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First look: unibody 17" MacBook Pro (with photos and video)

post #1 of 89
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It was no surprise to see a unibody refresh of the 17" MacBook Pro; many wondered why the model wasn't included with the 13" MacBook and 15" MacBook Pro released last fall. Apple's belated high end notebook refresh did give Phil Schiller "one more thing" to introduce in his keynote however.

Apart from the new full sized notebook, Schiller's presentation was entirely about software, mainly the new iLife 09 and iWork 09 suites, and changes related to the iTunes Store, including variable pricing, DRM-free music, and 3G mobile downloads for the iPhone.

After talking at great length about the new software titles, Schiller noted "one more thing," a refresh that clothed the existing 17" "Al-Book" model in the new unibody industrial dress first appeared on the MacBook Air at last year's Macworld Expo, and which was adapted to the full size 13" MacBook and 15" MacBook Pro last fall.







While very similar in appearance and features to the 15" Pro model, the new 17" notebook boasts a new high density, integrated (non-removable) battery and unique options for a matte finish screen and a 256GB flash RAM SDD alternative to its conventional 320GB hard drive.







Apple only had two 17" models on display on the Macworld Expo show floor, next to a series of 15" MacBook Pros, 13" MacBooks, and MacBook Airs. As depicted in this video, the new 17" model is so similar to the 15" that it is difficult to distinguish between them unless they are right next to each other.



The 15" MacBook Pro was slightly larger than previous 15" models, but the new 17" isn't really; it's only slightly more than an inch wider overall; 15.47 inches (39.3 cm) wide compared to the 14.35 inches (36.4 cm) of the 15" model. It also weights just over a pound more: 6.6 pounds (2.99 kg) rather than 5.5 pounds (2.49 kg). It's also only slightly thicker: 0.98 inch (2.50 cm) versus 0.95 inch (2.41 cm).

Part of the compact outline of the 17" model relates to its built-in, 95 watt-hour lithium polymer battery, which Phil Schiller noted in his Macworld keynote address as being more compact due to a manufacturing process proprietary to Apple that results in a battery pack that not only consumes less space but also lasts three times longer and provides up to 8 hours of battery use on a charge. The removable battery pack used in the unibody 15" model is only rated for a maximum of 5 hours.





Lacking a battery latching mechanism and any provision for a removable cover for battery access allows Apple to pack the internals tighter, as it did with the MacBook Air. The new 17" MacBook Pro has no access covers on the back at all, so opening the machine to swap out its hard drive, RAM or battery module requires removing screws on the back plate. Having FW800 helps to alleviate the need to access the hard drive for most purposes outside of hardware problems.



The only difference in available ports compared to the 15" model is the addition of an extra, third USB 2.0 jack, afforded by the 17" model's extra two centimeters of depth: 10.51 inches (26.7 cm) compared to 9.82 inches (24.9 cm) of side real estate on the 15" Pro.




The larger model supports 8GB of RAM, compared to the 4GB limit on the 15" Pro, although both ship in the standard configuration with 4GB. It also uses the same 320GB hard drive, but is slightly faster at 2.66GHz versus the 15" model's standard 2.53GHz Intel Core Duo processor. There is also an option for a 2.93GHz processor.

The larger notebook also uses the same NVIDIA GeForce 9600M GT graphics processor with 512MB of dedicated GDDR3 memory as the 15" model, with the same option of using the lower powered, integrated NVIDIA GeForce 9400M graphics processor, which shares 256MB of the unit's installed DDR3 SDRAM system memory.



With the arrival of the top of the line, refreshed 17" MacBook Pro, Apple has converted its entire line of notebooks to the unibody design, apart from the low end white plastic MacBook the company continues to sell in order to have a model under $1000. Other hardware, including the expected new Mac mini and iMac, will undoubtedly be unveiled shortly at a separate Apple Event.
post #2 of 89
Has Apple officially indicated whether or not the internal hard drive can be upgraded by an end-user without violating their warranty?
post #3 of 89
Quote:
Originally Posted by heaven or las vegas View Post

Has Apple officially indicated whether or not the internal hard drive can be upgraded by an end-user without violating their warranty?

I was wondering the same thing also upgrading the ram?
post #4 of 89
Quote:
I was wondering the same thing– also upgrading the ram?

Upgrading the ram shouldn't be a problem, but upgrading the internal hard drive need to be asked, maybe if its done by people at the Apple Store it should be okay?
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post #5 of 89
It's an expensive little monkey! Inflation in action. But very fully featured for those who need it.
post #6 of 89
Quote:
Originally Posted by ascii View Post

It's an expensive little monkey! Inflation in action. But very fully featured for those who need it.

Hasn't the 17" model been around that price all along?
post #7 of 89
This is what the internals look like:




It looks like access to the HD will be easy once you get past the bottom panel.
post #8 of 89
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Having FW800 helps to alleviate the need to access the hard drive for most purposes outside of hardware problems.

WTF ???

What on earth does having a FW800 port have ANYTHING to do with the need to access your hard drive?

I'll tell you what. NOTHING.

On a side not, they are making a frickin MINT on these things. They have a license to print money. Money from dumb people.
post #9 of 89
Quote:
Originally Posted by Outsider View Post

This is what the internals look like:




It looks like access to the HD will be easy once you get past the bottom panel.

If you ask me, these are a vast improvement over the older laptops like the PBG4. Sure the battery was easy to get out and the RAM only took 4 screws, but anything past that was a HUGE PIA, requiring tens of screws and complicated disassembly procedure. These just have a few screws on the bottom panel and you can access battery, harddrive, RAM, optical drive and even motherboard components. Sure it's harder to access the battery, but given the extended life and easy access to everything after removing just the bottom panel, I call that a win.

Of course a comparison with the old Macbooks, w/ easy removal of RAM and harddrive from the battery compartment might be less favorable, but I still think its competitive and a reasonable compromise.
post #10 of 89
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dueces View Post

WTF ???

What on earth does having a FW800 port have ANYTHING to do with the need to access your hard drive?

I'll tell you what. NOTHING.

On a side not, they are making a frickin MINT on these things. They have a license to print money. Money from dumb people.

You and the commenter above are making yourselves look stupid by making comments without knowing what you're talking about. These are exactly the same price as the previous 17" base model, and that price hasn't changed for years.
post #11 of 89
Quote:
Originally Posted by Outsider View Post

This is what the internals look like:




It looks like access to the HD will be easy once you get past the bottom panel.

This is when all other computer companies throw up a little, then cry for an hour. =) Great shot. Amazing work from Apple.
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post #12 of 89
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dueces View Post

On a side not, they are making a frickin MINT on these things. They have a license to print money. Money from dumb people.

Damn, those frickin' dumb people get all the nice toys.

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post #13 of 89
Quote:
Originally Posted by Outsider View Post

This is what the internals look like:




It looks like access to the HD will be easy once you get past the bottom panel.

Yes it does so servicing the machine should in general be a lot easier.

Also does anybody know if the CD drive is SATA? I could see many people replacing that quickly with another disk drive. Right at the moment I'm trying to figure out if it is the right thing to do on my old MBP. It certainly will be harder to get into the old machine.

Much as I would like to buy this 17" machine I just don't see it happening this year.


Dave
post #14 of 89
Quote:
Originally Posted by iVlad View Post

This is when all other computer companies throw up a little, then cry for an hour. =) Great shot. Amazing work from Apple.

Exactly! As someone who's worked in product design and prototyping of electro-mechanical systems, the beauty of this design almost makes me choke up a little. I think these latest notebooks have increased overall accessibility of Apple notebooks a lot, even if its at the expense of access to some components and when you consider the overall size of these machines, it's pretty incredible.

Of course you can find POS Dells and Acers with little doors on the back to access everything in the machine. That's nice, but it comes at the expense of a monster of a laptop, compared to these beauties, so no dice.

Alright, I'm going to stop waxing poetic about Apples design now
post #15 of 89
The battery has me puzzled. But first let me say I'm not at all opposed to it's "internal" nature. In fact the pic above that shows the internal is a revelation.

What I'm puzzled by is the claim that the battery is propritary to Apple and is a Lithium chemistery. The first thing is that I didn't know that Apple was in the battery business or for that matter had chemist on the pay roll. The obvious question is this, who is really behind the battery and how long is the deal with Apple. I'm also wondering about the batteries safety, lithium chemisteries don't have a good history and increasing the power density would seem to be an issue. Hopefully one of the big news organizations will be able to pump Apple for info.

On another note this looks like one heck of an evolution of the MBP. Everything indicates a nicely done machine.


Dave
post #16 of 89
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

Hasn't the 17" model been around that price all along?

Exactly. Mindboggling how so many people here can complain about the price when they suddenly get a siginificantly improved MBP 17 today than they did for the same money yesterday.

All the bitching about the new MBP seem to be by people who can't afford one anyway. Luckily for you Apple has a broad consumer grade product line that fits perfectly with smaller budgets.


BTW, when could the second rev's of the MBP 17" be expected?
post #17 of 89
Awesome. I've had my 17" MBP for just over 2 years and have never had a need to touch the battery. I updated the RAM to 3gb no problem but I do wish I could update the hard disk without having to take the whole thing apart!

So despite being non-removable, the fact the battery is larger and has a longer life is great!

It's been decided now that my next machine will be rev.B of this with the largest SSD and matte screen. That will hopefully be Q4 before my AppleCare runs out.
post #18 of 89
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

The battery has me puzzled. But first let me say I'm not at all opposed to it's "internal" nature. In fact the pic above that shows the internal is a revelation.

What I'm puzzled by is the claim that the battery is propritary to Apple and is a Lithium chemistery. The first thing is that I didn't know that Apple was in the battery business or for that matter had chemist on the pay roll. The obvious question is this, who is really behind the battery and how long is the deal with Apple. I'm also wondering about the batteries safety, lithium chemisteries don't have a good history and increasing the power density would seem to be an issue. Hopefully one of the big news organizations will be able to pump Apple for info.

On another note this looks like one heck of an evolution of the MBP. Everything indicates a nicely done machine.


Dave

<this part deleted> I'm not a big fan of internal batteries myself but that's just me, when I don't need battery power, I usually leave the battery out of the laptop to conserve the life the battery and plop 'er in when I need battery power.
post #19 of 89
I really wish Apple had used the extra space in the 17" to put a USB port on the right/optical drive side of the case. The USB ports clumbed all on the left side are sometimes too close together for things like thumb drives.
post #20 of 89
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

The battery has me puzzled. But first let me say I'm not at all opposed to it's "internal" nature. In fact the pic above that shows the internal is a revelation.

What I'm puzzled by is the claim that the battery is propritary to Apple and is a Lithium chemistery. The first thing is that I didn't know that Apple was in the battery business or for that matter had chemist on the pay roll. The obvious question is this, who is really behind the battery and how long is the deal with Apple. I'm also wondering about the batteries safety, lithium chemisteries don't have a good history and increasing the power density would seem to be an issue. Hopefully one of the big news organizations will be able to pump Apple for info.

On another note this looks like one heck of an evolution of the MBP. Everything indicates a nicely done machine.


Dave

What they claim is proprietary is how they manufacture the battery unit. That is what allow Apple to make "bigger capacity" batteries in more compact size and form.
post #21 of 89
Looks hot.
Too bad it's a disposable piece of crap.
They need to tout "green" because it will be in the landfill pretty fast.
These types of 'built in obsolescence' practices sure worked wonders for the big 3 didn't they... reduced to beggars pleading for corporate welfare.

This business plan will not work.
They are building fringe products for a boutique market, lacking the innovation to stand above the competition. This trend had better end with this latest failure.

The question is... can OSX carry the follies of Apple's hardware practices?

I have already sent out a 'do not buy' to my clients.

My advise to investors
Sell Sell Sell...

Glad I did at $183.20, so are my clients.
post #22 of 89
Quote:
Originally Posted by wuwwla View Post

Exactly. Mindboggling how so many people here can complain about the price when they suddenly get a siginificantly improved MBP 17 today than they did for the same money yesterday.

All the bitching about the new MBP seem to be by people who can't afford one anyway. Luckily for you Apple has a broad consumer grade product line that fits perfectly with smaller budgets.


BTW, when could the second rev's of the MBP 17" be expected?

Used to. The 17" used to be 2,499 (G4 only at that time) while 15" (G4) is 1999 and 12" is 1499 too. Amazing, is it? :P

I really like the new MBP 17" a lot but I have the new 15" MBP already. Love it anyway
post #23 of 89
You know, I hope Apple goes with "sealed but easy to open" configuration for all their laptops. For that matter, I wish they could do it for the Mini and iMac. After all, you don't need to access the internals very often for things like adding ram, swapping the HD or replacing the battery. Probably once in the life of the average machine, if that.

So by making the entire bottom plate come off with a bunch of little screws, you're actually much better off than the old hatch system, in that it takes a little more time to open but you have access to everything in there once you do. Certainly this beats the shit out of the old MacBook system of pulling little side panels off the battery compartment.

Come to think of it, where is all the bitching and moaning about how insane it is for Apple to make a laptop with a non-user replaceable battery, how Steve's control-freakish ways have really jumped the shark this time, etc.?
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post #24 of 89
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

Hasn't the 17" model been around that price all along?

yep. the high end one was up around about there. but would you rather that they raised the price when they improved the insides.

my guess is that the delay was due to the battery. the 17in is more a professional prosumer model and for that crowd, battery life can be a major issue.

I was still rather disappointed that they didn't revamp the imacs at the same time. swap the graphics to match the macbook set up, add a display port/mini display along with the dvi/mini dvi (forget which is on the imac), perhaps bump the ram on the top model to 4gb standard instead of two. wouldn't be a huge change but it would be something.
post #25 of 89
It's a nice looking machine with good performance, but I wouldn't call it "Pro". I've been waiting for this update and I'm not that impressed, though I am glad that they finally lifted the RAM(!). I'm sure 8GB requires 2x4GB which are expensive, but the option is nice.

A competing model from Dell (Precision, totally different than their consumer junk) I've been looking at has:

- Intel quad-core CPU
- professional nVidia Quadro GPU
- supports 4x4GB = 16GB RAM
- dual HDD/SSD in RAID, Blu-ray burners
- 7200RPM harddrive standard
post #26 of 89
Yes, it's a lot of $ for this MBP, but what else is comparable out there? And if there is something comparable, how much is it?

- up to 8GB of RAM?
- up to 2.9 GHz Core 2? (though I wish they had a Quad Core option)
- up to 250SSD?
- 8hrs battery life?
- similar slim size, form factor
post #27 of 89
Apple intros a $2800 laptop in the worst recession in 100 years? It's like Detroit coming out with mega SUVs as gas prices top $4.00/gallon.

Focus should be on minis, tablets and iPhone nano.
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post #28 of 89
Only the rich can afford it- YAWN.
post #29 of 89
Quote:
Originally Posted by charlituna View Post

yep. the high end one was up around about there. but would you rather that they raised the price when they improved the insides.

I don't know what you mean. I'm not saying that I wouldn't like to see a lower price. I'm certainly not saying it should be more expensive. I'm just saying that's the way it was, despite someone's impression that they were cheaper before. I think the final PPC version was cheaper, but I think that's in part because the processor was getting pretty old without much for an update.

Quote:
I was still rather disappointed that they didn't revamp the imacs at the same time. swap the graphics to match the macbook set up, add a display port/mini display along with the dvi/mini dvi (forget which is on the imac), perhaps bump the ram on the top model to 4gb standard instead of two. wouldn't be a huge change but it would be something.

I don't think an updated iMac is too far away.
post #30 of 89
Quote:
Originally Posted by joe in miami View Post

Apple intros a $2800 laptop in the worst recession in 100 years? It's like Detroit coming out with mega SUVs as gas prices top $4.00/gallon.

Focus should be on minis, tablets and iPhone nano.

Worst recession in 100 years? Don't write stupid BS. Your hyperbole is self-discrediting.

Besides, if you want to flog the tired automotive analogies, Apple is more of an Aston-Martin company.

This is a replacement of a model that *surprise* also had the same price. It's not really an introduction of a new model.

I can't believe you put tablets in there either, tablet computers are a more expensive feature that hasn't found uses outside of small niches yet. So far, no computer maker has been able to make tablets stick. I think Apple may well be working on them, once they find a compelling use for one for broad consumer use, then they'll get it going. Not before, otherwise it's a waste of development resources.

I don't know if focusing on minis would really solve anything if it's really a 100 year recession, because if it's really that bad, people aren't going to be replacing their computers at all if they don't really have to.
post #31 of 89
Quote:
Originally Posted by Outsider View Post

This is what the internals look like:




It looks like access to the HD will be easy once you get past the bottom panel.

Bottom Panel....9 screws...cakewalk.
post #32 of 89
Quote:
Originally Posted by joe in miami View Post

Apple intros a $2800 laptop in the worst recession in 100 years? It's like Detroit coming out with mega SUVs as gas prices top $4.00/gallon.

Focus should be on minis, tablets and iPhone nano.

Worst recession since the Carter Administration, maybe, certainly not on the last 100 years, or have you forgotten the stock market crash of 1929?

And Detroit came out with their "Mega SUVs" when gas was $1.50 a gallon, due to the consumer demand.

Why would they want to focus on products that cost relatively more for less functionality?

post #33 of 89
Quote:
Originally Posted by winterspan View Post

It's a nice looking machine with good performance, but I wouldn't call it "Pro". I've been waiting for this update and I'm not that impressed, though I am glad that they finally lifted the RAM(!). I'm sure 8GB requires 2x4GB which are expensive, but the option is nice.

A competing model from Dell (Precision, totally different than their consumer junk) I've been looking at has:

- Intel quad-core CPU
- professional nVidia Quadro GPU
- supports 4x4GB = 16GB RAM
- dual HDD/SSD in RAID, Blu-ray burners
- 7200RPM harddrive standard

Yeah, and it only costs $1000 more. Weighs a whole 3 pounds more, requires a massive 210 Watt AC Adapter and gets a whopping 2 hours of battery life. Not to mention many of the reviews I've read say it is pretty unstable, and it is considered a Mobile Workstation, and NOT a Notebook, so it is NOT a competing model.
post #34 of 89
Quote:
Originally Posted by rain View Post

Looks hot.
Too bad it's a disposable piece of crap.
They need to tout "green" because it will be in the landfill pretty fast.

I don't see why you say it's disposable. Care to back that up? If it's about the battery, it looks like the battery is replaceable by anyone that can competently turn a screwdriver, or replaced by Apple for about the cost that they charged for a replacement battery for the previous model.
post #35 of 89
Is the photo real? I thought it was just a 'cut-away' view when I first saw it. Since it's unibody, the entire sides and bottom are one piece, if you took off the bottom, all the components would have to be attached to the top. Somebody who has taken apart a 15" should know the answer to this...

Can somebody at the show ask why they didn't use the quad-core - was it heat or power or cost - I'd love to know.... Or is it gonna just rock so much with Snow Leopard and two graphics cards that you won't care...

Does the matte option have glass? Or is it just like the current model, glassless...

The price is not an issue for someone like me who makes a living doing video and animation. You can literally pay for the machine with one project - and the liberation you get from being able to work from anywhere is priceless. You will pay almost anything for the fastest machine out there...

And Rain, you must be part of a sinister plot by Microsoft....
post #36 of 89
Quote:
Originally Posted by vance1958 View Post

Is the photo real? I thought it was just a 'cut-away' view when I first saw it. Since it's unibody, the entire sides and bottom are one piece, if you took off the bottom, all the components would have to be attached to the top. Somebody who has taken apart a 15" should know the answer to this...

Yeah, the pic is real. Check out the iFixit guide for the 15". The unibody actually has the sides and entire top as one piece and the bottom cover separate. All the pieces are attached to the top/sides.

Quote:
Does the matte option have glass? Or is it just like the current model, glassless...

I believe Phil mentioned in the Keynote that they remove the glass and replace it with a bezel like in the old model, so I'm pretty sure the matte option is glassless.

Quote:
And Rain, you must be part of a sinister plot by Microsoft....

Seriously! He's posting in every thread about how everyone should be dumping Apple stock. \
post #37 of 89
Quote:
Originally Posted by meelash View Post

Yeah, the pic is real. Check out the iFixit guide for the 15". The unibody actually has the sides and entire top as one piece and the bottom cover separate. All the pieces are attached to the top/sides.

I believe Phil mentioned in the Keynote that they remove the glass and replace it with a bezel like in the old model, so I'm pretty sure the matte option is glassless.

Seriously! He's posting in every thread about how everyone should be dumping Apple stock. \

cool - thanks!

Glassless would make sense to me, an Apple store Genius told me it was about accurate color calibration, and that you couldn't do perfect calibration through glass...

Nobody has mentioned that it also has a faster system bus than the current 17" - I ordered it!
post #38 of 89
is the lcd screen floppy like on the 15" or have they tightened up the screws a bit?
post #39 of 89
Quote:
Originally Posted by rain View Post

Looks hot.
Too bad it's a disposable piece of crap.
They need to tout "green" because it will be in the landfill pretty fast.
These types of 'built in obsolescence' practices sure worked wonders for the big 3 didn't they... reduced to beggars pleading for corporate welfare.

This business plan will not work.
They are building fringe products for a boutique market, lacking the innovation to stand above the competition. This trend had better end with this latest failure.

The question is... can OSX carry the follies of Apple's hardware practices?

I have already sent out a 'do not buy' to my clients.

My advise to investors
Sell Sell Sell...

Glad I did at $183.20, so are my clients.

by any chance, are you funding psystar's lawsuit? just wondering ...
post #40 of 89
Hey, with Obama getting all of us tax breaks, why not get a new MacBook Pro? Mine will be replacing 10 year old B&W G3, version A. You don't see me crying and moaning about the cost, architecture, engineering etc. I am just happy I am getting a new computer and don't have to type on an IBM/Lenovo ThinkPad anymore.

If you can't afford it, move on and stop your bitchin'
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