2009
01.10

Nope, not spam. Not what she said, either. Apple on Tuesday released its second notebook to have a built-in battery, and this one’s the biggie in the family.

The Macbook Pro 17″, in its six-and-a-half-pound “unibody” incarnation, will have a non-user-replaceable battery. Roughly comparable to a ten-cell unit form anywhere else, this lithium polymer unit sits below the front-right side of the notebook’s casing, and propels the LED-backlit 17-inch model of Apple’s pro notebook to a crazy eight hours of battery life if you use integrated graphics, seven if you use the Macbook Pro’s dedicated chip.

I gotta ask, why?

First, why a built-in battery? Apple said they made the battery 40% larger by making it non-removable. Doing some quick math, that means they could’ve made a battery with 5.5 hours of life on integrated graphics, 4.5 on dedicated. Slightly less than the 15-nch Macbook Pro, but still very, very reasonable for such a large computer.Don’t get me wrong, a computer can never be too thin, too light or have too much battery life, but why make the technical leap here and now?

Oh wait, I know. Apple, to my knowledge, has never made an extended battery for any of their computers, and I suppose they aren’t about to start now. Pus, an extended battery wouldn’t work so well poking out of the bront of the computer. Really bad ergonomics. Also, if you build in a battery, it costs more to replace (to the tune of $130 on the three-cell Macbook Air, $180 on the MacBehemoth…erm…MacBook Pro 17) and it keeps Apple store tech folks busy. How now, cash cow?

Second, why a 17″ computer? I haven’t had a chance to get my hands on the Macbook Pro yet, and won’t for a few weeks, but the contents of my change bowl say we’re looking at a computer that won’t fit in my backpack; the 15″ Macbook Pro was a squeeze as it stood. Sure, it’s cool and all to have an under-inch-thick, reasonably light portable powerhouse, but let’s think of applications here. 99.9% of them are within a cord-length of an outlet, and the other 0.1% are great chances for toting along an extra battery. The only place yu might be without power is on some form of transportation. The thing is, I have a hard enough time getting my Macbook Air, with its 13.3″ screen, pen in coach class; the 17″ Macbook Pro would require me to fly a different airline, and buy a first-class seat in said airline. Ouch.

All told, this move by Apple sets an interesting precedent that PC makers may follow: built-in batteries on normal-sized computers. Once they do that, Apple loses its advantage; if they can make batteries bigger by removing components that make said batteries user-replaceable, so can Dell, Gateway and HP. Then again, Apple had to do its best to spice up an otherwise bland, “we’ve seen that before” product that should have been updated a few months ago. Plus, they had to make sure the computer was in line profile-wise with its other aluminum MacBooks: less than an inch thick, growing gaunter by the minte. Or is that the company’s CEO? ;)

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