Apple has made a minor upgrade to its MacBook line — same price, same lineup, but improved offerings. The $1099 white model is actually a pretty great deal now: 2.0GHz / 1 GB RAM / 80 GB HD means you get a pretty solid model out of the box. Upgrade to 1.5 or 2 GB RAM, and I think you’d be very happy, even running relatively intensive audio processing. As always, consider an external FireWire drive if you’re doing any significant multitracking. (Spend extra if you need DVD burning or, you know, the color black.) This could mean the previous revision could get some bargain prices. Honestly, if you look at standard equipment, I find the MacBook extremely price-competitive with Windows. Add in superior MIDI and audio support in Mac OS X over XP/Vista, and I know many PC users eyeing this as their next laptop.
The problem I have is with the MacBook Pro. It’s a terrific machine, but there’s not much middle ground between the $1099 MacBook and the $1999 MBP. The MBP’s ATI X1600 is a terrific video card — and a lot of PCs include lesser cards on their 15″ models — but that’s a big premium to pay if that’s the only draw for you. Apple advises Final Cut Studio users to use only the Pro model, but Logic Pro is totally happy on a plain MacBook — as are Pro Tools, Ableton Live, Max/MSP, and [insert your favorite audio app] the lot. (The MBP has additional features, like its FW800 port and ExpressCard slot and bigger display. But I really like the MacBook’s tiny size. I’d almost rather have two MacBooks than one MacBook Pro. As always, it depends on needs. But there’s not the same PC-switcher-magnet on the Pro line — yet.) It’s a great machine, but I wouldn’t rule out its smaller sibling before making the call.
For bargain hunters, I think the MacBook is ripe for the picking. For performance lovers, I’m interested on both the PC and Mac side with what happens with some upcoming laptop architectures. There’s some juicy stuff in store for both the CPU and (CDMotion types) GPU.
Lest you think I’m being Mac-biased here, by the way, I’ve been playing lately with a one-Mac, one-PC setup and thoroughly enjoying it. I’ve got a Toshiba and MacBook packed in the same backpack at the moment.
What’s your take? Looking to pick up a new laptop? Need some advice? Say something in comments, as right now I’m jet lagged in San Francisco and running on hotel room coffee. If specs for an Amiga 4000 slipped in there, I wouldn’t be surprised.