'MacBook Air' Design Considerations

Discussion in 'MacRumors.com News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Jan 14, 2008.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    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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  2. aswitcher macrumors 603


    Oct 8, 2003
    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.
  3. jacktiernan macrumors regular

    Sep 3, 2007
    Vic, Australia
    Aaaaw, stop it! You're getting me soooooooooo excited :D

    Nice little article, can't wait...... only 28 hours to go!
  4. VicMacs macrumors 6502

    Sep 7, 2003
    Dominican Republic
  5. takao macrumors 68040


    Dec 25, 2003
    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
  6. goldenlotus macrumors regular

    Oct 21, 2007
    Brooklyn, NY
    This is almost as good as the iphone rumors last year. I'm excited!
  7. derrickearl macrumors newbie

    Jan 7, 2008
    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.
  8. thefunkymunky macrumors 65816

    Feb 24, 2005
    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.
  9. Kolind macrumors regular

    Nov 2, 2006
    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)
  10. bigandy macrumors G3


    Apr 30, 2004
    ...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.
  11. backspinner macrumors 6502a

    Apr 29, 2002
    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.
  12. nomad01 macrumors 68000


    Aug 1, 2005
    Birmingham, England
    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". :)
  13. dobbin macrumors 6502a


    Jan 28, 2002

    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?
  14. brop52 macrumors 68000


    Feb 26, 2007
  15. derrickearl macrumors newbie

    Jan 7, 2008
    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...
  16. icrew macrumors member


    Feb 18, 2003

    If apple needed something smaller than a standard ethernet port, I don't know why they wouldn't just license the X-Jack connector. It's very small, and totally proven technology. See http://www.computerhope.com/jargon/x/xjack.htm for details.
  17. edesignuk Moderator emeritus


    Mar 25, 2002
    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.
  18. ebfoxbat macrumors newbie

    Jan 14, 2008
    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.
  19. kungming2 macrumors regular

    May 31, 2007
    A bit on the chunky side, this one is.
  20. thefunkymunky macrumors 65816

    Feb 24, 2005
    On a sub-notebook I don't excluding FW would be a major disadvantage. It's a sub-notebook after all.
  21. Malcster macrumors 6502

    Apr 26, 2005
    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.
  22. edesignuk Moderator emeritus


    Mar 25, 2002
    London, England
    IBM have used them for years in their tiny X series laptops.
  23. nickane macrumors 6502

    Feb 24, 2005
    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?
  24. eastcoastsurfer macrumors 6502a

    Feb 15, 2007
    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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