Visions of a MacBook touch

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Macworld 2008 is right around the corner, and for tech pundits like me this means that open season on prognosticating has arrived. The pursuit of Apple leaks this time of year is a perk that comes with Apple fanboyism. The practical among us will wonder why we bother, but the answer is simple — it’s fun.

As someone that watches the industry with an eagle eye, I convince myself each year that I might get some predictions right, but those are just my delusions. In reality I only ever one or two small bits partially right. Like a fantasy sports fan that thinks he or she could manage a successful pro sports franchise, this is really just spare time fun with sports elements replaced by tech (and Apple specifically).

So with that disclaimer out of the way, among other predictions, I think we will see the ‘MacBook touch’ unveiled this January.

If you have used an iPhone or iPod touch you might understand the enormous potential of this type of device — I think Apple understands it now even if it was first caught by surprise. Multi-touch is going to be huge and pervasive in the Apple lineup. It is just getting started.

MacBook touch

Artist’s Conception
(view large image)

This upcoming device will be a 10- to 12-inch tablet formfactor PC whose appearance will be similar to the iPod touch (only bigger). It will have a glass front with black trim (with a single ‘Home’ button) and a matte aluminum posterior.

Input will primarily be through multi-touch, but it will have host USB for attaching a keyboard.

The interface will be OSX ‘light’ — the embedded version of the Mac OS rather than full Leopard.

The MacBook touch wilOS Xl be simplified and fast. It will not have any moving parts, instead relying on 32 or 64 GB of flash memory. Like an iPod Touch, there will be almost zero start up time.

I expect the CPU will be an Intel ARM or low power X86 chip (more likely the latter as Intel attempts to displace ARM in the lower power device space). The clock-speed will be 1.0-1.2 GHz to keep temps down and avoid the use of active cooling.

Battery life will be long, 6 to 8 hours.

I predict its wireless capabilities will be 802.11x, Bluetooth, and possibly a 3G data service from AT&T designed just for it.

I will close by saying the MacBook touch will be a companion device. It will not replace a desktop, but it might replace a notebook for many people. It will be the fully realized version of a device that Bill Gates described to the media several years ago prior to the launch of Tablet PC.

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