Apple klaxon! iWooga! Apple's new MacBook Pro range shows off a brand-new, super-speedy method of connecting your laptop to other devices: Thunderbolt.

Thunderbolt is a new type of slot on the side of each MacBook Pro, alongside the USB, Ethernet and FireWire sockets, for connecting your laptop to displays and devices. It was developed by Intel with the code name Light Peak.

Thunderbolt from the blue

Thunderbolt offers two bi-directional channels that transfer data at a whopping 10Gb per second. That means that high-performance peripherals such as RAID arrays will talk to your MacBook Pro at super-fast speeds. It delivers a respectable 10W of power, and can daisy-chain up to six peripherals.

Infuriatingly, Apple still hasn't delivered an HDMI connection to wire your laptop directly to your high-definition television. But monitors and TVs can be connected to the Thunderbolt port as it's the same shape as DisplayPort, and will work with DisplayPort adaptors for HDMI, DVI and VGA displays. New adaptors are required to connect Ethernet, FireWire and USB devices via Thunderbolt.

The line-up

Pay attention: here come the numbers. The new models start at £999 for a 13-inch MacBook Pro, boasting an Intel Core i5 processor clocked at 2.7GHz with a 320GB hard drive. The next option is a 2.7GHz i5 and 500GB hard drive for £1,299.

The new 15-inch and 17-inch MacBook Pro models pack quad-core Core i7 processors up to 2.3 GHz, with AMD Radeon HD graphics processors and up to 1GB of video memory. The 15-inch costs £1,549 for a 2.0GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 chip, AMD Radeon HD 6490M graphics and 500GB hard drive. A 2.2GHz Core i7 processor, AMD Radeon HD 6750M graphics chip and 750GB hard drive costs £1,849.

The 17-inch MacBook Pro boasts a 2.2GHz Core i7 chip, AMD Radeon HD 6750M graphics and a 750GB hard drive for £2,099.

As before, the new models are housed in an aluminium unibody casing, with a glass multitouch trackpad and LED-backlit screen. The 13- and 15-inch models have two USB ports, and the 17-inch has three. It's only USB 2.0, which is disappointing, as USB 3.0 is fast becoming commonplace.

FaceTime to charge

The new models run on the familiar Mac OS X Snow Leopard operating system, with the included iLife package consisting of iPhoto, iMovie and GarageBand.

On the subject of apps, Apple is now charging for FaceTime. The video-calling app is built into new MacBook Pro models, but if you download it to another Mac you'll need to fork over £0.59 in the Mac App Store.

The built-in webcam has increased in resolution so you can now video-call family and friends in eye-watering high definition -- as long as they also have a new MacBook Pro. You can make standard-resolution calls to other Macs, the iPhone 4 and the latest iPod touch.

The new MacBook pro range is on sale now direct from Apple. Are you a pro in need of a Pro? Would you benefit from the sort of speeds Thunderbolt offers? Or is yet another kind of port the last thing you need? Tell us your thoughts in the comments.

This is the new Thunderbolt connector.
The new Thunderbolt cable.
You can daisy-chain up to six peripherals, or five peripherals and a monitor using Thunderbolt cables.
The 15-inch MacBook Pro in profile.
The 15-inch MacBook Pro shut.
Apple is promoting a Promise RAID device that plugs in via the Thunderbolt connector.
The new Pro, opened up.
Here's the Pro top-down.

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