Apple intros updated MacBook Pros, dev preview of Mac OS X Lion

Apple logoJust as expected, Apple rolled out an update to its MacBook Pro line Thursday morning, one that brought quad-core i7 processors to its laptops for the first time. Both the 15" and 17" models gained the new quad-core processors courtesy of Intel's Sandy Bridge architecture, and all notebooks in the line got an upgrade to the "Thunderbolt" I/O port.

Starting from the bottom of the line, the 13" MacBook Pro now comes with either a dual-core i5 or i7 processor up to 2.7GHz and Intel HD 3000 integrated graphics for $1,199. The 15" and 17" models got the majority of the upgrades, however—the 15" base model now carries a 2.0GHz Quad i7 processor, 4GB of 1333MHz of RAM, a 500GB 5400rpm hard drive, and a 1440x900 display driven by an AMD Radeon HD 6490M for $1,799. The 17" base model is similar, but the processor is a 2.2GHz Quad i7 and it has a 750GB 5400rpm hard drive, along with an AMD 6750M and a display resolution of 1920x1200 for $2,499. The 13" and 15" MacBook Pros also got an SD card slot upgrade: they now support SDXC cards up to 64GB (up from 32GB).

All three models in the line now have a new Thunderbolt port. Apple describes the tech as being 12 times faster than FireWire 800, allowing you to edit an HD feature film in real time as it's being transferred. According to the tech specs page, Thunderbolt supports up to 10Gbps transfer rate, and is believed to be a version of Intel's new Light Peak technology. (Stay tuned for a more in-depth look at Light Peak/Thunderbolt)

Apple MacBook Pro

"The Thunderbolt port will give you plug-and-play performance with a whole new world of Thunderbolt peripherals, as well as with the Apple LED Cinema Display and other Mini DisplayPort peripherals," Apple wrote on its site. "You can daisy-chain as many as six devices, including your display."

The machines also got updated "FaceTime HD" cameras to replace the previous iSight cameras. The cameras look the same on the outside, but Apple says they now support 720p resolution and have improved low-light performance (perfect for those late-night chats on Chatroulette, no doubt).

Another detail of interest is Apple's reduced battery life estimates across the entire line. Apple previously said the 13" MacBook Pro could get up to 10 hours of battery life while the 15" and 17" models got between 8 and 9 hours. The company now says that all three models can get up to 7 hours of battery life; the change could be due to the new processors drawing more juice, but more likely it's due to Apple's "new, more rigorous battery tests."

On top of the MacBook Pro updates, Apple also released its first developer preview of Mac OS X Lion. Demoed to the crowd during Apple's 2010 "Back to the Mac" event, Lion is being touted as Apple's way of merging what it learned from the iPad with the Mac, including more multitouch gestures, an app home screen, fullscreen apps, auto-save, and auto-resume on launch. On Thursday, Apple once again outlined a few features that will come in Lion: there will be a new version of Mail with an iPad-inspired widescreen layout, "AirDrop" to copy files wirelessly between Macs, and an all-new FileVault, to name a few.

Apple says the OS is on track for release to the public this summer, but is available to Mac Developer Program members (via the Mac App Store) starting today.

Source: Ars Technica

Tags: Apple, MacBook Pro, notebooks

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