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Apple is supposedly holding back the release of its new MacBook Air notebooks until its new Mac OS X Lion operating system is finalized, an Apple enthusiast site reported.

Enthusiast site Apple Insider said that this is despite the fact that the new MacBook Airs, equipped with Thunderbolt and Sandy Bridge processors, are ready for production this month.

“(The) Mac maker is said to be locked on waiting till it can image the new notebooks with a Gold Master build of Lion so that buyers are afforded the latest and greatest Apple experience. This includes complimentary iCloud services that will come built into the software, offering a means of automatic data synchronization that is both unparalleled in the computing industry, and paramount in an age when consumers are adopting a digital lifestyle in which they own and operate multiple mobile devices,” AppleInsider said.

It added that Apple management is currently unwilling to usher the new models into the market with the current Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard OS.

AppleInsider said that Apple also appeared unwilling to ship Thunderbolt-equipped versions of the Mac mini and LED Cinema Display.

The company is similarly not willing to ship new iOS devices like the next iPhone and iPod touch without the iCloud-enabled iOS 5.0 software, which are due this fall, the site added.

It said this strategy follows a company objective where management was determined to price Lion extremely aggressively and give away iCloud features for free to get the software into the hands of as many consumers as quickly as possible.

AppleInsider recalled Apple chief executive Steve Jobs had confirmed that Apple would price Lion at $29.99, rather than the company’s historical $129.99 fetching price for new versions of the Mac OS X OS.

Jobs also said users would receive the majority of its iCloud features at no cost, the exception being some enhanced storage and music functionalities that will cost a nominal fee.

“All said, while the Cupertino-based company’s strategy continues to evolve with the times, it remains rooted in the same principle that Apple is a software-driven company that makes its money on the sale of proprietary hardware designed to best leverage its software expertise,” it said.

Earlier this month, AppleInsider said it was told Apple is prepared to build nearly 400,000 of its next-generation MacBook Air this month, but is holding back with Mac OS X Lion set to go on sale on the Mac App Store in July. — TJD, GMA News

That said, it is possible that some people may exist who do not have any real use for a notebook, but would probably buy one (if there were no pads). It’s that person who will now buy a pad and kill one notebook sale forever.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again; I do not see the pad computer replacing the notebook computer. Instead I see it just becoming another device that is only sometimes used as a notebook replacement. Situations were this might occur are when you just want to read a newspaper or browse the Web or read a book or maybe watch a movie.

For intense emailing, writing, taking notes, or even improved movie watching, the notebook is the better choice.

That one person is what all the fuss is about. There are also people who are very happy with desktop machines but might find a pad fun as a toy. They may now never consider a notebook either.

Well, whatever the case, Intel and, to a lesser extent, AMD are totally freaked out by this pad trend, since the notebook segment of the PC business is huge and everyone is afraid it will dry up. So, now, they’ve decided to invent a new category, the Ultrabook, to get people excited.

We’ve already seen the netbook craze come and go, with its death hammered home by the pad computer. The Ultrabook seems to be a souped-up and nicer netbook or a netbook on steroids and Slim Fast.

First, make no mistake; this thinking all stems directly from the free MacBook Air computer. On its second try, Apple nailed the strike zone with a sleek, sexy, super thin computer that people want. All the makers looked at it and jumped on board.

I want to interrupt this column for a minute and say that I have always been an advocate of the thinnest and lightest laptop you can buy, hankering for a road machine that weighs less than 3 pounds. This love affair began with the first NEC UltraLite and flowed through the TI TravelMate, that crazy monochrome Dell machine from years back, through the Toshiba R-series and to the present. All along the way, there was some gotcha. “Nobody wants lightweight.” “Where’s the floppy?” “People want a machine that can be a desktop replacement.” “It needs a CD-ROM.”

All those negative arguments are debatable. I can say that as far as I’m concerned, the idea that a laptop should become a desktop replacement borders on the idiotic. Why exactly can’t you have both? And why would you want to work on a dinky portable machine when you can have a rocking desktop machine? It has never made any sense to me.

Of course, when Apple brought out a sleek winner, nobody said anything bad.

So here comes the Ultrabook, cloning the idea of the MacBook Air. Well, I want one. This is exactly what the market needs. This is an extremely thin and light machine with good power, long battery life, and great screen. And you get to choose an 11, 12, or 13-inch screen.

The Ultrabook problem is the same old problem, however. These machines will cost too much. For example, look at the HP dm1z machine, which sells for around $450. The machine is powerful and optimized for video and can handle the HD movie. It’s a great little machine, but it weighs 3.45 pounds. I realize that this is lightweight to most users, but I’m looking for 2.2 pounds. Why can’t it shed 1.25 pounds?

It’s a function of packaging, heat dissipation, and circuitry. It’s running the integrated AMD processor, and the computer innards are not chewing up that much real estate. So I’m not seeing the reason why it cannot be lighter and thinner. Someone will have to explain it to me. And if it can be lighter and thinner as it is, then why are the MacBook Air and other light machines so costly?

I’m convinced there is something wrong with this picture. Perhaps, the modern plastics and molding and whatever are needed for a lighter machine simply costs more and that’s that. In other words, better materials add $500 to the price! Is that what you are saying?

It’s baffling now, but not for long. I expect to see that powerful 2.2 pounder hit the market with this new Ultrabook concept making hay. Hopefully, the distraction of the pad will not derail the idea.

Apple has started replacing the bottom case of MacBooks sold over the last year and a half.

According to the company, some MacBooks have a problem in which the rubber surface on the bottom of MacBooks separates from the underside of the computer. The issue affects MacBooks shipped between October 2009 and April 2011.

Apple is offering three free ways to fix the problem.

Apple said that it will replace the bottom case on affected MacBooks at the Genius Bar at any of its retail stores. In addition, consumers can choose to work with an Apple authorized service provider to get the new bottom case.

If those options aren’t possible, consumers can opt to order a replacement bottom case kit on their own. According to Apple, free  MacBook owners can order the kit over the Web. The company will then send users a new bottom case, as well as a Phillips screwdriver, screws, and instructions on how to replace the part.

Apple is offering the free replacement for an indefinite amount of time. Those whose MacBooks might have been produced between October 2009 and April 2011 but aren’t seeing the rubber surface separate from the case are not eligible to receive the new part.

I was a 20-year Unix-on-PC user, a Linux-on-PC user since 1993 that dual-booted with successive versions of Windows. I had always thought that Macs were overpriced and a bit limited in terms of their software and hardware ecosystem. Then, the combined effects of Windows Vista and the unfortunate direction taken by the Linux desktop community in recent years (KDE 4, GNOME 3) forced me to consider alternatives.

I tried “hackintoshing” a PC by buying the OSX Box Set and installing it on PC hardware. That was enough to get me to switch to Mac OS X on a PC. But then I had occasion to use a MacBook Pro and now I am the thrilled owner of one.

This is far and away the best computer I have ever owned. Don’t believe the common line that Macs are just “commodity hardware” like I used to. Maybe there are some commodity components in them–memory, for example, and hard drives–but this is no commodity body, commodity display, or commodity mainboard.

This thing really does “just work.” Things that have always been iffy on PCs, like sleeping, booting, and hardware configuration via BIOSes and the dreaded “Control Panel” (or, in Linux, kernel driver set and its per-driver options) are simply non-issues here. The machine is built like a tank, is an ergonomic pleasure to use with the best keyboard and screen I’ve ever experienced on any machine, desktop or laptop, it requires zero hardware configuration or even thought, and it sleeps and wakes up, connects to wireless networks, detects and accesses USB devices, and all the rest reliably and instantly. What’s more, it’s absolutely, ruthlessly silent, runs cold as ice, and the battery lasts forever and ever!

Things really do “just work.”

Before having used a free MacBook Pro for an extended period of time, I was sure that a laptop with “average” specs for the market couldn’t be worth several times what the equivalent ThinkPad (which is what I tended to use over the years) cost. Now I’m sure it’s worth every penny; I’ve been saved many hours of aggravation I didn’t even realize I didn’t have to experience, and the use of this machine is so much more transparent than PCs ever were, even after 20+ years of Windows and Unix/Linux-on-PC operating systems.

You forget the Mac is there; it becomes a part of you in a way that other hardware/software platforms never did.

If it sounds as though I’ve been converted to the Cult of Mac / Cult of Apple, it’s because I have. This machine is worth every penny, is easily the best computer I’ve ever owned (and I got my first in 1984), and I’m not sure I can ever go back to using commodity hardware or non-Apple software again.



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