Today’s Macworld keynote is significant not only because it’ll be Apple’s last, but also for Steve Jobs’ decision to sit on the sidelines. Like any Apple presentation, there are always rumors of fancy new products.
While a new Mac Mini or Time Capsule weren’t a part of this morning’s keynote, a 17-inch MacBook Pro is upon us. That shouldn’t be the least bit surprising, of course, as the 13- and 15-inch Apple notebooks were revamped last October.
The new 17-inch MacBook Pro isn’t sporting the new Intel Q9000 quad-core chip (at least not yet), instead sticking with a Core 2 Duo 2.66 GHz with a 6 MB L2 cache. Like the 15-inch MacBook Pro already on the market, the new 17-inch uses the Nvidia-based 9400M chipset with a 9600M GT 512 MB discrete GPU on tap.
The $2799 price tag will also include 4 GB of DDR3 (expandable to 8 GB), a 320 GB 5,400 rpm hard drive and a slot-loading SuperDrive.
A 1920 x 1200 LED backlit, super glossy glass display is standard, but totally new and likely welcomed is the option for an “anti-glare” matte screen. Unfortunately, the option does run an extra $50, but it’ll be money well spent for those who like looking at the screen rather than themselves.
The most notable, and possibly controversial, innovation to the 17-inch MacBook Pro is the built-in, non-removable battery. The lack of a removable battery has long been a criticism of Apple products iPods and iPhones. Now the non-removable battery is headed to the MacBook.
Apple justified the use of a built-in battery as it allowing for a superior design. "We've developed new battery technology that is better for the user and better for the environment," said Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO. "Apple's advanced chemistry and innovative technology deliver up to eight hours of use on a full charge cycle and up to 1,000 recharges."
While its claims are untested, the company says the new built-in design allows for a more efficient design and arrangement of lithium polymer cells (which compared to lithium ion, allows for more flexible shapes). The end result is a battery that will last for seven hours on the 9600M GT and eight hours on the 9400M.
Apple also boasts that the new power system is smarter, allowing for a more accurate cell-by-cell charge. The new battery will withstand up to 1,000 charge cycles, which in theory should last for the notebook’s relevancy.
Certainly, the new built-in battery will be a point of debate for many. While there is no denying that an eight hour run on a 17-inch notebook is nothing short of incredible, especially in a form factor being 0.98-inches thick and weighing 6.6 lbs – making it the thinnest and lightest 17-inch in the world – users could still feel uneasy at being unable to add more power.
Apple designs products that are innovative and divisive, with consumers either loving it or leaving it, and the 17-inch MacBook Pro will be no exception. Look for the new Apple notebook in stores late January.