Apple updates MacBook Pro range

To no-one's surprise, Apple today updated MacBook Pro family with next generation processors and graphics, high-speed Thunderbolt I/O technology and a new FaceTime HD camera.

Featuring the latest dual-core and quad-core Intel 'Sandy Bridge' Core processors, Apple says the entire 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 £1,000, the 2011 13-inch MacBook Pro offers Intel Core i5 and Core i7 dual-core processors up to 2.7 GHz and Intel HD Graphics 3000. The 15-inch and 17-inch 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.

The new laptops are the first computers on the market to include Thunderbolt I/O technology, which was developed by Intel with collaboration from Apple.

Thunderbolt, which is based on Light Peak technology, features two bi-directional channels with transfer speeds up to 10Gbps each, delivering PCI Express directly to external high-performance peripherals such as RAID arrays. The technology can also support FireWire and USB consumer devices, as well as Gigabit Ethernet networks via adapters.

Thunderbolt also supports DisplayPort for high-resolution displays, and works with existing adapters for HDMI, DVI and VGA displays. It is expected to be widely adopted as a new standard for high performance I/O.

The new models all come with a built-in FaceTime HD camera with triple the resolution of the previous generation, allowing high-definition video calls between all new MacBook Pro models. The camera also 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 59p.

Despite rumours of a new MacBook Air-like design, the MacBook Pro lineup still has the same aluminium unibody enclosure, glass Multi-Touch trackpad, LED-backlit widescreen display, illuminated full-size keyboard and seven-hour battery of the previous iteration.

The 13-inch MacBook Pro is available in two configurations: one with a 2.3GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 and 320GB hard drive, starting at £999 inc VAT (£832.50 ex VAT); and one with a 2.7GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 and 500GB hard drive, starting at £1,299 inc VAT (£1,082.50 ex VAT).

The 15-inch version is available in two models: one with a 2.0GHz quad-core Intel Core i7, AMD Radeon HD 6490M graphics and 500GB hard drive, starting at £1,549 inc VAT (£1,290.83 ex VAT); and one with a 2.2GHz quad-core Intel Core i7, AMD Radeon HD 6750M graphics and 750GB hard drive, starting at £1,849 inc VAT (£1,540.83 ex VAT).

The new 17-incher features a 2.2GHz quad-core Intel Core i7, AMD Radeon HD 6750M graphics and 750GB hard drive, and is priced at £2,099 inc VAT (£1,749.17 ex VAT).

Configure-to-order options include faster quad-core processors up to 2.3GHz, additional hard drive capacity up to 750GB, solid-state storage up to 512GB, more memory up to 8GB DDR3 - and, for glossy screen haters, at last: an antiglare and high-resolution matt display option.