Apple's MacBook Pro line is due for a refresh with all the signs on the magic eight ball that is the Internet pointing to Thursday February 24 as launch day for updated MacBook Pros with Intel's latest Sandy Bridge processors. As usual, Apple has been playing its cards close to its corporate chest and hasn't confirmed (or denied) that new MacBook Pros are on the immediate horizon, but a couple of listings of unexplained MacBook Pro part numbers by retailers online may just have let the cat out of the bag before Apple has had a chance to announce the new models.
Macrumors is reporting that Italian site ISpazio had received an email from an Apple employee alerting them to the arrival of five new MacBook Pro products this week. The veracity of the email is strengthened by a photo on 9to5Mac showing similar model numbers that was apparently taken in a Best Buy warehouse.
The new models reportedly include two 13-inch models, two 15-inch models and a 17-inch model. Aside from the latest Sandy Bridge processors, the updated MacBook Pros are rumored to be taking some design cues from the MacBook Air with a thinner and lighter form factor than current models.
Body and batteries
According to a MacTrast, all the new models will be between 15-20 percent lighter and will be made from a darker "LiquidMetal" alloy Apple has licensed that matches the color of the new menu bar on the Apple website. Unlike the current aluminum unibody construction, the new models will apparently be manufactured in an injection molding-like process and will be stronger, lighter and more scratch resistant than current models. Judging by this video they could also bounce for a very long time if dropped.
The new models are also expected to get a boost in the battery department with the 13-inch models boasting 12 hours of battery life, while the 15-inch and 17-inchers will both get 11 hours.
The MacTrast source also says that, while the 13-inch model will retain the slot loading optical disc drive in its current location, the 15- and 17-inch models will instead gain a modular bay that can be used to house an optical disc drive or second HDD.
Both the 15- and 17-inch models are also expected to gain another USB port, bringing the count to three for the 15-inch and four for the 17-inch model – although there's no indication they will be USB 3.0. The 17-inch will also apparently retain its current ExpressCard slot and gain an exclusive advanced graphics option.
The source also claimed Apple would be using a new type of display with lower power consumption but didn't provide any details as to exactly what it might be.
There's also speculation that Apple may introduce Light Peak technology on its new MacBook Pro lineup. The technology was developed by Intel as a single universal replacement for a multitude of current buses such as SCSI, SATA, USB, FireWire and PCI Express. The high-speed optical cable can transfer data at 10Gb/s in both directions simultaneously, which is more than twice as fast as USB 3.0.
Although it was developed as a fiber-optic technology, CNET is reporting that the initial version of Light Peak will use copper instead of light-based technologies, but that this move wouldn't affect connection speeds.
If Light Peak does make its debut on the new MacBook Pro lineup later this week, don't expect it to be called Light Peak though. That is the codename Intel used for the technology while it was being developed and Apple is expected to stamp its own name on the connection.
If 9to5Mac is right, the new MacBook lineup will consist of two new 13-inch models priced at US$1,199 and $1,499. The new 15-inch models will be priced at $1,799 and $2,199, while the 17-inch model will cost $2,499. The MacTrast source also claimed that Apple would be "significantly" lowering the price on RAM and SSD upgrades. We should know if the rumors are true by the end of the week.
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