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Hands-on with an Apple Mac netbook

We stick Mac OS X on an MSI Wind

There's no doubt that netbooks are the current hot trend. However, Apple hasn't yet produced one. The web maybe awash with rumours of the possibility of a Mac netbook, but we can't wait to see if one appears. Instead we created on our own, in a bid to imagine what an Apple netbook might feel like.

So what if it were made by Apple?

Every time I use the MSI Wind, I am reminded that it most definitely wasn't created by Apple. But what if Apple were to design something like it? How would the choices Apple's engineers make differ from those made by the Wind's designers?

We start with the software. My Wind runs a hacked version of OS X, but with an Apple laptop you'd get the real thing. That's not just a nicety, either - using the Wind has reminded me just how good we Mac users have it, since Apple makes sure that OS X contains every driver necessary for every component used in its computers. (Prospective Hackintosh Mac-on-Wind types, please note: getting my Wind's trackpad to behave at all was a nightmare, and I still can't use the VGA port, microphone, or headphone jack.)

An Apple-built MacBook Mini would undoubtedly dump the VGA port for a Mini DisplayPort connector. Beyond that, I'd vote for Apple to keep at least two of the USB ports, ideally on either side of the laptop. I'd be okay with dumping the Ethernet port and the card reader, although iPhoto '09 combined with that built-in card reader would be awfully compelling for roaming photographers.

When you consider the choices Apple made when designing the MacBook Air - chucking the optical drive but holding fast on a full-size keyboard and a 13in display - it's hard to imagine the company releasing a Mac laptop with a 10in screen and a miniature keyboard. The 12in PowerBook G4 was only 10.9in wide, with a full-sized keyboard that extended to the very edge of the system. After my time with the Wind, I have to agree with Apple - a shrunken-down keyboard is one compromise too many.

If you pull back and consider the bigger picture, since when has Apple played the same game as other PC-makers? If the company made a £350 laptop, that model would still be half the price of its current low-end MacBook. Even a £400 laptop would bring the base price of an Apple laptop down 40 percent. So if Apple did build a 'true' netbook, it would be more full-featured than the Wind.

Laptop buying advice

NEXT PAGE: Why Apple won't do it

  1. We convert an MSI Wind to get an idea
  2. MacBook Mini from Earth-U100
  3. You get what you pay for
  4. Why we can't live without Apple's trackpad
  5. So what if it were made by Apple?
  6. Why Apple won't do it

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