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Christmas Gift Guide
Laptops

Black Apple MacBook: Art or fashion?

This is quite simply the most gorgeous laptop man has ever created, but was black the right choice? Is Apple's new MacBook a fad or an icon?

"Art produces ugly things which frequently become more beautiful with time. Fashion, on the other hand, produces beautiful things which always become ugly with time," mumbled the French poet Jean Cocteau, possibly between tokes on his notorious opium pipe. So, which is the MacBook, Apple? Art or fashion?

Since we've been salivating on our review model for a solid 22 hours now, we're tempted to believe it's art. It's noticably heavier than other laptops of its size we've seen, but it does offer a 2GHz Intel Core Duo processor, a single-layer DVD writer and an auto-parking motion sensor (for taking the read/write head off the hard disk to prevent data loss during a tumble, rather than for helping to parallel park the MacBook in Knightsbridge's hectic lunchtime traffic).

Delving into the MacBook's functionality, there's a bunch of improvements to note. We managed to replace the hard disk in minutes, as apposed to the fifty screws the old 12-inch PowerBook was barricaded with. It also ripped a DivX movie from DVD in about 35 minutes -- that's only about ten minutes slower than the quad-core G5 we have in the office here. Slick.

The MacBook is one of those rare bits of consumer electronics that fashion editors and technology writers seem to have equal claim to expertise over. This laptop is as much a sartorial flourish as it is a collection of wires and silicon diodes. The £90 premium for the black MacBook over the white makes the message from Apple clear. You're not paying for a functional benefit here, but for the status symbol and exclusivity of carrying the Jimmy Choo shoe of computers. While the tech journalist is apt to blindly accuse Apple of overpricing, it's the fashion writer who has the inside knowledge here.

Apple's premium pricing on the black MacBook should actually improve sales, because the psychology of fashion dictates that higher-priced items are perceived as being higher-fashion, especially when the proleteriat will balk at their price. Apple is using the pricing structures traditionally applied to clothing to sell electronics. Who else would dare? -CS

Update: a full review of the Apple MacBook (2.0GHz) is now live.