One product widely predicted for MacWorld Expo is the “ultra-thin” MacBook Pro, a replacement for the 12″ aluminum Powerbook that never made the Intel transition with the rest of the family.
In keeping with Apple’s “thin-is-in” bleeding-edge design strategy, the new notebook is rumored to drop the on-board SuperDrive for an external unit, and is said to use LED screen backlighting and a Solid State Drive (SSD) for better performance and power management.
But there’s another drive option I haven’t heard mentioned, and one which could make a lot more sense.
Dollars and cents, that is.
You see, SSD’s are still expensive little critters, loaded with tons of NAND flash memory.
A bare-bones 32GB version costs a couple of hundred bucks, and the recently introduced 128GB model costs a staggering $3,219.99 over on NewEgg.
Now, we all know that Apple tends to charge a premium price for its products, but three grand just for the drive is still a bit steep. Now, it’s true that prices will fall, but we’re also talking about a product that Apple is announcing now, not next year.
Apple could stick with the 32GB and 64GB versions which are priced a little more reasonably, but I don’t like those options either.
The iPhone may be able to get away with 8GB, but that’s because OS X on the iPhone is stripped down to only what’s needed to run a phone, whereas a new Mac notebook has to act like a Mac notebook, with a full complement of software, drivers, and applications.
With that in mind, let’s look at my Application, Library, and System folders on my MacBook Pro.
Together, those weigh in at about 23GB, which on a 32GB flash-based SSD would leave me about 7GB for those little things that make having a computer worthwhile. Frivolous, hardly worth mentioning items like documents, photos, music, and videos.
64GB is workable, but expensive, and still a bit paltry when the average TV show is half-a-gig and movies are a gig-and-a-half. And that’s not even high-definition (wink).
So what’s it to be? A standard-sized 2.5″ notebook drive which increases the size of the unit, or a sexy but pricey flash drive with limited capacity?
Or is there, perhaps, an alternative behind door number 3?
As a matter of fact, there is.
And it can be found in the super-small 1.8″ hard drives Apple that uses in its disk-based iPods.
They’re small, light, power-efficient, and if you compare them byte-for-byte to SSDs they’re dirt cheap. Samsung’s 160GB model, for example, runs at 4200RPM, has a 15ms seek time, and sub-1W power consumption.
And is inexpensive enough that Apple can use it in a $350 iPod.
Add 16GB or so of on-board flash to the notebook to cache system and application files so we can get eight hours or so off the battery, and boom… you’ve got it all: size, performance, and price.
Now, I’m not telling you that it’s going to happen, you understand.
But when it does, you heard it here first.
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