MacMost Now 9: Ultra-Portable MacBook Rumors

Gary Rosenzweig takes a look at rumors of lightweight ultra-portable MacBooks possibly coming out in January. He talks about Flash NAND memory replacing hard drives, and which machines use them now. He also looks at Sony and Toshiba ultra-portables and speculates on what Apple might come out with.

Video Transcript
Hi! This is Gary Rosenzweig with MacMost Now. It's December 10th, 2007 and rumors abound that in January in Macworld, Apple is gonna come out with some sort of ultra portable laptop. These are pretty credible rumors as they come in from all different directions. So let's take a look at what Apple has done in the past with Ultra-Portables and let's take a look at what an Ultra-Portable in 2008 might look like. Now one of the most consistent parts of all the rumors is that the new Ultra-Portables will use flash memory rather than hard drives. Flash memory, as you might know is these little sticks here. They come in like, one to four gig sticks and you can use them to store things. They're called flash drives or thumb drives. Now, in order to put 32 gigs or 64 gigs together cost a lot and these things are probably going to run 2 to 3 times as much as a normal hard drive inside of a laptop. But they are fast and take less power and less space. They also will boot the computer very quickly which is useful for an Ultra-Portable. So we've already seen some machines with these types of devices in them. Let's take a look.
Samsung has a machine called the Q30 SSD. SSD stands for Solid State Drive. In other words, this flash type memory instead of a hard drive. It's got a 32-gig drive in it. It's expensive, $3,700.00, but it does have better power consumption and a really fast drive in a light-weight format. Now other manufacturers also are supposed to have machines like this out but Toshiba's machine, even though it says in it's website will be out in July 2007, still doesn't appear to be for sale anywhere. And Dell has a machine, but it's only available from the Taiwan store. Not in the US yet. Now Samsung has already announced that in early 2008, they are going to have 32, 64, and a 128-gig flash drive that could be put in an Ultra-Portable Mac. Now the advantages of course are speed, less power consumption, almost no noise are a sort of weighted with the disadvantages of higher cost and also possibility that they don't last as long as regular hard drives, having a limited amount of read and writes. But we will have to see and this is probably among the first generation of these hard drive anyway. It's worth noting that Apple has come up with an Ultra-Portable form, a few times, in fact. First time was the Powerbook Duo in 1992. These machines are really light-weight because they optical drive and a lot of the ports on a docking station. So you had your portable part and the part that was on your desktop. These ran till about 1997. They are quite expensive at times. Sometimes being as much as $5000.00 or more. Other times being down around $2000.00. In 1997, they stopped with the Duos and they came out with a PowerBook 2400 which is basically a version of the Powerbooks at that time which was very light-weight and had an external optical drive. This was only out for a year and then they had no ultra-portable for a long time, until in 2003, when they came out with the Aluminum G4 Powerbooks. They came out with a 12-inch version of that. I've got one of these and i loved it. It's really light-weight and easy to carry with you yet it's almost as powerful as some of the other G4 Aluminum Laptops. If you look at what other manufacturers are doing, you'll see there's a few ultra-portable laptops out there that are very popular. One is the Sony Vaio. This thing's got an 11-inch screen and is really light-weight. And it comes at about $2,000.00 to $4000.00. And it's pretty full feature-packed Windows XP or Windows Vista machine. We've also got a Toshiba line called the Portege. These things are really super light-weight. They come in under 12 pounds and eventually it looks like there will be an SSD version of these.
So my predictions for what will come out in January. First thing you expect is perhaps nothing because a lot of times these rumors never pan out. They are completely wrong. So given that there might be something. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that it's not going to use flash memory. It still seems to be pretty expensive and in the early stages. Meanwhile, Apple is really good with coming out with ultra thin devices like the Ipod that have big hard drives in them. The Ipod classic is a pretty small device and it's got a very large hard drive in it. So i think they'll use additional hard drives. And I also think that they'll just come out with basically a standard laptop that's much thinner. There are some great optical drive technology out there. Lots of them produce a very thin optical drive. So i think they will have that. There'll basically be a very thin, very small Mac book. So that's my prediction of what's going to come out.
So let's do some wild speculation. There's also been rumors of a tablet Mac and rumors of a touch-screen Mac. So let's combine those and maybe this is one of the same thing. But they've been so successful with the Iphone or the Ipod Touch, then why not come up with the version that's just much bigger. That's in fact, a combination between a laptop and an Iphone. Thinking about a machine that's got no keyboard at all and has a big touch screen, and maybe uses flash memory as well. This should be a really interesting device and really be something more along the lines of what Apple's been doing with the Iphone, and doing with the new Ipods. So who knows what Apple's going to come out with.But it should be interesting and we'll sure will all be watching.
That's what I think. But what do you think? Go to MacMost.com and look for this episode. Episode 9 of MacMost Now. You can leave comments there. Tell me what you think Apple's going to come out with in January. And also if you're interested in other rumors, you can go to the rumor section at MacMost.com/rumors and see what other rumors are going to be around for January. Until next time, this is Gary Rosenzweig with MacMost Now.

Comments: 4 Responses to “MacMost Now 9: Ultra-Portable MacBook Rumors”

    Daniel
    12/10/07 @ 9:32 pm

    Wow, hope it’s more then just rumor!
    Your reasoning on Apple making an over size iPhone/ iTouch interface type MacBook makes a lot of sense to me. I love my iPhone and get a lot done on it for work and home…
    Having that same interface on a MacBook or Apple tablet would be a big plus for the job or travel!
    I hope “Steve” is tuning in to your podcast. :-)

    krishnendu sarkar
    12/11/07 @ 5:47 am

    i think apple will come up with an ultra portable laptop, which has a hard drive instead of flash drive. but it’ll have a touch screen instead of keyboard.and it’ll definitely not be a tablet.

    Daniel
    12/28/07 @ 7:07 pm

    Gary;
    Others agree with you:

    http://dvice.com/archives/2007/12/could_this_be_t.php

    Queenie Ross
    11/22/09 @ 8:09 pm

    I’m fascinated by the diverse range of views and opinions. Who’s your “go to” guy?

Comments Closed.