The new MacBooks

After weeks of speculation, Apple has released the Intel-based iBook replacement, and it’s named: The MacBook (thank goodness I don’t need to register a new domain name). Completely redesigned, the new MacBook comes standard with a 13.3-inch widescreen “glossy” display (with 1280 x 800 resolution!), built-in iSight camera, IR remote, and most importantly, Intel’s Core Duo Processor with speeds up to 2.0 GHz. And like its iPod cousin, the new MacBooks come in two colors, white and black.

For audio, the MacBook features a combined optical digital audio input/line in (mini jack) and a combined optical digital audio output/headphone (mini jack). Not too shabby.

MacBook prices start at $1099 for the white 1.83 GHz model, and top out at $1499 for the 2.0Ghz “BlackBook.” Most users won’t notice a speed difference between the 1.83 and 2.0GHz processors, but two or three years from now there will certainly be software available that pushes the 2.0GHz Core Duo to its limits.

The MacBook seems to be the perfect notebook computer for just about any musician or DJ. There are only two possible limitations: One is the lack of a PCMCIA card slot, especially for owners of the Echo Indigo sound card. You’ll have to look for a USB or FireWire alternative. Secondly, the integrated 64MB graphics chip may not cut it if you need to do any high-end graphics or video work (or want to play graphics-intensive games), but the chip does support Apple’s Core Graphics engine, so the MacBook can handle common graphics and video tasks with ease.

One last note: Before rushing out to buy a MacBook, make sure the music software you use has been released as a Universal Binary, which can run natively on the Intel processor. Most audio programs do not run well under Apple’s Rosetta emulation. The good news is that most popular apps have Universal Binary versions either released or in beta. Check for new about software updates.

Fast, stylish, affordable – Barring any unforeseen issues, the MacBook seems hard to beat. We’ll have an in-depth review after they begin shipping next week.