WWDC: Apple intros MacBook Pro for business road warriors

Summary:Apple brings the Retina display to the MacBook Pro, but only creative professionals might be able to afford it.

17-inch MacBook Pro. Credit: James Martin/CNET.

Next-gen MacBook Pro. Credit: James Martin/CNET.

As expected, Apple upgraded and revealed some fancy new specs for its laptop lines, making both brands better candidates for both consumers and business customers.

See also: Apple CEO Cook: Ultrabooks are pretenders Apple's best asset: Developers and its app economy WWDC 2012: By the numbers WWDC: Siri gets smarter with iPad, Facebook, car integration

Here's a rundown on the MacBook Air stats for both the 11-inch and 13-inch models:

  • 4GB of RAM
  • Intel i5 dual-core processors
  • Intel HD Graphics 4000
  • No retina displays
  • Same starting prices at $999 and $1,199 for 11-inch and 13-inch models, respectively
  • 5 and 7 hours of battery life for 11-inch and 13-inch models, respectively
  • Starts shipping today

The MacBook Air is still boasting some solid stats, but the big unveil was definitely the next-generation 15.4-inch MacBook Pro, which is a quarter thinner than its predecessor, making it about as thick as a MacBook Air.

Although it weighs 4.6 pounds -- making it still a bit of a lug to travel with -- this is incredibly more portable and friendly to designers and other creative professionals who need to tote around a notebook often.

The battery life could be more enticing on other models as the 15.4-inch Pro only boasts seven hours (but up to 30 days on standby), but it is is very I/O-friendly with HDMI, USB 2/3 ports, Thunderbolt and an SD card slot.

However, it looks like Apple is really trying to push Thunderbolt on customers to the point where it is now requiring the use of FireWire 800 and GigaBit ethernet adapter dongles into one of the two Thunderbolt ports.

Apple is also getting closer to merging the MacBook Pro and Air lines together. Besides the slimmer frame, Apple has swapped out the optical drive for up to 768GB of flash storage.

Furthermore, it looks like Apple is testing the waters on the Pro series as it is implementing a Retina display, as seen on the iPad and iPhone. According to CNET, Apple's Phil Schiller said that it's the world's highest-resolution notebook display.

Other features to the Retina display include a 16:10 aspect ratio (compared to 11:9 on the 11-inch MacBook Air), a higher angle of view with IPS technology, and 75 percent less glare.

The addition of the Retina display on the highest-end Apple laptop makes sense for at least two reasons. First, the 2,880 x 1,800 resolution is more critical and important to the creative set than it would be for everyday consumers. Sure, it's nice on the iPhone and iPad, but we can wait. That leads to the second reason: those parts aren't going to come cheap.

Thus, only professionals might be able to afford the 15.4-inch model with the Retina display. The starting price is $2,199.

For everyone else who wants a MacBook but with something toting more power than an Air, there are modest updates for the regular 13- and 15-inch models.

Here's a snapshot of the major upgrades those MacBook Pros:

  • Intel i5 and i7 quad-core processor options
  • 500GB and 750GB hard drive options
  • 4GB to 8GB of RAM
  • Starting prices at $1,199 and $1,799 models for the 13- and 15-inch models respectively

UPDATE: This article previously incorrectly listed the MacBook Pro with a 17-inch display. It is, in fact, a 15.4-inch display. A 17-inch model was not introduced.

Related:

Topics: Apple

About

Rachel King is a staff writer for CBS Interactive based in San Francisco, covering business and enterprise technology for ZDNet, CNET and SmartPlanet. She has previously worked for The Business Insider, FastCompany.com, CNN's San Francisco bureau and the U.S. Department of State. Rachel has also written for MainStreet.com, Irish Americ... Full Bio

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