drive at this age and price is a joke.



    Now, one more update in May... Who knows? But I personally don't expect it.



    Good points. There's probably some wishful thinking on my part. This update is in line with past MB updates, and is pretty much exactly what Zach Pruckowski predicted above. However, as you say, Apple might not be going by past patterns and more frequent freshening ups could be in store. I think Apple needs and wants to move quickly this year to take advantage of the switching momentum, as well as its competitors' lags. This belief is supported, for example, by the "R&D, travel expenses suggest Apple plans big 2008 - report" article here in AppleInsider.



    If I'm not mistaken, the MacBook is Apple's best-selling Mac, and I think its best trojan horse. Additionally, the company has been very aggressive this past year, particularly in specs per price matching (matching specs and price but providing additional value is good marketing as opposed to, for example, provoking or inflaming undercutting). And as I posted above, Dell's XPS M1330 (doesn't that just roll off the tongue) is a menacingly close competitor that actually is offering a thinner, lighter laptop (what blasphemy!) with LED backlight and a DVD burner for little more (interestingly, when I went to configure the same laptop after Apple's announcement, the same configuration costs now $75 bucks more--maybe Dell too thinks the MacBook update is a worse value than they expected). That slightly higher price will likely come down in the coming months, and the MacBook will be even less competitive and enticing in 4-5 months, which is peak sales.



    My bold prediction: 50% chance Apple will further revise the MacBook before September with multi-touch, LED, and a slimmer and lighter case. And if this last revision is an indication of parallelness with the MBP, either Montevina, or faster Santa Rosa Penryns.



    UPDATE: Just after I posted, MacRumors posted this: http://www.macrumors.com/2008/02/27/...dates-in-june/
  • Reply 11 of 16
    To your prediction, I would also add:



    -GPU option on the MacBook

    -ExpressCard slot




    Possibly:

    -Memory card slots across the board (could be inside the ExpressCard slot "enclosure")



    The Dell offers both a GPU and that slot, and it's becoming more and more apparent now that the only difference between the MacBook and the MacBook Pro is the screen size. So the "Pro" moniker should be given to the top-specced Macs only - like the current black MacBook.
  • Reply 12 of 16
    I think that the MB and MBP will be updated together with new case designs either:



    - around May/June when Montevina is released for back to school season



    or



    - in October/November after the back to school before the holiday season.



    éire



    EDIT- It would be cool if the black MB would be upgraded with a low end graphics card such as offered in the Dell XPS 1330 @ 128MB as the MBPs now have 256/512MB Nvidia GeForce 8600M GT cards and would be upgraded again. This and an aluminium enclosure would essentially make it the 13" MBP.
  • Reply 13 of 16
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by alexluft View Post


    To your prediction, I would also add:



    -GPU option on the MacBook

    -ExpressCard slot




    Possibly:

    -Memory card slots across the board (could be inside the ExpressCard slot "enclosure")



    The Dell offers both a GPU and that slot, and it's becoming more and more apparent now that the only difference between the MacBook and the MacBook Pro is the screen size. So the "Pro" moniker should be given to the top-specced Macs only - like the current black MacBook.



    That's interesting. I don't know if Apple would add slots, for example, but they do need to get serious, and the Dell does offer a nothing-to-sneeze-at 128MB NVIDIA GeForce 8400M GS discrete video card option for $100, in a thinner and lighter case. Also to your Pro-to-not line blurring point, Dell offer up to a 2.6GHz Penryn on it, LED screen option, SSD drive option, and built-in cellular mobile broadband options--all on a consumer laptop up to 1 pound lighter and 1/5 inch thinner than the MacBook.



    As PB said, anything could happen, but one possibility is that they get as aggressive with the MacBook as they have been with the iPhone and iPods and take it to another level, with a thinner and lighter case and/or a more modular approach to BTO components, for example. The fact is the MB is important to the growth of the company (unlike, arguably, the mini or the controversial mid-tower Mac) and Dell seem to be outdoing them.
  • Reply 14 of 16
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by éire View Post


    I think that the MB and MBP will be updated together with new case designs either:



    The problem is that everyone says that, but it has yet to happen. We can say it will happen this time, and when it doesn't we'll say it will happen the following time, and what we should really say is that we have no clue.
  • Reply 15 of 16
    thttht Posts: 3,249member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by DoctorRobert View Post


    That's interesting. I don't know if Apple would add slots, for example, but they do need to get serious, and the Dell does offer a nothing-to-sneeze-at 128MB NVIDIA GeForce 8400M GS discrete video card option for $100, in a thinner and lighter case.



    Dell will always be good with the BTO options. That's a great thing about them. It's lighter than the MacBook (1), but it isn't thinner. It's dimensions are 12.5" (31.8cm) x 9.4" (23.8cm) x 0.87"-1.33" (2.21cm-3.38cm). Note that it tapers to 1.33" max thickness. That's enough height for them to stack say the logic board and a 2.5" HDD on top of each other; or say a larger heat sink.



    (1) Make sure you read the fine print on quoted weight just as you have to for battery life or claims of thinness. I wouldn't trust any of those numbers until you see it weighed or have customer feedback.



    The MacBook by comparison is 12.78" (32.5 cm) x 8.92" (22.7 cm) x 1.08" (2.75 cm). Doing math on the volume, the MacBook is 123.12 in^3 while the M1330 is 129.25 in^3. That 6 cubic inches of volume difference easily translates to a discrete GPU option, or SD slot or express slot or maybe even another 2.5" drive. It does mean the Dell M1330 is a quarter inch thicker than the MacBook.



    Quote:

    Also to your Pro-to-not line blurring point, Dell offer up to a 2.6GHz Penryn on it, LED screen option, SSD drive option, and built-in cellular mobile broadband options--all on a consumer laptop [b]up to 1 pound lighter and 1/5 inch thinner than the MacBook.



    There are other things as well from Dell like sub $800 laptop options. But Apple typically will have price/performance parity for comparable machines, not necessarily features though. They, unfortunately for consumers, aren't in it to satisfy all customers otherwise they'd have ~10 laptop models. They just wan't the profitable cream of the crop and those willing to pay for design elegance and Mac OS X.



    Quote:

    As PB said, anything could happen, but one possibility is that they get as aggressive with the MacBook as they have been with the iPhone and iPods and take it to another level, with a thinner and lighter case and/or a more modular approach to BTO components, for example. The fact is the MB is important to the growth of the company (unlike, arguably, the mini or the controversial mid-tower Mac) and Dell seem to be outdoing them.



    The MB is their most important laptop yeah. If they have a sub $1000 line, say spanning $700 to $900, I'm sure that is their most important and will growth marketshare quicker, but they know that's a margins game that's tough to win, especially when they have to maintain an OS and applications themselves.
  • Reply 16 of 16
    Thanks for the clarification. I'm not one to think Apple should be any "more like Dell." At all. And in no way--not in chasing the lower end of the market, not in having tons of models, not in focusing on price, and not on being about customising and "featurising" your computer infinitely at the expense of design (in the deep sense) and the experience.



    I do still think, though, it would be in Apple's best interest to sex up the MB and I think a new case could allow that through thinness, lightness, and aesthetic freshness. I also think they should be aggressive to expand the Mac OS X up to, say, 10-15% worldwide, if only to get the network effects with developers and consumers, and stay there, serving the top 10% but having demolished barriers of compatibility, which in turn should weaken Microsoft's unjustified power and make the world a place of love and strawberries.
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