Apple's MacBook launch beset by leaks

The Cupertino-based technology maker is scheduled to announce new portable products, with hints of a possible move into netbooks.

Apple

Apple's planned laptop announcement has once again been beset by leaked photos and accidental revelations by retailers.

Speculation has been rife in the run up to this evening's announcement, which will take place at 6pm UK time tonight and is being held at Apple's Town Hall' presentation theatre at its Cupertino campus.

Unusually, the company actually confirmed in the invite it sent to the press that tonight's launch would be laptop related - far more information than the secretive company would normally disclose ahead of a product launch.

Pictures have leaked on to the web in the last week that show a new casing for the company's high-end MacBook Pro laptop. The new metal casing appears more robust than the existing shell, and is in-line with industry comments that Apple is moving to a new manufacturing process where the cases are cut from a single block of aluminium.

This aluminium casing is also expected to be used on the MacBook, replacing its current plastic shell in an effort to improve durability and make the product more recyclable.

A repair guide for a new range of MacBooks and MacBook Pro machines also slipped out accidentally over the weekend, adding further confirmation of a change to both lines as well confirming parts sharing and a harmonisation of design between the low-end and high-end models.

Other debate points to a shift away from Intel's integrated graphics technology in favour of a dedicated graphics solution from Nvidia. The use of Intel's integrated graphics technology was seen by many as necessary to help Apple complete the initial redevelopment of all of its integrated motherboard-based computers and complete the migration away from PowerPC and over to the x86 platform.

However, the leaking of a price list supplied to US retailer Best Buy that includes part numbers, has raised the most interest among Apple watchers. It includes a product priced at just $899 (500). Debate is split between this being a very low-end MacBook or high-end netbook, with a minority pointing to a LED-backlit monitor.

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