Besides the new brick/block process of making MacBooks, the big difference in the MacBooks announced this week are the integrated video cards. The NVIDIA chipsets are an order of magnitude better than previous integrated Intel editions on the MacBook, the Air and even the Pro. There has been a lot written up about the advantages around the web, but I think it breaks down to a few things:
The enlarged trackpad, which allows you to use a much bigger area to navigate the curser, is made of a new material and has been tuned to allow the perfect glide across the surface. Then new trackpad is a button in itself so the traditional button area below the trackpad isn't there. Finally, a new set of gestures has been unleashed in the OS which will allow a much more touchy experience. Clearly, Apple is slowly getting its users up to speed on this new interface.
Apple made the controversial choice not to include Firewire in the MacBook, meaning it is now only an option on the Pro line (plastic MacBooks notwithstanding). With the possible exception of the new glossy screens, nothing has upset the Apple community more about this release. Steve Jobs contends that new HD cameras use USB. Others disagree. In any case, it is on the way out. If you need Firewire at the moment, you'll need to buy Pro.
It is really a shame that with all of the SATA, now including the optical drive, on the inside and Firewire looking like it is on the outs, that Apple chose not to give the option for eSATA on the outside. Pro users will be able to put a ExpressCard eSATA card into their machines if they desire. But that slot will likely be saved for...
I don't know what to say. How Apple releases laptops in this day and age without even the option of internal 3G leaves me without words. Yes, you can go out and buy a 3G USB or ExpressCard from any major carrier, but that is decidedly unsexy.
Odds and ends
The 1066 MHz PC-8500 Ram that the MacBook/Pros take allow for up to 4Gb chip density. Although Apple hasn't mentioned it, it is likely that you'll be able to bump your MacBook's total RAM up to 8Gb. For over $1000
You could swap out your optical drive for another HDD, a SSD or possibly, at some future point a BluRay drive. Look for aftermarket vendors to offer some exciting options...to go with that SATA connection. Even an SD card reader would be more valuable to some than a DVD.
The battery actually has around 80% of the previous battery's power. Apple gets the same usage (5 hours) by having more effecient components. It doesn't explain why the weight hasn't gone down however.
Audio ports will allow all of the functionality of the iPhone headset meaning mic in and out, and even the little button. Hopefully we'll see some cool iChat add ons that will take advantage of this. Air customers will really appreciate this as there was no Mic port previously.
Don't expect to spill coffee on your keyboard and get away with a free replacement. Apple has included six Liquid Submersion Indicators (LSIs) in the the MacBook. Obviously, this controversial step is to make less warranty repairs.
To wrap up:
Cons: Firewire RIP, no integrated 3G, Glossy screen (for some)
Pros: Brick shell, NVIDIA GPU integrated, Mini DisplayPort, Audio port, slimmer, stronger cases, faster memory/FSB, easier to replace hard drives
..oh and these are the best looking laptops out there.