Pre-Macworld buzz suggested that both a new Mac Mini and a 17-inch unibody MacBook Pro laptop were in the offing from Apple Tuesday on the hardware front.
It seems that the moldy old Mac Mini will stick around for at least a little longer, but the 17-inch MacBook Pro did indeed receive an update to the new all-aluminum chassis Apple debuted on its smaller 13-inch MacBook and 15-inch MacBook Pro this past October.
Along with the new chassis, an improved display, and a glass trackpad (all things we've seen before), Apple has brought a few other changes to its highest-end laptop:
Glossy and matte display options
The new 15-inch MacBook Pro came with a glossy screen that many people found too reflective. Apple will now offer a $50 matte finish option for the 17-inch MacBook Pro, for those who'd rather do without all of that extra light. We're happy about this option, and we expect that many others will be as well.
Integrated battery design
Similar to the MacBook Air, the battery in the new MacBook Pro is non-user-accessible. Cited benefits include space savings, a new "adaptive" recharging technology, eight hours of battery life, and up to 1,000 recharges, which Apple says is three times the industry standard.
We can't vouch for the battery life without testing, but as we mentioned in our review of the MacBook Air, if you can't swap the battery out, you can't pop in a spare for extended use. If Apple's eight-hour claim holds up, that's closer to a full day of work than the five-ish hours you get from the MacBook Air, but you'll still run out of juice on longer flights.
New hardware, same price
Like the old 17-inch MacBook Pro, the new model will also cost $2,799. For that price, you get 4GB of RAM, a 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo CPU (not a quad-core chip, as some speculated), a 320GB hard drive, and both integrated and discrete Nvidia graphics chips that can work in tandem when the graphics tasks become more demanding.
That's a faster CPU, more hard drive space, and a better GPU solution than the older model, for the same price. Upgrade options get you up to 8GB of RAM ($1,200), a 256GB solid-state hard drive ($900), and a faster (though still dual-core) 2.93GHz CPU ($300).
Apple is currently taking preorders for the new 17-inch MacBook Pro, and it indicates three to four weeks for shipping. With luck, we'll have our full review posted in the meantime.