The Missing Macs

For my daily computing activities, my MacBook does an excellent job. With the 250 GB hard drive and extra 2 GB RAM, it has enough power for me to edit websites, make movies, and play the occasional game.

But every once in a while I find that I need more power, and I start to wonder what new Apple product would cause me to sell my MacBook immediately and purchase a new machine. This got me thinking about what gaps exist in Apple’s product line.

The MacBook Pro-sumer

Even though I didn’t have a computer when it came out, I really like the 12″ PowerBook G4. Unlike the MacBook Air, it didn’t sacrifice things like the DVD drive and ethernet port, but still used a fantastic 12″ aluminum shell (check out this classic ad).

What I am looking for in a laptop is a machine that is as powerful as a MacBook Pro, in a case the size of a MacBook, and with dedicated graphics. The graphics capability of the MacBook is the biggest gripe I have against the machine. I was playing a Windows game in Boot Camp (NHL 2005 if you must know), and even with the graphics turned way down, it couldn’t manage more than a few FPS. The laptop sounded as if it was ready to take off, and the resolution was down at 640×480. It was disappointing to say the least.

I know the MacBook isn’t meant to be a regular gaming machine, but it should at least be able to handle a 3 year old game.

Dream specs

  • Aluminum case
  • 13.3″ glossy screen
  • Intel Core 2 Duo or better
  • MacBook-style upgradability
  • Backlit keyboard
  • SuperDrive
  • Ethernet port
  • Dedicated graphics
  • iSight camera

The MacBook Air was supposed to satisfy this area of the market, but it makes too many compromises to be my main machine.

iMac Mini

If there is a crevice in Apple’s notebook lineup, there is a continental divide in the desktop lineup.

With the Mac Mini, Apple takes the switchers on directly because the package does not have a display, keyboard or mouse. It’s diminutive size makes it great as a second machine or a server, but forces it to sacrifice power by using laptop components. The iMac includes a beautiful display, as well as a keyboard and mouse, but does not enable future upgrades due to the closed construction. The Mac Pro has mind-bending power and speed, along with a nearly unlimited upgrade path, but all that power comes at an elevated price.

As you can see, there is a rather large gap between the iMac and Mac Pro. There is a need for a powerful, upgradeable box that looks behaves more like a Windows machine. Imagine the upgrade path of a Mac Pro, power of an iMac in a package slightly larger than a Mac Mini. Macworld acknowledged this gap once too, in a story that dubbed the machine the Mythical, Midrange Mac Minitower. It could satisfy such a wide range of consumers, but still wouldn’t sacrifice sales of the other lines. People with Mac Pro-sized needs would still purchase the flagship machine, those who want power with limited upgradeability would still get the iMac. It could be the perfect Mac desktop.

Dream specs

  • Intel Core 2 Duo or better
  • User-accessible components
  • Scalability with hard drives and memory
  • Dedicated graphics
  • Smaller power and space footprint

While personally I wouldn’t have a large need for a machine like this, it could easy satisfy a niche that currently remains unclaimed.

[tags]Apple, Mac OS X, laptop, desktop, computers[/tags]

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One comment on “The Missing Macs
  1. MOAT says:

    I would suggest getting the mini and buying a monitor to go with it. Keep your macbook for portability and use the mini as a center for the power you need. Good luck with the search.