This week in laptops

Apple MacBook and MacBook Pro updates, new cheap laptops, and mobile component news.

MacBook multitouch track pad
Come on, come on, come on, come on / Touch me, baby Apple

This week Apple updated its MacBook and MacBook Pro laptops to include Intel's newest Penryn processors, with the Pro models also getting the multitouch track pad introduced on the MacBook Air earlier this year. Initially it looked like Apple had also updated the laptops' battery life expectations with lower numbers, despite the promise of power savings with Penryn. But as Dan Ackerman quickly pointed out , the apparent drop (from 5 hours to 4.5 hours on the 17-inch MacBook Pro) was the result of a change in how Apple reports battery life and not the battery life itself. Phew.

For the five of you who actually back up your laptop's data regularly, Apple also finally started shipping the Time Capsule backup drive that Steve Jobs announced at this year's Macworld. We've got our hands on one , so expect a review soon. (And seriously, start backing up your data regularly. Also, don't forget to floss.)

Moving on to cheap laptop news, it seems that manufacturers could very well be racing to the bottom, price-wise. The latest example: Dell confirmed its plans to build more cheap laptop models for the Asia market. It's a trend that has the attention of at least one senior vice president at Sony; Mike Abary expressed concern that systems like the $299 Eee PC could potentially force all the major players to lower their prices.

That's not to say Sony's not keeping up with the high end of laptops as well: this week saw the newest designs for the "Graphic Splash" editions of FZ series notebooks. Not only do you have your choice of groovy colors and patterns, but you can now choose the font for your key labels. That's progress!

Dipping into this week's rumor mill we find word that Intel's next Centrino mobile platform, codenamed Montevina, will double the graphics performance of its current Centrino (aka Santa Rosa) lineup--but the company isn't expected to release the new platform for a few months, so verification of that claim will have to wait. We've also got the scoop on Diamondville , Intel's upcoming single-core (read: slower performance, lower power consumption) Celeron replacement, which will most likely make its way into laptops in emerging markets.

Finally, Crave Asia offers a word of caution for buyers looking at a laptop with a Blu-ray drive, noting that displaying video in high def might take a toll on battery life. Pity that laptop with a built-in solar panel is still in the concept stage.

Other tidbits: the CNET Editors Choice-winning ThinkPad X300 officially became available on Tuesday; Acer continues gobbling up computer companies, as the Europe Commission OK'd the company's acquisition of Packard Bell ; California-based company Nanoexa is working on batteries that don't explode; and consumers feeling burned over Microsoft's confusing "Vista Capable" designation for new computers can just blame Intel.

Have a great weekend!

About the author

    Tech expert Michelle Thatcher grew up surrounded by gadgets and sustained by Tex-Mex cuisine. Life in two major cities--first Chicago, then San Francisco--broadened her culinary horizons beyond meat and cheese, and she's since enjoyed nearly a decade of wining, dining, and cooking up and down the California coast. Though her gadget lust remains, the practicalities of her small kitchen dictate that single-function geegaws never stay around for long.


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