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Leaks: whole MacBook Pro line to drop optical drives

updated 02:05 pm EST, Fri February 10, 2012

MacBook Pro expected to slim across the line

On and off rumors of a major MacBook Pro redesign were supported on Friday with leaks supporting a complete overhaul. The AppleInsider hints had Apple's high-end notebooks being overhauled over the course of 2012 to more closely resemble the MacBook Air, dropping optical drives and slimming down. Rumors of a 15-inch Air were more likely references to Apple repeating what it did with the unibody MacBook Pro, where the 15-inch model led the redesign and other sizes followed later.

"They're all going to look like MacBook Airs," a person slipping out information said.

What would be included in the hardware wasn't detailed, although the Pro designation likely means they would still focus on full-power mobile processors and include more expansion than the current MacBook Air roster. The Mac App Store, an overall swing towards downloads and network sharing, and all-encompassing expansion like Thunderbolt has helped reduce the need for optical drives. Going to solid-state drives alone may be impractical given the high prices of 480GB and larger versions, and may instead see Apple either use hybrid hard drives or a small SSD boot drive with a second, rotating drive.

Apple is near-certain to be waiting on Intel's Ivy Bridge (third-generation Core) processor line and may make the signature feature a 2880x1440 display. Code for high-density display support has been slipping into more recent Lion betas.

Other companies slimming down their systems have been leaning in Apple's direction with systems like the Acer Timeline Ultra hoping to straddle the gap between ultrabooks and regular notebooks. Most are still hesitant to truly drop optical drives, however, and will still often have heavier and sometimes slower notebooks. A slim 15-inch MacBook Pro could be one of the lightest full-speed notebooks.

by MacNN Staff



  1. Grendelmon

    Joined: Dec 1969



    No optical drive = No "Pro" classification

  1. Arty50

    Joined: Dec 1969


    I really hope this is just a rumor

    Dropping optical drives would be really stupid. I still cart DVDs with me when I travel with my work laptop. I know a lot of people that watch movies on their laptops and ditching the optical drive would hinder this quite a bit. Let's face it, thanks to the DMCA, ripping movies hasn't reached the masses. So most a still reliant on physical media for movie watching needs.

    Comment buried. Show
  1. DaJoNel

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Apple Innovates

    They should find a way to slim down their laptops and speed them up while keeping the optical drive.

  1. bjojade

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Keep the floppy!

    Apple has kept the optical drive around for a long time. Back when Apple removed the floppy drive, it seemed way ahead of its time to do that because it was rare to use the internet to transfer files, and everyone put stuff on floppy drives. Many people bought external floppy drives because of that.

    With optical drives, however, the percentage of people that actually do use the drive on a regular basis is much smaller. With digital distribution of everything, the need for the drive is near zero for most users. The clear exception is DVD movies, which cannot be easily ripped into the computer. Of course, Apple has a solution for that, and that's to get your movies from iTunes. Sucks for those that have a large DVD collection, but it's a solution.

    Of course, there are ways to import your DVDs into your computer so you have them with you when you travel. Get an external drive and do that at home, then carry a lighter laptop when you travel.

  1. Flying Meat

    Joined: Dec 1969


    While I would be bummed

    to be without the optical drive, I can certainly work around it. That isn't to say everyone can, just that I can.
    Drive sharing is an option, as well as acquiring an external. Externals can be had for less that 50 bucks. Some of those have lots of customer reviews but maintain a high rating...

  1. stefbystef

    Joined: Dec 1969


    After all these years...

    I find myself using the DVD drive rarely.

  1. Norrin Radd

    Joined: Dec 1969


    No kidding....

    Why is anyone surprised? Apple is always at the forefront of culling soon to be old and non-effecient technology. Look, the MBA was sort of the test model for this whole idea. It's been coming for a while. The only issue I see is storage - especially for those who want their DVD rips on their laptops. I hope they can load up on SSDs inside and give me a TB of storage at the current prices. If so, sign me up! An external at home/office for ripping is perfect, IMO.

  1. Droid-Fan

    Joined: Dec 1969


    If they do axe the optical drive,

    How would you read, install, write content to/from cd or dvd? Carry an external drive and cables everywhere you go? That could get very inconvenient.

  1. qazwart

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Not this year...

    No surprise that Apple will merge the Air line and the Pro lines. After all, the main difference is the DVD drive, and from what I've seen, most people simply don't use it. In fact, the Air line is really an all out best seller despite the smaller storage, smaller screen, higher price, and slower processors. Add an extra port or two and juice up the processor speed, and you'll have a machine that's equivalent to the MacBook Pro sans DVD drive. No surprise that's where Apple is heading.

    The only thing holding up merging the Air and Pro lines is the SSD drives. Apple isn't going with dual SSD/platter drives. That's just silly. However, prices of SSD units are dropping. 500Gb is now less than $700. If the price drops to the $200-$250 range, Apple will make its move.

    It's not going to happen this year, but next 2013 looks quite promising. Which is good because it gives me a whole year to think of an excuse I can give my wife why I need a new MacBook Air/Pro.

  1. Zanziboy

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Dual HD/SSD? Yes!

    The SSD for a system disk is the architecture of the future. I don't believe high performance 750GB and 1TB SSD drive sizes will be economical for large scale laptop production within the next 3 years. However, using a hybrid storage model makes sense not only for laptops, but iMacs and MacPros as well.

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