With new lower-cost Apple MacBooks reportedly on the way soon, it's time to engage in a favorite diversion: what, pray tell, is inside?
The idea that the new models would be unprecedentedly low-cost is intriguing in itself considering the recent appearance of low-cost "ultrathin" laptops from Hewlett-Packard and Asus, among others, that typically range between $600 and $900.
And what powers these laptops? Low-cost Intel ultra-low-voltage "ULV" processors like the SU4100 or SU7300. And what's so important about these processors? They are at the heart of a new wave of laptops that boast extra-long battery life, some claiming up to 10 hours. Will Apple opt for battery life over performance? The current 13-inch white polycarbonate MacBook uses relatively high-performance Intel processors and claims about five hours of battery life.
Another thought: will this be Apple's un-Netbook? With no immediate plans for a Netbook (though a media pad is expected next year), this may be an opportunity for Apple to go at least half way toward addressing the low-end laptop segment.
Along these lines, will Advanced Micro Devices processors be forever ostracized from the MacBook lineup? In a hotel near the Intel Developer Forum that ended on Thursday, AMD was showing off an MSI dual-core ultrathin laptop with ATI graphics that starts at about $500. Not bad for a Netbook-like price. (Yeah, I know, highly unlikely.)
The truth is MacBooks are trending toward low-cost already. Even the once stratospherically priced MacBook Air can be had for less than $1,500 and the 13-inch MacBook Pro starts at $1,199. So, a MacBook that comes in lower than $999 (the starting price of the current MacBook) wouldn't be a big surprise. It would be a surprise if Apple went as low as $800. Now that's a cheap MacBook.