updated 07:05 pm EST, Tue February 22, 2011
Late rumor has white MacBook gone, Air taking over
Apple's upcoming MacBook Pros could herald the end of plastic MacBooks in the lineup, an uncharacteristically detailed rumor posited on Tuesday. The company is reportedly confident enough in the 11-inch MacBook Air that the ultraportable would replace the white MacBook entirely. The 'reliable' MacGeneration sources understood that Apple wanted to trim the number of 13-inch systems down.
The 13-inch MacBook Pro wouldn't lower in price but would get a major improvement across the board, they said. Corroborating an earlier claim, the mid-size system would get a 16GB mini SSD for booting to go along with a 320GB hard drive, speeding up its overall responsiveness even as it upgraded from today's lone 250GB rotating disk. The non-boot drive could be upgraded to 500GB for an extra $90 or a 256GB SSD for $280.
The switch to Sandy Bridge would start out gently, with a 2.1GHz Core i3 and 4GB of RAM. Although superficially a step back in clock speed from the 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo, the faster architecture should make up for the deficit. No mention was made of dedicated graphics, but most rumors have suggested Apple was happy with the major speed increase from Sandy Bridge's integrated graphics core.
The 13-inch MacBook Air's 1440x900 screen should be standard, but now with a matte option on the higher end of the two configurations. The system would not only gain an extra two hours of battery life (up to 12) but add a third USB port. It would slim down by the rumored half a pound to weigh just under four pounds.
The 15-inch model would carry over some of the changes from the 13-inch while adding a few twists of its own, according to the tips. The SSD boot drive and third USB port would arrive, and battery life would grow as well, here to 10 hours, but storage would shift radically: it would now be upgradeable to a 1TB main drive and could even replace the DVD burner with a second SSD, increasing the capacity and giving users as many as three drives. The once optional 1680x1050 LCD would now be standard. No mention was made of the dedicated graphics picks, but it would also start at 4GB of RAM and shave off over 0.4 pounds to bring it to below five.
The 17-inch model should have many of the same options as the 15-inch model, but it would have 8GB of pre-installed RAM for the first time in a Mac notebook and would thrive as one of the world's lightest 17-inch notebooks. By losing two thirds of a pound, it would drop to just over 5.8 pounds, weighing less than many competitors' thin-and-light 15-inch systems.
The mystery new technology wasn't unearthed in the rumor, but an Intel event on Thursday could point to some implementation of Light Peak on the new MacBook Pro.
Prices were only given out in euros, but converted to US dollars corresponded roughly with the prices attached to five SKUs at Best Buy. The 13-inch MacBook Pros would come in $1,199 and $1,499 versions where the 15-inch computers would be pared back to base $1,799 and high-end $2,199 versions. Apple's 17-inch flagship would cost $2,499. Many now expect these to show on Thursday.
The rumor isn't definitive and should be treated with caution. Apple's strategy as described here would nonetheless match up with its claims that the MacBook Air was the "future of MacBooks" and, accordingly, would be reflected in the rest of its lineup. A move to SSDs, lightweight design and very long battery life would be consistent with the Air and a means of separating Apple from competitors only more recently switching their attention to battery life and weight.