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The Apple Beat: Radically Redesigned MacBooks Pros in the works

By Gadjo Cardenas Sevilla

While all the hype surrounding Apple these days is focused on the what and when of the next iPad, a report from AppleInsider hints at a radical new design for the next generation MacBook Pros.

History of the MacBook Air and the Ultrabook category

We've seen a sea change in notebooks these past few months with the rabid introduction of MacBook Air like Ultrabooks that offer PC users thin, powerful and extremely portable notebooks clearly targeted at Apple's MacBook Air. 

The 13 inch MacBook Air, created by Apple in 2008 with Intel's help (they provided the low power processors for ther project), was initially met with skepticism. The first generation MacBook Airs were too expensive, underpowered and looked like an extremely niche product at the time.

Subsequent revisions  improved the form factor and the features and added a cheaper 11.5-inch variant while Apple wisely took the pricing down a few notches. This version of the MacBook Air continues to sell well and has even replaced the base mode white MacBook as Apple's 'entry level' laptop.

Competitors like Samsung, Lenovo, Toshiba, Acer, Asus and HP now all have Ultrabook offerings that are similar in size and features to Apple's MacBook Air and are being promoted as the next big thing by these companies. It is interesting to note that Intel, who coined the Ultrabook name, was the prime mover of this new segment.

Time for a Change

Kasper Jade's insighful AppleInsider piece on the new MacBook Pros states,"people familiar with Apple's roadmap say the Cupertino-based company currently plans to exit 2012 having completed a top-to-bottom revamp of its notebooks lineup that will see new MacBook Pros adopt the same design traits that have made its MacBook Airs an increasingly popular choice among mobile consumers."

"This will include new, ultra-thin unibody enclosures that jettison yesteryear technologies like optical disk drives and traditional hard drives in favor of models with lightweight chassis that employ flash-memory based solid-state drives, instant-on capabilities, extended battery life, and rely on digital distribution for software and media."

The report continues, "they're all going to look like MacBook Airs. Meanwhile, existing MacBook Pro designs are expected to be phased out over the course of the year."

Revamping the MacBook Pro line makes a lot of sense. The Intel Core i5 and i7 processors are powerful yet versatile enough that they can be integrated into larger notebook bodies, Apple has made a number of notable upgrades to the graphics system in these notebooks as well which should improve performance.

Thinner and lighter form factors should also result in cheaper models which will bring the traditionally pricey MacBook Pro line closer to the reach of consumers. Users will welcome the faster SSD (Solid State Drives) storage, instant on capability and increased connectivity options through ThunderBolt drives and Apple's own iCloud initiative.

One feature that many users are clamouring for is the ability to add 3G or even 4G and LTE data connectivity to these notebooks out of the box. The lack of this option has been the MacBook Pros' weakest point that many business users would love to see improved.

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