updated 02:05 pm EST, Fri February 10, 2012
MacBook Pro expected to slim across the line
On and off rumors of a major MacBook Pro redesign were supported on Friday with leaks supporting a complete overhaul. The AppleInsider hints had Apple's high-end notebooks being overhauled over the course of 2012 to more closely resemble the MacBook Air, dropping optical drives and slimming down. Rumors of a 15-inch Air were more likely references to Apple repeating what it did with the unibody MacBook Pro, where the 15-inch model led the redesign and other sizes followed later.
"They're all going to look like MacBook Airs," a person slipping out information said.
What would be included in the hardware wasn't detailed, although the Pro designation likely means they would still focus on full-power mobile processors and include more expansion than the current MacBook Air roster. The Mac App Store, an overall swing towards downloads and network sharing, and all-encompassing expansion like Thunderbolt has helped reduce the need for optical drives. Going to solid-state drives alone may be impractical given the high prices of 480GB and larger versions, and may instead see Apple either use hybrid hard drives or a small SSD boot drive with a second, rotating drive.
Apple is near-certain to be waiting on Intel's Ivy Bridge (third-generation Core) processor line and may make the signature feature a 2880x1440 display. Code for high-density display support has been slipping into more recent Lion betas.
Other companies slimming down their systems have been leaning in Apple's direction with systems like the Acer Timeline Ultra hoping to straddle the gap between ultrabooks and regular notebooks. Most are still hesitant to truly drop optical drives, however, and will still often have heavier and sometimes slower notebooks. A slim 15-inch MacBook Pro could be one of the lightest full-speed notebooks.