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Apple rumored to eventually introduce ultra-thin 15-inch notebook

post #1 of 160
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With Apple's new family of MacBook Airs gaining considerable traction in the marketplace over the past nine months, the company is believed to be working to introduce 15- and 17-inch models with a similar minimalist design to capitalize on the trend towards ultra-mobile computing.

The notebook is believed to be in the late testing stages, says a report over at MacRumors, though no further details were provided. It's therefore unclear at this time whether the device will be marketed under the MacBook Pro brand or arrive as an extension of the MacBook Air line.

A move away from the hefty, optical- and hard disk drive-equipped MacBook Pros and towards a family of notebooks based exclusively on thin, ultra-lightweight designs is something AppleInsider's sources first began alluding to back in February. At the time, the transition was expected to take between 12 to 18 months.

The latest report may suggest Apple has ambitions of easing the transition by first introducing a 15-inch MacBook Air as an intermediate step. A jump towards an ultra-thin MacBook Pro before year's end could ultimately prove burdened by too many sacrifices, given that existing technologies and componentry may not allow Apple to deliver a design as thin and lightweight as the existing Airs but powerful enough to replace the 15-inch MacBook Pro.



Nevertheless, people familiar with the matter have said that MacBook Air features such as instant-on, standard SSD drives, slimmer enclosures, and the omission of optical drives should begin making their way to the remainder of Apple's notebook offerings over the course of the next 12 months.

For its part, TUAW says it has also heard rumors of an ultra-thin 17-inch Apple notebook and believes both models could potentially turn up ahead of the holiday shopping season under the MacBook Pro moniker.
post #2 of 160
That is an AIR alternative to the current 15" machine. If done right I could see myself going that route for my next laptop upgrade. Personally I'd wait for Ivy Bridge but still a 15" AIR will be very desirable.
post #3 of 160
So the question is: will they be able to keep a dedicated gpu? If so, I'm sold.
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post #4 of 160
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smiles77 View Post

So the question is: will they be able to keep a dedicated gpu? If so, I'm sold.

With the ODD removed there is plenty of room to maneuver a dGPU. My wish is they will offer at least* a 7mm 2.5" HDD/SSD option, but will use the SSD card for fast booting.


* The 2.5" HDD/SSD space in MBPs currently support 12.5mm drives.
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post #5 of 160
An ultra thin 17" would be the killer desktop replacement.
post #6 of 160
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smiles77 View Post

So the question is: will they be able to keep a dedicated gpu? If so, I'm sold.

Agreed. It's all about the gpu.
I think the day they can market it as a true FCPX machine, it'll be the day they launch it.
post #7 of 160
Let's not forget the MBP's are 4 cores not 2 like the MBA.

Apple will not think discreet graphics are needed in an Air as long as they are selling Pro's.
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post #8 of 160
Quote:
Originally Posted by Go Banana View Post

An ultra thin 17" would be the killer desktop replacement.

If it's supposed to be a desktop replacement, why in the world would it need to be thin?!

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post #9 of 160
I have 2011 15" MBP and I would love 15" MBA, provided it can accommodate 8 GB of RAM (or 16 GB when 8 GB modules become less expensive) and offer quad-core i7.
post #10 of 160
Am I the only 1 to recognise the missing laptop from the current line up!?

"It's therefore unclear at this time wether the device will be marketed under the MacBook Pro brand or arrive as an extension of the MacBook Air line." .... How about... er, duh, it being the new "Macbook" !!??? doesn't take a genius....
post #11 of 160
I am guessing that Apple will do with the MacBook Pro what they did with the Mac mini. Remove the optical drive and offer a hard drive or SSD or both. And, make it thinner. Everything else can remain the same - dedicated GPU, super-fast processor, etc. Offer only the 13" with a built-in optical drive to differentiate it from the Air.
post #12 of 160
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

If it's supposed to be a desktop replacement, why in the world would it need to be thin?!

Big desk, low ceiling?
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post #13 of 160
if optical drive can be rid of and HD changed to SSG, the existing MBP product lines would be much much lighter already.
post #14 of 160
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

Big desk, low ceiling?

Reminds me of this.....

http://contest.newyorker.com/Caption...ate=ny-caption
post #15 of 160
I need a 1TB drive, so I hope that ssd is not the only option.
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post #16 of 160
Here's what's likely to happen based on how Apple has worked in the past:

1) The optical drive will be removed - it's a foregone conclusion at this point. The Mac Mini got rid of it, and you can't make a thinner laptop if there are already parts with pre-defined sizes like an optical drive. This leads to point #2...
2) Apple will switch from standard 2.5" sized drives to MacBook Air-style SSDs, which sit on a single piece of silicon without any extraneous housing to save space. People will definitely be kicking and screaming about this one (The good thing is that the MacBook Air probably has the easiest HD to remove based on the number of screws you have to take out).
3) FireWire 800 will be removed from the laptop completely. Few people ever use it and for those that do, I'm sure there will be a Thunderbolt->FireWire 800 adapter out by then.
4) Ethernet port will either be moved to the opposite side of the laptop or removed completely. If I had to guess, it's probably going to be the latter since Apple assumes most people use their laptop wirelessly. As an appeasement, they'll likely create their own Thunderbolt->Gigabit Ethernet adapter to prevent a huge uproar.
5) Expect USB ports on both sides because of tapering of the design.
6) Additional Thunderbolt port for 20Gbps simultaneous transfer.

Looking at this iFixIt photo, you can see that getting rid of the ODD and HDD gives you about 40% of space back:http://guide-images.ifixit.net/igi/m...nQWANeF.medium

And the current MacBook Air has batteries that go almost all the way to the tapered edge: http://guide-images.ifixit.net/igi/w...ixqZwxJ.medium

The main question is with these changes, will the internal volume of the laptop still be the same (minus HDD and ODD space) so that a) battery life doesn't decrease and b) a quad-core CPU and dedicated GPU can be cooled effectively? Will you be able to get a 3rd party SSD for greater storage? Will you still be able to add RAM yourself or are user-serviceable parts gone?

While there's no doubt that any radical change will result in much grumbling, one thing is for sure: Apple will take us into the future, regardless of the number of people who kick and scream about user-serviceable hard drives, batteries, and the need for DVDs.
post #17 of 160
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

Big desk, low ceiling?

A desktop replacing notebook doesn't necessarily have to always live on the desk. I'm just tired of dragging my 27" iMac to Panera Bread to play WoW.
post #18 of 160
Dedicated graphics + bigger screen = either bigger battery (more weight) or less battery life. And a 4-core chip probably wouldn't help battery life, either.

If they go for the 'Air' moniker, they'll go 2-core with integrated graphics and shoot for low weight.

If they go for the 'Pro' moniker, they'll go for performance, and basically you'll just get a sleeker look, but it'll essentially be a Super Drive delete and will still weigh in the high-3-pound range, maybe 4, because it'll need a big battery to power it.


All I know is that I want a matte screen Air. 13" or 15" doesn't matter.....gimme a matte screen option and I'll buy either one.
post #19 of 160
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

If it's supposed to be a desktop replacement, why in the world would it need to be thin?!

Indeed - the 17inch needs maximal power, I think it can lose the ODD without too much complaint, but there's no point trying to slim it down to Air levels if it comes at the cost of components.
post #20 of 160
Maybe this is the September "Product Transition" that Oppenheimer spoke about in the quarterly earnings report last week?
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post #21 of 160
Quote:
Originally Posted by DHagan4755 View Post

Maybe this is the September "Product Transition" that Oppenheimer spoke about in the quarterly earnings report last week?

That's iPhone 5.
post #22 of 160
The purpose of the MacBook Air is not power; it is portability. Therefore what is needed is not a heavier and larger MacBook Air, but a lighter and smaller one! For power, just get a MacBook Pro.
post #23 of 160
Quote:
Originally Posted by zunx View Post

The purpose of the MacBook Air is not power; it is portability. Therefore what is needed is not a heavier and larger MacBook Air, but a lighter and smaller one! For power, just get a MacBook Pro.

If this happens it will be because the two lines have been merged, with the existing 13inch MBP retired completely. I can see the point with the 15inch, but the 17inch it just seems daft - at that point you may as well introduce a 21 inch ultrathin for giggles
post #24 of 160
Apple has said that the Airs are the future of Mac laptops, and ultra thin Macbook Pros are a no brainer.

Also, losing the optical drive on all portable Apple products makes perfect sense. If anybody is old fashioned and still needs an optical drive for whatever reason, then just use an external drive.

SSD's are still very expensive for higher capacities, so these new Macbook Pros should be able to hold both a large traditional harddisk inside (1 terrabyte) plus a fast SSD which will be used as a boot drive.
post #25 of 160
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post

Also, losing the optical drive on all portable Apple products makes perfect sense. If anybody is old fashioned and still needs an optical drive for whatever reason, then just use an external drive.

If anyone doubts the MBP will lose the ODD they need only to look at the Mac mini which is a desktop.
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post #26 of 160
Many are assuming that the Pro and Air lines will be merged. I don't think that will happen. Both are targeted towards different (perhaps partially overlapping) market segments.

1) Air is for those who are not power users and care more about portability. Like business people and some students.

2) Pro is for those who are power users (video-editing, Photoshop, etc) who would like a somewhat lighter machine but want all the horsepower of the current Pro. Like graphic designers and scientist/engineer types.

That is why I think it makes sense for Apple to keep the two lines separate. They will most certainly remove the optical drive from the Pro, and offer a BTO option of a hard drive or SSD or both. And, make it thinner. All other components will remain similar to the current Pro - dedicated GPU, super-fast processor, etc. With better battery life perhaps.

I also think the current 13" Pro with a built-in optical drive will survive as a cheaper alternative to the 13" Air.
post #27 of 160
As much as I like the sleek and slim design of the MBA the thing that has always detered me is the lack of disk drive.
post #28 of 160
If they decide on a similar design to their current MBA's, I just don't see them being able to do much on the graphics/CPU side due to the thermal issues. The thin design leaves little room for cooling options. A quad-core CPU or big AMD graphics would not only make things hotter, but would suck the battery down quickly.

Now a current MBA in a 15" & 17" design would be nice though. If this rumor is indeed true, Apple seems to really be ramping-up their product designs and introductions. It's a great time for Apple from the looks of it.

I'm getting my new MBA by the end of the week. For my very mobile activities, the 13" is perfect. I'd love a larger screen, but in all practicality it would be too big. But I do like that option.

Maybe in another year or two I see what's going on. I did plan ahead and purchased a Thunderbolt-equipped 27" Cinema Display to go with the MBA, so that when the next breakthrough laptop comes out, I'll be ready with a big screen for it.

Go Apple!
post #29 of 160
Quote:
Originally Posted by dagamer34 View Post

Here's what's likely to happen based on how Apple has worked in the past:

1) The optical drive will be removed - it's a foregone conclusion at this point. The Mac Mini got rid of it, and you can't make a thinner laptop if there are already parts with pre-defined sizes like an optical drive. This leads to point #2...
2) Apple will switch from standard 2.5" sized drives to MacBook Air-style SSDs, which sit on a single piece of silicon without any extraneous housing to save space. People will definitely be kicking and screaming about this one (The good thing is that the MacBook Air probably has the easiest HD to remove based on the number of screws you have to take out).
3) FireWire 800 will be removed from the laptop completely. Few people ever use it and for those that do, I'm sure there will be a Thunderbolt->FireWire 800 adapter out by then.
4) Ethernet port will either be moved to the opposite side of the laptop or removed completely. If I had to guess, it's probably going to be the latter since Apple assumes most people use their laptop wirelessly. As an appeasement, they'll likely create their own Thunderbolt->Gigabit Ethernet adapter to prevent a huge uproar.

I would not buy that machine, it would suck for programmers. Keep the macbook air for the consumer market, but don't remove the ethernet port or force us to use a small hard drive on the macbook pro.
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post #30 of 160
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleGreen View Post

I am guessing that Apple will do with the MacBook Pro what they did with the Mac mini. Remove the optical drive and offer a hard drive or SSD or both. And, make it thinner. Everything else can remain the same - dedicated GPU, super-fast processor, etc. Offer only the 13" with a built-in optical drive to differentiate it from the Air.

Like others have said, the optical drive is the only big sacrafice I'd be willing to make in my MacBook Pro if Apple wanted to make it slimmer. And I even use mine from time to time, but I'm willing to use external for those times. Take out the optical, move the hard drive into that vacated space (yes, it still needs to have a hard drive, SSD won't cut it in either capacity or cost). Then they can flatten the battery and extend it across the entire front of the case. Maintaining the same battery capacity while allowing them to taper the case to be thinner at the front.

Hard drive, discrete GPU and fast CPU are a must, even if just as available options. 7D RAW files need all of that. An SSD will not make up for a weak GPU or CPU when decoding those files, not even close.

Firewire? Eh, throw in a Thunderbolt to powered FW adaptor and I'm good. You can even drop a USB port. I use use Firewire far more often. Oh, and don't drop the matte screen option!
post #31 of 160
Quote:
Originally Posted by Whozown View Post

As much as I like the sleek and slim design of the MBA the thing that has always detered me is the lack of disk drive.

Uh, which kind? The ODD or an HDD?

Because both are useless and outdated. The former can be bought externally for $30.

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post #32 of 160
It will depend on ARM / Intel. If either can make really energy efficient cool running and screaming fast CPUs, apple can certainly stuff those into a really small and elegant enclosure.
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post #33 of 160
I really like the current black glass bezel around the current MBP screen. (Or is it technically just a border?) The MBA line currently has an aluminum bezel. Not deal-breaker at all for me, but I'd prefer the black border.

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post #34 of 160
The MacBook Pros are excellent the way they are and should not be replaced.
I hope they sell these new ones as MacBook Airs options and not a replacement of the Pros.
post #35 of 160
I would sell my 15" MBP (sandybridge) for a Air with the same screen size and don't really care about quad vs. dual core....

Wish they did this months ago.

But have we not heard this all before?

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post #36 of 160
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleGreen View Post

That's iPhone 5.

That's what I initially thought too. It just struck me that it might be this because of the rumors that it's in the late stages.

If anyone doubts that the optical drive is gone from the next MacBook Pro, go back to Saturn. I received a new 17" MacBook Pro yesterday (at work) — it had shipped directly from assembly in China — and there were NO optical restore discs included in the box. It came with Lion pre-installed, Lion was actually the desktop pattern on the MacBook Pro image on the box. It boots off the Internet to download its OS if it can't find one. Also, the keyboard layout has changed slightly; the Dashboard key has been supplanted with a Launchpad key. All very much the same as the new MacBook Airs. It makes me wonder on the timing of this new rumor given that Apple has essentially gone through the effort of altering its keyboards for new Lion features on existing models (who knows how complicated this is to change) & adjusting firmware settings to boot off the Internet.

I don't see Apple going too much thinner on the Pro. You're not going to be able to have quad-core processors and AMD graphics in anything much thinner. My testing of the newest 17" MacBook Pro was good; it didn't get that hot. It was mildly warm.

I can't see eliminating Ethernet. That would be a huge mistake. Firewire 800, yes. Ethernet, no. They'll probably be able to retain an Ethernet port by tapering the new Pro design similar to the Air, moving some ports, like USB and Thunderbolt, to the right-hand side, where the optical drive once was. Removing the optical drive should allow them to shave some heft off the overall design, and move some of that battery into the area obviously once occupied by the optical drive.

Also removing that optical drive might help the 13-inch Pro get the same level of graphics capabilities that the bigger models have had all along. That would be a huge differentiating factor between it & the Air.

I could see Apple doing a split storage scenario where they offer the blade flash storage like the Air with the option of an additional traditional hard drive for those that need more storage. This would align it similar to the new mini. However, if that was the way Apple was going, why didn't they put that feature in the newly released mini too?

This rumor could be just an expansion of the MacBook Air line. I've been thinking for awhile that Apple needs thinner Air-like versions of the 15- and 17-inch models. Now that the Airs have apparently taken off, I think this will differentiate the lines much more so than the white MacBook ever did. I know a lot of people that like thinness of the Air but want a larger screen. A lot of people want larger displays but don't require or need all of the power that the MacBook Pro offers.
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post #37 of 160
Quote:
Originally Posted by 8CoreWhore View Post

Let's not forget the MBP's are 4 cores not 2 like the MBA.

Actually, the new MacBook Airs that were just released are quad core machines.
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post #38 of 160
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post

Apple has said that the Airs are the future of Mac laptops, and ultra thin Macbook Pros are a no brainer.

Also, losing the optical drive on all portable Apple products makes perfect sense. If anybody is old fashioned and still needs an optical drive for whatever reason, then just use an external drive.

SSD's are still very expensive for higher capacities, so these new Macbook Pros should be able to hold both a large traditional harddisk inside (1 terrabyte) plus a fast SSD which will be used as a boot drive.

Exactly, not even sure why this is a rumor.


...sources said that senior executives including steve jobs said when pointing to a MBA 'this is the future'. Clearly more evidence that all apple portable will take their design from it's thin styling.
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post #39 of 160
Shouldn't this news be filed under "Duh."?

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post #40 of 160
I would replace me MBP CD in a heartbeat for a 15" MBA with a high-res screen. Gimme 8-hr battery life and I'm in.
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