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Thunderbolt connector
Apple shows off its '11 MacBook Pro notebooks

Apple today released a revamped MacBook Pro lineup. Those expecting fresh new case designs and SSD boot drives will be disappointed.

The smallest member of the MacBook Pro lineup, the 13" model, is finally moving into the modern era by ditching its base Core 2 Duo processor for a Core i5 processor running at 2.3GHz. Standard storage capacity has been bumped from 250GB to 320GB and the standard 4GB of DDR3 memory is now running at 1333MHz. 

While the sleek 13" MacBook Air is sporting a 1400x900 display, the 13" MacBook Pro still soldiers on with a 1280x800 display. When it comes to graphics, Apple has ditched the NVIDIA GeForce discrete graphics for the on-chip Intel HD 3000 graphs solution with 384MB of shared memory. 

Other features worth noting are FaceTime HD (triple the resolution of the previous FaceTime camera), support for SDXC memory cards, and an implementation of Intel's Light Peak that it dubs "Thunderbolt". 

“Thunderbolt is a revolutionary new I/O technology that delivers an amazing 10 gigabits per second and can support every important I/O standard which is ideal for the new MacBook Pro," said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing.

Apple further describes ThunderBolt:

Thunderbolt enables expandability never before possible on a notebook computer. Featuring two bi-directional channels with transfer speeds up to an amazing 10Gbps each, Thunderbolt delivers PCI Express directly to external high performance peripherals such as RAID arrays, and can support FireWire and USB consumer devices and Gigabit Ethernet networks via adapters. Thunderbolt also supports DisplayPort for high resolution displays and works with existing adapters for HDMI, DVI and VGA displays. Freely available for implementation on systems, cables and devices, Thunderbolt technology is expected to be widely adopted as a new standard for high performance I/O.

The 15" and 17" MacBook Pros also get processors upgrades, and both are now available with quad-core Core i7 processors (2.0GHz in the 15" model, 2.3GHz in the 17" model). Like their little 13" brother, the 15" and 17" MacBook Pros also gain SDXC slots and Thunderbolt. Standard storage on the 15” and 17” MacBook Pros are 500GB and 750GB respectively. 

The biggest news for the two largest members of the MacBook Pro family is the removal of NVIDIA discrete GPUs to accommodate new AMD Radeon graphics. The 15" model comes packing a standard Radeon HD 6490M with 256MB of memory while the 17" is equipped with a Radeon 6750M with 1GB of memory.

As is typically the case with Apple's notebooks, the latest MacBook Pros will cost you quite a bit more than comparable Windows 7-based machines. The 13" MacBook Pro still starts at $1,199 -- Apple also offers a 13" MacBook Pro with a 2.7GHz Core i7 processor and 500GB HDD for $1,499. The 15" MacBook Pro starts at $1,799 and the 17" MacBook Pro starts at $2,499.

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RE: It's 2011...
By Solandri on 2/24/2011 1:50:18 PM , Rating: 2
Optical disks are dead anyway, I get all my stuff from the net (torrent/netflix/steam/etc etc) and when I need to transfer stuff between PCs it's USB stick/MP3 player/portable supercheapo 250GB external USB 2.5" HDD/etc etc, or the net itself
Only the Luddites need optical stuff these days.

Obviously you're not involved in a business which requires you to give data to many customers cheaply. A lot of my friends are photographers, and they would go broke if they gave customers their work on USB sticks or external HDDs, or paid for the network bandwidth to disseminate the amount of data they do. I see a similar requirement for videographers, small software shops, musicians (they still sell homebrew CDs of their music), advertising, self-employed graphics designers, etc. A lot of these people are the type I would think fit into Mac users' primary demographic - independent liberal-arts types involved in artistic content creation. Which makes Apple's lack of Blu-ray support even more puzzling.

In terms of $/GB, nothing but HDDs comes close to optical. HDD capacity is typically unsuitable for distribution since it's rare that you need to give hundreds of GB to a customer. Typically you only need 1-25 GB, which is right in optical's range. Often times, it's not the capacity which is so important, but the sheer number of copies you need to distribute. A friend of mine gave a copy of the video/slideshow shown at her wedding on DVD to every person attending. 100+ copies. Only optical was cheap enough to make that possible.

It's a great archival format too. Since it's write-once, read-many, you can't accidentally erase it, which is the problem with using external HDDs for backup (time machine helps with accidental erasure, but won't help if you forget your backups were on that drive and format it and use it for something else). You aren't tempted to play around with it after it's been written, so you file it away in a safe place and archive it just like you're supposed to.

RE: It's 2011...
By Pirks on 2/24/2011 2:06:35 PM , Rating: 2
yeah so this photographer could also use a special external DVD burner just for his clients, and avoid using DVD for himself

hence all his machines will be say thin and light notebooks without optical legacy, and the legacy device is an external one and is used only when necessary, like a floppy or com port or other ancient stuff like that

this is exactly what I proposed above

RE: It's 2011...
By omnicronx on 2/24/2011 2:17:27 PM , Rating: 2
Pirks sorry but you are wrong on this one, optical storage is a must in the business space as it currently stands. Even with the example you provided, someone in that kind of business would also need to consume content from the same sources. (i.e USB drives are clearly not sufficient)

Lucky for Apple, their presence is almost non existent in this area ;)

RE: It's 2011...
By Pirks on 2/24/2011 3:11:45 PM , Rating: 2
USB drives are clearly not sufficient

RE: It's 2011...
By omnicronx on 2/24/2011 4:26:44 PM , Rating: 2
The OP already explained.. For the same reason you don't really see commerical software being shipped on USB drives yet.. $/GB

RE: It's 2011...
By Pirks on 2/24/2011 5:17:58 PM , Rating: 2
No, I meant external USB DVD drives, not the USB flash drives

My point was most people don't need DVD and a few businesses who really must mass-produce them can use external USB devices

RE: It's 2011...
By Alexstarfire on 2/24/2011 9:34:35 PM , Rating: 2
Internal is cheaper than external. That is what he is saying. The other point is, if you're using it often why would you take up extra space and pay more when you don't have to?

I couldn't stand not having an optical drive. I might not use it very much, but the few times I do it's much easier than getting the same data any other way. Primarily this data is already on some type of optical media DVD/CD/Blu-Ray/etc.

RE: It's 2011...
By Pirks on 2/25/2011 11:34:42 AM , Rating: 2
Well, for the rare businesses who mass replicate optical disks the internal drives make sense, but not for the mass consumer

RE: It's 2011...
By Alexstarfire on 2/25/2011 11:46:46 AM , Rating: 2
Who said anything about mass consumer? I think you assumed. And you know what they say about assuming.

That said, I'd probably never want an external drive for the same reasons. I use the optical drive on my desktop a lot. So much so that I'm surprised it hasn't burned out yet.

Optical media certainly isn't an popular as it used to be since it's no longer the only way to share data anymore. We have USB sticks, internet (unless you are sharing large files), phones, bluetooth, wifi, MP3 players (some anyway), etc. Optical media is probably the easiest way to share other than a USB stick or the internet (again, unless the files are large).

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