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Apple's new MacBook incorporated a 'glass multi-touch pad'

October 20, 2008

by Mark Ollig

Steve Jobs, the co-founder and CEO of Apple Corporation, presented the new Apple MacBook notebook computer to the public last Tuesday.

Being a PC person, I was very impressed with it, especially now that I own and use an Apple iPod touch.

The complete re-design and look of the new MacBook Pro caught my interest.

No all-white polycarbonate plastic case on this Apple notebook.

Notebook computers are made from multiple parts, which according to the Apple video I watched, can cause performance and even mechanical failures.

The innovation Apple came up with was to make the new MacBook using one part.

The outer case is machined from one solid block of aluminum.

Hang on, this is good.

I watched a very informative video on the Apple web site showing the actual assembly line process and precise robotics used to make this computer. The accuracy and precision in the drilling, cutting, and fastening of parts is simply amazing.

Dan Riccio, Apple’s vice-president of Product Design, explains in the video how this is done.

“The aluminum goes through an extrusion process,” Riccio says. “Its like how you make pasta – it goes through thirteen separate milling operations.”

They call it a “unibody enclosure.”

It sounds like a description of my car frame.

In the mid 1980s the computer display monitors or Cathode Ray Tubes (CRT) I used were amber (monochrome) or green – not to mention large.

I could read the monitor screen better in low-light, but when I dimmed the lights I couldn’t see the keyboard very well.

The solution I came up with was to use one of those plastic fluorescent light units you normally use under a kitchen cabinet.

I rigged one up so it would shine on the keyboard – so I could see what I was typing. This did the job, and life was good.

I remember thinking at the time it would be nice to have a keyboard with self lighted individual keys or make the plastic out of something that glowed.

Since then I never thought much about it, until a couple years ago when I saw new keyboards –with individual key backlighting. Another zillion dollar invention I missed out on.

The new Apple MacBook Pro has a built-in illuminated keyboard with an ambient light sensor which activates the illuminated keyboard in low-light conditions.

Each key is self illuminating, as the video I watched showed.

The new MacBook seamless glass backlighted 15.4” widescreen display is “instantly on” when you open the cover. There is no “warm up” time required.

The MacBook Light Emitting Diode (LED) display technology uses 30 percent less power than standard “cold cathode fluorescent lamps” (CCFLs) backlight displays.

LED technology is more efficient at distributing light evenly across the entire display surface. It also produces better color dispersion, consumes less power, runs cooler, and lasts longer than CCFLs.

The LED backlit display is mercury-free, recyclable, and encased in arsenic-free glass.

Behind the glass display screen is the small “iSight” camera unit which is used with iChat, Photo Booth, or iMovie.

One thing I have learned about the world of Apple is that most applications and devices seem to start with an “i” – like my new “iPod.”

Apple’s processors come in three flavors: the 2.4GHz, 2.53GHz, or the 2.8GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor.

The MacBook Pro weighs in at 5.5 pounds and is less than one inch thick.

The new MacBook now uses a faster “NVIDIA GeForce 9400M” graphics chipset made by Nvidia Corporation, which is based out of Santa Clara, Ca.

This graphic subsystem in the new MacBook is five times faster than the previous MacBook. This means the frame rates of motion are higher, so if you’re into 3D gaming or watching videos, you will see a noticeable improvement in the video rendering.

The new trackpad (no mouse) on the Apple MacBook Pro is made entirely of etched glass; there is no separate click button, as the entire glass track pad is the button.

The smooth glass trackpad works much like my new iPod touch display. I hardly notice any friction with the pad; it is very smooth and ergonomic.

Using two fingers, you are able to scroll up and down on a page.

To zoom in or out, you need to “pinch” the area you are working in with your index finger and thumb and close them together or separate them.

You rotate an image using your fingertips to “twist” the image in the direction you want.

To look through your photo libraries, you “swipe” with three fingers.

Swiping with four fingers will show your desktop, view all open windows, or switch applications.

It is somewhat difficult to explain – a person really needs to watch how to do some of it – but let me assure that you can maneuver around fairly well this way versus using a mouse.

If you’re like me and coming from a “right-click” world, it may be comforting to know a person can “right-click” with two fingers or configure a right-click “area” on the trackpad of the MacBook.

The new MacBook is “green” or “environmentally friendly” and is manufactured from recyclable glass and aluminum.

Apple has eliminated from the case enclosures and circuit boards harmful polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and brominated flame retardants (BFRs) which the EPA discovered can cause contamination of the environment, wildlife, and people.

Apple is selling the MacBook Pro for $1,999.

To watch the video on the new MacBook, go to http://tinyurl.com/4ks6ah (Apple video link).

To learn more about the Apple MacBook Pro, visit http://www.apple.com/macbookpro.