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Portables (Apple) Hardware

Intel PowerBook Rumor Mill 362

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the only-a-matter-of-time dept.
catdriver writes "AppleInsider has an article guessing about Apple's new Intel portable offerings in early 2006. 'With the initiation of the Intel Power Mac project last month, all five of Apple's Intel Macintosh projects are now said to be underway and moving at an exhaustive, yet fruitful pace. It should come as no surprise that Apple chief executive Steve Jobs is reportedly leading the charge, with his heart set on making 2006 the next 1984.' With Mac OS X for x86 now catching up to its PPC sibling, is Apple ready to take the plunge?"
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Intel PowerBook Rumor Mill

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  • Apple Intel Switch (Score:5, Informative)

    by BWJones (18351) * on Sunday November 06, 2005 @12:32PM (#13963113) Homepage Journal
    I am sure that there have been some issues, that I have written [utah.edu] about before, notably the porting of hand coded Altivec instruction sets to equivalent Intel specific instructions. However, the code bases between Intel and PPC have been pretty close to one another going back to the NeXTstep days. You do remember that NeXTstep ran on Intel, right? At any rate, the next step, no pun intended :-), should be interesting indeed. I am hoping for additional professional plans that Intel specific chips should allow, particularly at the subnotebook (or even Newton formfactor) level. I have been travelling more and even the 12in Powerbook, which has been the best laptop I've ever owned, is starting to be cumbersome.

    • Altivec (Score:5, Informative)

      by 0xC0FFEE (763100) on Sunday November 06, 2005 @12:57PM (#13963244)
      "Altivec programs" really aren't coded against Altivec instructions directly. For example, for doing a vector add, you'd use vec_madd() which, if you have Altivec, maps to the vmaddfp altivec instruction. If you move to SSE, you'd probably code against the same vec_madd() but the compiler would generate the correct instruction for SSE. So, if you've followed Apple's instructions, conversion should be relatively easy. Furthermore, most people simply use Apple's higher level libraries (ie, vecLib, etc) that embeds most of what numerical people would need (like blas or lapack).

      Most importantly, Altivec, while really fast, only support single precision computations. This is sufficient for improving multimedia playback, applying image filters on photos or compressing music, but lacking for high-precision computations. SSE supports double precision, a big improvement for the scientific market.

      • Re:Altivec (Score:5, Informative)

        by Pius II. (525191) <PiusII@gmx . d e> on Sunday November 06, 2005 @02:17PM (#13963645)
        That's very very dependant on your actual code. The gcc intrinsics mostly cover stuff that is also nicely optimized in Accelerate.framework: vector operations. But there are a few Altivec instructions which are impossible to map to SSE, yet they are widely used (IIRC, shifting by a variable amount is one of them). If you heavily depended on such instructions, you're basically SOL.

        And Altivec is really fast. Keep in mind that OSX86 still uses the brain-damaged 32-bit mode, so the algorithms will be totally register-starved. That may be less relevant if you've designed for the architecture in the first place, but porting specialized assembly from an architecture with, what, >64 registers (r0-r31, f0-f31, plus Altivec), to one with 8 sounds like pure hell to me. Good thing I always used the frameworks (actually I just figured that Apple would be better at optimizing than me :-) ).
        • Re:Altivec (Score:5, Informative)

          by jizmonkey (594430) on Sunday November 06, 2005 @03:41PM (#13964093)
          porting specialized assembly from an architecture with, what, >64 registers (r0-r31, f0-f31, plus Altivec), to one with 8 sounds like pure hell to me.

          If you're going to count the FPU and SIMD registers on the PowerPC, you need to do the same for Intel.

      • Re:Altivec (Score:5, Funny)

        by Reaperducer (871695) on Sunday November 06, 2005 @07:06PM (#13965391)
        I'm sorry, sir. You seem very intelligent and well informed. We'll have to revoke your Slashdot posting permit.
    • by mattkime (8466) on Sunday November 06, 2005 @01:44PM (#13963479)
      >>I have been travelling more and even the 12in Powerbook, which has been the best laptop I've ever owned, is starting to be cumbersome.

      You must be a true geek...most people get STRONGER as they lug something around.
      • One of the things that keeps me from going with the Powerbook is the lack of a very small notebook in the lineup. Apple at one point did have an ultraportable (for its time) -- the Powerbook 2400 [lowendmac.com]. I wish they had something like this now. I don't mean something that's the same size, I mean a notebook that fills the same spot -- just big enough to be usable, small enough that I don't mind carrying it everywhere.

        I'm currently using the Fujitsu P7010D, an ultraportable with very good battery life. If Mac OS X r
  • 1984? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Bananatree3 (872975) * on Sunday November 06, 2005 @12:33PM (#13963116)
    with his heart set on making 2006 the next 1984.'

    Hmm, I wonder what Orwell would think about that.

  • http://www.zug.com/pranks/powerbook/ [zug.com]
    I've been considering a laptop as my next upgrade, since it will use less power, have wireless built in, and be quieter than my desktop with 3 hard drives in it. It will work better as my entertainment center, if it has a TV capture device in it. And I need to upgrade my P-P-P-Powerbook anyway, the screen is cracked.
  • by pv2b (231846) on Sunday November 06, 2005 @12:40PM (#13963146)
    So what does this article say really? Apple's Intel based laptops "may" come out in April-May next year? Yawn.

    It's not even a wild-ass guess that may become true, nor rampant speculation on something unlikely and unannounced. We all know Intel Powerbooks are coming, just not precisely when. This is just another educated guess within that timeframe.

    Wake me when they have something substantive. Though by the time they have anything substantive, it'll be just a few days before the release or at the release anyway.
  • by Harry Balls (799916) * on Sunday November 06, 2005 @12:46PM (#13963190)
    ...the current "Pentium M Dothan".
    Yonah is scheduled to arrive in January 2006, and will be followed in Q3/2006 by "Merom".
    Most "Yonah" models are dual core, but a low-end model with only one core will be available. Apple will most likely opt to use the dual core "Yonah".

    Merom will add 64 bits - yes, Yonah is 32 bits only.

  • by UnknowingFool (672806) on Sunday November 06, 2005 @12:47PM (#13963195)
    "With OS X86 10.4.3 now catching up to its PPC sibling, is Apple ready to take the plunge?"

    It has been speculated in many places that one of the main reasons Intel was chosen over AMD was mobile CPUs. Notebooks is one area where Apple is far behind PCs in terms of perceived performance. While servers and desktops have received new generations of PowerPC chips, the notebooks still use G4s. Although they've been updated, they're still G4s. It would stand to reason that this would be a main area of focus for Steve Jobs and Apple once the change had been made.

    • by antifoidulus (807088) on Sunday November 06, 2005 @01:57PM (#13963533) Homepage Journal
      Not to mention supply problems. Its one thing to go on newegg and order the latest and greatest AMD CPU. It's another thing entirely to use over a million per quarter. I just don't think AMD has the production capacity to keep Apple as well as it's current customers happy. Intel has much more production capacity than AMD does right now...
      • by MythosTraecer (141226) on Sunday November 06, 2005 @02:38PM (#13963747)
        Agreed. When Apple announced that it was not only going with x86, but with Intel x86, it was obvious to me why: supply issues. Supply issues were the cause of endless problems between Motorola and Apple. And the same issue cropped up with IBM: even though the PowerPC 970/G5 is a wonderfully powerful processor (and 64-bit to boot), IBM cannot deliver them in the quantities Apple wants. Obviously, the AMD Athlon 64/Opteron technology is the obvious choice for 64-bit computing at this point, but AMD's supply track record is no better than IBM's or Moto's. Apple can't deal with switching to another vendor and continuing to have supply problems again.
  • could backfire (Score:3, Interesting)

    by CDPatten (907182) on Sunday November 06, 2005 @12:49PM (#13963205) Homepage
    I personally don't like OSX, but LOVE the Apple hardware. I would be interested in purchasing a Titanium (x86) and putting Windows and Linux on it. I odn't believe I'm alone with that opinion either.

    First glance you may say, good for apple, they still get the money. However, what that starts to do is move mindshare for apple to a premium hardware supplier, not a platform supplier.

    I believe there are many people that will consider doing this, and I think this could hurt OSX. This move could put Apple (overtime) going Head to Head with Dell not MS.
    • I personally don't like OSX, but LOVE the Apple hardware. I would be interested in purchasing a Titanium (x86) and putting Windows and Linux on it.

      Blasphemer!...

      Ok, sort of kidding, but also wondering if you've really given it a chance. Beyond that, you know... hey, whatever floats your boat.

      First glance you may say, good for apple, they still get the money. However, what that starts to do is move mindshare for apple to a premium hardware supplier, not a platform supplier.

      I believe there are many peo

    • Yes, but included in the price of that laptop is the cost of OSX already. While Apple's upgrade revenue may be hit, they could even take care of that my moving to a subscription model for OS upgrades that is tied to the extended hardware warranty. If you want Applecare, you will also be paying for the OS upgrades for the warranty period, and warranty service will only be provided to systems with OSX on them. Such tying would not trip government watchdogs for two reasons: Apple's market share is too low for
    • I don't understand (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jtdubs (61885) on Sunday November 06, 2005 @01:13PM (#13963309)
      So, we have a few groups of people here:

      1. Current OS X users.

      They will almost invariable switch to the new Intel-based macs. I would say that most of them don't even know or care what chipset they are running on.

      2. New OS X users.

      These are people who will now be enticed to switch, because of the Intel move, that otherwise wouldn't have been. Perhaps they were waiting for the extra performance that Apple can offer in a laptop now that they have Intel processors. Perhaps they like that they can recompile their x86 specific programs on Macs now. (Yay! SBCL w/ Threading on OS X!? Dare I dream!?!?)

      3. New Mac Hardware users (but not OS X)

      This is the group you seem to be in. You want the Mac hardware, but don't care for the OS. I can't say I agree with you, but that's beside the point.

      So, Apple will have all the people they have now (group 1), some new folks (group 2) and some additional hardware sales to people who are going to install Linux or Windows or BSD or something on the box (group 3).

      Do you seiously believe that group 3 is big enough compared to the combined sizes of groups 1 and 2 that it will do anything other than add more to Apple's bottom-line? You aren't going to affect Apple's image unless group 3 is BIG or astonishingly well publisized.

      Besides, even if group 3 were very large, we are talking about people who are buying the Hardware for the Hardware's sake. Because it's high-quality, attractive hardware. This could NEVER put them into direct competition with Dell. Dell is all about volumes. High volumes at low prices. Apple is EXACTLY the opposite. If Apple were buying the cheapest parts at the highest volumes to crank out machines as quickly and cheaply as possible, then group 3 wouldn't exist.

      Well, those are my thoughts. You know the drill. Grain of sand and what-not.

      Justin Dubs
      • So, Apple will have all the people they have now (group 1), some new folks (group 2) and some additional hardware sales to people who are going to install Linux or Windows or BSD or something on the box (group 3).

        There's also group 4: people who have already installed Linux or BSD to their Macs. The additional hardware sales from switching to x86 will only come from the small number of individuals who want Apple hardware and want to run Windows without running Virtual PC (and that's assuming x86 Macs are

        • I'd say 95% of those people are running old hardware that doesn't support OSX well. I think you're over estimating the size of the group of people that buy a Mac and then dump OSX for linux or BSD.

          I mean seriously how many people are going to dump OSX for a less supported linux or BSD. If you don't like aqua run it in just X mode (personally I like running them side by side). I just see no point in switching.

          This is coming from someone who really likes linux but owns 2 Macs.
      • If Apple were buying the cheapest parts at the highest volumes to crank out machines as quickly and cheaply as possible, then group 3 wouldn't exist.

        I worked at an Apple laptop repair depot here in Memphis about a year and a half ago. Let me assure you, they don't buy the cheapest parts, they manufacture the cheapest parts. This is why approximately 2 out of every 3 laptops that roll off the line fail miserably and have to go back to be refurbished. Ever wonder why Apple hardware is so expensive? You're
      • "... Perhaps they like that they can recompile their x86 specific programs on Macs now. (Yay! SBCL w/ Threading on OS X!? Dare I dream!?!?) ..."

        "Dream?" Fantasize is more like it. If "recompiling" was all it takes, there would be no differences between what is available under OS X from anything else. Recompiling of C or C++ code (so long as it doesn't need to interact with Quartz/Aqua) targeting PPC has been available since Day One for OS X.

        While it is one thing to run faceless software that can connect

    • I really don't think there are many who are considering buying a mac just to install windows or linux on it. Anyway if it were linux that you want on your mac, it's already readily available, in a number of distros.

      And your argument that this will "move mindshare for apple to a premium hardware supplier, not a platform supplier." Doesn't really make much sense either, because if apple does manage to gain mindshare as a premium hardware vendor, they would happily go up against Dell, as apple has much better
    • There is a flaw in that logic as far as I can see. People who are going to buy Apple hardware just to run another OS on it are going to be in addition to the people who are are going to buy it just for the OS, not instead of. It doesn't really matter why you buy a Mac, it only matters that you buy a Mac. That way the company will say "we'll keep doing what we're doing with the OS and the other people will still buy our products anyway." Also, I think there will only be a small number of people who will
    • by intmainvoid (109559) on Sunday November 06, 2005 @01:22PM (#13963365)
      The problem with that scenario is that Apple won't offer support for Windows on Macs, or Linux on Macs. So that rules out any users who might want support, e.g. business and educational institutions. I can't see many normal home users either forking out for a mac, then forking out again for a copy of windows XP, downloading drivers if needed etc. It might be 1% of users (i.e. you if you're reading this) who have got the time and interest for that. And are you really going to go to all that trouble to install windows???

      Don't forget as well, that virtual PC will truely *fly* under OS X on intel - it takes away most of the requirements for emulation, so if you need windows stuff, that'll be the way to do it, it won't suck performance wise like it does now.
    • You can't love Apple hardware that much if you think they're still making PowerBooks out of Titanium.
    • Re:could backfire (Score:5, Insightful)

      by iamnotanumber6 (755703) on Sunday November 06, 2005 @01:39PM (#13963456)
      very good points, but i disagree with the "backfire & hurt OSX" conclusion.

      I personally don't like OSX, but LOVE the Apple hardware. I would be interested in purchasing a Titanium (x86) and putting Windows and Linux on it. I odn't believe I'm alone with that opinion either.

      First glance you may say, good for apple, they still get the money. However, what that starts to do is move mindshare for apple to a premium hardware supplier, not a platform supplier.

      I believe there are many people that will consider doing this, and I think this could hurt OSX. This move could put Apple (overtime) going Head to Head with Dell not MS.


      apple has a much much better chance at competing with dell and gaining market share than they do against microsoft. selling hardware to windows users is a damned good business plan for apple - can you say iPod? profits from OS X are minimal, they give it away with their machines. so, suddenly that other, oh, 95% of computer users are potential apple hardware customers. windows users will switch hardware vendors (eg. dell to hp to apple) at the drop of a hat. but switching operating systems, even if it costs nothing, is a huge investment of one's time in relearning everything and repurchasing applications. so among committed windows users (eg. 80% or more of all computer users), "mindshare for apple" is already zero. this will change that. dramatically.

      now, literally millions of windows users will pick up apple powerbooks and imacs because the hardware is so #%#$%#$% awesome. at the same time, that gives them free access to OS X, while not forcing them to use it. so that massively opens up the potential market for (higher-margin) apple software products like FinalCut, DVD Studio Pro, etc., which are really top-of-the-line in their class.

      remember in the 90's, apple headed down that road of trying to compete with microsoft, licencing clone manufacturers of apple hardware. it was suicidal. jobs is smarter than that. look for apple to triple their hardware sales (where they make most of their profit) in the next few years...
    • I believe there are many people that will consider doing this, and I think this could hurt OSX. This move could put Apple (overtime) going Head to Head with Dell not MS.

      I really doubt it. Most people aren't going to want to pay the premium for Apple hardware just to run Windows and/or Linux. Sure, there will be a few, but not many - especially when the Dell is going to cost hundreds less and come with Windows pre-installed. If anything Apple may hurt sales of more premium brands like the Thinkpad, since
    • I personally don't like OSX

      Care to give a brief explanation as to why? Lots of people don't like Apple, or bemoan the lack of certain bits of software, but I don't think I've ever spoken to anyone who didn't like OSX itself.

      Cheers.
      • Is it really important why he doesn't care for OSX? Most likely it's something that no one will convince him into liking.

        I personally like the underlying BSD, but don't much care for the GUI. It's just not how I'm used to working.

  • I've no plans to buy PC or Mac hardware until I see the value proposition Apple offers in its future products. I am all Mac PowerPC now, but I keep eyeing those cheap Wintel boxes (today it is $299.00 after mail in rebate for an HP with 15" LCD). Hard to resist a bargain.

    I don't need new hardware, but if the Mactels allow me to run PC application via Wine or some other software, I'll go for it real fast.

    What I would really like to is have one drive boot into MacOS and another with an alternative OS. I wou

    • I don't need new hardware, but if the Mactels allow me to run PC application via Wine or some other software, I'll go for it real fast.
      Exactly. I'm really looking forward to getting a Mac that's capable of running Windows-only games like Half-Life (via Wine or otherwise).
    • ``I don't need new hardware, but if the Mactels allow me to run PC application via Wine or some other software, I'll go for it real fast.''

      Duh! I can't believe I missed that. Of course, one of the great advantages of OS X running on x86 hardware is that Apple can bundle WINE and users can run Windows applications at full speed. Imagine the possibilities: Aqua's acclaimed GUI, most of the great Unix software, and all the popular Windows applications, all in one OS. Could switching ever be more attractive?
  • Well of course (Score:3, Insightful)

    by intmainvoid (109559) on Sunday November 06, 2005 @01:05PM (#13963270)
    The Intel Powerbooks [macpredict.com] have to be first, they've gone from being top of the line to average, performance wise, relative to PCs, though their design and build quality is still the best. eg. my C laptop has had a high res screen for well over two years, and Apple has only just caught up on that.

    It's the flagship line for Apple, the most visible (non iPod) member of it's product range, and is probably the driver for most iBook sales as well (for the people who can't afford the real thing). So of course it'll be the first to go Intel. iBooks follow, naturally. Powermacs and xServes will be last - Pro users have a much bigger investment in software and peripherials so will be slower to move anyway. And the mini? Probably somewhere inbetween, and not far behind the iBooks.
    • The Intel Powerbooks have to be first [...] Powermacs and xServes will be last - Pro users have a much bigger investment in software and peripherials so will be slower to move anyway.

      So, pro users will be slowest to move, and thus the last targeted for transition, and the first thing to change will be the PowerBooks, which are targeted at pro users? Your logic has some internal consistency issues.

  • Breathless journalists are always demaning another "1984" from Apple. Well I've got news for you: there won't be any more 1984a in the computer industry. it's too mature And especially not this. Apple changes the guts (to Intel) in a way that has no actual effect on the user interface and this is supposed to be like 1984 how? Idiot.
  • by AgNO3 (878843) on Sunday November 06, 2005 @01:16PM (#13963321) Homepage
    I have NEVER seen that kind of emphasis put on this transition. Way more emphasis was placed on the 68k to PPC transition and the OS 9 to OS X transition. I don't recall reading anywhere that this transition would be the evolutionary step the synopsis makes it out to be.
  • by Junks Jerzey (54586) on Sunday November 06, 2005 @01:27PM (#13963383)
    Not sure where the "Is Apple ready to take the plunge?" tag came from. Of *course* Apple is ready to take the plunge. They've already announced the switch to x86 processors, and they even gave a specific time frame (2006). It's not like there's any real question here.
  • No more 12"? (Score:4, Informative)

    by intmainvoid (109559) on Sunday November 06, 2005 @01:27PM (#13963386)
    Looks like the 12 inch Powerbook is disappearing from the lineup as well (and the 12" ibook is set to become a 13"). It hasn't had a proper update in ages, so the writing's on the wall, but it's a shame, and leaves Apple without a mini-notebook style product. Unless they've got something under wraps...
    • "...leaves Apple without a mini-notebook style product" apart from the 13" ibook you mean?
    • Yeah because 12" is mini.

      • Yeah because 12" is mini.


        Yes, it is. It's 1 pound lighter than a 15", and 2 pounds lighter than a 17". It takes up a whole lot less space too. 12" and 15" might not seem far apart as numbers, but as laptop sizes there's a world of difference once you've actually got to take it places, instead of just sit it on your desk.

    • Re:No more 12"? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mrchaotica (681592) on Sunday November 06, 2005 @02:31PM (#13963706)
      You know what would fill that void perfectly? A 10" PowerBook Tablet. Considering that OS X has supported graphics tablets since forever, and they've still got that good handwriting recognition from the Newton, it seems logical to me...
      • Re:No more 12"? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Coryoth (254751)
        You know what would fill that void perfectly? A 10" PowerBook Tablet. Considering that OS X has supported graphics tablets since forever, and they've still got that good handwriting recognition from the Newton, it seems logical to me...

        To be honest I was quietly expecting Apple to do something like that with the iMac range - you essentially have something very much like the G5 iMacs with wireless keyboard and mouse and simply add the ability to pick the the up off it's stand carry it somewhere else and use
    • Re:No more 12"? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by caseih (160668)
      Agreed. I read the first part of the article and was pretty excited since my powerbook 12" is coming up for replacement next year. I'd love to replace it with an intel pb 12". Then I read the entire model is going away. This is disappointing. I don't mind the look of the iBook (I think they are still keeping the 12" but adding a 13" wide-screen), but it's not near as classy as the powerbook. I hope they reconsider. the PB 12" is a perfect size for me with a full-size keyboard yet compact and quite lig
  • by kitzilla (266382) <paperfrog@gGINSBERGmail.com minus poet> on Sunday November 06, 2005 @01:41PM (#13963469) Homepage Journal
    Apple getting its new laptops in the field early is less meaningful if Adobe and Microsoft aren't ready.

    In particular, there's no point getting pro-level Mactels into the wild unless Office and Creative Suite are ready to go Intel-native. Maybe MS and Adobe have quietly moved into high gear on the conversion. But last I read, Adobe was thinking late 2006 to get its Carbon-based apps ready for market.

    No pro user will rely on Rosetta. On the other hand, one would assume Apple with have its iWork and iLife suites flipped, along with the applications which come with OS X. That will allow home users to make the switch in fairly short order. I'm sure the rumored widescreen iBooks will sell well right out of the box.

    But a Mactel Powerbook makes no sense without pro applications. If Apple is really pushing advance release, they must have convinced their major software partners to get a move on.

  • Oh well....I suppose it will be a good thing to NOT buy the first generation of Intel Mac's, there is bound to be some minor engineering issues to be worked out.

  • My next laptop (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Flounder (42112) on Sunday November 06, 2005 @02:04PM (#13963579)
    Powerbook x86 (15 or 17inch, haven't decided)
    Craploads of RAM and HD space

    Running the latest version of OSX
    Running any version of Windows and Linux in VM spaces

    Just reduced my development test machines from four to one

    I've currently got six separate machines. My main development box (Suse 9.3), my game box (WinXP), and my four test machines for compatability testing ( WinXP, Win2k on cheap beige boxen, Suse9.3 on a decent IBM Thinkpad, OSX on a MacMini ). Reduce my test machines down to one machine that's also my portable. Lowers my power bill, more desk space, and a portable I can do ANYTHING on (from development, to BF2/Civ4)

  • I suppose Apple will want to have the "1st Dual Core Laptop" and the only way that's gonna happen is with Intel.
    AMD is knocking the socks off the current Intel dual core chips but the second generation of those chips is ready for imminent release. The first generation of those Intel Dual Core chips are not keeping with the power usage that Apple wants and needs. Apple would most likely be going for the second generation of Intel Dual Core chips. Until then they are running Quad PowerMac G5's which will h
  • by Man in Spandex (775950) <prsn DOT kev AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday November 06, 2005 @02:44PM (#13963789)
    Would one be able to finally compile cedega under an intel-running OS-X system to play games so that people can stop bitching about the lack of games running on Macs?
  • Widescreen? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tsa (15680) on Sunday November 06, 2005 @03:45PM (#13964119) Homepage
    Apple currently offers iBooks with either a standard 12- or 14-inch screen, but looks poised to introduce a completely new model built around (what appears to be) a 13-inch widescreen. Whether the company will offer other iBook models or standardize around the new widescreen model remains unknown.

    I never understood this widescreen frenzy that's going on these days. On a computer, widescreen is much less useful than on a TV. High-screen, that would be handy, because then you can see more of the document you are typing. But why anyone would want a widescreen laptop is beyond me.

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