A new generation of Apple notebooks has arrived. This time, however, the “new generation” tag doesn’t just refer to upgrades – it heralds outstanding changes to design and technology.
To construct the casing for a standard laptop, you need a lot of different parts. In the process, you increase the weight, the size, and the potential for problems. To address these points, Apple set itself the challenge of building the casing from just one part.
This goal may have appeared far-fetched at first, but Apple was convinced the effort was worth the trouble. The result is the new MacBook’s unibody, a casing created from just one piece of solid aluminium.
The unibody has transformed the look of the MacBook. More than ever, it gives the impression of a sophisticated and brilliantly engineered laptop. The unibody also feels incredibly robust. Furthermore, the use of aluminium helps the new MacBook weigh in at 0.23 kg (0.5 pounds) less than the previous model, and shave 0.34 cm (0.13 inches) from its height.
Different manufacturing techniques
Moulding such a casing, as you would with plastic, is a thing of the past. Instead, Apple makes the unibody by milling it with computer numerical control (CNC) machines.
These machines are some of the most accurate manufacturing tools on the planet. Apple has grasped their potential and employed them to the fullest extent. The sleep indicator light on the new MacBook, for example, appears to shine from behind the aluminium. Apple has achieved this by thinning the metal and drilling tiny holes through it.
The new MacBook will last for years, but it’s good to know the aluminium unibody is recyclable. This reflects the seriousness with which Apple views its environmental responsibility. The company has applied stringent standards to every aspect of the new MacBook, insisting that manufacturing techniques go hand in hand with the most demanding eco principles.
Brominated flame retardants (BFRs) are absent from all the internal components of the new MacBook; none of the internal cables have PVC; the glass of the screen doesn’t contain any arsenic; and the display behind it is mercury-free. The new MacBook is setting a benchmark for the complete removal of toxins from computers.
In terms of energy efficiency, the new MacBook has a double victory to celebrate. Not only does it meet Energy Star requirements as previously, it has also acquired an EPEAT gold rating. EPEAT is the foremost environmental evaluation system for desktops, laptops, and monitors. To obtain a gold rating is a significant achievement.
Further outstanding features of the new MacBook are the trackpad, the screen, and the Mini DisplayPort. The trackpad immediately catches the eye because it’s almost 40% larger than before. When you start to use it, you also appreciate its extra functions. The trackpad now has full Multi-Touch capability that includes pinching to zoom in and out; three and four finger swiping; creating a right click area for shortcuts; and using any part of the trackpad’s surface as a button.
The new MacBook’s screen has changed to a thinner LED backlit display that provides full brightness the moment the MacBook comes on. A frameless glass front complements this and makes the widescreen appear larger than its 13.3 inches.
A Mini DisplayPort replaces the Mini DVI and FireWire 400 ports. The Mini DisplayPort provides an easy, plug-and-play connection for an Apple LED Cinema Display, and can show images on both the MacBook and the Cinema Display at the same time. Mini DisplayPort adaptors for VGA, DVI and dual-link DVI connections are available should you need them.
The 2.4GHz MacBook also has another bonus. It now boasts the illuminated keyboard so admired on the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air.
The new aluminium MacBook is available in two models, the 2.0GHz and the 2.4GHz. Both processors use Intel Core 2 Duo technology with 3MB on-chip shared L2 cache.
The standard models of the previous generation were 2.1GHz and 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duos with the same L2 cache. Both new versions, however, have a 1066MHz system bus, compared to 800MHz. In addition, 2GB of memory is now a standard feature (with the capacity to accept 4GB if you prefer). The hard drives are 160GB Serial ATA at 5,400 rpm for the 2.0GHz, and 250GB for the 2.4GHz. You can increase storage to 320GB or 350GB, and there’s an option of a 128GB solid-state drive.
As for the optical drive, the new MacBooks no longer offer a Combo. Apple has passed this over in favour of the superior 8x slot-loading SuperDrive on both models.
The features and technology of the new MacBook all deserve your attention, but one in particular is creating both interest and excitement.
The old MacBook had an Intel GMA X3100 graphics processor with 144MB of DDR2 SDRAM shared with the main memory. The new MacBook has an integrated processor that provides up to five times better performance. This graphics powerhouse, the NVIDIA GeForce 9400M, is the result of development work between Apple and NVIDIA. It has 256MB of DDR3 SDRAM, and contains 16 parallel processing cores. The result is 3D images that are fast, responsive, and more detailed. The MacBook is now a highly desirable laptop for game players.
With all these extras to cope with, particularly the graphics processor, you might expect the MacBook’s battery to suffer. On the contrary: the official life of the battery has increased from four and a half to five hours.
Apple has accomplished this by keeping the principle of energy efficiency to the forefront of its thinking. From the MacBook’s screen to the NVIDIA GeForce 9400M processor, the design has incorporated the lowest energy use possible.
The developments the MacBook represents are profound. This is a laptop that introduces impressive design, manufacturing, performance, and environmental innovations. It also throws down a gauntlet for other companies to pick up if they choose. In the meantime, the MacBook remains exceptional.
Luke B Scott writes about the all new Macbook and the changes in design and technology that make the Macbook such an improvement on its predecessors.