Why Apple Needs a Pro Ultra-Portable Again
And Why Signs are Pointing to Such, Along with a Definite Return?

by Joe Leo, Columnist

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While a new sub-notebook is welcome, especially an Apple branded one with Intel chips inside, the number that keeps coming up are 13 and 12. A sub-notebook with a 13-inch screen is just bad luck. Why? Not because of the superstitions revolving around the number 13, but because of the mere fact that Apple already has that in the MacBook.

And Apple users, powerhouse/ultra-portable users have already spoken on that front. We don't want no stinkin' super-size-me style MacBook. We want it in the tried and true style of 12, like the original and first-ever ultra-portable powerhouse, the 12-inch PowerBook G4. If supply and demand weren't an indicator (since there is no supply), just look to eBay.

People are looking for and wanting these machines and they fetch a high price. When one can get a souped-up MacBook refurbished from the Apple Store online with higher and faster specs than that of a similarly priced, or higher priced for that matter, used 12-inch PowerBook, that has to be an indicator of the... demand!!

CNBC's report yesterday revealed that Apple plans to release a new sub-notebook computer early next year, and contrary to popular belief and recently-rumored trends, the new portable will not feature a 13.3" LCD screen as previously reported, but a (gasp) 12" screen, priced aggressively at $1500-- or so they think, according to their sources, and did report on the air.

And to quote, kind of, a person who commented on another site's pages about that rumor (on the new ultra-portable Mac featuring a 13.3" screen), they said "does anyone realize that these requests for supplies of 13.3-inch screens could just be for the existing MacBook line?" I tend to agree with the guy. (And it wasn't me who posted the comment).

Why would Apple bring back the ultra-portable line but choose a "huge" size screen?

Now, to play devil's advocate here, if they did create a MacBook Pro in aluminum casing, give it top-of-the-line specs better than that of the consumer MacBook line, and gave it a 13.3" screen, then yes, you would have an ultra-portable MacBook Pro. Since it would be smaller than its siblings in the aluminum casing line.

And that's maybe where I would take the bait, and as would other current and still 12-inch PowerBook G4 users, because it would be small. Not as small, but smaller than the standard 15.

This brings up the original idea for this story, when I purchased that other PowerBook G4 on eBay a few weeks ago (remember who we bought it from, and never knew until the end?). While I had my reasons for making the purchase, and love every aspect of my "new" Mac portable, something was wrong with it. It's way too big and heavy compared to our 12-inch one.

The main reason for the purchase was screen "real estate." It's hard to do things like working in Photoshop or InDesign CS--when you need the portability of a "real" desktop--or even simple things like writing this article and trying to upload the converted-to-HTML files on to the server.

(I use TextEdit to write the copy, then, copy and paste to BBEdit Lite, and then use Fetch to upload. Switching between screens all the time is hard. On the 15-inch, I'm able to keep it all on one screen... something that could be done on a 12-inch screen with a higher resolution).

And while we all love that backlit keyboard feature, which we all wished was on our 12-inch model, plus the ability to "upgrade" with a PCMCIA cardbus slot, we were all willing to give that up so that we could enjoy the ultimate in portability. Face it. When you're using a 12-inch PowerBook, everything else is huge. And the 15-inch version is definitely huge. And heavier.

Many users out there are clamoring (drooling?) and holding out on buying Intel-based Macs because of that factor. The sub-notebook form factor.

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