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Most of the recent rumors about a new MacBook Pro have been focused on it being as thin as a MacBook Air -- but that may be wishful thinking, according to trusted sources who are spilling the beans on the forthcoming 15-inch model.
9to5Mac has donned its tin hat again and filed an extensive report on what may be coming with this year’s 15-inch MacBook Pro. Those of you hoping for an ultra-thin design like the MacBook Air may be disappointed, but let’s face it: That was probably a pipe dream anyway.
According to “trusted sources in Apple’s supply chain,” the report claims that the notebook will indeed thin down, but not as significantly as many rumors have been predicting. 9to5Mac describes a prototype of the 15-inch MacBook Pro as “a thinner, yet more robust, version of the late-2008 design,” which doesn’t sound so bad to us.
Of course, there’s still no lifeline for the space-gobbling optical disc drive, which still appears to be on the chopping block. The prototype in question does echo the MacBook Air in another way, which finds the power button moving onto the rest of the MacBook Pro keyboard, replacing the disc eject key.
Another not so surprising revelation is that Retina Display will reportedly make its way to the MacBook Pro. Builds of both OS X Lion and OS X Mountain Lion are already known to contain UI elements which can be rendered in higher resolution -- which iOS apps like AirDisplay have already taken advantage of when using the new iPad as a second monitor.
“Unlike Mac display settings of today, these Retina Display settings will not be marked with numbers/resolution sizes, but with descriptions such as big, small, or optimal, according to these software-based findings,” the report claims. “The long-awaited ‘resolution independence’ is upon us.”
Finally, the report indicates that USB 3.0 may finally make its way to the MacBook Pro -- a curious addition at such a late stage of the game, particular now that Apple has made it clear that Thunderbolt is the future.
“While third-party USB 3 cards and Hackintoshes have run ‘Super-Speed’ USB 3 and have shown up in the System Profiler previously, sources familiar with Apple’s software strings in 10.7.4 and 10.8 betas also have provided evidence for USB 3 Macs coming soon,” the report concludes. “One source identified two new strings pointing to USB 3 Macs: One mentions 5Gbps USB transfers (which is the speed of USB 3), and there are actually two explicit mentions of ‘USB 3.0.’ These references didn’t exist before.”
While this would be a welcome move on Apple’s part considering that most USB hard drives shipped today now include USB 3.0 (which is backward compatible with existing USB 2.0), the technology still trails Thunderbolt data speeds by nearly half, so Cupertino definitely won’t be positioning USB 3.0 as a replacement for Thunderbolt.
As always, take these rumors with a grain of salt, but given that OS X Mountain Lion is coming soon, we should see a new MacBook Pro to take full advantage of it around the same time.
Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter