WWDC: Apple intros MacBook Pro for business road warriors

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.


Topic: Apple

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  • USB 3.0

    Any reference to the new MacBook Pro having USB 3.0 I/O instead of the slower USB 2.0?
    • USB 3.0

      Rachel wrote: "but it is is very I/O-friendly with HDMI, USB 2/3 ports, "
  • If I had $2199 to spend I wouldn't doubt in buying this laptop.

    It sure is expensive, but it will be 2 or 3 years before we see a HP or Sony VAIO laptop with this amazing screen resolution, discrete graphics card, CPU performance, design and battery life.

    You will probably have the better laptop in the next 2/3 years in all your company. You will be the envy of all your work parthners.

    Overall, I think it's a very good investment, considering it supports Thunderbolt, has excellent battery(7 hours) and has the newest Nvidia graphics and Intel Ivy Bridge support for very intense 3D applications.

    The only thing I don't like is it doesn't have a Optical drive, but hey, maybe there would be fanboys that say you don't need to watch Blu-ray movies on a professional laptops, my thought is Apple at least should give support driver to connect an external Blu-ray player to this beauty of hardware.
    Gabriel Hernandez
    • Why?

      Retina on a laptop .... why?
      What work do you do thay requires that potential resolution (assuming you don't get locked into pixel doubling by your software)?
      I do engineering drawings and only use resolution higher than 1680x1050 - no real use for it.
      Not questioning just not seeing any need......
      • Programming, timing data analysis.

        Both would benefit from the extra pixels.
      • Thinking in medical, scientific, engineering, forensic applications

        Physicians and scientifics have complex applications which need to be 100% precise, I'm thinking this resolution can help them to get 0% free errors by giving them more detail on tiny pixel details for diagnostic disease, criminal investigation, CPU and micro controller design, and many other real world applications which have to be very precise.
        Gabriel Hernandez
      • retina displays

        Retina displays are very nice ... depending and look more like paper print in terms of sharpness and detail. Not everyone needs retina but that is the future. Eventually all (or most) displays will have this high resolution on a small screen.
        Bee Ryan
    • Acer Ultrabook with 1920x1080 IPS at 13.3" is much lighter, cheaper, zipper

      Have you looked around? Acer showed the Ultrabook with 13.3" IPS screen at 1920x1080. This is much lighter, cheaper, and probably last longer than the MacPro 15.6". The Sony Viao-Z has been offereing 13.1" @ 1920x1080 for over 1.5yrs now. The MacPro 15.6 has more storage, on-board DRAM, and higher CPU clock speed than many thin & light and is therefore ONLY better for those who are looking for reasonable weight and performance at the expense of portability and bank account.
      • cheap

        ((( "Acer showed the Ultrabook with 13.3" IPS screen at 1920x1080. This is much lighter, cheaper, and probably last longer than the MacPro 15.6"." )))

        Of course it's cheaper. It has less than 40% of the MacBook's pixels.
  • The Retina display is Apple-owned technology and no one else will be able

    ... to compete with it for some time -- as well as with iPad 3 screen.

    LG Display, Samsung Display, Chimei Innolux are only subcontractor manufacturers, they do not own the technology and process. Hence there is no tablets and notebooks from LG and Samsung that could offer Retina screens.

    [b]However, in like half of the year those display manufacturers might be able to come up with their own manufacturing process[/b] and they will be able to use truly high resolution screens for their own products, as well as to sell them to the likes of Dell, HP, Toshiba, Asus, so on.
    • Really? How do you know what others have worked on?

      They could be ready, but don't see the need at the moment.
      Even Apple made two models - one with retina, and others without, so even Apple is admitting that it's not going to be for everyone.
      William Farrel
    • I don't believe that Apple have a patent on resolution.

      Since when does Apple own a "resolution".
      • You would be surprised..

        They seem to own a patent for everything else, lol.
      • Apple did recently patent

        a method of making the OS completely resolution independent.
        Michael Alan Goff
      • Where did you read anything about patent on resolution?

        Apple owns this manufacturing process, not "resolution". No one can do 2800 x 1700 displays either, this has nothing to do with specific resolution. It is about technology.
  • had no plans to get a new laptop...

    had no plans to get a new laptop, but this thing is like perfect for everything I do... and 2880x1800 is awesome. Its thin and light like a 15" air with a TON of power... so I ordered one already.
    The bad part in configing these, is if you get the base model, you are stuck with a 256gb SSD. the 512 and 768gb options are only in the higher end model with the faster CPU, but I'll have the higher end one with 16gb of ram in a little over a week, so I'll see how it goes.
  • Not revolutionary

    A retina screen laptop? unless you are doing high precision work that requires this amount of resolution it remains a gimmick. There is something wrong when 60% of your laptop is battery and costs more than you car. The real revolution I'm waiting for are the hybrid-ultrabooks which will be coming out later this year.
    • You want a gas/electric ultra book?

      Just go with a bigger battery:-)
    • what?

      you need to get a better car!!!! I sure wouldn't be driving around a piece a junk car for $2500, but feel free to if thats what works for you.
  • The price doesn't matter...

    ...it's the profit margin on higher value items. Apple will allow the notebook wannabees to make all the computers they want, at cost or at a loss.
    Tony Burzio