Five future MacBook must-haves

As anticipation of a lineup refresh builds, here are five essential features for a new MacBook Pro.

As PC makers flood the market with new laptops based on the Intel Core i processors, anticipation of a refresh of the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air builds every week. Here's a short MacBook wish list that may serve as a temporary salve to soothe the anxious Apple crowd.

The truism nothing succeeds like success applies in spades to the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air lineups. Apple has redefined laptop computing and spawned me-too designs from just about every major laptop manufacturer. And it's easy to see why: Apple pioneered the sleek but sturdy all-aluminum laptop equipped with stunning LED displays and powerful standard graphics silicon.

So, how can Apple top this? Here's five ways.

Five ways to best a brilliant design:

  • Powerful processors: no surprise here, but this after all is what everyone is waiting for. The Intel Core i7 and Core i5 processors provide plenty of power while their 32-nanometer technology goes easy on power consumption.
  • Greater graphics: this is a another no-brainer. Either ATI or Nvidia will do. Intel is offering better integrated graphics, but let's presume that Apple will continue to shun Intel integrated graphics in favor of standalone, or "discrete," graphics from ATI and Nvidia. The key: adequate pixel-pushing power but not so much that it melts the aluminum.
  • Cooler Connections: USB 3.0 would be nice since it's backward compatible and a lot faster than 2.0. Then there's the razor's edge of cutting-edge technologies called Light Peak. Intel and Apple have both been working on this. Light Peak can carry data at 10 gigabits per second in both directions simultaneously and Intel expects it will reach 100 gigabits per second in the next decade.
  • Wider wireless: 3G/4G built in. This is a longstanding item on the MacBook wish-list. Alas, Apple appears determined not to include 3G as an internal option. Maybe Apple is waiting for 4G or maybe Steve Jobs thinks Apple laptops are not suited to the 3G world of the iPhone and iPad.
  • Slicker storage: Hybrid drives are already standard fare on gaming machines, why not laptops? Put the operating system and apps on a relatively small (and inexpensive) solid-state drive and the rest on a larger hard disk drive. Also: an option for 1 terabyte of storage would be nice.

Other wish-list items might include a Blu-ray optical drive and an upgraded iSight camera. And I'm sure readers have plenty of other suggestions.

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