Panasonic will announce the industry's first slim-line Blu-ray DVD writer at CES on January 6. The 9.5 mm drive fits into the same space used by current DVD burners.
Panasonic supplies most of Apple's notebook DVD burners. Given the availability of the new drive I expect to see Apple announce it for the MacBook Pro family very soon - possibly at Macworld the following week.
While it writes Blu-ray at only 2x, the new drive will be the only way to get HD video out of an mobile Mac without a cable.
Part of a major Pro update? The MacBook Pros haven't had a significant update in over 6 months. In the meantime Intel has been sampling the Penryn processors using the 45 nm process and a number of PC notebooks are expected to be announced at CES.
The Penryn processors are a refresh of the current Core 2 processors, so they offer modest improvements in performance and energy consumption. Not the basis of a major MacBook Pro refresh.
Yet as part of a larger package the pieces are there. Wrap longer battery life, LED backlighting on the 17" Pro, Blu-ray support (needed for FCS2 as well), a slight CPU clock bump and the new 512 MB Nvidia 8800M video card and the MBP maintains its edge as a premier mobile video production machine.
The Storage Bits take Apple prefers to maintain its price points so it adds functionality rather than moving down market. The entry level MBP won't get Blu-ray, but I would expect it on the high-end 15" and 17" machines. It might be a BTO option until Panasonic gets volumes up, but Blu-ray is definitely coming to a Mac near you.
Comments welcome, of course.