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March 2010

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New MacBooks are bogus. Sorry, but I've really thought about this a lot and come to a conclusion. After some discussion with forge last night I thought it over in detail throughout the evening. Now keep in mind I'm not talking about the MacBook Pro, but the plain MacBook itself. To make sure we're not just skimming over the details, let's start with the black MacBook and load the crap out of it, every integratable hardware option, what do we get?
You get a rant from Jim!

  • 13.3" Screen
  • 2.16GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
  • 2GB 667 DDR2 SDRAM - 2x1GB
  • 200GB Serial ATA @ 4200 rpm
  • AirPort Extreme Card (802.11n)
  • Bluetooth (EDR 2.0)
  • Remote Control
  • Intel GMA 950 Integrated Graphics
  • DVI and SPDIF Out
  • 55-WHr Battery
  • Gigabit Ethernet

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying this is a bad computer. It's got some nice highlights like 802.11n and digital video and audio outputs as well as an 8x dual-layer DVDRW. Nice features, but absolutely not exclusive. The rest of the system is just plain mediocre. It used to be that you could say a 600MHz G4 was roughly equivalent to a PC claiming two to three times the speed and prove it in performance! That's because you were comparing apples and oranges (no pun intended). Now? Totally not the case. This macbook is a PC as defined by its hardware, top-to-bottom, and can even run Windows natively without any special modification to Windows itself. This machine's mediocrity comes from a lack of the premium features you would typically expect from Apple.

Integrated Intel 950 graphics: a terrible chipset, and doesn't even have Intel's newer X-series chip-down video, nor does it offer any discrete dedicated graphics solutions like a GeForce Go or Radeon mobile. This is prohibitive in features like HDR lighting and hardware acceleration of 2.0 shaders and no support for 3.0.

The processor is OK, however from Apple you might expect a bit more than offerings of 2.0 or 2.16 GHz. Intel Core 2 Duo Processors come in many better flavors, but that's not really a biggie.

The hard drive offerings are terrible. A 4200RPM drive is an insult. The offerings for notebook drives are vast and do include 200GB drives that run at a full 7200RPM

The RAM offering of 2GB is astounding, that's all? The Intel chipset it uses accepts more, and DIMMs most certainly come in larger sizes for notebooks. To complete the insult, they don't even run the damn memory in dual-channel mode.

The lack of cutting edge in this system is very very unlike apple. No offerings exist for hybrid hard drives, solid state hard drives, flash cache, mobile broadband, Blu-ray, HDMI output, HDCP support on the external display...

It's a Mac, a company long respected for being a truly cutting edge company and an early adopter of things like 1394, SATA, Superdrives, CD's period, DVDRWs, discrete video in notebooks, multi-channel sound, 64-bit computing...hell, Apple's innovation has literally defined almost everything we do on desktop computers: the GUI, a color screen, a mouse, multitasking, simple file sharing. Even AOL (hated, but brought the internet out of the hands of geeks and colleges and into the hands of consumers by providing POPs shared by many ISPs) started their offerings as the ISP for Apple owners. That black slab of mediocrity above is not what I expect from a technology pioneer, I'd expect a system with this hardware configuration to be offered as a value product form Dell or HP (and featuring the same hardware chip for chip), not even close to fully configured, and at a significantly lower price point.