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New MacBook Pros: faster and with Thunderbolt I/O

Apple has unveiled a new MacBook Pro line-up, making its flagship laptops more powerful than ever before. The 13-inch model is available with dual-core Intel Core i5 or i7 processors, while the 15- and 17-inchers have Core i7s onboard.

All the machines also sport Thunderbolt I/O technology (previously codenamed Light Peak while it was being developed by Intel), come with improved graphics processors and benefit from FaceTime HD cameras.

The Thunderbolt implementation is particularly interesting, as this high-speed (up to 10gbp/s) connectivity standard may come to replace USB, FireWire and pretty much everything else. In fact, it may even offer backward compatibility, with Apple's website stating that: "you can use existing USB and FireWire peripherals - even connect toGigabit Ethernet and Fibre Channel networks - using simple adapters".

Musicians will be relieved to know that FireWire 800 and USB 2.0 ports are still onboard, though, so existing audio interfaces can just be plugged right in.

Prices start at £999 for the 13-inch MacBook Pro; £1,549 for the 15-inch; and £2,099 for the 17-inch. Here's Apple's press release.

Apple MacBook Pro update press release

Apple today updated the industry-leading MacBook Pro family with next generation processors and graphics, high-speed Thunderbolt I/O technology and a new FaceTime HD camera. Featuring the very latest dual-core and quad-core Intel Core processors, the entire MacBook Pro line is up to twice as fast as the previous generation.*

"The new MacBook Pro brings next generation dual and quad Core processors, high performance graphics, Thunderbolt technology and FaceTime HD to the great design loved by our pro customers," said Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing. "Thunderbolt is a revolutionary new I/O technology that delivers an amazing 10 gigabits per second and can support every important I/O standard which is ideal for the new MacBook Pro."

Starting at £999.00 inc VAT (£832.50 ex VAT) the new 13-inch MacBook Pro offers amazing value and performance in a compact design. The highly portable 13-inch MacBook Pro features Intel Core i5 and Core i7 dual-core processors up to 2.7 GHz and Intel HD Graphics 3000. The powerful 15-inch and 17-inch MacBook Pro models feature quad-core Core i7 processors up to 2.3 GHz and AMD Radeon HD graphics processors with up to 1GB of video memory for high performance gaming, pro video editing and graphics intensive applications.

MacBook Pro is the first computer on the market to include the groundbreaking Thunderbolt I/O technology. Developed by Intel with collaboration from Apple, Thunderbolt enables expandability never before possible on a notebook computer. Featuring two bi-directional channels with transfer speeds up to an amazing 10Gbps each, Thunderbolt delivers PCI Express directly to external high performance peripherals such as RAID arrays, and can support FireWire and USB consumer devices and Gigabit Ethernet networks via adapters. Thunderbolt also supports DisplayPort for high resolution displays and works with existing adapters for HDMI, DVI and VGA displays. Freely available for implementation on systems, cables and devices, Thunderbolt technology is expected to be widely adopted as a new standard for high performance I/O.

The MacBook Pro now includes a built-in FaceTime HD camera with triple the resolution of the previous generation for crisp, widescreen video calls. With Apple's innovative FaceTime video calling software, the new camera allows high definition video calls between all new MacBook Pro models and supports standard resolution calls with other Intel-based Macs, iPhone 4 and the current generation iPod touch. FaceTime is included with all new MacBook Pro models and is available for other Intel-based Macs from the Mac App Store for £0.59. The MacBook Pro lineup continues to feature its gorgeous aluminium unibody enclosure, glass Multi-Touch™ trackpad, LED-backlit widescreen display, illuminated full-size keyboard and 7-hour battery.**

As the industry's greenest notebook lineup, every Mac notebook achieves EPEAT Gold status and meets Energy Star 5.0 requirements, setting the standard for environmentally friendly notebook design.*** Each unibody enclosure is made of highly recyclable aluminium and comes standard with energy efficient LED-backlit displays that are mercury-free and made with arsenic-free glass. Mac notebooks contain no brominated flame retardants, are PVC-free and are constructed with recyclable materials.

Every Mac comes with Mac OS X Snow Leopard, the world's most advanced operating system, and iLife, Apple's innovative suite of applications for creating and sharing great photos, movies and music. Snow Leopard builds on more than a decade of innovation and includes multiple features for portable computing such as Multi-Touch navigation, advanced wireless networking, easy file sharing, automated data backup and intelligent power management. The new iLife '11 features iPhoto with stunning full screen views for browsing, editing and sharing photos; iMovie with powerful easy-to-use tools to transform home videos into fun theatrical trailers; and GarageBand with new ways to improve your playing and create great sounding songs.

Pricing & Availability

The new 13-inch MacBook Pro, 15-inch MacBook Pro and 17-inch MacBook Pro are available through the Apple Store (www.apple.com/uk), Apple's retail stores and Apple Authorised Resellers. The 13-inch MacBook Pro is available in two configurations: one with a 2.3 GHz Dual-Core Intel Core i5 and 320GB hard drive starting at £999.00 inc VAT (£832.50 ex VAT); and one with a 2.7 GHz Dual-Core Intel Core i5 and 500GB hard drive starting at £1299.00 inc VAT (£1082.50 ex VAT). The new 15-inch MacBook Pro is available in two models: one with a 2.0 GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i7, AMD Radeon HD 6490M and 500GB hard drive starting at £1549.00 inc VAT (£1290.83 ex VAT) and one with a 2.2 GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i7, AMD Radeon HD 6750M and 750GB hard drive starting at £1849.00 inc VAT (£1540.83 ex VAT). The new 17-inch MacBook Pro features a 2.2 GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i7, AMD Radeon HD 6750M and 750GB hard drive and is priced at £2099.00 inc VAT (£1749.17 ex VAT).

Configure-to-order options include faster quad-core processors up to 2.3 GHz, additional hard drive capacity up to 750GB, solid state storage up to 512GB, more memory up to 8GB DDR3, antiglare and high-resolution display options and AppleCare Protection Plan. Additional technical specifications and configure-to-order options and accessories are available online atwww.apple.com/uk/macbookpro.

*Testing conducted by Apple in February 2011 using preproduction MacBook Pro configurations. For more information visitwww.apple.com/uk/macbookpro/features.html.

**The new Wireless Web protocol testing was conducted by Apple in February 2011 using preproduction MacBook Pro configurations. Battery life and charge cycles vary by use and settings. For more information visitwww.apple.com/uk/macbookpro/features.html.

***EPEAT is an independent organisation that helps customers compare the environmental performance of notebooks and desktops. Products meeting all of the 23 required criteria and at least 75 percent of the optional criteria are recognised as EPEAT Gold products. The EPEAT program was conceived by the US EPA and is based on IEEE 1680 standard for Environmental Assessment of Personal Computer Products. For more information visitwww.epeat.net.

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