Apple adds 17-inch MacBook Pro to laptop line-up

It features a 2.16 GHz Core Duo chip, sells for $2,799

Apple Computer Inc. today released a 17-inch version of its high-end MacBook Pro, replacing its largest PowerBook G4 with an Intel-based laptop with specs similar to the 15.4-inch model released earlier this year.

The newest MacBook Pro comes with a 2.16 GHz Core Duo processor -- the same chip offered as an upgrade on the smaller MacBook Pro -- a 120GB hard drive, 1GB of 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM and an 8X dual layer SuperDrive that burns CDs and DVDs. It is priced at $2,799, and, according to Apple officials, will be available next week.

“It’s a great new system with the Core Duo processor and a new system architecture,” said Todd Benjamin, director of product marketing for portables at Apple. “The architecture itself is our fastest Core Duo system. We love these processors because they are very power efficient and great for our thin and compact design. It gives you the incredible performance and screen real estate of a desktop system.”

Aside from screen size, the 17-inch model differs from its smaller 15.4-inch sibling with the inclusion of a faster SuperDrive that can burn dual-layer DVDs, and a Firewire 800 port.

Like the 15.4-inch model that preceded it, the newest MacBook Pro now comes with a built-in iSight camera for video chats and Apple’s Front Row software and remote control. It also comes with Apple’s now-standard Sudden Motion Sensor to protect the hard drive if the laptop is dropped, a dual-finger scrolling trackpad and built-in 802.11g and Bluetooth wireless networking. The screen offers a resolution of 1650-by-1080-pixels, and is supported by an ATI Mobility Radeon X1600 graphics card with dual-link DVI support and 256MB of video RAM.

Upgrades include replacing the standard 120GB 5,400-rpm hard drive with a 100GB hard drive that spins at 7,200 rpm, doubling the RAM to 2GB and adding a USB modem for users who need dial-up connectivity, Benjamin said.

Apple touts the newest MacBook Pro as being up to five times faster in certain tests than its predecessor, which used a 1.67GHz PowerPC G4 processor.

With the release of the larger MacBook Pro, Benjamin said, Apple will stop selling the 17-inch powerBook G4, which was released last October. Apple continues to sell a 12-inch PowerBook.

Apple officials declined to comment on the prospect of an Intel-based replacement for the 12-inch PowerBook or the company’s iBook line of consumer laptops.

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Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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