#macbook

David Chartier:

For all the incredibleness of the MacBook Air’s new battery, the device is still dependent on WiFi hotspots and, let’s face it, the internet is an essential ingredient these days for getting most things done. Now, keep in mind that adding 4G radios to the MacBook Air likely poses its own share of challenges that Apple has clearly decided to avoid for the Mac, at least so far. In general, it seems like 3G/4G radios have never been very popular in notebooks for some reason. Plus, a 4G radio would add weight to the MacBook Air—renowned for its thin and light design—and, of course, affect that incredible 12-hour battery or, in PCMag’s case, 15-hour battery.

I do wonder if we’re to the point where an LTE option for a MacBook might make sense. Weight and design were and are certainly issues, but battery life was undoubtedly another key which is probably moot now with these insane battery times.

Yes, it’s a pain dealing with carriers (just in the U.S., let alone the world), but a lot of plans already offer shared data, so this could be just another device. 

Update: As many of you have noted, OS X would have to be tailored so as to not do things like download OS updates when using the data connection. Seems like an easy enough thing to implement.

Dan Frommer:

All this in mind, it seems more likely that Mac sales will either stay flat or have started their long-term decline than they’ll ever reach, say, 10 million in a quarter.

I think Frommer is directionally correct — going forward, growth is all about tablets and smartphones, not PCs (be they Windows or Mac machines). Duh. But I actually thought Tim Cook’s explanation for the (big) decline in Mac sales was perfectly reasonable and rational — timing is everything. You cannot sell what you cannot ship.

I suspect that when Apple moves the MacBook Air to retina screens next year (and perhaps iMacs the year after that?) there will be a surge in sales again. I talk to a lot of people who use Macs and all seem to be waiting for that product. I happen to think the 13-inch retina MacBook Pro is close to the perfect MacBook, but a retina Air would rule them all.

The 15-Inch Air

There is a lot of talk out there right now about the supposed 15-inch MacBook Air. I haven’t heard anything specific besides the usual whispers of new product numbers floating around out there. It seems pretty likely that something is coming. 

What’s a bit odd about this talk is Apple’s entire MacBook line. Namely, there is no actual MacBook anymore, just the Air and the Pro. If the Air gains a 15-inch model, the line between those two blurs even more.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see some sort of consolidation. Just pure speculation here, but maybe the Air becomes simply the “MacBook” and the focus is on the 11, 13, and new 15-inch models. Meanwhile, the MacBook Pro drops the 13-inch model and focuses on the 15, and 17-inch models.

The current Air models are more than fast enough for most consumers. And I’m not sure why anyone would buy a 13-inch Pro unless they really want that optical drive. 

Maybe it’s time to separate the Pro line by doing something like a super high resolution screen and maybe insane battery life (10+ hours). 

Or maybe the 15-inch thin MacBook is meant to be a hybrid of a Pro and an Air. Maybe it has more ports, better battery life, and a higher price — but loses the optical drive. It’s dead anyway

I’ve talked to a lot of people who want a 15-inch screen on their Air. I’m sort of the opposite. At first I thought the 13-inch Air would be too small for everyday work (I was moving from a 15-inch Pro). Now it’s my main machine for everything. And I actually think I might prefer the 11-inch size if it didn’t mean taking a 2-hour hit on battery life dropping down from the 13. 

Battery life matters more to me now than anything else. Each of the last two MacBook Air models has been more than fast enough for what I need from a computer. Give me one with a full 10 hour battery and I’d be tempted, no matter the screen size.

What’s most interesting here is that the 13-inch MacBook Air and the 15-inch MacBook Pro have the exact same resolution: 1440x900. This is why I had no problem replacing my Pro with an Air.

Does a 15-inch Air go closer to the 17-inch Pro’s 1920x1200 resolution? Or maybe it does 1680x1050? If so, why would anyone buy the 15-inch Pro? What about the 13-inch Pro? For the optical drive? Please.

To me, the 13-inch Air seems like the perfect size for my needs right now. But I would be tempted by a 15-inch if the battery life was even better. Right now the 13-inch Air gets 7 hours while the 11-inch gets 5. Could a 15-inch Air get 9 hours?

If so, what’s the weight trade-off? The 13-inch Air is just a sliver under 3 pounds currently. The 15-inch Pro is 5.6 pounds. The 13-inch Pro is 4.5 pounds. Could a 15-inch Air be 4 pounds?

Or. What about this:

What if a 15-inch Air replaces the 13-inch Pro in Apple’s line-up? Apple keeps the high-end 15-inch and 17-inch Pro for actual pros, but realizes the most others will be fine given how powerful the Air is now. 

This would make Apple’s notebook offerings look like this:

Portability:

  • 11-inch Air
  • 13-inch Air

Portability/Power:

  • 15-inch Air

Power:

  • 15-inch Pro
  • 17-inch Pro

If they do that, maybe the Air eventually does get renamed to simply “MacBook”.