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Leaked MacBook Images Fuel Excitement About Launch

Apple fans have been buzzing over casing pictures and a tech support document in advance of Tuesday's purported launch of the updated Mac notebooks.
Excitement over Apple's upcoming notebook announcement intensified Monday as fans digested documents that leaked on the Web over the weekend showing MacBook and MacBook Pro casing images and a support document that made reference to late 2008 models of the notebooks.

Continuing to circulate on Apple enthusiast sites was speculation that Apple would unveil Tuesday at its Cupertino, Calif., headquarters an $800 MacBook, which would open up a new market for Apple computers, which are traditionally aimed at buyers of high-end notebooks.

But the casing images, which were posted on the Chinese site MacX.cn, got a lot of attention from MacBook fans Monday. More than 1,500 comments on the photos were posted on the discussion forum of the site MacRumors.

The site AppleInsider pointed out that the casing for the MacBook Pro included changes that brought the product closer in design to the modern MacBook and MacBook Air. Design changes on the casing, which may or may not be on the products to be unveiled Tuesday, include a latch-free magnetic lid, redesigned speaker grilles, and a new keyboard layout.

Changes found across the images include fewer ports than today's notebook models, and the MacBook image shows a new aluminum casing.

The repair guide was found on the Apple site, but apparently was taken down after reports surfaced over the weekend. The document reportedly has to do with replacing the display on the new MacBook, but didn't provide much in the way of details. AppleInsider, meanwhile, quoted "people familiar with the matter" in reporting that Apple would unveil at least a 13-inch MacBook with chipsets from graphics processor maker Nvidia, rather than Intel's integrated graphics chipsets.

On the introduction of a sub-$1,000 notebook, AppleInsider quoted Toni Sacconaghi, financial analyst for Bernstein Research, as saying in a research note that if Apple introduced even a $900 MacBook, it would expand the company's potential market by nearly 50% on a revenue basis, and 67% in terms of unit shipments.

Last week, speculation on the Web had Apple introducing an $800 notebook crafted from single pieces of aluminum using a laser and water process known by the code-name brick.

Apple doesn't comment on rumors or speculation, which tends to fuel the publicity build-up.