Creative professionals have been in desperate need of an Apple notebook loaded with a quad core processor for a long time. Video people needed to be able to edit and quickly render effects in HD. Musicians needed fewer limitations for processing audio and running virtual instruments. Who would have ever guessed that the excitement about the arrival of quad core Mac laptops would be completely overshadowed by a game-changing new port called Thunderbolt?!
Yes, the quad core MacBook Pros are finally here, but who cares? The bigger news is their face-meltingly powerful Thunderbolt port. There are some other interesting new updates, like the improved iSight camera with three times the resolution, and the AMD Radeon graphics cards in the 15" and 17" models. But that fact that you can get even more CPU-intensive work done while stuck in the middle seat of an airplane is just awesome, and you get a new best friend named Thunderbolt .
Are you going to have to throw out all of your USB and FireWire peripherals and buy new Thunderbolt-ready hardware? No. With a simple adapter you can connect them all to the new Thunderbolt port. Are the adapters going to be hard to find? No. In fact, you may already own some. Thunderbolt ports and connectors are physically identical to the Mini DisplayPorts, which can be found on many recent generations of Macintosh computers. If you already own an adapter that lets you plug the Mini DisplayPort into the HDMI input on your TV, the same adapter will work seamlessly with Thunderbolt.
This is big news for creative people. Not only is Thunderbolt backward compatible with all of your old gear, it offers unprecedented power for media production. It's 12 times faster than FireWire-800, 20 times faster than USB 2.0, and has a throughput that's twice as fast as USB 3.0. You can daisy-chain various devices (monitors, hard drives, even Ethernet and optical), and you won't take a hit in performance. The data travels in both directions at these speeds, and it even provides 10 watts of power for buss-powering convenience. It's an awesome update.
There are two new 13" and 15" models, and one new 17". All of the ports from the last generation of MacBook Pros are still present. There is one FireWire 800, two USB 2.0 (the new 17" has three), a handy SD card slot (which supports SDXC cards), and a good old Ethernet jack. The 17" model still has an ExpressCard slot (but doesn't have the SD card slot). The 15" and 17" models are all quad core, while the 13" feature dual core i5 or i7 processors (which is a nice improvement over the Core 2 Duo processors in the last generation). The 13" models also lack the AMD Radeon cards, but their integrated Intel HD Graphics 3000 processing will likely impress you.
Even though making FaceTime video phone calls between MacBooks and the iPod touch is still blazingly new technology, it's been improved on the new MacBook Pros. The built-in iSight camera now makes it possible to video-chat in 720p high definition. Not only will the new iSight camera bring out all of the detail of your loved one's eyes, it improves the picture quality when shooting in low light as well.
Apple put the new MacBook Pros through a more rigorous battery test to come up with the specs on the new models. You could sit at a cafe and surf the web on a Wi-Fi network for up to 7 hours on a new MacBook Pro. The built-in battery is designed to provide excellent performance for five years (which is much better than most manufacturers). This is good news for you, and even better news for the environment.
Pretty much everything that made the old MacBook Pros great are still found in the new ones. The displays look beautiful, the included iLife software rocks, the Unibody build quality is exceptional and the multi-gesture trackpad allows you to work faster, etc. I could go on and on. The inclusion of i5 and i7 processors across the board and the stunning new Thunderbolt port make this update a substantial one.
The new MacBook Pros are already available for pre-order at B&H. Take your pick from the 13" with the dual i5 or i7 processor, the 15" with a 2 GHz or a 2.2 GHz quad core processor, or the 2.2 GHz quad core 17".
The HD video-enabled DSLR revolution has made this a great time to be a filmmaker, and you now have a powerful new tool to help you shape your vision. Electronic musicians can go hog wild on stage with their quad core processors, and we'll all benefit from the user friendly Thunderbolt port. What do you think about these new Macs? We'd love to hear your thoughts in the Comments section below!