Apple rumored to be testing new, ultra-thin MacBook Pro

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Apple rumors on the Web seem to be never-ending and the latest speculation kicks around the idea that a MacBook Pro laptop that’s as thin as a MacBook Air is being tested in Cupertino, Calif. got this string started Tuesday with a report that it ‘has learned’ from unnamed sources that Apple was working on an ultra-thin laptop with a 15-inch screen. Currently, the MacBook Air laptops come with 11-inch or 13-inch displays.


‘We aren’t certain if it will be called a MacBook Air or MacBook Pro, but we do know that it is already in late testing stages at Apple,’ MacRumors said in its report. ‘Many now expect that Apple’s design choices in the Air will eventually make their way to the MacBook Pro product, with the use of integrated SSD and lack of optical drive being the most notable changes allowing for such a thin design. While we don’t know for a fact, we expect that any future ‘ultra thin’ laptop from Apple will also dispense with a built-in optical drive.’

The rumor-centric blog says that Apple probably would introduce such a lightweight laptop late this year, at the earliest. TUAW, another Apple-focused blog, followed MacRumors with a report of its own that a thin and light MacBook Pro-sized laptop was on the way in both 15-inch and 17-inch screen sizes.

Apple officials weren’t available for comment Wednesday morning, but the company does has a longstanding policy of not commenting on rumors.

One aspect that isn’t in question is Apple’s push to do what it can to wean the world off of optical drives, CDs and DVDs by removing optical drives from its computers.

Last week it released a new optical-drive-free Mac mini desktop computer and by killing off the entry-level MacBook laptop, thus moving the MacBook Air into the entry-level spot.

The move is a bit of a self-serving one, as abandoning disc formats for digital ones benefits firms such as Apple that sell digital music, movies, apps and other Web-delivered content.


But while it is clear that digital formats and optical-drive-free computers are the future for Apple (it sold 1 million downloads of Mac OS X Lion in just 24 hours) and very likely the rest of the computer industry, eventually, removing an optical drive from a ‘pro’-level Apple computer this year seems a bit premature.

The move to remove such drives that took place last week in Apple’s lower-level consumer computers has essentially divided its machines into two classes.

If you want an Apple computer and don’t care about an optical drive, there are lower-cost options like the iPad, the Mac mini and the MacBook Air.

If optical drives are important to you -- as they are to many creative professionals who use and in many cases covet Apple’s computers -- then the higher-priced MacBook Pro, iMac and Mac Pro computers are available. Or you could just buy an external optical drive for the driveless-computers (this, of course isn’t an option with the iPad).

All that being said, Apple does make decisions that many others might think are ahead of their time (or even just plain crazy), such as removing optical drives, ditching floppy discs before others and even simply releasing Final Cut Pro X without many features pro editors simply must have (and then promising to add them back ... some day).

What do you, dear readers, think?

Would Apple be wise to replace the current MacBook Pro with thinner, lighter models, free of optical drives? Or should Apple simply leave the DVD-drives in the MacBook Pro laptops and add a counterpart MacBook Air in 15-inch and 17-inch screen sizes?


Sound off in the comments.


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-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles