Liveblogging the October 2008 Apple Notebook Event

This post is where I’ll be posting my thoughts during the October 14, 2008 Apple “notebook” event, where it’s expected that they’ll be unveiling new MacBooks and MacBook Pros. I won’t be at the event, but I’ll be following it live at all the usual suspects’ locations:

And of course, I’ll be hanging around on Twitter and FriendFeed to see what people’s thoughts and reactions are. I hope they can handle the load. I’m starting this post the night before to be ready for the AM. It’s like Christmas Eve – the anticipation of what Steve Claus is going to bring us is palpable! πŸ™‚

Rumors of what is going to be announced range from new aluminum MacBooks (almost certain, given the spy photos we’ve been seeing) with Nvidia chipsets replacing Intel, a “real” Apple TV – a TV with Apple TV functionality built in – to the everlasting Mac Tablet/Giant iPhone/Newton 2.0 rumor, which has practically become a legend at this point.

The most interesting thing I think Apple’s likely to announce is a low cost MacBook. Rumors have been going around about a sub-$800 device. Some have wondered if this will be Apple’s entreΓ© into the netbook world. Personally, I don’t see Apple doing anything with a netbook until OS X 10.6 Snot Snow Leopard is out, which should be in early 2009. Read why I think Snow Leopard is the critical ingredient for an Apple netbook. So what about this $800 system everyone is talking about? I think if they do anything, they’ll drop the price of an entry level 13″ MacBook to $800. It’s $1099 now, and I can see Apple making an aggressive move to get more people using Macs by dropping the price of their iconic laptop. You heard it here first.

But we’ll all know for sure in about 12 hours!

8:30 AM – John Gruber has a post up over at Daring Fireball wherein he seems pretty certain about what’s going to be announced. MacBook Pro with 2 GPUs and a glass no-button trackpad, similar update to the MacBook. No $800 device. Some other minor updates around the line. And a heretofore un-speculated upon new 24″ Cinema Display. Sounds about right, and John knows his stuff. We’ll find out soon.

10:00 AM – I’m here hooked up to the 60″ TV in the JF1 “living room”, ready to go. Got my tabs lined up, Brent Logan is here with me. Lay it on us, Uncle Steve! πŸ™‚

Tim Cook is talking about how awesome Macs are. Sold 2.5 million last quarter. Yada yada. Slamming on Vista. Playing a new Mac vs. PC ad. Mac sales have “beat the market” 14 of the last 15 quarters. Great market share. Already equalled 2007 sales in the first three quarters of 2008. We get it. And now Steve’s back!

Jony Ive: “I’d like to take a couple of moments to tell you about a real breakthrough we’ve had about how we can design and build our notebooks.” Here comes the “brick” announcement (aluminum cases machined from a solid billet of metal).

Steve on the new NVidia 9400 M graphics/chipset: “They’ve dubbed it the NVIDIA GeForce 9400 M — it’s an amazing chip. Chipset and GPU on one die — 70% is the GPU, 16 parallel graphic cores, 54gflops of graphics performance. It’s a stunner.”

New glass trackpad: larger, multitouch, glass surface (like the iPhone – should feel great!), the whole thing is one button, can assign multiple buttons via software. I like. Should appear in all new MacBooks.

Which brings us to the new MacBook Pro – just like the spy shots. Black bezel, aluminum and glass (like the iMac), black keyboard (like the Air), all connectors on one side, NVidia graphics and chipset, and the new “precision aluminum unibody” case construction. Oh, and all Macs will now have the “mini display connector”. Uh oh. I hate those.

(Took a break to keep up with the news and chat with people.)

The new MacBook Pro starts at $1999, goes to $2499 for bigger hard drive, faster CPU with more cache, etc. And the Pro line has TWO Nvidia GPUs. The 9400 M, and the 9600 GT (which has 512MB of RAM and 32 graphics cores). You can use the lower end one to save on power and extend battery life, or use “turbo” mode and use the faster GPU. So, 48 graphics cores in the MacBook Pro. The foundation for all of the multi-core/GPGPU stuff like OpenCL and GrandCentral in OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard has been laid.

The MacBook line also got updated. They’re keeping the current plastic case 13″ MacBook (most popular ever), and dropping the price to $999. Nice entry level model. The “new” MacBook is very similar to the new MacBook Pro. Precision aluminum “unibody”, NVidia 9400 M chipset, glass trackpad, glass display with black bezel. It also uses the new Mini Display Port connector. Besides the second GPU and an ExpressCard 34 slot, and a bigger display (15″ vs 13″), there’s not much difference between the new MacBook and the MacBook Pro. The new ones start at $1299. $1599 gets you a faster CPU, bigger hard drive, and a backlit keyboard (boo on Apple for not making that standard!).

The new MacBook and Pro are available for order today, should be in stores tomorrow.

The MacBook Air got an update – CPU speed bump, 120 GB hard drive or option for 128GB SSD, and the new Mini Display Port. Not much else changed (including the price). Available in November.

And there’s a new 24″ LCD Cinema Display. Edge to edge glass, very thin, looks great. Cool features include a wire bundle that gives you a MagSafe power plug to charge your laptop, a USB connection for the hub in the display, and the new Mini Display Port connector. $899, available in November. Looks to be the perfect companion to the new Macs. πŸ™‚

Oh, and Steve’s blood pressure is 110/70, in case anyone was interested. Now, for some Q and A.

Steve: “Blu-ray is just a bag of hurt. It’s great to watch the movies, but the licensing of the tech is so complex, we’re waiting till things settle down and Blu-ray takes off in the marketplace.”

Steve: “In terms of netbooks, that’s a nascent market that’s just getting started.” Says netbooks are a new market and “we’ll see how it goes.”

Looks like that’s it! I might update this post later with link to the video that was shown, showing off the new laptops, and anything else interesting that comes up today. Now, to figure out how to get one of these new bad boys into my hands! πŸ™‚