Some non-tablet announcements we’d love to see from Apple

If Steve Jobs and company are paying attention, we’ve got a handful of requests for the upcoming Apple press event. I know we’re all very excited about the mythical, but still unconfirmed, Apple tablet, but there are some other Mac products that could use a little attention as well.

The MacBook line of laptops is a big part of the company’s product mix, and while we’re not going off the reservation by saying we’re generally very fond of the current generation of systems, there are still a few missing features that should be filled in.

So, Steve, if in the midst of announcing the all-powerful uber-slate, you could find a few minutes to address a handful of MacBook issues, we’d sure appreciate it.

New Intel Core i3, i5, and i7 CPUs
We’re not saying that any laptop without Intel’s new mainstream CPUs is ready for the recycling bin, but now would be an ideal time to update the processors inside the entire line, to take advantage of the improved power efficiency and other advantages of the new Core i-series chips.

SD Card slots across the board
Even a $299 Netbook has one of these useful little media card readers. And finally, after years of gentle ribbing from us and others, Apple added an SD card reader to the 13 and 15-inch MacBook Pro models. But, it’s still not on the most popular MacBook, the $999 base model.

Blu-ray drives
For a high-end laptop with plenty of media cred, it’s a bit awkward for MacBooks to not at least offer the option of adding a Blu-ray drive. It’s clearly not a cost issue, as expensive SSD options have been available from Apple for some time. At this point, many high-end PCs in the MacBook’s price range include a Blu-ray drive by default

Mobile broadband options
With the sheer number of Mac laptops we see at coffee shops and airports, having an always-on internet connection seems like another natural fit. It’s widely available as a built-in option from most PC makers, and newer antenna hardware can work with more than one carrier. Sure, using a USB key antenna is always an option, but why mess up that sleek Apple silhouette?
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MacBook prices around the world

macbook While researching MacBook Pros, the folks at cmyplay produced an infographic charting the relative prices of MacBook Pros around the world. The variation is amazing.

The lowest cost was found in the US … mostly. Certain models cost less in Hong Kong, but as the author notes, that could be due to exchange rate fluctuations. Prices were significantly higher in South Africa. For example, an entry-level 13″ MacBook Pro 2.26GHz in South Africa retails for about the same prices as a mid-level 15″ MacBook Pro (2.53GHz) in the US. Note that Apple does not have official representation in South Africa.

However, the highest prices were found in Brazil (where Apple does have official representation). As cmyplay notes, “For the amount to purchase a top-of-the-line MacBook Pro 2.8GHz in Brazil, a person could buy two of the same machine in the US.” One Brazilian commenter noted that Brazil’s import duties and sales tax, especially on electronics, is very high. Continue reading