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Apple Delivers Next-Gen 17" MacBook Pro

It's been nearly three months since Apple revamped most of its notebook line, offering new versions of its MacBook, MacBook Air and 15" MacBook Pro models. Copious missing from the Oct. 2008 update was the 17" MacBook Pro. Today, at Macworld Expo, Apple filled in the missing piece.
It's been nearly three months since Apple revamped most of its notebook line, offering new versions of its MacBook, MacBook Air and 15" MacBook Pro models. Copious missing from the Oct. 2008 update was the 17" MacBook Pro. Today, at Macworld Expo, Apple filled in the missing piece.The new 17" MacBook Pro (I'll call it MBP from now on) has captured a lot of attention because of one huge change: Instead of a removable battery, like we've always had on Apple notebooks, the company has opted for a sealed-in battery unit. This move  like everything Apple does with hardware  is sure to be controversial. Certainly my own first impression was negative.

However, I thought to myself, "Hmm, how often do I change the battery on my 15" MacBook Pro?" Even though I have an older model and have a spare battery, I haven't changed it in months. One battery does me for just about one coast-to-coast trip. The last time I used multiple batteries was on a trip from San Francisco to/from Europe. There, multiple batteries are definitely necessary, imho, if you want to work all the way... unless, of course, your plane has a power jack.

Apple says, of course, that their new battery chemistry and packaging technology makes all the difference. There's even a whole Web page dedicated to it. In summary, the battery is designed for a full eight hours of use per charge, and is good for as many as 1000 charging cycles, Apple says. The company says that this is more than 3x the lifespan of typical notebook batteries. Check out the Web page, it's pretty interesting.

What about the rest of the 17" MBP? It looks similar to the October refreshes of the MacBook and MacBook Pro line, with its one-piece screen (without a separate bezel), aluminum one-piece cabinet, LED-backlit display, and no more FireWire 400. With the exception of the non-removable battery, physically this is essentially a 17" version of the 15" MacBook Pro  and it weighs only 6.6 pounds.

Under the hood, though, there's a lot of power in the 17" MBP. Apple offers two processor choices, with either a 2.66GHz or 2.93GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor. Both have 6GB cache. By contrast, the fastest chip in the 15" MBP is a 2.8GHz processor. (A bit of disappointment: I'd hoped for a Intel Core 2 Quad option.)

Like the new 15" MacBook Pro, the 17" MBP has two turbo-charged NVideo GeForce graphics processors, one with 256MB RAM, the other with 512MB of RAM. Right now, there's limited benefit to the dual graphics processors for most users  but that is expected to change once Mac OS X 10.6 "Snow Leopard" comes out.

Storage? Basically the same as in the new 15" MBP: you can have a 320GB hard drive in either 5400 RPM or 7200 RPM, or a 128GB or 256GB solid-state drive. (More disappointment: Where's the 500GB drive option?)

Optical drives? Still no Blu-ray. And you know. I'd be happy with an external optical drive  another way to save weight, or provide more room for batteries. It's a shame the machine can't be ordered without an optical drive.

To make a long story short: It's a 17" version of the 15" new MacBook Pro, and you can't change the batteries. Any questions?