Accordion Al - image by Ivy, age 10

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No New MacBook for Me at WWDC

by  Alan Zisman (c) 2012 First published in Low End Mac 12 June 2012

My Mac-of-choice at the moment is a Late 2008 Aluminum Unibody 13" MacBook - the design that evolved into the 13" MacBook Pro. The model first came on the market in October 2008, and I bought mine in December.

So right now, it's a bit over three-and-a-half years old.

I'd upgrading it a bit, beefing up the original 2 GB memory to 4 GB and replacing the original 160 GB hard drive with a 512 GB model.

Overall, it runs fine; I've got the current OS X 10.7.4 Lion installed, along with all the software I need or want. With photos, music, and video, the hard drive is just over half filled.

There are some scratches in the aluminum of the cover, the letters E, R, and T on the keyboard are fuzzy, and the optical drive reads discs fine but intermittently fails to write discs - even after being replaced. I've replaced the battery - the new-ish battery only gets about two-and-a-half hours to a charge - much less than the 5-7 hours promised for current Apple laptops with larger batteries made possible by a non-replaceable design.

Current Apple laptops have newer processors, faster and more powerful than the 2 GHz Core 2 Duo in my model. But I'm more aware of feeling cramped by the number of pixels on the screen: 1280 x 800.

Prior to Apple's announcement of new laptop models at this week's Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC), I'd felt like none of Apple's then-current laptop models seemed like must-have upgrades to me. I prefer the smaller-sized models (13" or less), but the new 13" MacBook Pro continues with the 1280 x 800 pixel display of my original.

The MacBook Air line features higher resolution screens: 1366 x 768 on the 11" MacBook Air and 1440 x 900 pixels on the 13" Air. Those models feature solid state (SSD) storage, offering quick boot times, application start up, and document loading. But storage topped out at 256 GB - barely enough to hold everything on my current drive, but with no room for anything else.

At the WWDC keynote, Apple announced updates to the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air lineups. Much of the publicity focused on the new MacBook Pro with Retina Display.

That model's 2880 x 1800 pixel display is certainly higher resolution than that on my 2008-era MacBook. But it's also a larger 15" model - larger than I want to tote around. And the price - Cdn$2,229 (US$2,199) is out of my price range. That includes a 256 GB SSD. A model with a 512 GB SSD (and a somewhat faster CPU) is Cdn$2829 (US$2799).

Sorry, Apple, no sale.

The smaller 13" MacBook Pro remains on sale, with models at the more affordable Cdn$1,229 and $1,529 price points - but while these have gained a bit of CPU speed, faster USB 3 ports, and other modest improvements over the previous generation, they keep the same 1280 x 800 pixel screen resolution of my older model.

Improvements over mine - but again, no sale.

The MacBook Airs also got modest performance improvements along with a $100 price drop on all but the lowest-priced model. And a 512 GB SSD is now available as an option - which would provide me with enough storage, and fast storage at that.

But that option adds $800 to the cost of an 11" Air (stepping up from a 128 GB SSD), bringing the cost to Cdn$1,929 or $500 to the cost of a 13" Air (from a 256 GB drive), bringing the cost to Cdn$2,029.

I think I'll keep my 2008 aluminum MacBook in operation a while longer.