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New MacBook Pro's bring "Light Peak" to market!!


On Thursday February 24th, Apple announced a much anticipated update to it's MacBook Pro line of notebook computers!  Apple updates most of it's products on a regular basis, many being about a year apart.  It's been a little longer than normal since Apple has refreshed most of the MacBook line, though they did update the MacBook Air back in October of last year.  As is usually the case in a product refresh in recent years, the new MacBook Pros don't have a lot of external changes, but there are several internal differences that should make many users very happy!

First the newer MacBook Pros have new processors!  The 13.3 inch model come with Intel Core i5 dual core processors starting at 2.3 GHz, and going up to a 2.7 GHz Core i7.  The top processor has Turbo Boost, which lets you run it up to a clock speed of 3.4GHz.  The 15 & 17 inch models come with the Core i7 units Intel chips.  The max on the 17 inch MacBook Pro is a 2.3 GHz processor, also with Turbo Boost Speeds of 3.4 GHz, and 8MB of shared L3 cache.

The graphics in the new MacBook Pros seem to be able to run on par with some of the recent graphics cards on the the larger Mac Pro!  Intel has provided the HD Graphics 3000 GPU to draw the graphics on the screen.  According to the Apple website, "It encodes video quickly, making HD video calls with FaceTime possible.  And it decodes efficiently, so you get long playback time for DVD's and iTunes movies."  So it sounds like this new graphics card from Intel is going to do most of the stuff we've come to expect from MacBook Pro's!  But if you need a dedicated GPU, there is another card out there.  In the 15 & 17 inch models, Apple added a second graphic card.  In keeping with their practice of late, a dedicated AMD Radeon Graphics card is also included alone with the Intel one.  When extra power is needed on the graphics side, the MacBook Pro will switch to the Radeon processor, which offers up to 1GB of dedicated GDDR5 video memory.  That's not far off from many of the high end cards on the Mac Pro, in fact it's the same as the cards offered on Apple's Build to Order option!

The new MacBook Pros have a little bit different camera than previous models.  The In-Sight Camera is gone, being replaced by the new FaceTime HD Camera!  As it's name suggests, the new camera lets you make FaceTime calls in 720p HD & 16:9 aspect ratio!!  The window can be displayed at full screen, and rotates to landscape or portrait orientation.  The rotation takes place automatically when the person on the other end rotates their device.  Controls are similar to Quick Time X, and the newer iTunes 10 viewer window.  I like this because it allows more space to view, but the controls do not overlap the image.  I have been using the Beta of FaceTime for Mac almost from the day it came out, and I like it!  I only FaceTime with just one friend, but we use it at least once a week to keep in touch, since he's 2 hours away from me.  I think this is going to be a great app for people, particularly now that Macs are included in the mix with iPod Touch, and iPhone 4.  Rumors are abound that the iPad 2 will have a front facing camera for FaceTime too?!  The only small complaint I have is that the new FaceTime for Mac app is in the Mac App Store for 99 cents.  The Beta was free, as was iChat before it.  I know that 99 cents isn't that much, but shouldn't this really be free, and included with the OS?  I'll probably break down to buy the release version, but I'm going to keep using the free Beta for a while longer.

One of the biggest announcements was the new i/o connector that is being included on the new MacBook Pros.  Light Peak has now came to market, it just isn't being called "Light Peak".  Apple's application of Light Peak is being called "Thunderbolt", and is part of the new MacBook Pros.  Intel says that the name change is due to Light Peak being a code name that was never meant to be the official name of this new technology.  It's based on both PCI Express, and DisplayPort technologies.  Thunderbolt is designed to be able to connect a vast array of devices to your computer, but using only one connector!  The Thunderbolt connector provides 10 watts of power to for devices.  So if I remember correctly, the iPad uses a 10 watt charger.  So if Thunderbolt provides 10 watts, then an iPad with a Thunderbolt port could charge at the normal speed.  I see a rumor on The L.A. Times website that the iPad 2 might possibly have a Thunderbolt port, but that is probably wishful thinking, but you never know with Apple??

There are some other new features of the new MacBook Pros like a 7 hour battery life, a spacious all glass multi-touch tackpad, and all the great software that comes as part of Mac OS X!!  But I'll leave you to explore those features your self.  Click here to go to the MacBook Pro section of the Apple website.

Well we'll see in time how successful Apple's new Pro level notebooks are.  I'm sure that they will go over very well, as Apple products usually do.  I have to admit that if I had the money, I'd love to have a tricked out 17 inch MacBook Pro!!  I do plan to try to buy a MacBook this year, but I'm looking at the 13.3 inch model, & the new MacBook Airs!  If any of you buy one of these new MacBook Pros, leave me a comment what you you think of them!


(Originally posted to my Blogger site under the Blog "The Apple Journals".  Click here to see the original post.)

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