What Do You Want Out Of The Intel Based Mac Laptops?

by Chris Seibold Nov 07, 2005

Mac rumors are staple of the Mac community but, occasionally, the pleasant background buzz of the rumors ratchets up to the scream of an F-16 just prior to takeoff. With Macworld around the corner and Intel based Machines appearing at some point in the future it was easily predictable that this would be one of those moments. A variety rumors are gaining energy like a tropical storm feeding on the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, particularly noisy is the rumor that Apple will be introducing an Intel based PowerBook during Macworld or shortly thereafter.

A rumor that could be immediately dispelled or trivially obvious wouldn’t be much of a rumor so, as always, there are reasons to believe the rumor and equally valid reasons to dismiss the peek into the future. One reason to put a little faith in the rumor: an early Intel powered laptop would likely provide a boost to Apple’s sales, surely there has to be some amount of pent up PowerBook demand. Providing a counterpoint to the “early rollout” cash grab theory is the likelihood that if PowerBooks roll out, say January 15th, the pro level applications to go with the new sleek new beauties won’t be available for months. A lack of pro applications is compelling reason to hold off a purchase no matter how Intel based PowerBook hungry you are. For example, if you’re a professional Photoshop user the allure of an Intel PowerBook will be severely limited until a native version of Adobe CS is available (Pro’s don’t emulate). So, as always, take the rumor with the proverbial grain of salt.

Rumors aside, we know (where our “certain” knowledge is tempered by the fact that it came via S. Jobs) that eventually PowerBooks and iBooks will be Intel based. Now, for the sake of discussion, let us assume that the Intel powered laptops will feature some level redesign greater than just a new motherboard and processor swap. The scenario seems plausible, both the iBook and the PowerBook are getting a bit long in the tooth by Apple design standards (though it is certainly not a given). This leads us straight to the question: if Apple significantly changes the laptop line beyond the processor what changes would you like to see?

There are a few changes everyone would like to see: longer battery life, cheaper machines and an integrated bagel toaster (many were hoping for bagel toaster integration with the new iPod). While the yearning for increased battery life seems to be likely fulfilled with the revision the idea that substantially cheaper ‘Books will come along for the ride seems as probable as the latest free energy scheme actually making it to market. The bagel toaster is, of course, an absolute no brainer. Realizing that we are now free to leave the arena of solid thinking and ergonomically aware designs we can speculate unencumbered on what we would like to see with new Apple Laptops.

I’ll (using rare first person perspective) start. Personally, I would like to see the iBook line and PowerBook line continue to be differentiated by case materials. I’d like to see keyboard backlighting go standard across the laptop line and, more importantly. no soldered memory. Laptops aren’t going to be the most expandable machines but dropping the soldered memory would allow users to upgrade two memory slots instead of one. I’d also like to see the iBook get a little tougher. You’ll remember that the original toilet seat hello kitty iBook was touted as being much more rugged than the PowerBook. That trend was continued with the iceBook until the Aluminum PowerBooks were introduced. I can’t say which one is actually tougher (Hadley Stern maintains it is certainly the PowerBook) but the iBook can afford to trade a little size for toughness, it is after all, the laptop for the dolts among us. With the advent of the Mighty Mouse, I’d like to see multiple clicks and a scroll device on the laptops (none of that two finger scrolling either) though not if were implemented in Mighty Mouse fashion. Lastly, I would an option in a very dark color that managed to look unlike every fairly ugly Windows laptop on the market.

So those are the things I’d like to see, admittedly my list isn’t too exciting. Apple Matters readers are much more insightful than the Tuesday/Thursday guy so I’m very interested what you’d like to see in Apple’s next generation of laptops.


  • I would like to see the base ram increased to 1 gig for the PB line. The ability to run windows in x window (or Apple’s equivalent) is a big feature for me. I’ll be able to work off of one machine instead of keeping two running all the time.

    dleboubon had this to say on Nov 08, 2005 Posts: 17
  • I would also like to see the power supply cord on the PB made a little tougher. It doesn’t seem to stand up to stand up to much abuse (at least mine don’t). Mine isn’t a nice white where it plugs into the PB anymore, it’s now black from the electrical tape holding it together.

    dleboubon had this to say on Nov 08, 2005 Posts: 17
  • I’d like to see in the next Powerbook

    Dual 1.8Ghz Yonah Processors
    1GB of DDR2 RAM standard
    128MB of VRAM/GPU with dual monitor support
    11g with MIMO antenna, Bluetooth 2.0, GigE
    PC Card and ExpressCard 54
    EVDO Wireless WAN support
    Built in Webcam
    eSATA, Firewire, 2 USB ports, SPDIF Digi I/O, LO
    Dock connector and Dock/Port Replicator options
    13.3, 15.4 and 17” LCD Screens

    This would bring the Powerbook current with the kind of laptop you’ll see next year.

    hmurchison had this to say on Nov 08, 2005 Posts: 145
  • - *Substantially* better battery life, especially using wireless
    - *faster*
    - better wireless range
    - no soldered RAM, good idea
    - keep it quiet
    - built in iSight on all models
    - backlit keyboard that actually works (on all models) so you don’t have to turn it off since it is so freakin’ annoying. Including an option to *manually* activate it when you want to.
    - optical out on all models
    - screens with better visibility under daylight conditions
    - carbonfibre body
    - sturdy ac connector

    Bad Beaver had this to say on Nov 08, 2005 Posts: 371
  • What’s wrong with the two finger scroll?  I love it.  My girlfriend has an older iBook and when I go to use it I am constantly trying to do the two finger scrolling and it drives me nuts that her machine doesn’t have it - it’s so easy.  And I think it’s a lot better than the way most windows notebooks do it - with the side of the touchpad for scrolling only.

    Ben Markwardt had this to say on Nov 08, 2005 Posts: 6
  • For iBooks:
    - 13” screen, higher resolution, better visibility under daylight conditions
    - built in iSight on all models
    - better battery life
    - DVI & official monitor spanning
    - optical out
    - change the design. Radically. The first iceBooks were beauties, but the opaque ones are just… *iiich*, especially the keyboards
    - sturdy ac connector

    Bad Beaver had this to say on Nov 08, 2005 Posts: 371
  • There some pretty good ideas already mentioned here, but here is what I’d like to see:

    PB’s are aluminum, why don’t they come in anodized colors? I’d like black, but they could come in almost any color (look in any sport compact car-type magazine!). While you’re at it, you may as well make the iBooks in black, to match the swank new iPods and nanos.

    Right-click button.

    Tighter engineering tolerances… my 12” PB has lived through a lot, but it has, since day one, felt loose in certain spots. It rocks when typing on a smooth, flat surface, and the lid doesn’t close tightly. Also, the slot loading drive has always seemed a little, well, jainkey. I paid over $1500 and that was with a student discount!

    A way to swap batteries while the machine is running. A small back-up battery that will power the machine in sleep-mose long enough to pull one battery off and put another on.

    That should do for now…

    foresmac had this to say on Nov 08, 2005 Posts: 20
  • Since I bought a 1.5 15” PB when it was announced (gave up on the idea of a G5 PB) I wold need to see significant speed increases to get me to consider trading up.  I’m talking 75% to 100% faster than the 1.5 as it’s doing a very good job as it is.

    After using the Mighty Mouse I like the idea of the sensors of right and left click, even if assigning right click is only the right 25% of the surface area.  I also like the MM’s scroll button - small enough for inclusion on the notebooks, but very effective.

    Built in iSight would be excellent - I carry mine around on business trips.

    The PB has been enriched with a lot of features since I bought mine so it really gets down to speed.

    MacKen had this to say on Nov 08, 2005 Posts: 88
  • 533 Mhz front side bus (as a result of Yonah dual core of course)

    Finally!, 166 Mhz in the current PB is an absolute joke and a total dog for any kind of large data, video, audio, large copies.

    - Black
    - Non denting material
    - no latch
    - 6-9 hours of TRUE battery life
    - I agree, damn industrial stregth power adapter that is not White

    macguitarman had this to say on Nov 08, 2005 Posts: 1
  • Thinking about it, give me back my Wallstreet/Pismo but make it widescreen + thinner, lighter, and spec it up. And yes, I want 2 battery bays & removable optical drive.

    Bad Beaver had this to say on Nov 08, 2005 Posts: 371
  • Firstly, I’d hate to have the 12” PB discontinued without an equivalent offering (a 13” WS would be nice). There are certain features on the PB models that I like (DVI, better graphics, faster drives, the general look) - but I do like to have a true portable which I can plug into an external monitor at home or in the lab.

    I have a 1.5 GHz 12” PB that I bought in February and some things that I’d really like to have in later releases:

    1. Two buttons for the mouse. Its about time, guys - the mighty mouse is now standard on iMs and PMs, its only fair that the books get two clicks too.

    2. Much better performance. It pains me that this 12” is still the fastest Apple model I can buy today and it gets its ass kicked in numerical computation by a Dell centrino (on Linux). Hopefully a switch to a newer CPU architecture will fix that. Can’t believe that G4 1 GHz came out nearly five years ago with the TiBook.

    3. Better graphics, even for the 12” - as good or nearly as good as the bigger models. A GF 5200 is trash especially compared to the 9700. After switching to the Mac I found to my pleasant surprise that there’s a fairly decent complement of games for the Mac - a lot of which are unfortunately useless with a GF 5200.

    4. Better-powered USB ports. The 15” PB can’t connect by default to an external USB powered drive. My 12” thankfully can (I live on that drive) but the moment I plug in a hub - and with just 2 USB ports, you almost have to - I can’t connect multiple powered devices to it - like my iPod Shuffle. A real annoyance in a world where you have USB powered drives, speakers and device chargers. And while I’m on the subject, could we have more than 2 USB ports please?

    5. Region-free DVD drives! Please!

    6. An SD-card slot for us photographers.

    7. A decent dock connector will be extremely helpful. I use my Powerbook as my exclusive system, and I’m sure a lot of others do as well.

    I’m pretty sure this is not too much to ask. All of these features can be had in a Wintel notebook today and its about time Apple caught up.

    nigham had this to say on Nov 08, 2005 Posts: 10
  • Use the current PB as the basis:

    1) More performance/battery life
    2) USB ports which work with everything (so properly powered)
    3) Built in iSight
    4) two mouse buttons
    5) Much better WiFi performanc/range
    6) SD card slot
    7) Region free DVD player
    8) more robust power connector

    dspiers had this to say on Nov 08, 2005 Posts: 1
  • A docking station, so I don’t have to plug/unplug a USB, ethernet, firewire, s-video, speakers, and power adapter every day.

    g5u1 had this to say on Nov 08, 2005 Posts: 9
  • Why not combine a free energy scheme with a ‘book upgrade? Make the cover a solar cell to charge the battery. Free energy & longer battery life as the ‘book will be charging constantly. If it isn’t patented, I call it first!!

    dleboubon had this to say on Nov 08, 2005 Posts: 17
  • One comment on the battery swapping, foresmac. The powerbooks already have that capability, at least in the 15” and 17” lines. I’m not sure about the 12” line, but if you put the 1” to sleep(close the lid), you can take out the battery, and you have 90 seconds to swap out the battery before the reserve power is drained. I have used this on numerous airplane flights to finish watching a movie or playing a game.

    The things I would like to see:

    2 buttons on the mouse(of course) I’m used to the single button, but I love my mighty mouse. I really dont mind the 2 finger scrolling though.

    Longer battery - 8 hours would ROCK

    Better graphics on the 12”, or a 13” WS if that replaces it.

    2 open RAM slots on the 12”

    DDR2 RAM like the new iMac

    Digital audio on the 12”

    Support for Front Row and the remote

    DL DVD support

    Gigabit on the 12”

    PC card slot ont he 12”, or CF and SD/MMC slots for those of us with digital cameras. Thats all I use the PC card for anyway.

    Basically, I want the 12” to have the same capabilities as the 15”, because I really want the portability of the smaller one, but I don’t want to give up all of the cool stuff that my 15” has.

    mskblackbelt had this to say on Nov 08, 2005 Posts: 3
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