Most of the predictions came true; it's offered in black and white, it has a 13.3" widescreen, the processors are all Core Duo, the price marks are $1099 / $1299 / $1499, and it has the built-in iSight camera and magnetic latch. One thing that nobody predicted was the addition of a glossy screen - that's pretty sweet. And on the Apple site, the iBook and Powerbook have both disappeared, and the tag line is, "Meet the family - now complete," so I think it's pretty safe to say that this new model has replaced both the smaller models, not just one. That kind of sucks, because I don't love this computer - it's just too big and heavy for my purposes, plus I'm not a fan of the plastic - but I really do want to switch to Mac. I guess I'll just have to hope that there's an ultraportable in the works - it seems odd that there wouldn't be, especially with back-to-school season coming up - and if there's no whisper of such a thing by the time I get back from camp in August, I may just go ahead and get this one. The features are impressive for the low price - plus I get an education discount - so even if I don't keep it for quite as long as I've kept this Compaq, it won't be a tragedy.
So here's how it stacks up against the other contenders:
13" MacBook. Trimmed out the way I want it, the processor is fast (2.0 Ghz, Core Duo), the hard drive is big (100 GB), and there's lots of RAM (up to 2 GB). It also comes with a lot of really awesome software, and since it's a Mac, the design is beautiful and a lot of the typical PC issues will be practically nonexistent. Apple also claims 6 hours of battery life, and tells you all the settings to adjust to make sure you get the most time possible. The downside is that this model, compared the others I'm considering, is pretty big and heavy - 12.8" x 9" x 1" and 5.2 lbs. Also, I really, really, really prefer the aluminum models over the plastic.
Sony SZ. This one is basically the MacBook in PC form (and minus those two pounds - it's almost exactly the same size, but only 3.7 lbs). It's Core Duo, has the same options as far as processor speed, hard drive size, and RAM, and even has a built-in camera, just like the Mac. The battery life is around 5-6 hours. So you'd think this would be the one I'd go with... but... I've played with one of these in the store, and read quite a few reviews on it, and they just feel... cheap. There's a recurring dead spot on the left side of the spacebar, for example, and the battery tends to rattle. Not to mention, it's literally TWICE the cost of the MacBook - over $3000. I don't mind paying top dollar for a top computer, but this, in my mind, definitely did not feel like it was worth $3000.
Sony TX. The processor is (a) slow and (b) not a Core Duo, and the hard drive is small, not expandable from 60 GB. So normally I'd snort and say 'who are you kidding?' But it's less than three pounds ... and tiny (2.8 pounds, 10.7" x 7.7" x 1.1") ... and has crazy battery life (over 7 hours!) ... plus it has really cool external media controls and would sync up effortlessly with my (Sony) digital camera... so I can't quite eliminate it altogether.
Dell Inspiron 710m. It's a nice size (11.7" x 8.5" x 1.5") and a decent weight (4.1 pounds), and has a fast processor, but it isn't Core Duo. Also, you have to buy the high-capacity battery to make its life equal the Sony SZ, which not only sticks out from the back and looks ugly, but makes it heavier. However, I'm including it on the list because this is a fairly old model, and several of the Dell models do have Core Duo, which leads me to believe that they may be revamping this one before the end of summer.