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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, iWork.com.
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Apple Intros 17" Unibody MBP, DRM-Free iTunes

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  • So....what about TV? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Darth_brooks ( 180756 ) * <clipper377@ g m ail.com> on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @03:04PM (#26346397) Homepage

    Two semi-glaring points:

    -What about TV show and movie purchases? What level of DRM can be expected there (I don't know level of DRM applies now, so feel free to call me a clod who's talking out of an orifice other than stdout ). The verbiage seems to very carefully mention "songs" only, no other iTunes available media.

    -What about my current iTunes song library? Will the DRM magically disappear with my next update? Do I need to download my library again, (and thereby lose the totally pointless play count next to my songs? What will I do? That's how I keep score damnit!)

  • Removable Battery (Score:3, Interesting)

    by localman ( 111171 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @03:06PM (#26346467) Homepage

    I was drooling over the new 17" until I got to the non-removable battery part. On long trips I've always loved the ability to swap through multiple batteries. 8 hours (which surely means 6 real world hours) is very good, but it still falls short of two or three swaps. Probably not something most people care about, so perhaps a good business decision... but I'll be holding on to my old 17" until it croaks, I guess.

  • by Speare ( 84249 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @03:11PM (#26346575) Homepage Journal

    I am not particularly concerned with the general idea of a non-removable battery. I know that by removing the extra two walls internally, they fit a bit more charge-storing mass inside the slim case. I know that the life span of this new material is able to hold more Amp-hours, which is welcome.

    What concerns me is the "stays plugged in" case. Many people with this class of laptop leave the thing plugged in most of the time, but need the ability to untether just often enough to go on the road. I have had bad luck with batteries in the past, even with the best "smart charge" electronics, where the battery loses its peak capacity if it's left plugged into the DC wallwart 98% of the time. I don't discover the problem, of course, until just when I open the laptop in the airport, waiting for my departure flight.

  • Matte display (Score:2, Interesting)

    by f1vlad ( 1253784 ) Works for Slashdot on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @03:12PM (#26346599) Homepage Journal
    Matte display, it makes it that much worthwhile to me. I hated reflective.
  • Re:So,no more DRM (Score:3, Interesting)

    by FangVT ( 144970 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @03:12PM (#26346607) Homepage

    "prices as low as 69c" means 10% at that price, the majority of selling tracks at $2.50
    There'll be plenty to whine about.

    There will be three prices: $.69, $.99, and $1.29.
    According to the keynote, there will be more tracks priced at $.69 than at $1.29.

  • Still too high (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mcgrew ( 92797 ) * on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @03:17PM (#26346701) Homepage Journal

    the lowest song price is $0.69

    Still forty cents too high. Back when a single came on vinyl and cost a dollar, the manufacturing, warehousing, transportation, etc. gave them maybe a dime profit at most. Now they want a buck with no manufacturing, transportation, warehousing, or any other costs except profit.

    Actually producing and recording the sucker was incredibly exoensive back then too. It's dirt cheap these days, but we're still paying the same inflated prices (well, not "we", I stopped buying RIAA drack back when Napster was illegal).

    I blame cocaine, the shit makes people greedy. The labels' own greed is causing their downfall.

  • by SeanMon ( 929653 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @03:21PM (#26346767) Homepage Journal

    Do I need to download my library again, (and thereby lose the totally pointless play count next to my songs? What will I do? That's how I keep score damnit!)

    iTunes separates the metadata from the data somewhat: a song entry in the iTunes database has a pointer to a file.
    I updated my library to iTunes Plus when it first was released, and I didn't lose anything (play counts, ratings, and playlists!)

  • by argent ( 18001 ) <peter&slashdot,2006,taronga,com> on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @03:26PM (#26346863) Homepage Journal

    My Libretto was rated for 8 hours with the fat battery pack, but I never got more than 5-6 hours. That was still enough to keep me from having to join the tethered geeks near the wall at conferences, but only because I had two batteries and could leave one charging in my room... then swap it out at the lunch break and before the evening sessions.

    Not to mention that you don't want to risk a non-removable "iBattery" turning into something like this [flickr.com] like my original Macbook Pro's did.

  • by SanityInAnarchy ( 655584 ) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @03:27PM (#26346889) Journal

    The longest battery life I've ever had -- and I still miss it -- was around 12 hours, even 15. It was a 10" Sharp subnotebook, with a small battery that lasted maybe 3 hours, and a much larger battery (probably weighed more than the notebook) that lasted nine to twelve hours.

    Even if you adjust for the fact that I was running Gentoo, I still wasn't likely to get less than 9 hours, even with the thing compiling a lot.

    Of course, it was less convenient -- I had to hibernate, swap batteries, and resume. When I had a Powerbook, it had a tiny internal battery, so you could swap the main battery, and as long as you did it in less than ten minutes, you'd be fine.

    I think the main reason people don't do this is that batteries are usually expensive, and there's still no way to charge them except in a laptop. Imagine if you had a 7 hour usable life on that laptop, but two or three batteries. Now imagine you could plug the AC adapter directly into the battery. Now you never have to tether the laptop itself, just swap batteries every now and then.

  • by d3ac0n ( 715594 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @03:28PM (#26346915)

    No, docks are so you don't HAVE to waste time plugging and unplugging your monitor, keyboard, mouse, external speakers, USB/Firewire devices, Etc. Just slap down (or slide in) the laptop and fire it up. Business-class laptops have had and still have this feature. For some reason home PC users and Mac users don't get that option.

    I have yet to hear a logical reason why beyond "well, you can just manually plug them in." Which isn't a good reason because it doesn't address the inevitable wear and tear (and breakage) on a port that constant removal and reattachment of connectors causes.

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

  • by hwyhobo ( 1420503 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @03:49PM (#26347349)

    Apple needs to look harder at the road warrior market. 17" is way too large for those folks (or should I say "us"?). 15" is borderline. We need matte display on smaller MBPs, not 17". Please don't tell me about properly designed workplace. When I am at my desk, I can connect to my real monitor. I need to use laptop screen when I am on the road, where I do not have control over ambient lighting. Reflective sucks, plain and simple, Apple fanboy protestations notwithstanding.

    Best yet, design a 12" MBP with a video card supporting at least 1920x1200 external monitor and a field-replaceable hard drive. If you have to do 15", then make it something weird, like 1680x800, so that the monitor is wide but low, so it can be easily opened and used on a plane, where a lot of work is done. If you have no idea what I am talking about, please do not post "I have no idea what you're talking about" proving the obvious.

    Replaceable battery would be nice, but I can live with a built-in if it is 8 hours, provided it can be quickly replaced (while you wait) at an Apple store by one of their techs.

  • Sure, some people can get the nonstop flight from LA to NYC, and survive on a single battery. But not everyone is that lucky. Many of us have to go through one or more layovers to get from where we work to where we are having a meeting. And as the airlines consolidate, and hubs lose their hub status, the layover will become more and more commonplace for travelers.

    Add to that the lack of available wall outlets at so many airports - as well as the lack of any sort of outlet on most planes - and you'll see that it is not unusual for a single trip to require more than 8 hours of battery power.

    A trip I took recently that was just less than 1,000 miles "as the crow flies" took me over 8 hours of real time. And I'm sure I'm not the only person with a laptop who has experienced this.
  • by prockcore ( 543967 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @03:56PM (#26347501)

    Speaking of reliability, it doesn't happen often, but I've had both my PC and my Mac crash hard enough to have to remove the battery to get it to reboot.

    I'm guessing you'll just have to wait 8 hours for the battery to drain if this thing ever locks up.

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

    by deathsaurus ( 305949 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @04:08PM (#26347729)

    Pretty much the same way they got the "2 million DRM-free songs" benchmark before today: the "karaoke version" of every song.

  • people on 8+ hour flights who need to use their laptop the entire time

    For one thing, it is worth noting that "8 hour batteries" often get 8 hours when you're playing solitaire or typing a word document. If you are doing anything that is intensive in a computational or storage manner, you are generally lucky to get half the expected battery life.

    and don't use airlines with power in the seats

    Power in the seats? If I had the option I would take it. I don't think I've been on a plane in the last 4 years that had that as an option. It is not unusual for me to fly over 10,000 miles per year, and not a single mile of the last 4 years has been on a plane that had power available in any seats (minus perhaps in the cockpit).

    If you're home and/or destination airport isn't regularly served by large aircraft with power in the seats, then you are just SOL in that regard.

    something to get worked up about.

    Worked up? Not really. I'm just saying that if they are really concerned about real road warriors they've missed the mark. There are plenty of people for whom an expensive laptop like this is a great way to go, but there are plenty of people who would still be better served by a removable battery.

  • Re:Requires iTunes (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SanityInAnarchy ( 655584 ) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @04:26PM (#26348021) Journal

    For those of us who WANT to use iTunes, that's not really a problem.

    I'm on Linux, most of the time. But that's only part of the story...

    My mother just bought a brand-new iPod. It doesn't work with the version of iTunes she has on her computer, and the new version of iTunes that will work requires XP (she's on 2K). So the choice is either pay for an XP upgrade, or buy her a new computer. Or, as a compromise, I've found an old computer and set up Linux and Amarok.

    It's not going to be pleasant if she has to buy a song on iTunes, then transfer it over to this other box, then to her iPod.

    I suppose what bothers me most about it is, how difficult is it, really, to set up a shopping cart for music? That's, what, a weekend of work? A week, maybe?

    Most people can't hear the difference and don't want to take up the extra hard drive space for lossless encoding, then take the time to re-encode it when transferring to other devices.

    Point is, not all devices will necessarily do AAC. For the ones that do, great, it'll probably sound good enough. For the rest, there's a generational loss.

    And again, Amarok will do that transcoding for you, which means it takes none of your time, only CPU time while you sync.

    The model I've seen work well is, both mp3 and Flac, and charge a little extra for the Flac. People who don't want to deal with it will buy mp3, and people who care about any format other than mp3 can do it themselves by buying Flac.

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

    by MBGMorden ( 803437 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @04:32PM (#26348123)

    That's about what I'd expect. Karaoke songs, cover bands, independent bar bands, etc, will all probably have their stuff at $0.69. There's no shortage of that stuff on iTunes. The really old (but still not major) mainstream songs will likely be $0.99.

    Everything with a bit of popularity and all the new released I'll bet will be $1.29.

  • by Evangelion ( 2145 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @04:41PM (#26348321) Homepage

    Well, no.

    One of the unintended consequences of releasing a new model is that people will then proceed to buy up last years model, as the remaining stock has probably been reduced in price.

    They do want people to buy their laptops for September -- they would just rather they buy them at the older, higher price if possible.

  • Re:Removable Battery (Score:2, Interesting)

    by corprew ( 24232 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @04:55PM (#26348563) Homepage

    Prediction: Soon you will be able to buy an external battery pack that is roughly the size of a laptop battery that you can plug in through the magsafe adapter rather than changing the battery physically.

    Oh, wait, whoops, the future is here.


  • by King_TJ ( 85913 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @06:53PM (#26350455) Journal

    I followed the keynote from one of the Mac magazine's own web sites, vs. Engadget.

    The problem with Engadget's blogging is, they just ignored parts they were personally uninterested in (software related items).

    I don't think they even covered most of the talk about the new iWork '09 suite!

    Actually, the new features they're putting in iLife '09 and iWork '09 I thought were the best parts of this keynote. (We already all knew a 17" Macbook Pro was coming, since they updated the 15" and were still selling the old model of the 17", right? Big deal... Only really "interesting" news was the non-replaceable but improved battery, and for some, the fact you can again order it with a matte screen, for $50 extra.)

    iWork '09, among other things, finally becomes a serious contender for an MS Office alternative, because it fully supports "OLE" type capabilities. I can finally make a chart in "Numbers" and link it to a Pages doc or Keynote presentation, and have the chart change dynamically when I update figures in the spreadsheet. Without this functionality, it really was kind of "second class" as Office suites go.....

  • by Lemmy Caution ( 8378 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @07:34PM (#26350947) Homepage

    As someone who switched to Mac for my laptop, I have to say that people don't switch in baby steps like that - and that it would be frustrating for them if they did.

    Most consumers don't collect computers, either. They will get a replacement system at least as powerful as their older system. Having a lightweight "entry level" Mac system isn't going to convert anyone.

    Almost everyone I know who switched did it the way I did: on the laptop, not on the desktop, for a range of reasons, not the least of which is that the desktop is becoming the preserve of gamers.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @07:38PM (#26351003)

    I think if the Mini had PCI slots, it wouldn't be "mini" anymore. Its size would grow and you'd be looking at yet another desktop box. If you need to expand beyond what you can do with firewire and usb, then you should have a regular desktop or workstation anyway.

  • by Bobartig ( 61456 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @08:01PM (#26351243) Homepage

    Don't worry, everyone feels this way, and has been saying the same thing for *checks watch* about 11 years now.

    Lots of power users want the mid-range tower. It's an obvious hole in their desktop lineup. They don't want a Mini, or an iMac, which essentially have the same expandability. They don't want the high end tower, which has been prohibitively expensive, and the only expandable mac option for over a decade now (since the B&W G3 tower). So, you're totally right, but this is hardly a revelation.

  • by falconwolf ( 725481 ) <falconsoaring_20 ... oo.com minus cat> on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @09:13PM (#26351899)

    Like you I and others have pointed out that Apple is missing a market segment that wants a midrange Mac that's expandable and upgradeable. I'd love to be able to get a mid tower with 3 or 4 expansion slots and well as more hdd space for around US$1000. As it is though I'm typing this on my MacBook Pro when I need a more robust desktop, er under desk, PC I'll upgrade my old Linux tower.


  • by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @09:28PM (#26352001) Homepage Journal

    "Then again Jobs has always come off as a little elitist to me so maybe he simply doesn't want to convert those unwashed Windows masses to OSX. After all he is already making money hand over fist, perhaps he has decided that he likes OSX right where it is at currently?"
    That isn't really elitist that is just good business. I just got an iPod Touch for Christmas. Guess what? I really like it. I am a Linux guy at heart but the touch really does work well. I use it all the time now and I really do like it. If I could just get ITunes that runs under Linux I would be really happy.
    I would love to se a new Mac Cube with a PCIe slot. BTW that is all they really need is one for a video card. That would help swing some gamers over as well. But I think you hit it on the head. They are selling Macs like hot cakes now and making a mint. Why slug it out with Microsoft when they are making great gobs of cash right now?
    Heck I would love to see an Apple Netbook as well as the Apple mac with a slot but right now Apple doesn't really seem to need them.

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

    by NiteShaed ( 315799 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @09:59PM (#26352313)

    No, no, you're wrong. The public indeed did a lot to contribute to the song. Have you noticed that the song lyrics are written in English? Luckily the English language is in the public domain, or else Queen would owe William the Conqueror (or whoever) royalties. Have you noticed that the song is written in the C-major scale? (Actually I don't know what scale it's in.) Well, musical scales were invented by someone long before Queen. Have you noticed that the song sounds a lot like some other rock songs of that era?

    I concede that if things were different they wouldn't be the same, but as it stands, the English language is not in fact copyrighted. Further, I don't think I ever said anything about copyright being enforced in perpetuity, so the customary 50 - 70 years after the author's death would indeed place English firmly into the public domain. Same goes for musical scales. For now, we'll ignore the fact that neither of these things were single works, and that copyright wouldn't have applied to them anyway.

    Queen didn't write the song in a cultural vacuum. We give them a lot of credit for the song,

    How about giving them *all* the credit for the song. They wrote, arranged and performed it. Saying that society at large deserves some credit for it is just as asinine as giving partial credit to Somali warlords for "Black Hawk Down". After all, if they hadn't torn their country to pieces, then "Black Hawk Down" would never have been written.

    and we recognize that credit with a certain amount of unnatural legal rights.

    As opposed to a "natural" legal right? All legal rights are "unnatural". We make them up to make our society a place worth living.

    Many of us think the law is out of balance, and is immoral.

    Yes, not having free Queen albums is morally outrageous. Lets consider some of the other moral outrages that current copyright perpetuates:
    * Prop 8 folks can't use Elton John's "Born Bad" (1979) in their campaign against gay-marriage. Elton, you know being gay and all, has the option to tell them they can't.
    * Westboro Baptist Church can not release a music video of John Lennon being tortured in Hell set to the song Imagine (1971)
    * Holiday Inn can't release a sanitized version the Dead Kennedys song "Holiday In Cambodia" (1980) as part of their advertising campaign without Jello Biafra's sign-off. Considering his apparent attitude towards corporate entities, this is pretty unlikely.

    When oh when will we be freed of the tyranny of copyright?

    I am literally myopic, not figuratively myopic.

    You may actually be both.

  • by snuf23 ( 182335 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @10:51PM (#26352799)

    "ignoring the problem entirely since macs don't really "do" games"

    Unfortunately, I do games. So do a lot of other Mac users. Recently with the World of Warcraft expansion a lot of Mac users had to turn down their graphic levels to play the game acceptably. This is on fairly recent machines such as the previous generation Macbook Pros and iMacs. Sadly there is no upgrade path aside from getting a new Mac. I guess ultimately that benefits Apple.
    I switched back to using my 2 year old PC because the performance was better with a more powerful video card.

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

    by NiteShaed ( 315799 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @11:19PM (#26353035)

    The Somali warlords are partially to credit for the movie, as is the rest of humanity, and on a fading penumbra, everything in existence. Again, nothing is created in a vacuum.

    I'd say this is completely wrong. The warlords deserve "credit" for what they actually did. The creative work, the novel, is creditable only to the writer. You don't credit the stone that a sculptor uses for the sculpture because it's raw material, useless to the unskilled, but the basis for a masterpiece in the hands of a master artisan. Stories are like that as well. The ideas, the raw information is useless to the average person on the street, but in the hands of a master it's the basis for an enduring work of art. If that weren't the case, there'd be millions of "Black Hawk Down"s, one for every person who was in any way involved or heard about the actual events. As an aside, I'm not suggesting that "Black Hawk Down" is an enduring work of art, it was just the first example that sprang to mind for some reason.

    Yes, not having free Queen albums is morally outrageous. You said it sarcastically, and I say it seriously. Queen albums aren't really what I'm worried about today, but it's a reasonable synecdochic stand-in for all of culture: not having widespread free access to the canon of human culture is morally outrageous.

    I'd say that the fact that the song is such a part of modern culture is proof in and of itself that the copyright restrictions aren't particularly onerous. If they were, we wouldn't be having this conversation, because we'd be unaware of its existence. Sure, it'd be nice if pretty much everything was free, but that's not how society works. Copyright has provisions for fair-use, but to simply take someone else's work while crying "freedom" is simply a display of a sense of entitlement, that things should be free because you like them and you deserve to have them without contributing (i.e. paying).

    I am curious though, what about my examples? Are you willing to argue that Elton John, Yoko Ono (as the current copyright holder to Imagine), and Jello Biafra are immoral for not allowing the scenarios I described above? If not, where does that leave your assertion that copyright beyond 28 years is immoral?

  • by afidel ( 530433 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @11:35PM (#26353217)
    Actually I started buying music again as soon as they made it available without DRM. That's why the day I found out about the Amazon MP3 store I bought seven albums: good quality, convenient, and I actually own the files. The fact that the albums are almost all between $5 and $8.99 didn't hurt =)
  • by guidryp ( 702488 ) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @09:45AM (#26356695)

    Newsflash. Macs run windows too now. When I bought a new PC last year I would have bought a Mac instead if there had been a decent mid tower.

    Instead I handpicked my components for another PC. Nice mid tower (Antec Solo) dual core, 8800GT graphics. 500G HD. For not much more than a woefully underpowered mac mini.

    I use my PC for a bit of everything. Media center duty with dual screens. Mini fails, can't drive dual screens, might have a hard time with some 1080p codecs as well. I also play some games. Newsflash, you can dual boot macs now.

    I also added 2TB more internal HDs.

    If there had been a mac with decent graphics and dual monitor support and full size internal HD, I would have bought one. But nothing like that existed, forcing me back to the PC even though, I was willing to try a MAC.

    A mid tower or a mini with upgradable graphics and full size HD would be a great media center PC IMO. I am sure it would fit a lot of other peoples needs as well.

    But instead Apple makes a line of laptops, but some don't have batteries (Imac) and some don't have batteries or a screen, or a keyboard (mini), but they all share laptop limitations.

    They need to build at least one real desktop machine (and no the ridiculously priced pro doesn't count).

  • by DrgnDancer ( 137700 ) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @09:46AM (#26356703) Homepage

    Really? I found that my performance increased significantly with the upgrade. I have a "Last Gen" white plastic Macbook (Not just the most recent generation, but also, literally, the last generation unless something changes) I bought about 6 month ago. WoW worked on it, but I often got strange graphics artifacts. Stuff would go blurry, letter would drop out of names, etc. It was still playable, but annoying. Searching online and talking to both Apple and Blizzard support convinced me that the problem was the cheap Intel video chipset and they'd get it fixed "someday". That day turned out to be Wrath of the Lich King release day. The game has been much smoother and nicer since release and I didn't change any settings. Granted I don't play at maximum everything, but I don't play at bare bottom settings either.

  • by Lachlan Hunt ( 1021263 ) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @11:53AM (#26358295) Homepage

    Once DRM free songs were available to me in my area, I haven't pirated a single song that was available to buy and in some cases, even replaced my previously pirated copies with legally purchased copies. In fact, the vast majority of my music library now consists of legal downloads or rips from CDs I own.

  • by Aram Fingal ( 576822 ) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @01:02PM (#26359253)
    What I gather from talking to Apple reps is that they see the Mac as always being a high end niche player. They want the Mac to be a premium brand.

    If you take that observation a step farther and factor in various design choices and marketing decisions by Apple, it seems to me that their strategy is geared towards a market where Linux takes over the low end while they get the high end and Microsoft is squeezed in the middle. They figure that they can't compete with Linux for the low end and shouldn't try. I think, if anything, Apple is surprised that Linux hasn't grabbed more market share already. An environment where there is significant market share for Linux at the low end would benefit Apple because it's easier to follow cross-platform standards between Linux and OS X than Windows and OS X.

In 1869 the waffle iron was invented for people who had wrinkled waffles.