June 11, 2012 at 2:45 PM ET
Apple is returning to the high end with a redesigned MacBook Pro, which they announced Monday at their Worldwide Developer Conference in San Francisco. The new model has a high-resolution screen and is significantly thinner, and of course has the latest tech inside. Starting at $2199, it's also the most expensive notebook they've offered in years.
For now, they're calling it the "next generation MacBook Pro," in order to distinguish it from the original MBP, which will still be for sale. The screen is the most important upgrade, as it both enables new content in OS X and necessitates new hardware in the laptop itself. It's 15.4 inches and 2880x1800, which is twice as many pixels in each direction as previous 15-inch MacBooks. The old displays are likely an endangered species now; Apple is rapidly upgrading all its products to high-resolution.
The screen, like the iPad's, is improved in every way: contrast, resolution, viewing angle, reflectance. But of course it draws a lot of power, so inside the laptop they've packed a ton of battery. They claim it still gets over 7 hours, though.
Inside, they've got the newest iteration of Intel's Core processors, room for up to 16GB of RAM, and a maximum of 768GB of flash memory. Upgrading, as always with Apple notebooks, will be extremely expensive: adding 300 MHz and 256GB of storage to the default configuration will run you $600.
On the outside, the new MacBook Pro is almost as thin as a MacBook Air, though it's quite a bit heavier. It doesn't have that line's signature wedge shape, but rather is 0.71 inches thick all the way around. Tipping the scales at 4.5 pounds, it's not exactly a bundle of feathers, but the power to weight ratio is more than competitive.
The speakers have been improved, and there are now USB 3.0 and HDMI out, as well as the expected Thunderbolt and SD card ports.
There are also numerous changes to OS X, such as apps that take advantage of the new resolution; Mountain Lion, as version 10.8 is being called, isn't available yet, but anyone buying a new laptop will be able to upgrade for free.
The original MacBook Pro and Air also received modest spec bumps (new processors and more storage space), but the spotlight was clearly on the next-generation hardware. And surprisingly, they are all shipping today. More information and details can be found, as always, at Apple's site.
Devin Coldewey is acontributing writer for msnbc.com. His personal website iscoldewey.cc.