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My perspective on Unsanity's MacBook Pro "Lost in Transition" post

David Chartier

One of Unsanity's programmers by the name of Rosyna has posted a really interesting commentary on the new MacBook Pros titled Lost in Translation, focusing on some significant issues that need to be addressed. I recommend you check it out, as it raises questions on a number of issues that Steve Jobs seemed to have glazed over in his keynote.

On the flip side though, I couldn't help posting this without offering a response to some of the issues. While I am neither a programmer nor an Apple Engineer, I think I can add a few interesting ideas to the discussion.

  • Rosyna questions the performance increase and is concerned that the MacBook Pros use a 60-watt hour battery and an 85 watt AC adapter, compared to the PowerBook's 50-watt hour battery and 65 watt AC adapter. I don't believe Steve said they're using less power than previous chips, but the move to intel was about gaining a much better power/performance boost. While we obviously should wait for non-Apple and (hopefully) unbiased speed tests to surface, it seems at this point that we suffered a roughly 20% increase in power consumption for a 400-500% performance increase. As long as the MacBook Pro won't burn my lap off, I'm still adding one to my wishlist.
  • Missing parts, specifically: the S-Video output, a Dual Layer burner, a dial-up modem and FW800. While I can't comment much on S-Video since I'm not cool enough to give presentations on projectors, the loss of the other parts is a mixed bag. I had been hearing reports of issues with the Dual Layer SuperDrives in the latest PowerBooks, and I haven't had the chance to test mine yet as the discs are simply too expensive, even in bulk. Still, I agree the backstepping of SuperDrives is strange; Apple could have or should have solved the issues before shorting their big first step with Intel portables. As far as the other parts, I think those are simply signature casualties of living on the bleeding edge with Apple. At least here in America, the last stat I heard was something around 65% of the US is broadband enabled. I guess that was enough of a flag to give the modem the boot.

    The FW800 port, however, is a different story. From what I've seen, there aren't any actual speed benefits of using a single external FW800 drive over a FW400 drive. The rest of the bus and hard drive inside a machine like a MacBook Pro winds up creating a bottleneck that just kills the benefit of the extra speed. FW800, from what I've heard, comes in handy for things like serious RAID arrays, where a chunk of data is getting sent out to a FW800 multi-drive enclosure or rack system, where the bus can at least move all that data out to a whole set of extra drives. If I'm right, including something like that on a portable machine just doesn't seem like a good idea - what mobile professional is carrying around a portable computer big fat FW800 multi-drive enclosure? Not many, if any, I'm sure. I suspect FW800 will live on the PowerMacs Mac Pros.
  • Resolution. Rosyna was upset that the MacBook Pros have a resolution of 1440x900, instead of the latest 15" PowerBook's resolution of 1440x960. While this means a few pixels are lost, it also means that (I believe) the displays and resolutions are on par with not only the rest of the Mac family, but the rest of the industry. I'm *pretty* sure 1440x900 is a standard res among non-Mac hardware (however, it's also the res of the 17" iMac), which I bet would allow Apple to use more standard display hardware, i.e. - cheaper parts, and cheaper repairs for consumers.
Wow, so there's my $0.02 on the pile of conversations that is MacBook Pro. Make sure you check out Rosyna's full post as it really does present some key topics. What do you guys think about all this? Did Apple pull one over on us, rip us off, or is this all some kind of natural evolution? Let the games begin!

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