With the June Apple announcement at WWDC 2012 fast approaching, many are speculating the introduction of the next generation of MacBook Pro. The current crop of desktop computers which Apple offer are probably the best in their respective classes (personal opinion) but after 5 years or more without a major refresh, they are past due an overhaul. But what changes could apple possibly make to their next-gen MacBook lineup?
Apple claim that each of their products is 'revolutionary' in some way or another and while most are, a few definitely fit that description better than others. One of which is the MacBook Air, originally introduced in 2008, this device had consumers and designers alike salivating at its Über-slim form profile and sleek curves, but its price and lack of grunt (amongst a few other niggles, like battery life for instance) put a serious dampener on its overall popularity.
Fast forward to 2010 and Apple once again tried their hand with the Air re-introducting it in 2 screen sizes, 11 and 13 inch longer battery life, higher resolution displays, SSD on chip and i5 and i7 processors respectively.
This move sparked a backlash in the industry with everyone trying to mimic (none successfully) even spawning an entire sub-genre in the PC market, the intel subsidized ultrabook initiative.
When compared to the Air, the 13inch Pro model looks mighty beefy indeed. Maybe it's time it was put it on a diet and introduce a sleeker, more refined profile.
Another Apple innovation which caused a stir upon arrival was the introduction of Apple’s Retina display technology (courtesy of Sharp) with the iPhone 4 making individual pixels virtually indistinguishable to the human eye (hence Retina) and proving the highest screen screen density of any mobile device on the market, at that time.
The current MacBook Pro display isn't bad by anyones definition of the word, but after using an iPhone any significant amount of time you begin to notice the comparatively low quality and pixel density. If apple where to bump their 13inch offering up to 1080p i would be happy, however in order to truly ‘wow’ the masses, they are going to need to go big, go retina or go home.
The HDD (or Hard Drive Disk) has sat atop the pile when it comes to storage for many years but with the widespread adoption of the, faster, quieter and more energy efficient SSD (Solid State Disk) magnetic hard drive technology is beginning to look more and more like a relic from those bygone days when moving parts where all the rage. Now with the decline of manufacturing costs high capacity solid state memory looks more viable as a first class citizen in the MacBook’s hardware lineup in stead of that of an optional extra.
Noise pollution generated by the whirling of magnetic storage disk isn't something most would consider a huge problem but once you have gone solid state and bared witness to the difference first hand it becomes evident that the hard-drive's days are numbered and that number is fast approaching. Which takes me to my next point.
Seeing as we are removing moving components here, why not go whole hog?
I have been the happy owner of a mid-2011 MacBook Air for around 2 months now and in that time i have not once missed the use of the DVD disc drive that i had on my previous machine (A MacBook Pro as it where). I had often thought about replacing the Disc drive in my Pro with a secondary HDD or SSD while the Pro was my primary machine and using the extracted Super Drive externally if ever it was needed.
Every iteration of Apple’s MacBook has inevitably brought with it a spec bump in terms of graphical prowess. But what would it take to really up the ante?
Nvidia’s latest family of graphics processors (cutely named Kepler) have demonstrated remarkable performance to power ratio.
A mid range Kepler GPU would be more than enough to push the MacBook Pro into some serious graphically intensive games and applications without breaking too much of a sweat or turning it into a lifeless brick in under and hour. Regardless of what Apple decide to do here, it will be interesting to see what they have up their selves.
Now, I love the look and feel of the aluminum/magnesium composite which makes up the MacBook line’s unibody shell, but, good jumping jesus, does it dent with the mildest knock.
A more durable composite ( Perhaps replacing that ultra soft with something equally light yet more dense, like titanium would be a start) would be a *very* welcome addition. Maybe then i can stop treating my Apple gear like newborn children and get on with using them, eh Apple?
With the retirement of the black and white, non-Pro MacBooks, Apple left a distinct lack of options when it comes to individuality. Deep black, Cinnamon red and Titanium gold would be great, anodized alternatives to that brushed metal which is currently on offer. When the poly-carbonate (fancy plastic to you and me) MacBooks where removed from apples product line, prospective Mac-cultists where left without a slice of the apple pie unless they were willing to fork out over a grand for the up-range Pro models. You would think with the world in economic ruin, it would be a good time time to see the re-introduction of the poly-carbonate MacBook as a low cost option. Almost a gateway drug into Cult of Mac, if you will.
Since the switch away from the use of the PowerPC architecture, Apple have relied on intel to provide them with their desktop computing power. As un-lightly it may be, Apple could consider supplanting the current x86 with Apple’s own ARM (http://www.arm.com/) based ‘A.x’ family of processor akin to those found in their range of mobile devices. This would serve to reduce production costs, reduce weight, heat reduction (potentially allowing for the removal of the final moving part in the MacBook, the fan) and allow further freedom from external partnerships with the often manipulative and underhanded intel. But a change as big as this would undoubtably spark, yet another upheaval amongst developers who have only just come to terms with the switch to x86 in the first place.
It is possible that none of the aforementioned will see the light of day with the next generation of Apple’s iconic Mac family, but i have a gut feeling that even if they don’t the next MacBook will be, truly revolutionary.