Feeds

Après le keynote, le gulp

Was the MacBook launched too soon?

Boost IT visibility and business value

Analysis What an ungrateful bunch you are. This week Apple began its transition to Intel processors six months ahead of schedule, and all you can do is carp. Don't you know you're supposed to swoon over every shiny new piece of kit?

It's an odd moment. After years of lagging behind in the speed race, Apple will next month ship a PowerBook that overnight offers a dramatic doubling of performance for ordinary tasks, such as loading pages in Safari. The SPEC benchmarks Apple quotes are 4.5x faster for integer performance and 5.2x faster on floating point tests. Out goes the bottleneck bus, pegged at 167Mhz for so long, replaced by a 667Mhz bus - that's 4x faster. And the Radeon X1600 brings Apple right up to date.

So why, as the barman said to the horse, the long face?

The catch of course is that only software that has been compiled into a 'Universal Binary', containing a native x86 executable, will benefit from the speed bump.

And what Apple giveth, Apple taketh away.

Several features of the MacBook have perplexed Apple fans since its specifications were made public on Tuesday.

For professional notebook users, especially in Apple's core markets of audio and video production, the FireWire 800 port is a key differentiator. That's absent from the MacBook.

"Firewire 800 was the best thing for high speed connections for storage devices. I hope there are Firewire 800 adapters for Express card which replaces the PC Card. I have several Firewire 800 devices that absolutely need and love," writes one PowerBook user.

"No Firewire 800 - no purchase!" adds another. We'll have to wait and see if Apple adds external boot capability to its Macs - that's another feature longtime users will miss.

Then there's the slower, less capable DVD burner.

But most mysterious of all is the disappearing battery performance quote. Apple quotes 5.5 hours for today's 15" 1.67Mhz G4 PowerBook. But the MacBook has no such accompanying claim, and it was conspicuously absent from the slides during Steve Jobs' keynote. Apple simply describes the battery capacity. The MacBook has a "60-watt-hour lithium-polymer battery", we're told.

Huh?

Well, an intrepid Ars Technica reporter yanked the power cord from a MacBook on display on the show floor, and got a reading of 3 hrs and 3 minutes from the guage. This can fluctuate enormously depending on how heavily it's being used - the brightness of the screen, active radio interfaces , and many other factors. A 15" G4 loaded with the maximum memory possible won't achieve anything like the 5.5 hours claimed.

Yet the 3 hours figure is in line with other dual core notebooks, it's less than before, and fans aren't exactly overjoyed.

So did Apple launch the MacBook too soon?

With native Adobe Mac OS X software demanded by professional users still a year away, and with Rosetta emulation offering no performance improvements over today's PPC machines, we can expect no immediate migration.

But Apple didn't really have much choice. Shrewd pro buyers have been snapping up G4 and G5 based Macs as an hedge against a bumpy migration to x86. This has forestalled any anticipated 'Osborne Effect' to date.

In March 2001, Apple unleashed the first Mac OS X, one that was far from ready for prime time. It couldn't wait any longer - and a real product, no matter how deficient, convinces the market of one's intentions.

The early launch of the MacBook gives Apple's ISVs a strong incentive to accelerate their plans to introduce x86 native software.

They can't blame Apple for lagging, now. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
Top Gun display for your CAR: Heads-up fighter pilot tech
Sadly Navdy kit doesn't include Sidewinder missile to blast traffic
FEAST YOUR EYES: Samsung's Galaxy Alpha has an 'entirely new appearance'
Wow, it looks like nothing else on the market, for sure
YES YES YES! Apple patents mousy, pressure-sensing iVibrator
Fanbois prepare to experience the great Cupertin-O
TV transport tech, part 1: From server to sofa at the touch of a button
You won't believe how much goes into today's telly tech
NVIDIA claims first 64-bit ARMv8 SoC for Androids
Mile-High 'Denver' Tegra K1 successor said to rival PC performance
XBOX One will learn to play media from USB and DLNA sources
Hang on? Aren't those file formats you hardly ever see outside torrents?
Giving your old Tesco Hudl to Auntie June? READ THIS FIRST
You can never wipe supermarket slab clean enough
Intel admits: Broadwell Core M chip looking a bit thin, no fans found at all
Chipzilla's 'cool' 14nm part to hit market this year
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.