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Old 05-16-2011, 01:07 AM   #1
AlricLantra
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Default Prototype Macbook Pro with 3G: In my shop now!

So I work as a repair technician, and frequently run a "Wanted: Broken Apple Laptops" ad on my local Craigslist. Today I got in one of the oddest things I've ever seen . . . . what appears to be an unreleased prototype version of the 2007 15" Macbook Pro Santa Rosa.

Upon initial inspection I did a bit of a double-take. Taking out the battery and removing the memory cover there was something that definitely didn't belong . . . . a sim card slot! The man who brought it in said it was a prototype and that he had worked on the design. The 3G feature was then removed before the final release, and he kept the sample and used it as a personal laptop since. Apparently it died on him and he attempted to replace the logic board with no success (his new board appears to be DOA from my tests). I bought it from him for more than I usually pay for parts value, and set about to inspect it further.

The slot in question:




Inside, all the PCBs are a bright red color instead of the normal blue/green of production Apple hardware. The logic board appears to have several hand-soldered wires added and tiny differences from a stock Santa Rosa board, as well as an extra two connectors: one that goes to the SIM slot and one that I assume is where a cell radio board would sit. I might be wrong, but I don't see any other radio chips or antennas not on the production board so I assume it must have been on a daughter card. These connectors have solder traces present on a production board but not populated. The optical drive is marked as an evaluation sample, and there are "EVR" markings on the board's label.





Here you can see the SIM card board. Much of it appears to have been hand soldered:




The additional connectors on the logic board:



Here's a standard production board for comparison:





I'm getting on attempting to repair the machine and get it functional. I'm really curious as to whether I'll see anything in the dmesg log when I insert a SIM card! The other hardware such as the screen assembly and drive were standard and don't seem to be different from the production model.

Either way its a really nifty piece of Apple history, and certainly raises some questions for me about why the feature was left out. There's been speculation for years about 3G Macbook Pros, but this kind of proof that not only was Apple considering it but they actually DID it and had prototype machines with it functional then backtracked really raises some questions for me.

I'll post some better pictures when I get my decent camera back from the other shop, for now cellphone pics will have to content. I'll post an update if I can get it running . . . . I wonder if it will have any trouble with a standard OS X install?
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Old 05-16-2011, 03:11 AM   #2
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Nice find. Interesting that Apple let him keep it.
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Old 05-16-2011, 10:25 AM   #3
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it's dead end tech now that phones have wifi hotspots. 3g ipad is a $130 premium. why pay it when you can just use your smartphone for 3G?

same with laptops. if you need 3G why pay a premium for the laptop when you can just use your phone as a hotspot
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Old 05-16-2011, 11:03 AM   #4
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it's dead end tech now that phones have wifi hotspots. 3g ipad is a $130 premium. why pay it when you can just use your smartphone for 3G?

same with laptops. if you need 3G why pay a premium for the laptop when you can just use your phone as a hotspot
Because it is an extra $60/month for me to tether my phone?
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Old 05-16-2011, 11:07 AM   #5
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it's also $60 a month for the data from a laptop.

AT&T charges $20 or so a month for tethering

it's a business feature which is why everyone is charging so much for it. in the end it doesn't make sense to put the hardware into laptops when phones already have it. the hardware is cheap, but you have to pay the licensing as well
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Old 05-16-2011, 11:13 AM   #6
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it's also $60 a month for the data from a laptop.
No it isn't. Depends on the provider and the plan.

Quote:
AT&T charges $20 or so a month for tethering
I pay $0 extra for tethering. I'm on Fido in Canada. For any plan that 1 GB or more per month, tethering is free (which is one reason I don't really need 3G support in my laptop or iPad).

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it's a business feature which is why everyone is charging so much for it.
That argument would make sense if the iPad didn't have 3G.
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Old 05-16-2011, 12:24 PM   #7
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Nice find. Interesting that Apple let him keep it.
Apple lets a lot of their hardware out after it is released.
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Old 05-16-2011, 12:42 PM   #8
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^^^
Apple has never released a 3G MacBook Pro.
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Old 05-16-2011, 02:08 PM   #9
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Haha, I didn't expect this thread to turn into an argument over tethering fees.


At any rate, it looks like the machine is now functional after reflowing the nVidia GPU chip. Had to remove all the hand soldered vias first before putting it in the reflow oven, then resolder them back afterwards. Next up I'll run to Tigerdirect to grab a hard drive and try installing Leopard. From there, no idea what's going to happen!
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Old 05-16-2011, 02:21 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by AlricLantra View Post
Haha, I didn't expect this thread to turn into an argument over tethering fees.


At any rate, it looks like the machine is now functional after reflowing the nVidia GPU chip. Had to remove all the hand soldered vias first before putting it in the reflow oven, then resolder them back afterwards. Next up I'll run to Tigerdirect to grab a hard drive and try installing Leopard. From there, no idea what's going to happen!
Awesome! Super excited to see this thing up and running
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Old 05-16-2011, 05:03 PM   #11
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Sign me up!

I really hope the next MBA houses a 3G slot. I'd love to replace my iPad with a 13" Air!
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Old 05-16-2011, 05:47 PM   #12
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Leopard installing now. The install DVD doesn't see any hardware out of the normal, perhaps there will be something once its installed. I'll also see if inserting a SIM card makes anything happen, heh. The chances are pretty slim, but damn it'd be awesome to have the only Macbook Pro with factory cell data support in the wild!
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Old 05-16-2011, 06:38 PM   #13
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Leopard is running. Big surprise, nothing happens when I insert a SIM card and it doesn't see any hardware different than normal. Perhaps a special OS version or driver is required, or a protype Airport card, or some such. Any ideas guys?
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Old 05-16-2011, 06:52 PM   #14
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According to the guy I got it from:

"Sorry! The Cell phone interface was never tested, I did not see working either while working with Apple and I did not receive any Module either which can be installed at J1300.

For you info it has cell Antenna also on right Edge of the Display edge."


Oh, well. Either way I definitely now have one of the most unique Macbook Pro's ever! No idea what I'll do with it, heh.
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Old 05-16-2011, 07:13 PM   #15
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still cool to have
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Old 05-17-2011, 12:53 AM   #16
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Think I'll sell it, actually. Can't bring myself to keep anything with an 8600m GT GPU
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Old 05-17-2011, 09:11 AM   #17
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Because it is an extra $60/month for me to tether my phone?
*cough* mywi *cough*

Can we start a debate over what is and is not covered under Unlimited data? I got a nice lady at AT&T to refund me $25 after I argued that text overage was nonsense when i'm paying for 2 phones w\ unlimited text.

I feel the same about tethering. Can you imagine if your ISP started billing you extra based on what devices were attaching to your AP at home?
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Old 05-17-2011, 10:19 AM   #18
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*cough* mywi *cough*

Can we start a debate over what is and is not covered under Unlimited data? I got a nice lady at AT&T to refund me $25 after I argued that text overage was nonsense when i'm paying for 2 phones w\ unlimited text.

I feel the same about tethering. Can you imagine if your ISP started billing you extra based on what devices were attaching to your AP at home?
*cough* Windows Phone 7 *cough* not going to do anything shady *cough*
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Old 05-17-2011, 08:29 PM   #19
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Apparently this was the wrong place to post this hardware goodness, heh. Found out in additional inspection today that there was actually a pull-out cellphone antenna in the display housing, held on with magnets.
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Old 05-17-2011, 09:18 PM   #20
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That's pretty awesome! Keep it coming
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Old 05-18-2011, 05:38 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by AlricLantra View Post
Think I'll sell it, actually. Can't bring myself to keep anything with an 8600m GT GPU
I'd probably keep it just to show it off (how many people have prototypes of unreleased Apple laptops lying around?), but yeah, I can see not wanting to keep it around if you can't use it. The good news is that there are some serious collectors out there that will pay good money for a prototype like this, so you wouldn't be poor for your efforts.

And congrats on your find. Even if you aren't keeping it, it's quite remarkable.
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Old 08-15-2011, 02:04 AM   #22
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Same?

http://www.engadget.com/2011/08/15/p...ay-unicorns-a/

Last edited by ManBearPig; 08-15-2011 at 02:07 AM.
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Old 08-15-2011, 08:01 AM   #23
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Quote:
This laptop was originally purchased from Craigslist as a non-functional parts machine
Same description as OP and pics look the same.
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Old 08-15-2011, 01:04 PM   #24
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Nice find.
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Old 08-16-2011, 01:55 PM   #25
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op come back and tell us if you got 70k for that thing
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