'MacBook Air' Design Considerations

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Apr 12, 2001
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As the keynote approaches, it seems increasingly likely that Apple will be releasing a slim notebook at Macworld. We've heard more confirmations that the notebook will be called the 'Macbook Air' despite a significant amount of disbelief surrounding the product name.

For Apple to launch an extremely slim MacBook laptop, however, there are a few design considerations that should be recognized. With the reported removal of the optical drive from the body of the machine, it seems clear that Apple is interested in slimming down the laptop as much as possible. In creating a super-slim laptop, there are a few other components that become size-limiting.

While there has been much talk about the move to Solid State (Flash) based drives, these drives carry a significant premium over traditional hard drives. Apple uses 2.5" SATA hard drives in their current MacBooks. Regardless of type of drive used, moving to a 1.8" form factor would be necessary to slim down the laptop further. Apple has a significant amount of experience with the use of these 1.8" drives which are used in the hard drive based iPods. Of note, Samsung's recently announced 1.8" 160GB drive has started shipping this past week for only $199.

Another size constraint would be the Ethernet jack on the laptop itself. We learned that Apple had been exploring this issue through a published patent application that explored the possibility of collapsable external ports. Other manufacturers of thin laptops have used ethernet-usb dongle to avoid housing the ethernet jack on the laptop itself. Similarly, Apple would have to include an attachable ethernet adapter, if their collapsable connectors never graduated from the research lab.

Apple is rumored to be releasing a new slim MacBook at Macworld San Francisco. User conferences begin on January 14th, but the keynote kicks off on January 15th at 9am. We'll have live coverage at MacRumorsLive.com and extended floor coverage at macrumors.com/mwsf.

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aswitcher

macrumors 603
Oct 8, 2003
5,338
14
Canberra OZ
Mini DVI not DVI?

HDMI a possible replacement for DVI?

FW 400 will stay - this thing needs to boot into target disk mode to allow an external DVD drive with leopard to reinstall when there are issues.
 

takao

macrumors 68040
Dec 25, 2003
3,820
480
Dornbirn (Austria)
hm removing the optical for sure would mean in some regards some size advantage .. the question regarding the 1.8" drives is more on the point of speed ... anybody knows the speeds those drives can get ?

... sure a laptop with both: a small solid state drive for operating system and a 1.8" for the files used as combination might be a solution thoug hthe space saved then wouldn't be as big

on collapsable ports ... i wouldn't be so sure about that .. seems to be more of a hassle mechanically and more prone to break to be really worth it.. put the ethernet jack on a usb dongle and as said you might achieve the same result in heigth reduction
 

derrickearl

macrumors newbie
Jan 7, 2008
23
0
The laptop would use Bluetooth, WiFi for communication, and have a USB and iPod style connector. Power can carried from the iPod style connector. A power button is on right side, further simplifying the keyboard area. The keyboard and much of the design cues would come from the new keyboards.
 

thefunkymunky

macrumors 65816
Feb 24, 2005
1,270
2
London
Mini DVI not DVI?

HDMI a possible replacement for DVI?

FW 400 will stay - this thing needs to boot into target disk mode to allow an external DVD drive with leopard to reinstall when there are issues.
On Intel Macs, the FW400 TG issue can be accomplished with USB2, which has a smaller footprint and more ideally suited to a thin(ner) notebook.
 

Kolind

macrumors regular
Nov 2, 2006
105
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Denmark
Is it possible that Apple would get rid of the ethernet port? They were the first to do it with floppy drives, they've dropped the laptop-modems, it seems they are getting rid of the optical drive too - so is it too far fetched that they get rid of the ethernet port and rely on wireless?

I don't think they'll do it (yet), but I wouldn't be surprised either.

Just my 2 ører (Danish currency :p)
 

bigandy

macrumors G3
Apr 30, 2004
8,852
0
Murka
On Intel Macs, the FW400 TG issue can be accomplished with USB2, which has a smaller footprint and more ideally suited to a thin(ner) notebook.
...however FW400 being removed from this new mac would stop many serious potential suitors from forking out the cash. i'd certainly think twice about a Mac without firewire.
 

backspinner

macrumors 6502a
Apr 29, 2002
548
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Eindhoven
For my work I really need an ethernet port, but not all the time. If carrying an ethernet cable is acceptable, carrying a USB dongle for these occasions is as well.
 

nomad01

macrumors 68000
Aug 1, 2005
1,661
13
Birmingham, England
hm removing the optical for sure would mean in some regards some size advantage .. the question regarding the 1.8" drives is more on the point of speed ... anybody knows the speeds those drives can get ?
I'm presuming there will be some performance compromises with something this small. However, if it's more portable than my Macbook I would definitely be in the market for it. I've wanted a small MacOS machine for AGES. When I first returned to Macs years ago it was a choice between a Sony VAIO or a 12" Powerbook. I plumped (thankfully!) for the Powerbook.

Fingers crossed for a compact, reasonably priced Macbook "nano". :)
 

dobbin

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Jan 28, 2002
587
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England
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Another size constraint would be the Ethernet jack on the laptop itself. We learned that Apple had been exploring this issue through a published patent application that explored the possibility of collapsable external ports. Other manufacturers of thin laptops have used ethernet-usb dongle to avoid housing the ethernet jack on the laptop itself. Similarly, Apple would have to include an attachable ethernet adapter, if their collapsable connectors never graduated from the research lab.

Article Link

I've never used the ethernet port on my iBook - surely almost everyone uses wireless these days? Maybe Apple could develop a new "mini-ethernet" port and then use a converter-dongle for the rare occaisions that it's needed?
 

derrickearl

macrumors newbie
Jan 7, 2008
23
0
...however FW400 being removed from this new mac would stop many serious potential suitors from forking out the cash. i'd certainly think twice about a Mac without firewire.
How many of those new iPod/PC users that have yet to convert to Mac have Firewire products? This is a perfect product to show users how streamlined Apple can be and pull off an interface and industrial design that makes them forget about how things use to be.

Hold on let me save a copy of this thread on a floppy...
 

edesignuk

Moderator emeritus
Mar 25, 2002
19,233
2
London, England
If this is to happen, I'm not too worried about the speed of a little 1.8" drive or lack of firewire/ethernet ports, separate video card etc. Using SSD storage will just send the price sky rocketing, and i for one can quite live without it for a laptop of this sort.

The soul focus of this design should be about form. Chances are it'll only be rocking a low voltage CPU, it's not designed to be any sort of work horse. So what if the drive is a bit slow? Crappy shared video? For surfing the web and doing emails it doesn't make any difference. Same with Firewire, who cares? No one is going to be editing video on this thing, and if you want an external drive USB2 is up to the job.

It just needs to be small and light, oh, and at a good price. The actual hardware specs aren't all that important, just so long as it can run Leopard half decently.
 

ebfoxbat

macrumors newbie
Jan 14, 2008
7
0
This would SUCK

Let me be the first to say that a wireless laptop would suck.

Do you want to lug around an induction pad with you everywhere you go? It's one thing to have an induction-supporting desk. Some type of standard, then you can toss your laptop, cell, etc. on it.

It's a whole new ballgame when you depend on it. Now...

If the Air has a Mag-Safe connector and the pad uses a traditional Mag-Safe connection then you'd be OK: you could use it as you would a normal laptop while on the road.

Which leads me to my next point. Perhaps Apple is announcing an Induction Charging Standard for all of their products henceforth. One could have an iInduction desk and just toss your iPod, iPhone 2.0, MacBook Air, iWatch, et al on it to charge.
 

thefunkymunky

macrumors 65816
Feb 24, 2005
1,270
2
London
...however FW400 being removed from this new mac would stop many serious potential suitors from forking out the cash. i'd certainly think twice about a Mac without firewire.
On a sub-notebook I don't excluding FW would be a major disadvantage. It's a sub-notebook after all.
 

Malcster

macrumors 6502a
Apr 26, 2005
567
153
Bristol, UK
Whilst fine for iPods and PDA's im pretty sure the performance of the 1.8" drives is simply nowhere near good enough for a full blown computer..

Consider Spotlight indexing, swap partitions etc, im sure it would be a serious bottleneck.
 

nickane

macrumors 6502
Feb 24, 2005
345
0
Collapsible ports patent looked flimsy. No matter how well this is implemented it doesn't seem as convenient as having the ports behind the hinge. Most likely to me seems an optional USB dongle as ethernet is really uncommon nowadays and wouldn't make sense for a device of this type.

A minute ago, we were all talking about induction charging... Who wants an ethernet port?
 

eastcoastsurfer

macrumors 6502a
Feb 15, 2007
600
27
I've never used the ethernet port on my iBook - surely almost everyone uses wireless these days?
Except in the business world. Many companies don't have onsite wireless (or it's very firewalled) b/c of the security issues. Getting rid of the ethernet jack would make this machine even less useful for many business users (lack of docking stations are already a negative in this area).
 
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