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Apple Intros 17" Unibody MBP, DRM-Free iTunes 1079

Phil Schiller delivered the keynote at MacWorld, the first after the Steve Jobs era of keynotes. Here is Engadget's live blog. The big news, predicted by many rumor sites, was the introduction of the unibody 17" MacBook Pro. As rumored, the battery is not removable, but it's claimed to provide 8 hours of battery life (7 hours with the discrete graphics): "3x the charges and lifespan of the industry standard." $2,799, 2.66 GHz and 4 GB of RAM, 320GB hard drive, shipping at the end of January. There is a battery exchange program, and there is an option for a matte display. The other big news is that iTunes is going DRM-free: 8M songs today, all 10+M by the end of March. Song pricing will be flexible, as the studios have been demanding; the lowest song price is $0.69. Apple also introduced the beta of a Google Docs-like service,
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Apple Intros 17" Unibody MBP, DRM-Free iTunes

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  • Re:17" Macbook (Score:5, Informative)

    by SteeldrivingJon ( 842919 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @03:04PM (#26346405) Homepage Journal

    " simply cannot fathom why Apple keeps making these things without a number pad. "

    Probably because the number pad prevents the QWERTY keyboard from being centered.

  • Re:So,no more DRM (Score:5, Informative)

    by k_187 ( 61692 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @03:05PM (#26346423) Journal
    You can upgrade, but apparently not for free. At least I couldn't yet. Not everything I've bought from there wasn't listed as eligible yet however. So it might not be completely implemented yet.
  • Re:So,no more DRM (Score:5, Informative)

    by j-beda ( 85386 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @03:06PM (#26346455) Homepage
    "prices as low as 69c" means 10% at that price, the majority of selling tracks at $2.50

    The press release at [] claims "... in April, based on what the music labels charge Apple, songs on iTunes will be available at one of three price points--69 cents, 99 cents and $1.29--with many more songs priced at 69 cents than $1.29."

    This would seem to indicate that the average price should fall, and that there will be no $2.50 tracks.

  • Re:Battery?! (Score:5, Informative)

    by GoCal92 ( 695108 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @03:07PM (#26346489)
    Of course they could do a removable battery. The point they made in the keynote was that a removable battery takes up a bunch of space. By making the battery non-removable, they gained 40% more room for a bigger, longer-lasting battery. The design trade off here was removable battery for more battery life. The market will decide whether that was a good trade.
  • by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @03:08PM (#26346495) Homepage Journal
    "And $1200 to go from 4gb to 8gb?"

    Well, with all Apple is best to buy them with minimal RAM, and put it in yourself from 3rd party purchase. Apple has pretty much always been a rip off when having them to upgrade the ram.

  • Re:So,no more DRM (Score:3, Informative)

    by FangVT ( 144970 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @03:09PM (#26346521) Homepage

    It'd be nice if one could upgrade their existing purchased DRM'd songs for the non-DRM.

    According to the keynote, this will be easily done. When they went DRM-free for the EMI catalog, iTunes offered an option to pay the (then) 30 cent price difference per track and upgrade all songs that you had previously bought.

  • by j-beda ( 85386 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @03:09PM (#26346539) Homepage
    This article says you can do so for a fee [] but when I tried for my two purchased albums, it did not work crapping out with some "product has changed" error message. It reportedly worked back when they first introduced DRM-free tracks, so maybe it is a temporary problem as things get retooled.
  • by Petersko ( 564140 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @03:13PM (#26346623)
    If you want to upgrade your old purchases to DRM-free status, though, you can pay the "upgrade" price [].

    I bought three albums on iTunes this past weekend. At least one of them is DRM-laden. Colour me unimpressed, but I'm not really surprised. I don't have rose-coloured glasses on when it comes to Apple. I sometimes use iTunes when it's 3:00 a.m. and I'm hankering for new music. I fire up the Bands Under the Radar podcast and poke around until something catches my fancy. They made it convenient, so I put up with the conversion process to other drm-free formats.

    "It's also easy to upgrade your iTunes library to iTunes Plus. You don't have to buy the song or album again. Just pay the 30 per song upgrade price. (Music video upgrades are 60 and entire albums can be upgraded for 30 percent of the album price.)"
  • by Have Blue ( 616 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @03:15PM (#26346659) Homepage
    TV and movies have the same DRM as before. You can have the DRM stripped from existing songs for a fee, which will also upgrade them to a higher bit rate.
  • by pavon ( 30274 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @03:18PM (#26346711)

    -What about my current iTunes song library? Will the DRM magically disappear with my next update?

    You still have to pay 30 cents per song [] (or 30% of album price) to remove the DRM on previously purchased songs.

  • by saddino ( 183491 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @03:20PM (#26346755)

    If the number of rated charge cycles isn't over 800, these things are going to die way too quickly.

    The new MBP battery is rated for 1000 recharge cycles, or 5 yrs of typical use.

  • by tsalmark ( 1265778 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @03:22PM (#26346781) Homepage
    Uhm, plug in your monitor and keyboard, it is a desk top replacement computer. Docks where originally to hold the difference between a laptop and desk top.
  • by Altus ( 1034 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @03:24PM (#26346823) Homepage

    I have seen this same problem as well, but its worht noting that the current batch of MacBook Pros apparently require the battery to be in place even if they are plugged into the wall because they cant pull enough power through the wall wart for peak performance and need the battery there for when power demands go up.

    So while you do have a good point its quite possible that, even if the battery were removable, you wouldn't be able to operate without it.

  • by goombah99 ( 560566 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @03:32PM (#26346987)

    One of the nice things about 256 AAC is that it's high enough bit rate that one could transcode it to MP3 with essentially no noticable loss. 128KB was always a barrier to transcoding since it was just at the threshold of noticability.

    (i.e. I can just hear artifcats in 128 MP3, but not in 192kb MP3. I could not hear artifacts in 128KB AAC but I could easily hear artifacts in transcoded AAC to MP3 at 128KB. )

    With 256 the trasncoded versions should be artifact free I expect.

    I note the audio books are not DRM free even though many sellers (e.g. Borders) now offer DRM free audio books.

  • Re:Battery?! (Score:3, Informative)

    by serviscope_minor ( 664417 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @03:39PM (#26347141) Journal

    If you want a removable battery, then don't buy an apple. Buy a Dell, since they have that nifty system where you can plug a battery in to the drive bay giving you two batteries. That also means you can have a big stack of batteries and you can keep on hot-swapping them all day long, since you can hot-swap either of the batteries without losing power.

    I suspect other manufacturers so this too.

  • by ( 897672 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @03:41PM (#26347165)
    I can't believe I can't pick the songs I want to upgrade to iTunes plus ! All or nothing! I have tons of songs purchased on iTunes... when the previous label went DRM-free, I could choose which ones to upgrade and what not. This is not the case anymore, it's all or nothing, all upfront. I have LOTS of iTunes songs, so upgrading all would be VERY expensive. Some of them I listen continuously and they could user the higher bitrate, some other I never listen or are fine at 128k AAC. There's no other word: this SUCKS!
  • by Thornburg ( 264444 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @03:43PM (#26347239)

    The new Apple Cinema Displays using the displayport connector have a built in USB hub and feature automatic mode-switching features so that it works rather much like a dock... a very, very expensive dock.

  • by chaim79 ( 898507 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @03:49PM (#26347365) Homepage

    Heck, this is why Apple swapped to the magnetic power plug! Why are the rest of the connections less important?

    They swapped to the magnetic power plug to prevent the problem of people tripping over the power cord causing the laptop to fly across the room.

    Apple does offer a close solution if you buy one of their new displays, it comes with a cable that splits to three connections for the laptop: power, display, and USB (goes to a built in USB hub).

    The thing you forgot is that lots of docs were used to extend the number of ports available on the laptop, I remember one I had that contained an additional 5 ports (not including display, keyboard, mouse, and ones already present on the laptop) on the dock, so you could plug it in and get it all. There was even an option on mine to have expanded ram on the doc for the laptop to use.

  • by ThePiMan2003 ( 676665 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @03:50PM (#26347381)

    Good news, it said right in the keynote they will have a battery replacement program. It can be replaced, just not by you.

  • Re:Battery?! (Score:5, Informative)

    by goombah99 ( 560566 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @03:54PM (#26347445)

    You should look at the x-ray images they showed. You do indeed lose even more that 30% of your space. And this is pretty obvious too since the fill factor for cyllinders is on that order. They went to flat pack batteries.

    So they not only made the battery last longer but it also is thinner.

  • by Don853 ( 978535 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @04:02PM (#26347611)
    I, personally, have an old mp3 cd player in my car with no aux input that I don't feel like spending the hundred bucks and few hours to replace. So for me it would be nice.
  • by chaim79 ( 898507 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @04:03PM (#26347633) Homepage

    you can probably take it to a service location to have the battery changed

    That's a good point, if I know that the battery can be replaced, I have no problem with the new system, but I can't buy it if I don't know for sure...

    <sarcasm>No, the battery is welded to the uni-body laptop frame, to replace the battery costs $4k and your left arm.</sarcasm>

    iPods, iPhones, etc. all have enclosed "non-removable" batteries that can be replaced, either through Apple themselves or through third-party replacement kits. The Apple Air laptop has a similarly non-removable battery that can be replaced (only 7 screws between you and the battery, not bad). I really don't think Apple will go to great lengths to make it impossible so it should be similar to iPods and the rest.

  • Re:Battery?! (Score:4, Informative)

    by chaim79 ( 898507 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @04:14PM (#26347829) Homepage

    Yes you do, you are not thinking of all that is needed to make a battery removable.

    • The battery itself needs a case.
    • There needs to be a reliable connection point between the battery and the laptop (requires more space)
    • The laptop frame needs to add support structures to compensate for the total lack of support coming from the battery area. (kinda like a convertible car)
    • The laptop needs an inside match to the battery case for it to fit in nicely, and to prevent dirt from entering the laptop case.
    • There has to be a latch system to secure the battery case to the laptop case.

    ALL OF THE ABOVE TAKE SPACE!!! Space that is free to be used for a bigger battery if the it is non-removable.

  • by samkass ( 174571 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @04:23PM (#26347947) Homepage Journal

    Without trying to be too snarky or anything, it might help to Google for a few seconds before posting FUD.

    Here are all the details for the MacBook Air [], and I would expect them to be very similar for the new MacBook (that is, $125 for same-day service with appointment at an Apple Retail Store and 3-4 days + shipping time by mail). The price could conceivably be higher because of the new technology, but even 2x the price isn't that bad if the battery really lasts 5+ years as is claimed.

  • Re:Turly DRM Free? (Score:3, Informative)

    by DragonTHC ( 208439 ) <Dragon@gamers[ ] ['las' in gap]> on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @04:30PM (#26348101) Homepage Journal

    red chair software.

    nuff said.

  • Re:Battery?! (Score:2, Informative)

    by pohl ( 872 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @04:42PM (#26348339) Homepage
    I'm just curious, have you watched the video [] where they talk about the design decisions that they made? Yes, there's a lot of fluff and annoying synth music, but it does appear that their engineering decisions and claims are reasonable. You may want to look at it so that you know exactly what you're denigrating here.
  • Re:Battery?! (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @04:55PM (#26348565)

    There is a lot of extra plastic with that type of system. 1.5mm added to the case on each side (to make the bay) and 1.5mm added to the battery pack itself as a housing. That's 3mm all the way around.

    If the battery is 10cm x 20cm x 1cm, that's at least 12 cubic centimeters, which is a hell of a lot.

  • by Macka ( 9388 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @05:02PM (#26348699)

    Most of the news reports are not getting the complete picture. Apple have posted a dedicated battery page [] that talks about it in more detail. Here's the paragraph that expands on the 1000 charge info:

    The lifespan of a battery is measured in recharges. One recharge is a complete charge and discharge of a batteryâ(TM)s energy. A recharge doesnâ(TM)t necessarily occur every time you plug in your notebook; many partial charges can add up to a single full recharge. The typical battery delivers about 200 to 300 recharges before its capacity declines to approximately 80 percent. At that point the battery still works, but its performance is diminished. Thanks to the breakthroughs of advanced chemistry and Adaptive Charging, the battery in the 17-inch MacBook Pro can go through up to 1000 recharges before it reaches 80 percent of its original capacity -- more than three times the lifespan of typical notebook batteries

    So it's not 1000 recharges and then throw it away!

  • Re:So,no more DRM (Score:3, Informative)

    by jcr ( 53032 ) < .ta. .rcj.> on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @05:06PM (#26348761) Journal

    Oops, wrong link. Here it is from Apple's support pages. []


  • Re:Battery?! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Americano ( 920576 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @05:16PM (#26348933)

    Lets say the space available for the battery is 20cm x 10cm x 1.5cm giving a volume of 300 cm sq [...]

    The volume available for the new battery is 18cm x 8 cm x 1.3 cm = 187.2 sq cm

    Math correction... 1cm = 10mm
    Original dimensions: 200mm x 100mm x 15mm = 300,000 cubic mm

    less 2mm in each dimension: 198mm x 98mm x 13mm = 252,252 cubic mm = 47,748 mm^3 lost, a loss of ~16%.

    Still considerable, but not 40%.

  • Re:So,no more DRM (Score:3, Informative)

    by Sciros ( 986030 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @05:18PM (#26348957) Journal

    with many more songs priced at 69 cents than $1.29

    The majority of songs are crap as opposed to not crap, so that's not surprising nor encouraging.

  • by angrytuna ( 599871 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @05:53PM (#26349551)

    This is a huge issue for me. There were some issues [] with hardware encoded locking with the 6th generation ipods (the ipod nano with the video screen). Prior iPods could be mounted and the music interchange performed with a variety of different linux software packages. These newer versions could be mounted and read, but writes just plain failed.

    I had just finished purchasing a nano for my sister for christmas as well (I had previously set her up with an ubuntu box). She's having to use a roommate's XP box to do the transfer. This is an area where Apple has done far worse than just drop the ball, in my book. I've been an Apple fan for awhile, but they lost a lot of my goodwill when I discovered this move.

  • by pizzach ( 1011925 ) <> on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @06:17PM (#26349905) Homepage

    From the wikipedia aac article [] some interesting entries:

    • The PlayStation 3 supports encoding and decoding of AAC files.
    • The Xbox 360 supports streaming of AAC through the Zune software, and off supported iPods connected through the USB port
    • The Wii video game console supports AAC files through version 1.1 of the Photo Channel as of December 11, 2007. All AAC profiles and bitrates are supported as long as it is in the.m4a file extension. This update removed MP3 compatibility, but users who have installed this may freely downgrade to the old version if they wish.[10]
    • Microsoft Windows Mobile platforms support AAC either by the native Windows Media Player or by third-party products (TCPMP, CorePlayer)
    • Sony Ericsson phones support various AAC formats in MP4 container. AAC-LC is supported in all phones beginning with K700, phones beginning with W550 have support of HE-AAC. The latest devices such as the P990, K610, W890i and later support HE-AAC v2.
    • Nokia XpressMusic and other new generation Nokia multimedia phones: also support AAC format.
    • BlackBerry: RIM's latest series of Smartphones such as the 8100 ("Pearl") and 8800 support AAC.
    • Creative Zen Portable
    • Microsoft Zune
    • SanDisk Sansa
    • Sony PlayStation Portable (PSP) with firmware 2.0 or greater
    • Sony Walkman
    • SonyEricsson Walkman Phones-W series, e.g. W890i
    • Nintendo DSi To be released in America mid-2009

    Back in April 2007, wired magazine said that only 10% of mp3 players supported AAC []. Nowadays if the freaking Nintendo DS and Sony PSP even support AAC, it's probably safe to say at least half of new MP3 players support AAC, if not more. It's starting to be come a industry standard along with mp3. Who woulda thunk it back in 2007.

  • Re:Battery?! (Score:4, Informative)

    by dangitman ( 862676 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @06:29PM (#26350073)

    Removable batteries don't have to be sturdier anywhere other than the connector and one side of the outer casing. The material for any lithium-based battery pack is going to have to be resilient anyway to withstand the heat and pressure the battery will be subjected to in u

    You clearly have no clue. Naked lithium batteries are very easily punctured. So, no, you don't just need sturdiness on "one side" of the battery casing. You need protection all around. It sounds as if you've never actually seen a removable laptop battery. They are well armored - they'd be getting sued for all kinds of accidents if they weren't. And that casing, and the connector, takes up a lot of space. I'm not sure what bizarro world you are living in where sturdy casing and connectors don't take up space.

  • Re:Battery?! (Score:3, Informative)

    by itsdapead ( 734413 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @06:52PM (#26350445)

    Math correction... 1cm = 10mm

    Oops :-) How embarrasing.

    Let that be a lesson to us: don't do math with legs crossed: go to bathroom first, re-read post, then click submit. Oh, and don't mix units - good job I wasn't building a Mars lander :-).

    Mathematical fsckups aside: making a battery removable means you have to build a double wall, with enough clearance to get the battery in and out, plus connectors, latches etc. and small linear decreases in length have large impact on volume;

  • Re:Wireless (Score:3, Informative)

    by willy_me ( 212994 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @07:24PM (#26350807)

    You have a wireless monitor? Where you get it?

    The new Apple displays are not wireless, but they do come with an adapter for supplying your laptop with power. It might not be the same as a dock but it is close. Three little connectors plug into the side of your laptop and you're good to go.

    More info can be found here. [].

  • Re:Battery?! (Score:3, Informative)

    by Fallen Kell ( 165468 ) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @12:17AM (#26353561)

    Case in point -- they dropped Firewire from the MacBook. That means you can't use your family's DV or HDV camcorder anymore with a MacBook to use the new iMovie to edit your videos... and yet sales took off of the new laptop. That feature excluded that laptop from my consideration, but the fact that I don't like it doesn't mean it wasn't the right decision for them.

    Actually, I believe Apple removed it so that it would be a unique feature on their Macbook Pro line, which would cause all the people who needed firewire to have to purchase their highest end laptops and not the lower tier products. The Nvidia 9600 mobile chipset that both the Macbook and Macbook Pro laptops use has no firewire capabilities built into the chipset. In previous Intel chipset motherboard, firewire was included as a chipset function. It takes an additional chip to be added to their motherboard design to add the firewire feature that the Pro line uses.

  • Re:Battery?! (Score:4, Informative)

    by Maserati ( 8679 ) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @12:43AM (#26353787) Homepage Journal

    To back this up, the video clearly shows the volume gained by not making the battery removable. I've taken screenshots of schematics a laptop with a removable and with a built-in battery. They increased battery volume by 40%.

    screenshots here: []

    Ok, I haven't seen a gallery recently, I'm kinda impressed.

  • DSP (Score:2, Informative)

    by ovu ( 1410823 ) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @12:46PM (#26359037)
    Music and film production suites frequently employ DSP chips, which are nestled cosily onto PCI cards. They are quite common in these industries.

A committee takes root and grows, it flowers, wilts and dies, scattering the seed from which other committees will bloom. -- Parkinson