MacBook features we're still waiting on

Apple's next-generation MacBook Pros fulfilled a few of our biggest desires, but there are still a number of features we'd like to see.

Apple

So, the new MacBook Pros have made their debut, and as always we're left re-evaluating our list of features we hoped Apple would add. We had a rundown on our most-desired MacBook features back in January when the iPad was announced. Revisiting that list, we're happy to say that some indeed came to pass.

Intel's new Core i5 and i7 CPUs made it into this MacBook Pro generation , with the exception of the 13-inch MacBook Pro.

( What we said then : "We're not saying that any laptop without Intel's new mainstream CPUs is ready for the recycling bin, but now would be an ideal time to update the processors inside the entire line, to take advantage of the improved power efficiency and other advantages of the new Core i-series chips.")

We're also pleasantly surprised to see that Apple included automatic graphics switching, enabling MacBook Pros to enjoy a similarly seamless way to activate and deactivate discrete graphics in a way comparable to what we've seen in Nvidia's new Optimus laptop graphics .

There's even another boost to battery life, too. Yet, despite addressing a few of our biggest wishes, a lot of features remain to be addressed. Here's our short list of five, culled from our previous post with a few new additions.

  • SD card slots across the board
    Even a $299 Netbook has one of these useful little media card readers. And finally, after years of gentle ribbing from us and others, Apple added an SD card reader to the 13- and 15-inch MacBook Pro models. But, it's still not on the most popular MacBook, the $999 base model. And it's still not on the 17-inch model, either.
  • Blu-ray drives
    For a high-end laptop with plenty of media cred, it's a bit awkward for MacBooks to not at least offer the option of adding a Blu-ray drive. It's clearly not a cost issue, as expensive SSD options have been available from Apple for some time. At this point, many high-end PCs in the MacBook's price range include a Blu-ray drive by default.
  • Mobile broadband options
    With the sheer number of Mac laptops we see at coffee shops and airports, having an always-on Internet connection seems like another natural fit. It's widely available as a built-in option from most PC makers, and newer antenna hardware can work with more than one carrier. Sure, using a USB key antenna is always an option, but why mess up that sleek Apple silhouette? It's a bit surprising post-iPad that no AT&T 3G option was included in any MacBook.
  • HDMI outputs
    Though the mini-DisplayPort is Apple's video connection of choice, actually hooking it up to monitors besides the ones Apple sells is a bit of a hassle. Some laptops, especially larger desktop replacements, offer a combo of HDMI, VGA, and even DVI. We'll settle for a single HDMI, which carries both sound and video, and would make getting iTunes videos up on our big-screen TVs even easier. Now that Intel's Wireless Display makes video streaming from a laptop even easier, it's even harder to accept the MacBook's awkward means of TV interfacing.
  • Better tethering/interaction with iPhones/iPods/iPads
    Now that Apple has increased its iPhone OS-running family, we're still waiting for slicker ways to interface our handheld Apple gadgets with their larger laptop brethren. Syncing is pretty much the only thing an iPad and a MacBook Pro have in common, and we'd love to see some better ways for the devices to interact wirelessly. There are already apps to use the iPad as a secondary display or as a giant touch pad, but it would be nice to see official Apple-branded solutions that could work even more smoothly. Yes, there is MobileMe, but it should ideally offer a more seamless cloud-computing-type environment as opposed to being limited to calendar/e-mail/bookmark syncing.

If any of these sound familiar, that's because we've mentioned several of them before . Interestingly, though most of these have been on our wish list for some time, a few of our longtime MacBook suggestions have made their way into real life, from the SD card slots on select models to the inclusion of the large multitouch trackpad filtering down on the base $999 white MacBook.

Got anything on your own MacBook wish list? Sound off below and let us know.

Related reading:
> New MacBook Pros arrive
> Will the Apple tablet be a full-fledged computer?
>Apple laptop family album
>Need more? Follow Dan on Twitter. Or, follow Scott, too.

About the author

Dan Ackerman leads CNET's coverage of laptops, desktops, and Windows tablets, while also writing about games, gadgets, and other topics. A former radio DJ and member of Mensa, he's written about music and technology for more than 15 years, appearing in publications including Spin, Blender, and Men's Journal.

Scott Stein is a senior editor covering iOS and laptop reviews, mobile computing, video games, and tech culture. He has previously written for both mainstream and technology enthusiast publications including Wired, Esquire.com, Men's Journal, and Maxim, and regularly appears on TV and radio talking tech trends.

 

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