Stay on Top of Enterprise Technology Trends
Get updates impacting your industry from our GigaOm Research Community
One, of course, is why was the model updated as opposed to being phased out like many thought would occur?
I won’t dwell too much on this, but it doesn’t surprise me that Apple wanted to keep a “low-end” MacBook in the lineup, and of course they’d update it from time to time. As for why they used the newer NVIDIA chipset and graphics, it seems to me that ultimately it becomes cheaper for Apple to use the same guts in the entire lineup. Better negotiating on price due to better volumes, and of course one less old part to deal with.
The bigger issue, to me, is discussing the relative “worth” of the $1,299 unibody MacBook in comparison to the updated white model. This comparison is interesting, and as someone who owns both a white MacBook (one year old) and a new unibody I can offer my personal experiences as well.
At first glance there may seem little to choose between them:
- Same 2.0 GHz C2D processor
- Same front-side 1066 MHz bus
- Same NVIDIA 9400M graphics
- Same amount of RAM
This is in fact a significant upgrade to the white MacBook, and at $999 is a great value.
It should be noted that the RAM is actually the slower DDR2 667MHz variety instead of the unibody’s fast DDR3 memory. That difference may come out in benchmarks, but one wonders whether a user would actually notice it. I suspect DDR2 was used because it remains lower cost.
Also note that the white model only employs a 120GB hard drive, which is pretty small by today’s standards. Updates are readily available as build to order components, however. If you get the white model with the same 250GB drive as the entry unibody, then the price delta shrinks to only $150.
First, for some people there is one thing the white model has that may make it especially appealing:
For those that made a big deal out of its removal from the unibody models, here’s your chance to get the newer technical updates while keeping the FW port.
The remaining differences all fall on the side of the unibody:
- Unibody construction
- Slightly smaller and thinner
- Half a pound lighter
- 30 minutes more battery life
- Mini Display Port
- Much better LED screen
- Glass trackpad
While the slightly smaller dimensions may not mean much, the half-pound weight loss is quite nice. Combined with the bullet-proof nature of the unibody this makes for a more durable machine. For me, the white model feels almost “fragile” to me now.
Extra battery life is always nice, especially when you can pull it off with no weight gain.
I list the mini Display Port as an advantage because this thing can drive up to a 30″ monitor, which the white model cannot do.
As for the remaining two items, I know the unibody’s screen was criticized as not being quite as good as those in the MacBook Air or the MacBook Pro. This was silly to me because why would you compare the new screen to models that cost $500 or more than the unibody? The only thing the new screen should be compared to is the white model’s it replaced, and in this comparision there is no contest.
I frequently have the two models side by side, with the unibody unplugged (and screen therefore somewhat dimmed) and at 90 percent, and it’s still brighter than the plugged in white model at 100% brightness. It’s pretty obvious side by side and, trust me, once you get used to that screen on a day to day basis the while model’s looks even more flat and washed out. No, the white does not have a crappy screen, but the unibody is a vast improvement.
As for the glass trackpad, I can’t even begin to tell you how frustrated I am with the old trackpad on the white model now. When I use it my finger just seems to “drag” since it’s nowhere near as smooth. I miss the additional three- and four-finger gestures tremendously, as well as clicking anywhere. Much like with the screen, it was nice at first, but after much day to day use it’s now much more than “nice,” it’s nearly indispensable.
Far be it for me to dole out buying advice since everyone’s needs and budget vary. If a thousand bucks (not an insignificant amount), is your budget, you can get the white MacBook and no longer feel as if you’re buying yesterday’s model. Snap up this model because it represents a great deal.
Further, if FireWire is critical to you, then that may push you in the white’s direction.
However, I believe the $300 delta to the entry unibody is easily justified (remember, half of that is represented by the hard drive alone). In fact, if you’re thinking of the white with a bigger drive, than your budget is already greater than $1,000 and I’d recommend the entry unibody. The refinement of the total package is excellent. As much as I like the white model, I don’t particularly enjoy using it now, the new model is that much better.