Apple recently held their annual developers conference, the WWDC. Apple opened this year's event with the usual keynote showing several new products and new software. This year was no exception with Apple showing new updated notebook computers. One of the more interesting announcements was the addition of the word Pro added to the 13-inch MacBook. These three letters changed the aluminum MacBook from a low-end Mac to a high-end compact notebook.
The original 13-inch aluminum MacBook had the same style as the 15 and 17-inch Pro models. With a body machined from a solid block of aluminum, the MacBooks were beautiful and rock steady. This new design made for a body that didn't have the 'flex' as most laptops tend to have, especially in the larger models. The screens have a glossy covering that extends out to the frame giving it a very clean appearance. The LCD screen itself is framed in black making it stand out.
The 13-inch MacBook is also very compact. While it's not the size of the new 'Netbooks' that have taken over the PC world, the 13-inch MacBook measures 12.78x8.94 inches and is only 0.95 inches thick. It also weighs in at only 4.5 pounds. Unlike previous MacBook Pro models, the aluminum models do not have a latch system when you close the screen. The Aluminum MacBooks have a true clamshell that springs shut. This is a much better design since I have seen many old iBooks and MacBooks with broken latches (with a broken latch the laptop doesn't stay shut if you put it to sleep and will open up in a case and drain the battery).
If you set the new 13-inch MacBook Pro and the previous MacBook side by side you won't see any major differences. However, there are some nice changes that earns the 13-inch's new Pro tag. The one thing that really sets it apart from the previous model is the addition of a Firewire 800 port. The loss of the Firewire port on the original aluminum 13-inch MacBook was a major let down, especially for those with mini DV camcorders who wanted to use iMovie to edit their videos.
When you look on the left side of the MacBook Pro, where all the ports reside, you will see a new small card slot. This new slot is for SD flash memory cards. Since the SD has become the most popular card format for small digital cameras it does make sense. If you are going to have one slot, make it the most popular format. Of course you can also use the micro SD cards from small cameras and even phones, if you use an SD adapter card.
All of the new MacBook Pros now have non-removable batteries. This may seem like a major flaw in design, but Apple thought about this long and hard. Laptop batteries, at least the ones that are removable, have to have a large plastic case with contacts and circuitry in them. By getting rid of this outer case and using a square cell design, the battery can be much larger. A larger battery runs longer, plus this new Apple battery has more charge cycles. A battery with more charge cycles will have a much longer lifespan. Apple states that the new batteries run for up to 7 hours and have a recharge cycle of 1000 (most notebook batteries have a cycle rate of about 300 giving the new Apple battery 3x longer life).
There are several small changes to the new 13-inch Pro. All 13-inch models have the backlit keyboard. This might be considered a luxury feature, but if you ever like to use your MacBook in a dark, or dimly lit room, it makes typing a pleasure. The 13-inch Pro has the new and improved LED backlit LCD color screen (which is also in the updated 15 and 17-inch models). This new screen is said to have 60 percent more color gamut and brightness.
The previous MacBook had a maximum RAM capacity of 4 gigs. The new 13-inch Pro has the ability to use up to 8 gigs. This is another feature that 'pros' wanted, but we can all benefit from having more RAM. More RAM means you can work on several photos or larger photos, plus having 4 or more gigs of RAM allow you to run a virtual machine, with say Windows XP or Vista, much more efficiently.
The new 13-inch Pro will undoubtedly become one of Apple's best selling notebooks. It has many great things going for it. For one, the 13-inch is the lowest priced Pro model starting at $1,199, which in itself is $100 lower than the previous non-Pro model. Now with the SD card slot and Firewire 800 port it will be sought after by photographers and videographers - Pro or amateur. It's amazing what three letters can do, the new 13-inch MacBook PRO.