Hands on with the Apple Macbook

Yeah, we have no shame. We marched ourselves down to the Apple store yesterday afternoon and shoved through braved some lines to get our grubby mitts on Apple's latest, the consumer-oriented MacBook. You've probably already seen some pics of this thing in the wild, but we'll hook you up with our five minute rundown.

With the MacBook you're getting a full fledged Mac machine: Core Duo processor -- not Core Solo as some had expected -- WXGA display, digital video out to power that 24-incher, Bluetooth, a slot loading DVD burner (depending on your model), the whole megillah. What you aren't getting, however, is slightly more subtle. Yes, you're not getting that 15.4-inch display or the ExpressCard slot (remember, the iBook before the MacBook didn't have a PC Card slot, either), nor are you getting that fancy ATI Mobility Radeon X1600, but you're also forgoing that notably larger MacBook Pro power brick, mechanical latches, and a dimmer (though less reflective) display. Click on for more!

One of the first things we were curious about was the keys. This Mac's keyboard was visually quite different from every other we've seen in the past, and is obviously its most aesthetically striking and distinctive feature.

The flat square keys lack side or top ridges, making touch typing a little unusual (and possibly somewhat difficult), being that the only physical key delineation is the space between them. What made up for this, however, was the notably more tactile key feedback when compared to the PowerBook and MacBook Pro, which share the same lame, mushy keyboard.

Yep, keyboard felt great, looks good, but might be annoying to learn to type on. It's a risk / reward trade off we'd probably be willing to make, and we fancy ourselves something of laptop keyboard snobs.

That IR sensor is a little more discreet than on the MBP.

Also missing are those awful looking iBook speaker-circles, which have been conveniently repositioned to the rear of the machine, completely out of sight. Praise be to minimalism.

The side panel's pretty simple. You've got your MagSafe, gigabit Ethernet, digital out (to a DVI dongle), FireWire 400, two USB 2.0, and audio in / out. Missing: analog modem, which is available as a USB add-on.

Are you really willing to pay the $200 more it costs for the 20GB extra drive space and the matte black finish? Well, we sure as hell wouldn't (not that we have anything against black finish computers).

The glossy screen seemed to worry some people. If you've ever used a Sony XBRITE display (like the ones we use day in and day out here at Engadget HQ), you know a glossy display. The MacBook's was in fact a bit glossy, but was less glossy than a Sony -- all in all a pretty good trade off between enhanced brightness and contrast without any over the top reflectivity.

About as thin as its Pro brethren. And that latch -- ahh the feeling. If you thought the MagSafe snapped home with a satisfying click, check out the latch on this thing. A very confident closure, but a very reasonable opening, too -- it's positively magnetic (wahh). Just don't go jamming your credit carts along the bezel, who knows what'll happen.

What can we say -- if you configure a white MacBook the same as a MacBook Pro, you save just under a $1,000. Actually, we'd say that's a pretty freaking great value. So what about our precious EV-DO, you ask? Well, whatever, there's Bluetooth DUN or tethering -- we'll find a way to make it work. Unlike the iBook, which felt really truly low end, the MacBook strikes us as an amazing portable value -- both PC and Mac -- that's either going to go unsung, or sell an insane amount of units. Now Steve, seriously man, two mouse buttons. Make it happen.