Apple updates MacBook Pro family, Thunderbolt arrives

As predicted, Apple today revealed the details of its five new MacBook Pro updates – although the actual details are a little different to the rumors preceding the official announcement. The new line is said to be up to twice as fast as the previous generation, thanks to the inclusion of next generation quad and dual core processors and high performance graphics. A new FaceTime HD camera with three times the resolution previously offered and the high performance Thunderbolt (read LightSpeed) I/O technology are also included.

The new 13-inch model will be available in two configurations. Starting at US$1,199, the first features an Intel Core i5 dual core processor running at 2.3GHz and a 320GB HDD, and the second gets an Intel Core i7 dual core processor running at 2.7GHz and a 500GB HDD starting at US$1,499.

The 15-inch version also comes in two flavors – one with a 2GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i7 processor, AMD Radeon HD 6490M graphics and 500GB hard drive which starts at US$1,799 and the other with a 2.2GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i7 processor, AMD Radeon HD 6750M graphics and 750GB hard drive, which starts at US$2,199.

The 17-inch MacBook Pro is powered by a 2.2GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i7 processor, and also sports an AMD Radeon HD 6750M GPU and 750GB HDD. Prices start at US$2,499.

Customization options include bumping up the Quad-Core processor to 2.3GHz, including solid state storage up to 512GB, adding more DDR3 memory, and antiglare and high-resolution display options.

All of the new models continue to be housed in the familiar aluminum unibody enclosure, and benefit from a glass Multi-Touch trackpad, an LED backlit widescreen display and illuminated full-size keyboard. Apple states that the expected battery life will be up to 7 hours between charges.

Thunderbolt – 10Gbps transfer speed

The new Pros will be the first products to feature Intel’s new LightSpeed technology, which Apple has renamed Thunderbolt, that features two bi-directional channels with up to 10Gbps transfer speed each. The technology delivers PCI Express directly to external peripherals such as RAID arrays, and also can support FireWire and USB devices. There’s also compatibility with DisplayPort for high resolution displays, as well as with existing HDMI, DVI and VGA display adapters.

Other connectivity of note takes the shape of Wireless-N Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.1 with EDR, a couple of USB 2.0 ports, FireWire 800, SDXC media card slot and Gigabit Ethernet.

The new FaceTime solution caters for high definition video calls between new MacBook Pros and standard definition to other Intel-based Macs, iPhone 4 and the latest generation iPod Touch.

All of the new MacBook Pro family members will ship with Mac OS X Snow Leopard.

Apple has also taken the opportunity to release a developer preview of its new Mac OS X Lion, which “takes some of the best ideas from iPad and brings them back to the Mac.”

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