MacBook Pro survives the cut -- for now

Some Apple watchers predicted updates to the MacBook Air line would spell doom for the standard MacBook Pro. But it's not dead yet.

David Carnoy Executive Editor / Reviews
Executive Editor David Carnoy has been a leading member of CNET's Reviews team since 2000. He covers the gamut of gadgets and is a notable reviewer of mobile accessories and portable audio products, including headphones and speakers. He's also an e-reader and e-publishing expert as well as the author of the novels Knife Music, The Big Exit and Lucidity. All the titles are available as Kindle, iBooks, Kobo e-books and audiobooks.
Expertise Headphones, Bluetooth speakers, mobile accessories, Apple, Sony, Bose, e-readers, Amazon, glasses, ski gear, iPhone cases, gaming accessories, sports tech, portable audio, interviews, audiophile gear, PC speakers Credentials
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David Carnoy
2 min read
Both the 13- and 15-inch standard, non-Retina MacBook Pro remain in Apple's notebook lineup despite increased competition from the upgraded MacBook Air line.

"Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated," Mark Twain once remarked.

The same might be said about the 13- and 15-inch non-Retina MacBook Pros, which some Apple watchers thought might be on the chopping block after Apple killed the 17-inch MacBook Pro at last year's WWDC and the MacBook Air line received an anticipated update.

For the moment, the standard MacBook Pros live on, coexisting with the lighter, slimmer MacBook Airs that are now equipped with Intel's more energy-efficient fourth-gen Core i-series "Haswell" chips and a much better set of battery life specs. However, Apple didn't trot out a high-end MacBook Air with a Retina display, as some rumors suggested it would. It also didn't update the MacBook Pro Retina with Haswell chips (rest assured, that update will come later this year).

It remains unclear how long Apple will keep the standard MacBook Pros around. These non-Retina models have a few legacy features that seem destined for the scrap heap: FireWire 800 ports and SuperDrive optical drives.

Though many video and audio professionals rely on FireWire 800 ports for their equipment, Apple has been moving away from FireWire in favor of Thunderbolt (those who still need FireWire can get it with a Thunderbolt adapter). Similarly, optical drives have been stripped from almost all of Apple's computers. The company never got onboard with Blu-ray, and there 's little reason to start at this point. Anyone who still relies on CDs or DVDs can get an external Apple SuperDrive that connects via USB.

At the same time, Apple has been moving away from hard-disk drives in favor of the zippier and quieter solid-state drives found in the MacBook Air.

Bottom line: The standard MacBook Pro as we know it remains in jeopardy. And while reports of its death appear to have been premature, it still seems imminent.

Editor's note: Senior Editor Josh Goldman contributed to this story.