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Apple MacBook Pro could slim down to MacBook Air size

The MacBook Pro is putting on Airs and graces, with reports that an ultra-slim version, taking after the MacBook Air, is in development.

An ultra-slim version of the Apple MacBook Pro may be in development, taking after the MacBook Air.

MacRumors reports a 15-inch, extra-thin Pro is in 'late testing stages' at Apple HQ. TUAW reckons a 17-inch model is also in the works.

What will the backroom boffins pack into a slimline Pro? The ultra-portable Pro is likely to feature an Intel Sandy Bridge chip and the super-speedy Thunderbolt data-transfer port. Thunderbolt is now standard in Apple's Air and Pro laptops, iMac and Mac mini desktop PCs, and Cinema Display monitor.

The new Pro model is likely to dispense with the CD drive to achieve Air-skinny dimensions, and perhaps even the Ethernet port too. Both are missing from the Air. The new Air features flash memory rather than the hard drive seen in the Pro, so it's not clear which a hybrid model would include. A hard drive would offer the kind of capacity Pro users expect at a cheaper price, but flash drives are faster and less likely to die if dropped, kicked or generally given a good hiding.

A thinner Pro would be another entry to the category Intel calls 'ultrabooks', alongside the Air and Asus UX21. The big question is what the laptop would be called. Air Pro? Pro Air? MacBook Prayer anyone?

It's probably still going to be called the MacBook Pro, but it is possible the slimline model could replace the recently killed MacBook sans suffix, and just be called MacBook. The original MacBook disappeared from the laptop line-up with the launch of the latest Airs.

The word on the street is that the slimline Pro could hit the shops around Christmas, hopefully joining the iPhone and next-generation iPad.