New MacBook Pro: Apple's portable iMac replacement

New MacBook Pro: Apple's portable iMac replacement

Summary: The new MacBook Pro now on sale is expensive, and may be aimed to replace both a desktop system and laptop with the single device.

TOPICS: Hardware

The long keynote by Apple execs today at the WWDC was long on new products, the most impressive being the new MacBook Pro. The 15.4-inch Retina Display pushes the portable line into the high performance realm, with powerful components packed in a MacBook Air thin frame. The new MacBook Pro is not a budget system, but looks to be aimed as a replacement system for those using a desktop system.

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

ZDNet has good coverage of all the announcements at WWDC, so I will concentrate on the newest in the laptop line from Apple. The starting configuration for the MacBook Pro shows the system is aimed at those needing a high-end performance laptop.

  • Display: 15.4-inch Retina Display (220 ppi); 2880x1800
  • Processor: Quad-core i7, 2.3 GHz ($2,199), 2.6 GHz ($2,799)
  • Memory: 8 GB
  • Storage: 256 GB SSD ($2,199); 512 GB SSD ($2,799)
  • Graphics: Intel Graphics HD 4000, Nvidia GeForce GT 650M, 1 GB memory
  • Ports: MagSafe 2 power; 2-Thunderbolt; 2-USB 3; HDMI; Audio; SDXC;
  • Battery: 95 W/Hr Lithium-polymer; up to 7 hours run time; 30 day standby
  • Wireless: Wi-Fi; Bluetooth 4.0
  • Dimensions: 0.72 x 14.13 x 9.73 inches; 4.46 pounds

The two basic configurations are priced at $2,199 and $2,799 configured as indicated above. The top model can be augmented with a 2.7 GHz processor, 16 GB of system memory, and 768 GB SSD for a healthy $3,749. The most expensive upgrade is the bigger SSD (512GB>768GB) at $500, the extra 8 GB of memory is $200 and the faster processor bumps the price $250.

The new MacBook Pro is not much thicker than the MacBook Air, but it is quite a bit heavier. That makes sense given the larger display and extra stuff inside. The weight is about the same as my 2008 unibody 13-inch MacBook, so it's pretty light for a much bigger notebook.

The pricing and high performance configuration makes me think Apple is aiming the new MacBook Pro at users currently using an iMac at the desk and maybe a MacBook Air for a mobile system. Those two devices together can approach the price of the new MacBook Pro alone, yet given the fast performance and high-res 15.4-inch display the new laptop can be a decent replacement for the iMac or even both of those devices.

Having a single device to buy and contend with may be enough of a draw to get current iMac owners to drop them to go with the MacBook Pro. One thing is sure, based on the great Retina Display on the new iPad, the MacBook Pro screen should be a nice upgrade for many.

Topic: Hardware

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  • Very uninspired release

    The new MBP: buy it because it has more pixels and GHz.

    Where have I heard that before? Oh yeah, every single announcement of every single laptop ever released by every single company out there.


    Now, as far as this being a desktop replacement? Um. No. I bought a desktop replacement laptop. 17" monitor, far better specs than what Apple announced today, has a retina display (when I sit 5 feet away, I can't see individual pixels, bam, retina display). It also weighs a ton and has a horrible battery but who cares? I don't. I have an iPad 2 and an iPhone 4 for when I want to compute on the road. I laugh at your 4.4lb "shoulder breaking" MBP while I'm light and elegant with my 1.4lb iPad.

    The MBP is not a desktop replacement. Nor is it very portable. It is like putting together a refridgerator and a toaster. Jack of all trades, master of none.
    • The law of *dialectics*: quantity turns into quality

      So this upgrade has nothing to do with "more pixels and megahertz" marketing for your typical windows machine.

      The picture quality is totally different from anything you could see on a notebook of this class.

      And it is exclusive to Apple since matrix manufacturers are used only as subcontractors, so Apple owns the technology process. It will take like half year or more for LG Display, Samsung Display, Chimei Innolux, AU Optronics to come up with their own manufacturing process.

      Before that, there will be no tablets or notebooks with Retina-class screens neither from LG and Samsung, nor the more so from the likes of HP, Dell, Toshiba, Asus.
      • Wow, you will apologize for anything Apple does

        Who CARES about a retina display! I can see things beautifully on my Lenovo W510 even with my security filter over it. the specs on this thing are pathetic compared to what I have and paid for it, so all you are doing is the typical Apple shell game to hide the fact they are trying to sell this run of the mill WAY over priced portable to the as innovation.

        So tell me Apple employee, what was innovative in anything announced today?
      • MBP screen vs HP Elitebook screen

        "The picture quality is totally different from anything you could see on a notebook of this class."
        When you posted this comment, did you took in consideration the HP DreamColor technology available in the HP Elitebook mobile workstations? I agree that it should looks great, but saying that "The picture quality is totally different from anything you could see on a notebook of this class" based only on screen resolution is not true at all. For example, HP Elitebooks workstations with DreamColor screens goes up to a billion of colors vs millions of colors from the Apple screen "Retina" display (Interesting that this technology has been available since 2010). So, which technology you think will give you the more real life and accurate colors? The "Retina" display with millions of colors or the DreamColor with billions of colors? Like you said, it has nothing to do with more pixels and megahertz...
    • id get a hackintosh

      i dont care about hardware i just want the software lol
  • Desktop replacement with caveats

    A notebook isn't a true desktop replacement unless it can run F@H 24/7... and pass that stress test on both CPU and GPU without overheating and without producing a screaming whine from it's fan(s). Desktop replacement means including a burner with Blu-ray playback support standard, and GTX nVidia graphics, not the mainstream GT tier. Also, that resolution is better suited for a larger 17" display - 1920x1080 would have been just fine at 15.4 inches. $2800 still buys far more desktop performance on the PC side - the premium you pay here is both the Apple tax and the price of gaining mobility.

    As a web developer, I've tried the MBP line in the past for development work but had to switch to an iMac as the MBP fans run full-blast-non-stop while running database server/web server/compiler/etc. Waiting for the iMac refresh...
  • It's a Macbook Air on steroids

    I really don't necessarily like the fact that I will need an external disk drive to do many things so I would need to carry around an external cd/dvd drive with me if I chose to buy this... doesn't seem practical... if I wanted a laptop without one I would have gotten a Macbook Air... which looks like what the Macbook Pro has become but more powerful of course. With the exclusion of a cd/dvd drive I think they could have kept costs closer to what MB Pros already cost... 2200 just for the entry level version is just not worth it for what you're losing. This will of course be great for photographers... and maybe avid movie watchers... if you don't mind toting around a external disk drive to play your movie... or be happy with the low quality iTunes movies... which defeats the purpose of having a high def display. I guess we won't be seeing a Mac with BluRay anytime soon. :( Hopefully this will at least support Flash XD

    Also, this is NOT a iMac killer... what is that? It's barely a previous Macbook Pro killer. Using an iMac is a totally different experience... having a huge beautiful display to look at without a laptop burning up your lap.
  • I want to see...

    the screen in the flesh.

    Is the text just "clearer" or, more importantly, does it actually display more information? I hope it is also the latter and not just the former. Vertical resolution is the weak point of most laptops these days.