Last Minute Rumor Roundup

It wouldn’t be an Apple event day without a final attempt to corral all the crazy rumors floating about in the last few heady hours before Jobs dons his turtleneck and proceeds to amaze (or underwhelm) us.  The sheer number of predictions, leaked images, price points, and technical specifications means it’s unlikely that you’ll find them all below, but you should find the juicier ones.

Macbooks and Macbook Pros are getting aluminum casing, with a frame built from a single piece without plastic trim. Keyboards have black buttons, like the Air, and there will be no more physical latches on any of the casings. Displays feature a black frame like the most recent iMac, which, combined with the new aluminum construction, will bring a heightened design unity to all of Apple’s computer offerings. Port changes include the discontinuation of Firewire 400 (expect videographers to be displeased) and a mini-DVI replacement that supposedly saves even more space while rendering your existing adapters useless.

Trackpads are the latest rumored major change, with Daring Fireball claiming that we’ll see Apple do away with discrete buttons altogether, favoring instead a design that resembles that of the BlackBerry Storm‘s screen. The new design would see the trackpad itself mounted on a physical spring, so that pressing the trackpad would act as a button press.  The trackpad is said to be made of glass and offers support for yet more multitouch gestures. While there are no further suggestions of in-trackpad display, optical glass would improve durability and touch sensitivity.

Displays will be LED-backlit, which will greatly improve contrast ratios. In what is sure to be an unpopular move among print designers and photographers, however, matte screen options on Macbook Pros will no longer be available.

Macbooks will continue to be available in a 13-inch form factor, but Macbook Pros will reportedly see the 17-inch option phased out, with existing 17-inch models being offered without updates until existing stock is depleted.

Graphics across the board will be handled by Nvidia GPUs, the 9400M for regular Macbooks and the Air, and a dual SLI set-up in Pros featuring the 9400M and a 9600M GT, making the upscale laptop a true graphics powerhouse, since the 9600M GT is a dedicated card.

Aluminum Macbooks (the 2.1GHz white macbook will stick around unchanged at $999) will be priced at $1,299 and $1,499 respectively.  The $1,299 option will get you a 2.0GHz processor, 2 gigs of RAM and a 160GB disk, while $1,499 will nab you a 2.4GHz with 2 gigs and a 250GB disk.  The Air will get a 120GB disk on the base model, while the pricier version will get a 128GB SSD.

Sadly, no $800-899 laptop appears to be forthcoming, at least according to recent sources.  Instead, a new 24-inch Cinema Display with Display Port at that price point is said to have caused the confusion.

And there you have it. You’ve now had your last-minute rumor appetizer…but I’m sure you still have plenty of room for the main course. Enjoy.