Good news for Apple as key supplier plant plans to re-open

A plant at one of Apple’s key component suppliers for the MacBook Air that had been forced to shut down will be spending $3 million in order to reopen by November, according to a new report. Catcher is responsible for most of Apple’s unibody computer enclosures.

Apple Making Things Right for Unibody MacBook Owners

Apple issued a new support document over the weekend that promises a fix for white, unibody MacBook affected by a problem with peeling rubber on the bottom case. Affected units are now eligible for free repairs, for up to two years from the original purchase date.

The White Unibody is the Second-Best MacBook Ever, So Why Do I Feel So Let Down?

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The new plastic unibody MacBook is arguably the second-best MacBook model Apple (s aapl) has produced yet (trumped only by the late 2008 aluminum unibody MacBook). So why am I finding myself unexpectedly underwhelmed and disappointed with it?

When rumors began circulating in late summer about an imminent new unibody MacBook in polycarbonate plastic. Being a consummate Apple laptop aficionado, I was excited. Speculation that it would sell in the $700 – $800 range further whetted my anticipation but I was also expecting something insanely great. After all, Apple could build on what it had learned making polycarbonate MacBooks for three and half years (the best-selling Mac model ever) combined with the unibody engineering of the MacBook Pros adapted to plastic materials. Read More about The White Unibody is the Second-Best MacBook Ever, So Why Do I Feel So Let Down?

How Important is a Removable Notebook Battery?

MacBookAlmost exactly a year ago, Apple (s aapl) introduced its unibody aluminum MacBooks. “Unibody” means that the case is a single piece, with the battery being sealed inside. My immediate reaction, shared by many road warriors and web workers, was horror: “They can’t do that!” Not only did Apple do it, but soon after, the range was expanded to include the 17” MacBooks as well. As of today, the only MacBook available with a removable battery is the legacy white 13” MacBook, whose days are believed to be numbered by many analysts.

So what happened when legions of Apple fans were faced with being unable to change out the batteries on their beloved notebooks? Did angry mobs descend on Cupertino? Not exactly. After the initial shock wore off, we began to ask ourselves how important removable laptop batteries actually were.

There are good arguments for removable notebook batteries, especially if you compute on the go a lot. Power outlets are frequently unavailable in locations such as conference rooms, convention centers and aircraft. Power access is improving in newer facilities but it is still easy to find yourself without power. Having the security of the second battery in your bag makes the quest for power a little less panicked. Also, replacing a battery that has outlived its hardware life requires no downtime. Read More about How Important is a Removable Notebook Battery?

Value Shootout: White 13″ MacBook vs. Unibody 13″ MacBook Pro

WhiteBook vss MacBook Pro

A Mac laptop question I’ve been getting asked over the past few months is which 13-inch MacBook is the better value — the posh aluminum unibody model, or the $300 cheaper carryover white polycarbonate unit, which, after two substantial updates in 2009, had been upgraded to pretty closely match the more expensive machine performance-wise, and had the bonus of a FireWire port, which the unibody didn’t.

My take has been that it’s a nice sort of dilemma, since you really couldn’t go wrong. Both models offered excellent value — more computer for the money than ever before in Apple (s aapl) portables.

However, the Mac portable landscape, and the relative value equation for these two models, shifted dramatically with the MacBook Pro line announcements at WWDC, and I can now declare a clear value-leader. The renamed, upgraded, and price-chopped 13-inch MacBook Pro now wins at a walk, retaining all the goodness of the aluminum MacBook but with a boatload of value added, along with a $100 price reduction. You really can’t go wrong with the new baby MacBook Pro now having a FireWire port restored and the welcome addition of an SD Card slot for good measure — something that’s never been seen before on an Apple laptop. You also get a backlit keyboard, a quarter-gigabyte more clock speed, and a built-in battery claimed to go up to seven hours between recharges.

The WhiteBook, now sole designate of the plain “MacBook” name, is still a formidable machine for $200 cheaper if you’re on a tight budget. Last week, prior to WWDC, Apple refreshed the white MacBook, quietly bumping the Core 2 Duo clock speed to 2.13GHz, the RAM speed to 800MHz, and matched the base unibody’s 160GB standard hardware drive capacity (upgradable to 500GB), which for a brief interval actually made the price-leader MacBook faster than the more expensive base unibody. But no longer. Here’s how it all shapes up between the WhiteBook and the 13-inch MacBook Pro now that the dust has settled a bit. Read More about Value Shootout: White 13″ MacBook vs. Unibody 13″ MacBook Pro

13″ MacBook Makes It to the Big Leagues, Turns “Pro”

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Apple (s aapl) announced a slew of hardware updates today, including a number of upgrades to its notebook lineup.

For me, the most notable among these was the upwards shift of the 13-inch aluminum MacBook into the MacBook Pro category, alongside the 15- and 17-inch models, both of which also got their own feature and hardware improvements. The white, plastic polycarbonate MacBook is looking mighty lonely down at the low end of the scale.

Alongside the name change, the 13-inch MacBook Pro (I’m glad I no longer have to specify “unibody” or anything else to distinguish it from the regular white MacBook anymore) gets an SD card slot, up to 8GB (if you’re partial to a $1,000 upgrade) of memory, a max hard drive size of 500GB (or 256GB SSD), and a backlit keyboard, standard.

Also, making a triumphant return, is FireWire thanks to an FW800 port, as is standard for the Pro line of computers. All this at a new entry-level price point of $1,199, which comes standard with a 2.26GHz processor, 2GB of RAM, and a 160GB HDD. Another higher-priced option with a 2.53GHz processor, 4GB of RAM, and a 250GB HDD goes for $1,499. Read More about 13″ MacBook Makes It to the Big Leagues, Turns “Pro”

A Continuing Discussion of the Unibody MacBook 13″ vs. PowerBook 12″

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Charles Moore wrote a great article about the unibody 13″ MacBook compared to the much-loved 12″ PowerBook. A friend of Charles argued that until the dimensions were nearly identical it could never be considered a replacement. Charles feels there’s a little more to it than that.

I think they’re both right (yes, life is good sitting on top of this fence).

I don’t disagree with Charles’ friend that width is a big factor, and here the new MacBook is much bigger than the 12.” However, I would suggest that depth is the more critical (for use on a table, airline tray table, etc.) and here the new model is only slightly bigger. Further, weight is a big factor and the two are pretty much identical.

So you need to consider just what you’re getting for those extra couple inches of width. It’s more than just a much bigger screen (in resolution, not just size). The larger case allows a larger thermal envelope so they can pack all that power in there. Remember that Apple (s aapl) could never get a G5 in a notebook no matter what. The G4 in the 12″ initially ran at 867MHz, less than the 17″ introduced the same day.

I’m just not convinced one must insist that every dimension be equal or smaller to be a true replacement. Given the near-equality of each dimension except width, and what you’re getting for that width — and its value — I’d say the 13″ kicks some serious butt. And I put my money where my text is, since I own one and love it.
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