Apple Announces New MacBooks

Steve Jobs unveiled a slew of new Apple notebooks only a few moments ago... So without further ado, here are the juicy tidbits:

Apple is using a new manufacturing technique that actually carves the MacBook's frame from a single slab of Aluminum. What starts out as a 2.5-pound metal slab becomes a "unibody" notebook frame that weighs less than 0.25 pounds. The carved-off pieces of aluminum are captured and recycled. This new manufacturing process enables Apple to build stronger, lighter, and thinner notebooks.

MacBook Pro (Credit: Apple)
Apple has also traded in the MacBook line's Intel-based chipset/GPU for ones from Nvidia. (Let's hope that the dreaded Nvidia mobile graphics chip defect doesn't surface with these new notebooks!) During the presentation Jobs claimed that the new the Nvidia GeForce 9400M chipset (using 256MB shared memory) produces up to 2.8-times the performance of the previous Intel chipset/GPU in World of Warcraft, and up to a 6.2-times performance boost with Call of Duty. But when the GPU is called for duty for some hardcore 3D heavy lifting with a new MacBook Pro, the graphics requests get shifted over to a discrete Nvidia GeForce 9600M GT GPU (with 256MB or 512MB GDDR3). You read that right, MacBook Pros now have two GPUs: an integrated 9400M and a discrete 9600M GT. Apple claims that you can get up to five hours of battery life when running with the 9400M, and four hours with the 9600M GT.

MacBook Air (Credit: Apple)
The MacBook line also gets a complete trackpad makeover. The new trackpad is 39-percent larger, is made of glass, and supports multi-touch up to four-finger gestures. The dedicated trackpad buttons are gone too--the entire trackpad is now a button.

The new manufacturing technique, Nvidia chipsets/GPUs, and glass trackpad are all showing up in all of the new MacBook notebooks announced today. They all also feature LED backlit displays and now have Mini DisplayPorts instead of DVI or Mini-DVI for video-out.

Two new 15.4-inch MacBook Pro models were announced--and Jobs says that they are the thinnest MacBook Pros ever at only 0.95-inches thick. The first model sells for $1,999 and includes a 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 2GB DDR3 1066MHz SDRAM, and a 250GB SATA hard drive. The second model costs $2,499 and includes a 2.53GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 4GB DDR3 1066MHz SDRAM, and a 320GB SATA hard drive. Upgrades include up to a 2.8GHz CPU, more memory (for the $1,999 config), and SSD drives. 2.53GHz and higher MacBooks have 512MB GDDR3 for the 9600M GT GPU; lower-end MacBook Pro configs have 256MB. Both models weigh 5.5 pounds, are shipping now, and should be in stores by tomorrow.

MacBook (Credit: Apple)
There are also two new MacBook Air models as well. The $1,799 version includes a 1.6GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 2GB DDR3 1066MHz memory, and a 120GB SATA hard drive. The $2,499 version includes a 1.86GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 2GB DDR3 1066MHz memory, and a 128GB SSD drive. Both MacBook Air models use the Nvidia GeForce 9400M chipset/GPU, but don't have the additional discrete 9600M GT GPUs that the MacBook Pros do. Both units have 13.3-inch displays, weigh 3 pounds are 0.16 inches at their thinnest point and 0.76 inches at their thickest. The new MacBook Airs should be available in early November.

Everything seems to be pairs here, and the new 13-inch MacBooks are also available in two new models, which now use the same "unibody" aluminum frame as their higher-end siblings (say "goodbye" to white and black MacBooks). The $1,299 version includes a 2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 2GB DDR3 1066MHz memory, and a 160GB SATA hard drive. The $1,599 version includes a 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 2GB DDR3 1066MHz memory, and a 250GB SATA hard drive. As with the new MacBook Airs, the new MacBooks use only the integrated Nvidia GeForce 9400M as their sole GPU. These new MacBooks weigh 4.5 pounds. Upgrades include more system memory and SSD drives. These new MacBooks are available now.


A new feature for both the new MacBooks and MacBook Pros that should make many users happy is the inclusion of an access door on the bottom of the units to get to the removable battery and the hard drive. Finally, the MacBooks get removable batteries. (Now if we can only get Apple to make iPhones with removable batteries.) Apple has also added battery-indicator lights to the side of the MacBook and MacBook Pro frame.

Access door beneath MacBooks and MacBook Pros (Credit: Apple)

Another move that will make some happy is the price reduction Apple just made on the existing 13-inch, white MacBook. The entry-level configuration now sells for $999 and includes a 2.1GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processors, 1GB DDR2 667MHz SDRAM, 120GB SATA hard drive, and uses an Intel GMA X3100 GPU.

24-inch LED Cinema Display (Credit: Apple)
The last Apple product to have made its debut today is the new 24-inch LED-backlit LED Cinema Display. The new display has a native resolution of 1,920x1,200 and looks an awful lot like an iMac. It even includes an iSight Webcam, microphone, and speakers. The new LED Cinema Display is designed to be used with the new MacBooks: A cable coming off the back of the display breaks out into three cables to be plugged directly into a MacBook: a DisplayPort connection to receive video from the MacBook, a MagSafe connector so that the MacBook can draw power directly from the monitor, and a USB 2.0 connector so that the MacBook can use the monitor's three powered USB ports as a USB hub. The new 24-inch LED Cinema Display will be available in November for an MSRP of $899.
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