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The New MacBook

When the MacBook Pro was introduced in January 2006, everyone was left wondering: If this is the MacBook Pro , where’s the MacBook? Five months later, the other shoe dropped.
the new non-pro MacBook is a 13-inch laptop that replaces both the iBook and the 12-inch PowerBook G4. But despite its lack of Pro in its name, this little laptop is much more powerful and full-featured than the laptops it’s replacing

Size matters
Compared to a 15-inch MacBook Pro, the MacBook seems quite small. The MacBook is slightly thicker, but the MacBook Pro is 1.3 inches wider and .4 inches deeper than its new little brother. Likewise, the MacBook weighs 5.2 pounds, compared to the MacBook Pro’s 5.6 pounds.

But how you view size is a matter of perspective. I like little laptops. One of the perks of being the editorial director of Macworld is that I generally get to use whatever Mac system I want to. And yet at

 one point I was an iBook user, entirely because it was so much smaller than the Titanium PowerBook G4. When the 12-inch PowerBook was released, I glommed onto it and wouldn’t let go. Only recently did I relucta

ntly switch to a MacBook Pro, taking on the added size and weight so I would be able to actually write about using an Intel-based Mac.

Unlike the 12-inch PowerBook and iBook, this new MacBook comes with a 13-inch widescreen display with a native resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels. (In contrast, the 12-inch PowerBook’s screen could only display 1024 x 768 pixels.) This screen is slightly taller, much wider, and quite a bit shinier, since it’s the first Mac laptop to feature a screen with a glossy surface.

Although Apple could have skimped on features with the MacBook to distinguish it from the higher-end MacBook Pro models, it didn’t. The MacBook contains many of the same features you would find in a MacBook Pro, including a built-in iSight camera and an Apple Remote with built-in Front Row software. As with all other new Apple systems, there’s no longer a built-in modem — Apple’s external USB modem is $49 extra. And as with all Macs these days, AirPort Extreme and Bluetooth are built in to all MacBook models.

Beneath the battery

RAM slots
The MacBook’s battery is long and narrow, somewhat reminiscent of the original iBook battery — but not nearly as gigantic! We’ll work to test the MacBook’s battery life, although right now we have no idea how long it’ll run on a single charge. Stay tuned for more in our full review.

Underneath the battery you’ll find two SO-DIMM slots, which let you take the MacBook up to as much as 2GB of RAM. To get to the slots, you’ve got to unscrew a small metal housing and then pull back on one of two levers to pop out that particular RAM module. It’s relatively easy to do, but it’s a different process than on other Mac laptops I’ve seen.

Although the MacBook is Apple’s lowest-priced laptop, it’s about as far from a “low-end” model as you could get. Although you can no longer buy a new Mac laptop for under $1.000, the cheapest MacBook (a $1,099 model) features a dual-core 1.83 GHz processor. Apple could have chosen to release a cheap, underpowered MacBook with an underpowered Intel Core Solo processor — the same approach it took with its Intel-based Mac mini models — but it didn’t go down that path. As a result, even the lowest-priced MacBook is a remarkably powerful system.

And for those who appreciate the MacBook’s small package but want to make sure it’s packed with as much power as possible, the add-on options for this system are incredible. Yes, a maxed-out MacBook will cost you $2,049 ($2,199 if you want it in black!), but for that price you’ll get a dual-core 2GHz processor, 2GB of RAM, a 120GB serial ATA drive, and a SuperDrive.

The iBook might have gotten a reputation as a compromised low-cost laptop, but the MacBook is as powerful as you — and your bank account — want it to be.

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