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MacBook Updates Rumored To Include Glass Trackpad 273

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the unfounded-speculation dept.
CWmike writes to tell us that Seth Weintraub has been hearing some interesting rumors surrounding the next iteration of Apple's MacBook line. "I have been hearing some interesting things about Apple's upcoming line of portable computers. The talk amongst insiders on the new MacBooks is kind of scattered but here's a summation of what I've heard: The new models are thinner than current MacBook and MacBook Pros and slightly more rounded, taking design cues from the MacBook Air; the trackpad is glass, multi-touch and uses gestures. The screen isn't multi-touch; the body is manufactured out of one piece of aluminum. Eco-friendly, yet sturdy. Manufacturing process is completely different; the release date will be in the last weeks of September."
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MacBook Updates Rumored To Include Glass Trackpad

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  • I don't get it... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Otter (3800) on Monday July 28, 2008 @03:14PM (#24373263) Journal

    Eco-friendly, yet sturdy.

    What makes this "eco-friendly"? The glass trackpad? The "manufactured out of one piece of aluminum"?

    • by Shivetya (243324) on Monday July 28, 2008 @03:17PM (#24373317) Homepage Journal

      they paid off the right groups

      -or-

      realistically they know what words sell.

    • by martinw89 (1229324) on Monday July 28, 2008 @03:18PM (#24373333)

      Ah, you accidentally looked over the fact that it runs on new Ego(TM) power, not electricity. Common mistake.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 28, 2008 @03:19PM (#24373339)
      The plastic sticker on the box. It wasn't tested on animals, contains zero trans fats and opposes the war in Iraq.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jgtg32a (1173373)
      They are most likely going on about the more energy efficient processors.
    • Tough one... (Score:4, Informative)

      by GameboyRMH (1153867) <gameboyrmh@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Monday July 28, 2008 @03:31PM (#24373521) Journal

      I've really been trying to figure it out, but I can't. If it does have a second LCD in the trackpad as smitty97 speculates, it sure won't be more eco-friendly:

      http://www.bit-tech.net/news/2008/07/04/lcd-greenhouse-gas-worries/1 [bit-tech.net]

      Also if it has a 1-piece aluminum chassis, it will be more difficult to repair, therefore more likely to be replaced, therefore more hardware going into landfills, therefore less eco-friendly. The case itself is sturdier but if it's one hard piece of aluminum, the internals will take more damage and the case will take less. Again, less eco-friendly. A good case for preventing damage would be a replaceable one made of thin, soft metal.

      Also getting the parts inside such a case would be a nightmare...I guess the screen would have a slit on the bottom where the internals are inserted and then clipped into place, and the body would just have removable bays as usual, but then the mobo and keyboard would be non-replaceable.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by retchdog (1319261)

        These are Apple products anyway. Out of the past 100 distinct Apple notebooks I've seen (trust me, I am not exaggerating here) in the past year, maybe five of them were not brand new MacBooks or MBPs. Admittedly, the G4s are extra-old-and-busted (biggest waste of my money ever...), but it seems that people buy new Apple computers with their spring shopping anyway.

        And they can finally get full benefit from their inflated RAM and HD prices. Ballsy move, if true, but it will probably work out.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by mjpaci (33725) *

        Aluminum is very recyclable. I really doubt many Aluminum chasis make it past the sorters and into a landfill. Hell, Al cans vanish out of my recycling bin before the truck even gets there. It's magic!

      • Re:Tough one... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 28, 2008 @05:03PM (#24374977)

        I disagree...

        I work at an Apple Store (therefor the AC, and obviously take what I say with a grain of salt as I'm as much a fanboi as the best of em').

        From everyone's perspective, having repairs done in larger part replacements are much better. There is one flaw with your statement. The large replaced part isn't just thrown away, but rather can be refurbished.

        Consider an LCD display on a laptop. We'll low-ball and say there are 7 individual replaceable parts and cables. Brick and Mortar big box retail stores get shipments from all shipping companies for all different purposes from all over the globe. With Air and Ground shipping for say 4 failed parts in an LCD panel (say it's a liquid damaged LCD) and you get shipments from DHL, UPS, and FedEx delivering all of your parts over a period of 3 days. Now, if you only have to order a monitor clam-shell instead of 4 different parts, you have 1 shipment on 1 single day. When you are sending parts back to be refurbed or recycled or trashed, you are sending a single item as opposed to several different packages. From an inventory standpoint this means MUCH less paperwork per shipment and less boxes/packing material being used to ship and be trashed/recycled.

        For users, repairs can be done faster. (If repairs can be done while customer waits, only one car trip out to store)

        For retail stores, more repairs can be done in-store. This means fewer repairs will be packaged and shipped out to repair centers.

        I just don't see how single part replacements are bad. This allows Apple to help end users more effectively. It takes less shipping and packing, and as I've understood eco-matters (and I won't pretend to be the brightest bulb on the matter), air cargo and travel are pretty big carbon emitters. Apple can then refurb/recycle the part in a larger warehouse environment that is more adept at repairing the individual components of the larger part.

        Any-hoo... just my $0.04

        • by JohnNevets (924868) on Monday July 28, 2008 @10:31PM (#24379357)
          So if I'm understanding this right if a $0.05 part goes out and it would not be covered under warranty the customer would be charged the fee for the whole system of parts (probably several hundred dollars) while Apple gets to refurbish and resell the system of parts after they replace the cheap part (plus in house labor rates). Yea I can see how this would be win/win for apple. The only way to make this fair would be to reimburse the original purchaser for the parts that would be reused during the refurb, sort of like a core charge when you bring back your old starter motor. I would also guess that someone somewhere also is making the call that if the time and material to refurbish a system if going to be more then what they can resell the refurbish for, it will still be tossed in a landfill.
      • That's a stupid point you're trying to make, the dangerous chemical use is proportionnal to the area, so having a tiny screen 1/10th the area of the main screen is going to add, what, 10% of that bad chemical at worst. Boohooooo.

      • by eiapoce (1049910)

        Actually... the plastics on the Macbook line are very prone to damage, so prone that they are exchanged under the applecare warranty, no question asked.

        I already ditched 2 keyboards and one bottom case from my macbook... I think that aluminium could be more eco-friendly in this case... specially because it can be recycled with ease.

      • Re:Tough one... (Score:5, Informative)

        by GeekDork (194851) on Monday July 28, 2008 @05:56PM (#24375859)

        Also if it has a 1-piece aluminum chassis, it will be more difficult to repair, therefore more likely to be replaced, therefore more hardware going into landfills, therefore less eco-friendly. The case itself is sturdier but if it's one hard piece of aluminum, the internals will take more damage and the case will take less. Again, less eco-friendly. A good case for preventing damage would be a replaceable one made of thin, soft metal.

        I disagree. An eco-friendly case would ironically be made from plastic, or if necessary some GRP or CFRP. Metal and glass, to use terms of trade, need shitloads of energy to manufacture, and the process is highly lossy. We don't even want to get started about how aluminium is extracted from the ore in the first place, or that a rather rare resource is needlessly wasted. Plastic can be molded to almost the final shape in a single pass, with a relatively low amount of energy (some heat and a vacuum pump).

        All that "metal is good for the environment" is bullshit. It's good for marketing, because a laptop that feels like you could use it as a blunt weapon just feels better than "cheap" plastic. And even in that area, I'd put a lot of trust into some CFRP. It's effectively stronger and lighter than aluminium.

        • Re:Tough one... (Score:5, Informative)

          by cyfer2000 (548592) on Monday July 28, 2008 @10:19PM (#24379213) Journal

          But metal is recyclable, plastic is not really recyclable. And about 8% of our crust is aluminum, plastic is from the oil, which is disappearing quickly. You may have noticed that aluminum is extracted from the ore, but did you know how plastic become plastic?

          As carbon fiber reinforced plastic, I hope you realize that carbon fibers are made from polyacrylonitrile fibers by heating. And most CFRP products are absolutely not recyclable.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by ceoyoyo (59147)

        Aluminum is easily recycled and doesn't really involve many toxic chemicals in it's manufacture (except for a boat load of electricity, which is usually provided by hydro dams). The polycarbonate that makes up most notebooks isn't so easily recycled and the process to make it isn't quite as clean.

    • by Sockatume (732728)
      Apparently the materials used to make the Air are relatively environmentally friendly, and this sounds similar, so they extrapolated.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by ethanms (319039)

      What makes this "eco-friendly"?

      Al Gore is on their board of directors... therefore everything they make is automatically considered to be eco-friendly...

      Just like Al Gore's giant house w/ huge power consumption bills... b-b-b-but I was spending that power on computing climate models to prove what horrible polluters American's are!

      • Re:I don't get it... (Score:4, Informative)

        by Cairnarvon (901868) on Monday July 28, 2008 @10:07PM (#24379027) Homepage

        Higher power consumption != less eco-friendly. Gore's house has a much, much lower carbon footprint than the average American home because he gets nearly all of that energy he uses from solar and geothermal sources. Much of the reason that bill you're referring to was so high is because he's paying a premium to get his energy from clean sources.
        Maybe you were just trying to make an innocent joke, but that meme needs to die.

        Gore isn't saying everyone needs to cut their energy consumption down to zero, he's saying people need to make an effort to be carbon-neutral, and he's making that effort himself.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 28, 2008 @03:45PM (#24373761)

      I think they made a typo.

      Ego-friendly*

    • by LWATCDR (28044)

      My guess it is the aluminum that is "eco-friendly" Aluminum is super easy to recycle compared to plastic but then so is glass.
      Not a lot of other info so it is all guess work at this time.
      Now to make it really "eco-friendly" they should promise to support it with ten years and promise that all future versions of OS/X for the next ten years will run on it.
      Not going to happen but I would so love to see the end of disposable computers.

    • by nategoose (1004564) on Monday July 28, 2008 @04:12PM (#24374195)
      It's not made of dolphins.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by tmalone (534172)
        The harddrives in old MacBooks were lubricated with Dolphin oil. It's one of those things that makes a Mac different from a PC. Shit, now I may as well buy a Dell.
    • by Mattsson (105422)

      Thought about the same thing.
      Is aluminium more environmentally friendly to produce than other materials used in laptops?
      Or is it the process of making it out of one piece of aluminium as opposed to using several pieces of aluminium? =/

    • It's eco-friendly because it's nice an light so a hermit crab will be able to use it as a home when it becomes out dated and chucked in the ocean.
  • by smitty97 (995791) on Monday July 28, 2008 @03:16PM (#24373301)
    I hope under the glass trackpad there's a little display just like the iPhone's.
  • Glass trackpad? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rtechie (244489) * on Monday July 28, 2008 @03:25PM (#24373421)

    What are the advantages of a glass trackpad? Wouldn't your finger stick to it?

    • Re:Glass trackpad? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by adisakp (705706) on Monday July 28, 2008 @04:01PM (#24374039) Journal
      What are the advantages of a glass trackpad?

      Bling factor! It looks and feels more "expensive" not to mention the glass is harder so it won't scratch with use. Most trackpads kinda feel like a cheap vinyl / plastic sheet and get "wear" marks in the pad from finger friction after a couple months use..

      Wouldn't your finger stick to it?

      I'd think that getting fingerprints all over a shiny glossy surface that you are meant to touch all the time would be a bigger issue.
    • by wazzzup (172351)

      As an owner of a few Apple laptops in my day I can say that the initial smooth surface of the trackpads wear off over time and whatever material is underneath, while functional, isn't as smooth making usage of the trackpad for long sessions uncomfortable. Your fingertips feel slightly "raw" after a while.

      I would imagine glass doesn't have this issue.

      • by mrchaotica (681592) * on Monday July 28, 2008 @04:22PM (#24374363)

        The superior solution is obviously the clit mouse [xkcd.com].

      • by cnettel (836611)
        Maybe with Apple machines. For some reason, I can't stand the trackpad on my MacBook for any prolonged time (maybe it's really the keyboard, as I generally use either external KB + mouse, or internal KB + trackpad). Therefore, it hasn't really been heavily used. My last two portable PCs were used for 4 years each. The trackpad surface never gave me any problems, and it was used heavily on both. (The last one was a Dell Inspiron 8600.)
      • This is interesting. Although I've seen quite a few worn-down touchpads (especially on Dells), the one on my 12" Powerbook's looks pretty much just like new after 3 years of heavy use.

        I wonder if Apple use different materials for touchpads on their "Pro" line than they do on their cheaper consumer-grade stuff.

    • I don't see the advantage either. Even if it's coated to make it slicker... what happens when the coating wears through? Then you've got a "rough" spot? If I can wear out mouse feet and mouse pads, I can certainly wear out a trackpad coating. Besides, aside from typical Apple "oooh shiny" reasoning, is there a reason to reinvent the wheel here? I've never had any trouble with any old touchpads.
  • by Sockatume (732728) on Monday July 28, 2008 @03:30PM (#24373513)
    I've used a few touchpads in my time, and the bad ones are the ones that either started off glossy, or became glossy because of wear. I'm fine with using glossy touch-screens for tapping around or stylus work, but trying to operate one as a mouse for a long period of time gets immensely annoying. The slightest bit of sweat on my fingertips makes them stick and stutter across.

    I've not used an iPhone or iPod touch for long, but I got the impression that they were designed to favour short finger motions on the pad for precisely this reason. I'm not sure it would translate well into a touchpad.
    • I've not used an iPhone or iPod touch for long, but I got the impression that they were designed to favour short finger motions on the pad for precisely this reason.

      I have to say, I've had an iPhone for a year. At first I was skeptical of the glass because of fingerprints, etc, but in practice I never notice any smudges, and I've *never* had any skipping, etc. In fact, it's remarkably precise, considering the blunt nature of a fingertip.

      My theory on the way it works is that it finds the centroid of the pressure region. I've used drawing applications with it, and it's actually amazing how well it works drawing thin lines with a fingertip.

      I don't know about a multitouch touchpad, that seems kind of lame. What makes multitouch cool is touching directly on the screen.

      • by Sockatume (732728)
        I meant, my finger itself stutters across the surface of some touchpads because it sticks to the glossy material. However it sounds from your description like that's not as much of an issue on an actual glass surface, as opposed to glossy plastics.
      • Modern touchpads don't function with pressure but sense the capacitance of your finger. Just sliding along the srface is enough. That helps deal with skipping.

        • by seinman (463076)
          Does anyone else miss the old pressure-based trackpads? I had one of the original Toughbooks and it had one of these, I could use it with a stylus. Made my Photoshop work so much easier without having to buy (and then travel with and try to use in space-restrained situations) a separate drawing tablet. You'd think Apple, trying to sell to the artistic crowd, would offer this as an option.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by ceoyoyo (59147)

        All the current MBPs have multitouch track pads. They're quite nice. When I use my old MBP I really miss the reverse-pinch gesture to increase the font size in Safari.

        Multitouch on the track pad isn't nearly as cool as directly on the screen though.

  • yeah aluminum... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mzs (595629) on Monday July 28, 2008 @03:41PM (#24373687)

    so the wifi range can be shorter O_o

  • It seems like they're assuming an iPod touch screen surface would be required to have a multi-touch trackpad.

    This is not the case.

    • by Dekortage (697532)

      It seems like they're assuming an iPod touch screen surface would be required to have a multi-touch trackpad.

      Hmm. My current MBP does multi-touch already. Heck, Apple's MBP marketing already states this [apple.com].

  • Multi-touch pad (Score:5, Informative)

    by bsDaemon (87307) on Monday July 28, 2008 @04:11PM (#24374189)

    the MacBook Pro already has a multi-touch trackpad [apple.com], so I'm not sure where the rumor part comes in...

  • Screw trackpads (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Quattro Vezina (714892) on Monday July 28, 2008 @04:14PM (#24374231) Journal

    If Apple wanted to be cool, they'd dump the trackpad entirely and add a trackpoint.

    Yes, that's right. They should switch to the nub. The pencil eraser. The clit mouse. The keyboard clit.

    C'mon, it'd be awesome.

    • by g0at (135364)

      What? Why?

      • Because trackpads are annoying and make laptops a chore to use.

        I love trackpoints. My old Toshiba Tecra M3 (RIP 2005-2007) had both a trackpoint and a trackpad. I used the Synaptic/ALPS drivers to configure the trackpad as a circular scroll wheel (a la iPod) and mapped middle-click to one of the corners. Scrolling and middle-click were the only things I used the trackpad for. For everything else, I used the trackpoint (bet you thought I was going to say MasterCard).

        The trackpoint is the perfect pointing dev

    • Yes, it would. I'm infinitely more comfortable using one of those then any trackpad. Put it in the same area as touchpads are and my very capable left thumb (thank you sega, sony and microsoft) would have no trouble navigating my screen. Hell, throw in a second one on the right for scrolling vert and horiz.

      Or they could save everyone some time and just include a mini already-paired bluetooth mouse in the box.

  • They called him Mr. Glass.

    • To counter act a man who had super strength and fortitude but a slightly below average intelligence (but still in the range of normal), but humble is a man who is super frail and sickly with a slightly above average intelligence, with a Huge Ego.

  • by spagthorpe (111133) on Monday July 28, 2008 @04:45PM (#24374743)

    But I really would like to see something that I could use a day or two on a charge. If they can make it paper thin and still run a few hours, then surely, they could make something twice as thick that would go for a day?

    • by voisine (153062)

      I use my macbook pro heavily, so for me a 3 hour battery life vs 5 makes no difference. I have to plug it in either way, so I'd rather it be thin, sleek and easy to carry over to the nearest outlet. Now if it could go for, say, 10 hours, that would be worth sacrificing a bit of portability and style, so probably tripling the size (and cost) of the existing battery.

  • I've been a Mac user since the 80s (I'll never pollute my house with a PC) and I never thought I'd say this, but I hate my Mac!

    I have a MacBook and aside from the ordeal I had to go through getting basic developer tools working, the edges are so sharp that I'm gonna have to take some sandpaper out or file them down before the pain in my wrists become too much for me.

  • by AmiMoJo (196126) <mojoNO@SPAMworld3.net> on Monday July 28, 2008 @05:56PM (#24375875) Homepage

    Surely glass is a really bad idea for laptops? It's heavier than plastic, and less durable in terms of scratch resistance and shattering. Worse still it has more friction than some plastics, so not ideal for moving your finger over.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Surely glass is a really bad idea for laptops? It's heavier than plastic, and less durable in terms of scratch resistance and shattering. Worse still it has more friction than some plastics, so not ideal for moving your finger over.

      Actually, glass is more scratch resistant than most plastics (try dropping your plastic sunglasses on the beach, once. Then try again with a pair of proper glasses, made from glass).

      Glass can also be made less sticky by roughening up the surface. Now, I agree that it's indeed

  • joke (Score:4, Funny)

    by Falconhell (1289630) on Monday July 28, 2008 @06:35PM (#24376511) Journal

    Round corners reminds me of the old joke;

    Q;Why do they make macs so big?

    A: So mac users cant put them up their asses.

    Q: Why do macs have round corners?

    A: Just in case they manage the above!

    (-:

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