What if Apple releases a lightweight 17-inch MacBook Air on Tuesday?

“Is the 17-Inch MacBook rumor credible? It’s the most likely among the crop of rumors about tomorrow’s Apple announcements expected at Macworld Expo,” Joe Wilcox writes for eWeek. “The 17-inch MacBook Pro is most obvious among them and the most sensible, particularly if one rumored feature of the laptop is right: The fixed battery.”

“Apple’s ‘unibody’ enclosures are remarkably tough. The new aluminum 13-inch MacBook and 15-inch MacBook Pro are rugged like I’ve never seen in laptops of their class. Same can be said of the MacBook Air, which is surprisingly solid for a laptop measuring less than 1-inch thick,” Wilcox writes. “Apple could literally transform the 17-inch notebook category, if the unibody enclosure is done right. The fixed battery suggests that might be so. The Air also has a fixed battery, which let Apple produce an enclosed unit that is thinner and more structurally sound than what would be expected from an ultra-thin laptop.”

Wilcox writes, “The existing 17-inch MacBook Pro already is thinner and lighter than most—perhaps all—other notebooks in its class. But what if Apple could make the portable thinner still, which would be a huge differentiator among notebooks with the same size screen? So I wonder, could Apple be as audacious as to release a 17-inch MacBook Air, or something like it?”

“What if Apple could bring the thickness down to, say, .85 inches or .9 inches and trim the weight to 6 pounds, or less? Apple might have to sacrifice the built-in optical drive, as it does with the Air,” Wilcox writes. “But what a computer.”

Full article here.

15 Comments

  1. To quote the article: “What a computer”.

    A Pro computer without an optical drive? I doubt it. The ordinary MacBook would be the first to have this part of its anatomy removed, I’m sure. However, a 17″ Mac notebook is needed, so I hope one is released. Not that I’ll buy it, sadly, though I’d love to.

    A Mac mini would be welcome to everyone, though, in my opinion. It’s so versatile, and it needs an update… and I might even buy that. Which is quite something when it comes to my spending habits.

    You never know with Apple.

  2. I could see a 17″ MacBook Air replacing the 15″ MacBook one day, but ironically I don’t think a 17″ MacBook Air could replace the 17″ MacBook Pro.

    It won’t be long before the majority of people realize they don’t need an optical drive or replaceable battery. Unfortunately the target audience for the current 17″ model isn’t in the norm. As video editors and professional photographers they tend to need more horsepower and battery capacity than almost any other computer user.

  3. I don’t see why pro photographers or video editors NEED an optical drive. It’s simpler to use a flash ram stick. Burning takes time and errors are still a pain. Disks also need more protection. Flash ram holds as much as BD, without the hassle.

    As for a replaceable battery, pros also need sturdy equipment. Presumably the unibody formfactor with built-in battery makes it even stiffer. Recall that the one area with questionable build quality is the battery cover on the 15″ MBP and 13″ MB. If they can cram a larger battery in, with 50% longer batterylife, they can probably nip complaints in the bud. In a studio, you have all the power you need. In the field, I’m sure a 3rd party could come up with an external power pack.

  4. I don’t think so. It seems that the 17″ is good for pros that need to do graphic work out in the field, like photographers, videographers and scientists. They need to burn off data. Although cutting down some weight would be great.

  5. The reason for the new battery design (if true) is simple. The 17-inch MacBook Pro needs more power, especially if it has a quad-core processor and/or other special hardware. The best way to make the battery bigger in a 17-inch MacBook is to make it flat and thin. A flat and thin battery is difficult to make removable without adding more thickness and complexity to the overall MacBook design. Therefore, it is fully enclosed and not removable. If the battery uses some type of new technology, so much the better.

  6. A better battery? Great! Non-removable? No problem – hey, remember when that was a “deal killer” on the iPhone? Yeah, we know how that turned out… ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”wink” style=”border:0;” />

    I am really a-hopin’ and a-prayin’ that this 17 inch Macbook Pro is a TABLET computer, pressure sensitive and feather-light… Just like I hoped last year. Aaaaand the 5 years before that….

    (I’ve been hopin’ fer quite a spell, ya know…)

  7. I believe tomorrow when I walk on the expo floor, we’ll be seeing the following new products:

    A 30 inch Macbook Air with 50 hour battery and an osmosis-based Superdrive that allows the user to just touch one hand on the computer and the other on the disk to transfer data.

    An Apple TV not only with DVR, but an 80″ screen that rolls and folds up inside the top of the unit.

    A new netbook that can interface with your brain – wirelessly.

    A Mac Pro nano – all the features of a Mac Pro, but can be put in your pocket.

    Everyone getting the picture?

    Don’t believe in rumors of any kind.

    fm

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