The highlight of Apple’s ‘Spotlight turns to Notebooks’ event turned out, as many have been speculating, to be a manufacturing process after all. Up to now Apple Laptops have been an assemblage of chassis, skin and a host of components hooked onto the frame. But now, Apple has a whole new way of doing things.
After Jony Ive’s very detailed run-down of the existing manufacturing process and exactly what is going into existing Apple Lap’s. The new process is summarized thus:
“We discovered if we started with a thick piece of aluminum we could make a lighter and stronger part.” “So we make it from a solid piece of aluminum.”
Hmm… brickish then.
But it wasn’t all ‘brick’ stuff. Enter the Nvidia GeForce 9400 M graphics processor. The chipset and GPU are on one die 70% of which is the GPU. It beasts 16 parallel graphic cores and 54 gigaflops of graphics performance. Steve enthuses:
This delivers up to 5x faster graphics than the chips we’ve been using. So what’s it look like when we take it into the real world? up to 6x performance.”
Steve claims 5 hours or better battery life for 9400 users.
Also new for forthcoming laptops: a larger glass multitouch track-pad. Steve again:
“39% larger tracking area, multitouch, glass — and we’ve optimized the friction on the glass… but where’s the button? It’s the entire pad — gives you more area, keeps you from hunting… multi buttons via software, just turn on in preferences.”
Apple has also added new gestures to the multi-touch palette and Steve demonstarted a number of these.
“Precision unibody enclosure… exceptionally beautiful… much more rigid construction. We’re really happy about this.”
Steve also introduced us to the mini display port which can drive any display but with a much smaller plug size. This is going to be built into all Apple’s products (does that mean iPods too?).
The MacBook Air has been upgraded with the folowing new features:
- Nvidia 9400M graphics
- 120 GB hard drive option
- 128 GB SSD option
- Mini Display Port
The hard drive version will be priced at $1799 and the SSD version at $2499 with both avaiable early November.
Steve announced a new Cinema Display, Apple’s first with LED backlighting. It’s powered by a three-connector cable combining: MagSafe power connector (which can power a notebook), a usb port and a display port.
The new display is 24-inches diagonal, 1920 x 1200 resolution and incorporates stereo speakers. It will retail for $899 in November.
The entry price for the MacBook is going to fall (a little) to $999 in the US. But rather than replacing the current line-up they’re going to squeeze a new model on top of the white plastic one. It’s got a metalic enclosure so it looks just like a diminutive Mac Pro.
It includes the 9400M graphics chip, the glass trackpad and will come in two versions:
- $1299 13.3-inch display, 2GHz Core 2 Duo
- $1599, 4GB RAM, 320GB HD