“On May 16, the MacBook replaced the nearly seven-year-old iBook and brought with it a new era of consumer-grade portables from Apple. For the first time since the clam-shell style iBooks were discontinued at the beginning of 2001 is an Apple portable available in more than one color. Apple has been toying with the idea of offering both black and white devices since the iPod nano and subsequently the video-capable iPod, and now they’ve begun offering their consumer-grade portable laptop, the predictably named MacBook, in similar glossy black and white models,” Clint Ecker writes for Ars Technica. “An oft-bandied-about factoid is that if you were to configure the midlevel model to ship with an 80GB hard disk to match the high-end model, you’d still notice that it’s approximately US$150 cheaper. The only difference is the color of the shell, of course. This is undoubtedly done on purpose and is the direct result of Apple’s experience selling iPod and iPod nanos in two color options. It didn’t take long for Apple, and casual observers of Apple’s operations to notice that the black models were selling out faster. A lot faster. Obviously the demand for black Apple products is much higher than the white products, and Apple is simply responding as most companies would when faced by high demand for a product. People who are set on getting that black MacBook are going to have to wrestle with the US$150 artificial mark-up. Apple is banking that most people will willingly hand over even more cash to get a unique item.”
Lets go over what is in every MacBook Pro that you won’t be getting on the MacBook:
• Aluminum shell
• Lighted keyboard
• Ambient light sensor
• Auto-dimming display
• ExpressCard Port
• PCIe graphics system
• Higher-resolution display
• Matte display option
• Larger hard drive
The 17-inch version of the MacBook Pro goes a step further and adds a third USB 2.0 port and a FireWire 800 port. The price difference between a similarly configured MacBook and MacBook Pro (2.0GHz, 512MB, 80GB HD) comes to about US$650. Personally, I feel that the upgraded graphics, display resolution, expansion port, and lighting features are probably worth US$650 to people who need them, but since I do not, I’m very content to stick with my MacBook.
Ecker notes, “The MacBook comes standard with options to use two-finger scrolling (both vertically and horizontally) as well as a new option to use the presence of two fingers on the pad as a modifier for the mouse button. When holding two fingers on the track pad, the click can be interpreted as a right-click instead of a left-click. This feature is strangely absent from the 15″ MacBook Pros but is intact on the 17″ MacBook Pro and the MacBook.”
“Apple’s new consumer level laptop is full of new features (iSight, widescreen display, MagSafe power connector, optical audio connections, etc.) and the prices are reasonable. The machine’s value is increased exponentially by Apple’s foresight to sanction the installation of Windows XP alongside the venerable OS X. Being able to boot into Windows to check out a new Windows app or to play a fun Windows-only game makes me that much happier I made this purchase,” Ecker writes. “For me, the MacBook is more than enough computer, but I’ll get used to it. Apple has thrust themselves back into a state of competitiveness when it comes to the consumer laptop space, and even offers prospective users features that other computer manufacturers cannot. Someone who buys a Dell or HP laptop cannot legally or easily boot OS X and Windows, and other laptops just don’t look as good.”
Full review, in Ars’ typical comprehensive fashion, here.
MacDailyNews Take: If you think the $150 extra for the black model is unreasonable, buy the white one. Apple probably has reason to believe that the pricing makes sense. If not, expect the black model’s price to be adjusted someday. Anecdotally – we hear that the black MacBooks are selling quite well right now.
[UPDATE: 2:47pm EDT: Added right-click info to Ecker’s quotes.]
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