As part of Apple’s well-executed transition from PowerPC to Intel CPUs, the new MacBooks follow the same pattern as the previously released MacIntels: just like the Intel-based Mac mini, iMac, and MacBook Pro product lines, the MacBooks sport a completely revised motherboard and a few welcome new features — e.g., the built-in iSight camera — in an almost unchanged outer shell. It would not surprise me if the PowerMac G5, the last product line yet to be moved over to Intel chips, would also feature new innards in an only mildly modified case.
So, while Apple’s current model line-up features state-of-the-art machines that combine elegant looks with rock-solid performance, there’s been a distinct lack in the “insanely great” department lately. Let me point out two of my dream Apple products that I would consider worthy of the “insanely great” label.
Dream Apple product #1 - Ultra-Portable Mac-cum-iPhone
Assuming that the new MacBook also serves as a replacement for the 12″ PowerBook, there is room for a smaller-sized portable computer in Apple’s line-up. Although it is anything but a new idea, I would like to see a MacTablet machine. A good friend of mine has been using a Windows-based tablet PC for a long time now, and he’s really impressed with it. Except for using a stylus to get data into the machine, however, it behaves exactly like any other Windows PC. Which made me wonder what Apple could come up with if they used the same approach as they did with the iPod and “just” re-thought the whole tablet PC category: Take the best ideas from the Newton, the Palm, the PocketPC (if there are any “best ideas” in that platform…), the Ultra-Mobile PC, and better smart-phones like the Sony P-9xx line, and see what this “MacFilofax” could look like…
Somewhat bigger in size than current PocketPCs, with a UI featuring OS X’s Aqua look-and-feel and the ease-of-use of iTunes/iPod, optional phone support, and a scroll of electronic paper that you can unroll from the side of the machine to extend the screen, Apple could go wild with ideas on this one, and I’d say they should.
Dream Apple product #2 - Maxi power in a mini box
Even if you use your Mac for processor-intensive tasks like video or audio editing, and you want all the processing power you can get, you may not necessarily require the expandability of a PowerMac-level machine. For example, if you’re into digital audio, there are now numerous I/O solutions based on external devices hooked up to the computer via Firewire, so you don’t have to rely on the classical PCI-card approach anymore. Wouldn’t it be cool, then, if you could have the power of the next-generation Intel-based PowerMacs inside a small box just slightly bigger than a Mac mini?
So, here’s my dream workhorse Macintosh: a quad-core processor; support for at least 8G of RAM; a SuperDrive and room for two hard drives; three Firewire 800 ports, optical audio I/O, and state-of-the-art driver support for mLAN. And all of this packaged in a slim, shiny case, which takes some design cues from the current PowerMacs and has the exact same footprint as the MacBook. Take it with you on the road, place your MacBook on top of it, hook both machines up with a LAN patch cable, and run your creative software of choice in distributed mode — a truly portable solution with the processing power of a high-end workstation. Insanely great indeed!
What would your personal insanely great über-Mac dream machine look like?