New MacBook Pro: Apple's portable iMac replacement

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.

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.


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