Thursday, April 28, 2011

Next-gen MacBooks to have new designs, will be released this summer with OS X Lion

I've been meaning to get to this story for a while now. MacBook Pros were refreshed just a couple of months ago, but already rumors have started about possible designs for the next generation.

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I was actually surprised that the last refresh didn't include any major redesigns. As much as I love and appreciate the awesome new horsepower Apple crammed into them, I really expected to see some kind of differentiation in physical design. When I look around my college campus, it seems that everybody has the exact same computer: sleek, silver clamshells with super-glossy screens. Consequently, laptop envy among classrooms and coffee shops has dwindled.

When I bought the first uni-body MacBook in late 2008, nearly everyday someone would comment on how awesome it looked. Though I've upgraded since then to a 15-inch and now to last gen's 17-inch, nobody cares. Not that I really need the attention (a single tear rolls down my cheek), but it does mean this: Apple, the novelty of your luscious laptop designs has worn off—time to come up with something else.

So, with the rumor mill already running, I thought I'd take this opportunity to speculate on what the next generation of MacBooks will offer (assuming they are redesigned, that is):
  • As far as a a case redesign goes, as always, you can expect thinner. Somehow, someway, I think the new MacBook Pros will approach 1st-gen MacBook Air thickness. Or at least, they will clock in somewhere in the middle between the thickness of the current 13-inch MacBook Air and the current 13-inch MacBook Pro.
  • They will retain the silver metal look and feel, but they may start using that super-duper alloy that was found in iPhone SIM card removal tools. Remember that?
  • Slightly bumped Sandy Bridge processor speeds and boosting graphics performance by opting for the AMD Radeon 6800 chips in the higher 15- and 17-inch models. Who knows what will happen with the Intel-only chipset in the 13-inch.
  • I'm probably going out on a limb here, but I think we'll soon see MacBook Pro models shipping with SSDs as a standard configuration. Or, even farther out on that limb is the possibility of MacBooks with no hard drive at all—that is, equipped with flash storage embedded on the logic board like the MacBook Air. Of course, that is nearly useless to working professionals that need large amounts of storage that only traditional hard drives can offer, but a boy can dream...
  • Now to go even farther out on a limb—so far that I endanger my own life—at least a few configurations of these MacBooks will not have CD drives. We all know it's going to happen; Steve Jobs and Apple hate CD drives. They are waning technologies. It'll be just like the floppy drive that didn't make it into the first iMacs. People will through rocks at Apple when they finally do this, but really... how often do you really use that stupid optical drive? It's slow and clunky and takes up an overwhelming amount of space in laptops, all while becoming increasingly more useless. I would much rather use that precious space for a second hard drive (which they make kits for), or just so Apple can make smaller, more portable laptop designs.
  • Sorry, went off on a tiny rant there, but my last prediction is that the white MacBook will be discontinued. I don't know the sales figures for the white model, but I'm willing to bet the MacBook is no longer the most popular Mac anymore. Most people are opting for the more capable 13-inch Pro. Either Apple will simply drop the price of the 13-inch Pro to $999, or an all new Pro-less design will fill its place. I'm just not seeing plastic in Apple's laptop future anymore.
  • The new models will be announced this summer at WWDC with the introduction and release of OS X Lion. How do I know this? I don't. Seems a little soon, but like I said before, a boy can dream...
Don't think this is what's going down this summer? I'd love to hear your opinions! Drop a comment or send me an email:

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