Live blog: Apple notebook event

CNET's Erica Ogg reports from Apple headquarters, where the company touts redesigned MacBooks using Nvidia chips and environment-friendlier components.

Erica Ogg
Erica Ogg Former Staff writer, CNET News
Erica Ogg is a CNET News reporter who covers Apple, HP, Dell, and other PC makers, as well as the consumer electronics industry. She's also one of the hosts of CNET News' Daily Podcast. In her non-work life, she's a history geek, a loyal Dodgers fan, and a mac-and-cheese connoisseur.
7 min read

CUPERTINO, Calif.--At Apple's headquarters here at 10 a.m. PDT on Tuesday, the company held an event focused on its laptops. A redesigned MacBook and MacBook Pro were announced, as well as upgraded graphics. And as expected, Apple is releasing its first sub-$1,000 notebook. Here is how it all unfolded.

Tim Cook with sales chart
Tim Cook talks sales. James Martin/CNET News

9:57 a.m.: We're here, and the event should start momentarily.

10 a.m.: Steve Jobs enters, wearing the standard outfit. He says he's going to cover the "State of the Mac." Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook takes the stage to do so.

10:01 a.m.: The Mac lineup today is clean, focused, and successful, Cook says. Mac adoption is growing at two to three times the pace of the PC market because Apple's computers are "superior."

10:03 a.m.: He's taking us through features of the Mac. Leopard, iLife, iWork, and compatibility. Talking about Boot Camp, Cook says seeing Windows on a Mac "sends shivers up my spine," but that the fact is, "it's working." The fourth reason he gives for why Macs are selling: Vista. It hasn't lived up to what Microsoft hoped it would and has "opened doors" to switch to the Mac, he says.

10:06 a.m.: Cook talks up the "I'm a Mac" ads, and he shows us the one in which the PC is dressed as a king and sitting in a throne. Half of the Macs sold in Apple's retail stores are to first-time Mac buyers, according to Cook.

Macs at universities
Cook talks about the use of Macs at universities. James Martin/CNET News

10:07 a.m.: Cook says the Mac has outgrown the industry in 14 of the last 15 quarters, the exception being the quarter in which Apple switched to Intel chips.

10:10 a.m.: Cook finishes up his discussion of the Mac's momentum. Steve Jobs is back on stage. First, he says he wants to talk about a new way to build notebooks in new ways. He brings up senior vice president of design, Jonathan Ive, to talk about it.

10:12 a.m.: Ive says Apple has had a "breakthrough" in designing and building notebooks. He's going to show us first how Apple builds the current 15-inch MacBook Pro. A significant challenge in building thin and light computers is making it durable, he says. The aluminum casing is just a small part of the structure. It's more about the magnesium die-cast frame on the inside.

Jony Ive, SVP of design
Jonathan Ive, senior vice president of design. James Martin/CNET News

10:14 a.m.: Then there are stiffening plates, more internal frames that support the trackpad and keyboard. The current MacBook Pro is great, he says, but Apple has been looking for a better way of making it for years. It all came together with the way it made the MacBook Air, he says.

10:17 a.m.: But the design is more relevant than to just the MacBook Air, he says, as he leaves the stage. Steve's up again, ready to talk about new notebook graphics. The Nvidia rumors were true.

10:18 a.m.: Nvidia combines chipset and graphics processors all in one part. They were originally designed for the desktop. Apple says it asked months ago if they could be used in a notebook. The resulting chip is called the GeForce 9400M.

new graphics
Jobs says new graphics chips are coming to its notebooks. James Martin/CNET News

10:19 a.m.: "It's an amazing chip," Jobs says. Seventy percent of the die area is GPU; the rest is chipset. There are 16 parallel graphic cores, and it delivers 54 gigaflops of graphics performance. It's a "stunner," he says. It will provide five times faster graphics than the integrated graphics chips Apple has been using, he says.

Compared to graphics shipping in the MacBook Pro, they are now 55 percent better in 3D graphics performance. "This is huge," according to Jobs.

10:21 a.m.: There is a new trackpad for notebooks too; a multitouch glass trackpad Apple has been working on for a long time. It'll provide a 39 percent larger tracking area, he says. The entire trackpad is the button. You can add multiple buttons in the preferences section. He's going to take us through the new gestures added. Single, two-finger, three-finger, and now four-finger gestures are now supported, enabling users to get into Expose and switch applications.

New MacBooks
New MacBooks. James Martin/CNET News

10:22 a.m.: Today, Apple is indeed introducing a new MacBook Pro. Slightly thinner, it has a black bezel and an LED display. It is thin, with a rounded lid and all connectors on one side, as well as black keys.

Aluminum casing
The new MacBook Pro gets aluminum casing. James Martin/CNET News.com

10:24 a.m.: It is all aluminum, using the new process. Mini DisplayPort will be in all Apple's notebooks now. The new process means that there are half the major structural parts to the MacBook Pro. He's bringing out the unibody, and it's being passed to the audience. We have to give them back, he says.

10:24 a.m.: Yep, it's light.

10:26 a.m.: There is a silence as everyone in the audience gets a turn to touch the keyboard enclosure. It's show and tell. Steve wants everyone to hurry this up, he says.

10:27 a.m.: The GeForce 9400M will be used in the new MacBook Pro, but it's not the best Apple could do, Jobs says, adding that the GeForce 9600MGT provides "state of the art" mobile graphics, with 32 parallel graphics cores and 120 gigaflops. The are both in the MacBook Pro now.

The new unibody enclosure is passed around.
The new unibody enclosure is passed around. James Martin/CNET News

10:30 a.m.: The Mini DisplayPort is the new industry standard, Jobs says. A solid-state drive is now available in the MacBook Pro. One can take the battery out and the hard drive out, and put in a solid-state drive, making it totally accessible.

10:32 a.m.: It's thin, at 0.95 inches, and it comes in two models. One, at $1,999, is 15.4 inches, with a 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo and the Nvidia chipsets he discussed. The second model is $2,499. It has a 2.53GHz processor, 6MB of L2 cache, 4GB of memory, and a 128GB solid-state drive. Both models are shipping today and will be in stores tomorrow.

New MacBook features.
New MacBook features. James Martin/CNET News

10:34 a.m.: There are no toxic chemicals in the new MacBook Pro, he says. No mercury, arsenic, or PVC. It includes more recyclable materials, and the packaging will be cut down by 32 percent.

10:35 a.m.: There is also a new MacBook Air. It will also have a GeForce 9400M, which is four times faster than the current processor. It has a 120GB hard drive now and a 128GB solid-state drive as an option. It also will have a Mini DisplayPort. The standard model is $1,799, and $2,499 will buy you the 1.86GHz processor and a bigger SSD. It will be available in November.

New MacBook Air.
The new MacBook Air. James Martin/CNET News

10:36 a.m.: There is also a new cinema display. At 24 inches, it has LED backlighting. It's Apple's first, with the same black bezel as the new MacBook Pro.

10:37 a.m.: It has a single cable with three branches, a MagSafe power adapter, a Mini DisplayPort, and a USB cable. It'll be $899, released in November. "Of course, that 'one more thing' is the MacBook."

10:38 a.m.: It's the best-selling Mac ever, Jobs says. Apple is reducing the entry price to $999, selling its first sub-$1,000 Mac notebook. It'll also have a metal enclosure, faster graphics, and an LED display.

And the price drops below $1,000.
And the price drops below $1,000. James Martin/CNET News

10:39 a.m.: Introducing a new-generation MacBook. It has an all-new design, with the black-bezel glass display like the MacBook Pro and Cinema Display. It also has a multitouch glass trackpad and Mini DisplayPort. With the same construction, it uses 42 percent of the structural parts as are included in the previous model, he says. It also uses the 9400M graphics processing unit.

10:41 a.m.: The new MacBook has a five-hour battery life, and it is also made without toxins such as arsenic, PVC, and mercury. The new models: $1,299 for a 13-incher with a 2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 2GB of DDR3 memory, 9400M graphics, and a 160GB hard drive. The $1,599, 13-inch model has a 320GB hard drive.

Nvdia chips.
As expected, Nvdia chips will be used. James Martin/CNET News.com

10:41 a.m.: Jobs is going to show us a video now. It begins with Ive talking about the MacBook's design and engineering, with more of the same they've already discussed here today.

10:45 a.m.: The video is over, and Steve's back up. Now there will be a Q&A with Jobs, Phil Schiller, and Tim Cook, but they're reporting earnings a week from today, so they cannot answer any questions about the current quarter. Jobs also gives his blood pressure: 110 over 70.

MacBook keyboards
The MacBook keyboard. James Martin/CNET News

10:53 a.m.: The audience claps and laughs. "That's all we'll talk about with Steve's health today. Want to see (his blood pressure) higher? Just ask him more questions," he says, talking about himself in the third person. More laughs.

10:55 a.m.: Steve says Apple will be the only computer company using Nvidia's new chips for a while. Apple didn't go with HDMI because it can't drive the 30-inch high-resolution display, he says. That's why it went with DisplayPort.

10:56 a.m.: Regarding the Blu-ray Disc high-definition format: "It's a bag of hurt," says Jobs. Not from a consumer point of view, but rather because the licensing of the technologies is so complex. We'll wait till things settle down, and Blu-ray really takes off in the marketplace, he says.

Steve's blood pressure.
Jobs' blood pressure. That'll be all about his health, he says. James Martin/CNET News

10:56 a.m.: Schiller takes this opportunity to plug iTunes.

10:58 a.m.: There is a question about the new MacBook's weight. It weighs 4.5 pounds instead of 5 pounds.

A Q James Martin/CNET News

11 a.m.: Apple is sticking with glass screens for a while. No matte screens, Jobs says. Glass provides crisper images and brighter colors.

11:03 a.m.: Netbooks are a nascent market, Jobs says: "We'll see how it goes."

What about touch screens on laptops, someone wants to know. "Hasn't made a lot of sense to us," Steve says.

And that's the end. Thanks for reading. Make sure to stay tuned for CNET's analysis and hands-on, as well as first reviews of the new products.

For complete coverage of the Apple notebook news, see "Apple polishes up its MacBook line."