Apple updates, adds to MacBook line

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Apple revamped almost its entire laptop line Monday during its Worldwide Developer Conference keynote, promoting its 13-inch Aluminum unibody Macbooks into the MacBook Pro line, upgrading the existing 15- and 17-inch MacBook Pros, and slashing MacBook Air prices while boosting speeds.

The new 13- and 15-inch MacBook Pro models have been equipped with a lithium-polymer battery previously seen on the 17-inch MacBook Pro. Apple says it lasts for up to seven hours, dramatically longer than previous models. The battery lasts up to 1,000 recharges before it needs replacing. Apple claims the battery design is more environmentally friendly as a result. However, this means the battery is no longer easily swappable. The only way to remove the battery is to unscrew the bottom of the case and remove it, as is the case with the 17-inch MacBook Pro and the MacBook Air.

According to Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide product marketing, the new MacBooks have the “nicest display [Apple] has ever put in a notebook” with a 60 percent better color gamut than before. What’s more, both models gain an SD memory card slot — albeit at the expense of an ExpressCard slot on the 15-inch model. Schiller said that Apple made the decision because ExpressCard slots are rarely used and most MacBook Pro users have digital cameras with SD media cards.

All the models can now accept up to 8GB of RAM, and can be outfitted with a 500GB hard disk drive or a 256GB solid-state drive.

In a victory for those who complained about the disappearance of FireWire from the previous generation of unibody MacBooks, the 13-inch MacBook Pro now sports a FireWire 800 port. A backlit keyboard is now standard. The 13-inch MacBook Pro comes in two models: 2.26GHz, 2GB RAM, 9400M graphics, 160GB hard drive, for $1,119; and a 2.53GHz, 4GB, 250GB hard drive model for $1,499.

The new 15-inch model sports processor speeds from 2.53GHz to 3.06GHz, at prices ranging from $1,699 to $2,299 depending on how it’s configured. The MacBook Pro can handle up to 8GB RAM, and a 256GB Solid State Disk (SSD) is also an option. Nvidia graphics, both integrated and discrete, are included.

The 17-inch MacBook Pro model also gets a refresh; it now features a 2.8GHz processor, 500GB hard drive and keeps its ExpressCard slot, all for $2,499.

Lest we forget, the MacBook Air also got a refresh today. The $1,499 model comes equipped with a 1.86GHz processor, 2GB RAM, and a 120GB hard drive. For $1,799 you get a 2.13GHz MacBook Air equipped with a 128GB SSD. That’s a lot more power for a much lower price tag than before, giving the MacBook Air a mainstream price tag for the first time in its existence. The Air now includes a USB-to-Ethernet adapter right in the box, which was previously available only separately.

All of the models were available for purchase on Monday.

(Updated 6/8, 3:32 PM PT, to reorganize and add info throughout.)

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