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Apple reveal new MacBook Pro line-up

If there’s one thing you can guarantee in life, it’s the massive surge in Twitter and Facebook traffic caused when the Apple Store is taken offline for an update.

And yesterday’s downtime from the US giant certainly got tongues wagging, especially with the launch of its iPad 2 device less than a week away.

The Store going down is a sign to all gadget fans and technology geeks that a new product, or range of products, is imminent – and so it was on Thursday with the reveal of an updated MacBook Pro line-up.

With next generation processors, graphics cards and more, these are the highest specification MacBook Pro units to date and each comes with a FaceTime HD camera built-in for video calls to other Macs and iPhones or the latest generation iPod touch.

Thunderbolt From the Blue

But what’s most interesting about the announcement is the addition of what is known as high-speed Thunderbolt I/O technology.

Developed by Intel, in collaboration with Apple, the MacBook Pro is the first computer on the market to include the groundbreaking catch-all port on the side.

It can support a range of plugged in devices via both FireWire and USB or Ethernet. By delivering amazingly fast transfer speeds, it means you could run more than device from the same port at the same time with a multiport dock.

Of course, USB docks do this already but they are unable to cope with the amount of power and speed Thunderbolt can provide, letting you transfer files and stream content in tandem with no lag reaching speeds of up to 10Gbps each on its two channels.

Thunderbolt also supports DisplayPort for high resolution displays and works with existing adapters for HDMI, DVI and VGA.

Faster Performance

Each of the new MacBook Pro machines are up to twice as fast as those that came before using the latest dual-core and quad-core Intel Core i5 and i7 processors.

Philip Schiller, of Apple, says: “The new MacBook Pro brings next generation dual and quad Core processors, high performance graphics, Thunderbolt technology and FaceTime HD to the great design loved by our Pro customers.”

The series starts at £999 for the entry-level 13 inch model. MacBooks are always more expensive than a traditional PC laptop but you do get a lot for your money and they are very simple to use with a suite of built-in software for editing photos, creating music and filming videos.

Pro options now support up to 1GB of video memory for those who need them for high performance gaming, pro video editing and graphics intensive applications. This ensures they are the ideal desktop replacement in a portable device.

Add to that a full-size keyboard and a good seven hours of battery life and you get a notebook that delivers on all levels.

Lion is Mane Attraction

But while each machine runs on Mac OS X Snow Leopard, Apple is currently preparing a brand new operating system called Lion.

Roaring into life later this summer, it is said to use the best ideas from the iPad’s OS, bringing them to the desktop and laptop world.

Lion will feature something called Mission Control, which sounds as cool as we hope it will be. It shows everything running on your Mac – and for current Mac owners is a mix of Expose, Dashboard and Spaces.

A new element called Launchpad holds all of your apps and Lion will also support new Multi-Touch gestures from the trackpad.

Mr Schiller added: “The iPad has inspired a new generation of innovative features in Lion. Developers can now start adding great new Lion features like full screen, gestures, Versions and Auto Save to their own apps.”

Other highlights include a new version of Mail, with a widescreen layout inspired by the iPad, support for Microsoft Exchange 2010, AirDrop to copy files wirelessly from one Mac to another with no setup and Versions, which automatically saves successive versions of your documents as you create them.

If it’s anything like when Snow Leopard launched, it should come out on a single, easy-to-install disc for a fairly reasonable price compared to the cost of new Microsoft
Windows operating systems.

Apple iPad 2 on Way

Apple certainly knows how to whet the techno-geek’s appetite. The MacBook Pro and Lion news is surely just a tasty starter ahead of the main course feast to follow on Wednesday with the unveiling of the Apple  iPad 2.

And here at Plugged In, we will bring you all the news of the iPad 2’s launch and its specs as soon as it is announced.