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The new MacBook (Pros): the fine print


We finally got the new MacBooks and MacBook Pros we've all been waiting for and now it time to dig into the fine print a little bit. As we noted earlier the new machines are shipping without the $19 Apple remote, but there are also some other subtle changes worth noting:
  • The processors are confirmed to be Intel's Penryn technology.
  • Only the MacBook Pro is getting the multi-touch trackpad functionality of the MacBook Air. Apparently Apple is doing this deliberately to differentiate the higher-end portables from the MacBook line.
  • Only the Pros are getting LED backlights, and that's standard only on the 15". LED backlighting is a $100 BTO option on the 17" and simply not available on the MacBook. This despite Uncle Steve's assurance that the entire Mac line would transition to LED backlighting "when technically and economically feasible." I suppose that Apple would say that it's not yet economically feasible in the MacBook line.
  • The Pros feature a slightly new keyboard layout missing the virtual number pad.
  • The Pros also have 3 USB ports now, instead of 2. Update: Oops, lots of people have pointed out that only the 17 incher has the 3rd USB port, and it has had that forever. Nothing to see here, folks. Move along.
  • Perhaps most disturbing is that the official battery life estimates have dropped noticeably. MacNN notes that "Apple's revised projections falls to a maximum of 4.5 hours versus six [on the MacBook]... from six hours to five [on the 15" MBP and]... from 5.75 hours of use to 4.5" [on the 17" MBP].
Now none of these things is that big of a deal (hence the fine print), but there is some cause for concern, especially with the reduced battery life estimates. We may hope that perhaps Apple is being more realistic in their projections and that accounts for the reductions. It's particularly confusing given that one of the supposed advantages of the Penryn processor is energy efficiency. We won't know for sure until third-party benchmarks are available.

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