A few weeks ago at WWDC, everyone got excited about the new iPhone 3G S. And while it's something to be excited about, I was more interested in the tweaks to the MacBook Pro lineup (personally, I'm holding out for the iPhone on the Verizon network, announce that, and I'm stoked). As almost always happens when Apple changes a popular product, there are some things to like and some things to miss. Here's what we have.
First some common themes. All the batteries are now non-removable. This was done to make them larger and thus last longer. They are now a lithium-polymer chemistry and rated for 1000 charge cycles. They also boast excellent life; 7-8 hours of rated capacity. All models are now of the unibody, aluminum design. The screens are all LED backlit, which enhances brightness and contrast; offers a 60% greater color gamut and improves battery life.
The line has been extended to include the 13" unibody Macbook Pro. The old 13" was considered a MacBook, and thus lacked FireWire. The new one, being a Pro and all, now has FW800. This is good. A big (and interesting) addition is the SD card slot. If you're a digital photographer who uses SD cards, this is a big bonus for you. No more cables, just pop in the SD card and go. The 13" is a perfect size for travelers or students, and at the base price of $1199 for a 2 Gig RAM/160 Gig HD/2.26 GHz configuration, it's a great general purpose laptop for almost anyone working at a church.
The 15" line has been speed bumped again and all models come with 4 Gigs of RAM standard. Processor speeds are now 2.53, 2.66, and 2.8 GHz. Hard drives range from 250-500 along with two solid state options. The 15" has FW800, but gone is the ExpressCard/34 slot. In reality, about 6 people will miss this. On the other hand, it makes it hard for people to add things like eSATA expansion to the MacBook Pro. If you really want to edit video on the go, this is a bummer. The new SD slot is there, however, and I for one am excited about that. I'm forever forgetting my camera cable, and look forward to going direct with the card.
Remarkably, prices have actually decreased across the whole line. The base 15" is now just $1699--and that's with 4 Gigs of RAM and a 250 Gig HD! Spending a little more gives you the better dual graphics mode (both the nVidia 9400 & 9600 cards), a bigger HD and a faster processor. That's the one I'm excited about ($1999). Since I have 3 virtual machines on my laptop, the larger HD is a must, and while the 9400 provides better battery life, the 9600 is a lot faster for more intensive tasks (which I do a lot).
The Mac-Daddy (if you will) of the line is the 17". Offering a 2.8 or 3.06 GHz processor (I know, can't we just call it 3.0?), it's the fastest of the bunch. The 17" display is gorgeous and huge, and this one retains the ExpressCard/34 slot. If eSATA is your life, this is your laptop. Because the platform is bigger, the larger battery is rated for an astonishing 8 hours. This is a serious mobile platform for people who create media on the go. The video card can also support a 30" Cinema Display so you won't be squinting back at the office. And the prices have been adjusted; the base model is now $2499.
Overall, there is a lot to love about the new lineup. Personally, I'm looking forward to having a new 15" in my hands (which should happen pretty soon if all goes as planned). Some complain about the glossy screens (I don't mind them), and others complain they're too expensive. Having worked at churches with both Macs and PC laptops around, I'll say this--you get what you pay for. And since Macs run Windows better than a PC does (and at the same time), it's like getting two computers in one. The bump in base RAM makes running dual OS's easy and fast, right out of the box.