By now everyone has heard the rumor that Apple intends to introduce a new ultra-portable 13″ notebook to replace the old yet extremely popular 12″ aluminum Powerbook.
In the rumor’s latest incarnation, AppleInsider is now pointing to the new notebook’s debut at the next MacWorld Expo, scheduled for January 15-18th in San Francisco’s Moscone Center.
In order to get that super-slim ultra-light form factor, the article in question indicates that Apple will eliminate the traditional CD/DVD disc drive from the unit altogether. In fact, some have even gone so far as to speculate that Apple will use Samsung’s newest 64GB SSD (solid state drive) and do away with those nasty mechanical spinning disks completely.
Which leads us to the obvious question: Is that what people want?
Apple has long been a proponent of the super-slim form factor, always playing up how thin the latest MacBook or iPod is compared to the previous model. This is occasionally to the detriment of the product line, as Apple tends to forget that people sometimes actually like to use their battery powered toys for more than a few minutes or hours at a time.
The rumored move to a completely flash-based system is bolstered by Apple’s recent introduction of the iPod Touch, which currently sits at the top of Apple’s iPod lineup with a mere 16GB of flash RAM. This as opposed to the best “old-school” video iPod, which can be had with an 160GB micro hard-drive.
Apple contends that 16GB is enough for most purposes, as people will need to dock their ‘pods back to recharge and resync long before they run out of tunes or shows. Nay-sayers contend that it’s not, and that there’s now no “best choice” in the iPod line, with one having to choose between the larger screen or the larger drive.
Which brings up back around to the ultra-portable.
And to our choice.
This isn’t going to be an iPod you can just dock to swap out your music or movies, this is going to be a notebook computer. And in many cases, someone’s ONLY computer. Barring managing an external drive (more on that in another post), a 64GB SSD drive will be all of the space you have.
And I’m not sure that it’s enough. I, for one, have a 250GB drive in my MacBook Pro, and between work, personal documents, digital photos, music, movies, TV shows, and applications, I’m STILL continually managing space. (In fact, I’m keeping an eye out for WD’s new 320GB drive, expected any day now.)
Drop the DVD drive from the system, and any movies you’re going to want to watch on the plane or train will now have to be self-contained. And at a gig or so a piece, the space they consume starts to add up. Quickly. You can always carry an external hard-drive or DVD drive, but that seems to defeat the very purpose of having an ultra-portable in the first place.
Or maybe people will buy them to supplement their at-home or at-work iMacs and Mac Pros, and as such space won’t be an issue (Syncing, however, will be an issue, but more on that later as well).
So what do you think? Would you buy an ultra-portable from Apple?
And if so, would you prefer a solid-state-drive with severely limited capacity but dramatically improved battery life? Or would you want a traditional notebook drive with space to burn? Keep in mind that a SSD would likely add a pretty premium to the cost of such a system, perhaps $500 or more.
Either way, I’d really like to know.