Apple MacBook updates not as disappointing as some claim.

I’ve seen several blogs that don’t seem happy with Apple’s updates to the MacBook line last week. Seems they were expecting radical changes such as Intel’s Santa Rosa chip set or even a new LED back lit display.

But those changes were clearly going to appear on Apple’s professional (i.e., MacBook Pro) line first. Fact is, the performance delta between the MacBook and MacBook Pro is not that great, and a boost like those described above would make the difference. Instead, Apple just needed to refresh the line to keep them current and a good value. I believe they did this rather well.

First, the “low-end” model was improved greatly via getting the full 4MB processor cache (previously it had half that), an increase in processor speed (1.83 to 2.0GHz), double the RAM (from 512MB to 1GB — especially important since video RAM is shared from main memory), and 33% more hard drive space (60 to 80GB). Yet the price is the same. The low-end model used to be just an entry point, so I used to suggest increasing RAM and getting a bigger hard drive, inevitably recommending going for the middle model. Not any more, the low-end model is great out of the box and at $1,099 an excellent deal.

The middle model gets an increase in speed (2.0 to 2.16GHz), an 8X SuperDrive instead of a combo drive, and 50% more hard drive space (80 to 120GB). The price remains the same so it represent another great value. If you have $200 more to spend over the “low” model it is worth it.

Oddly, it’s the high-end black model that does not benefit from the changes. It gets only an increase in drive space from 120 to 160GB but otherwise remains the same, including price. Where this really hits home is that when you previously configured a white model to match the black, there was only a $50 difference in price. Now the same exercise nets a $125 difference! I might have paid $50 for the black finish, but I would not pay $125.

All in all, for the low- and mid-level models these are solid updates that represent even better value than before.

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