If rumors are to be believed, Apple has a new 15 inch notebook with an ultra-thin design in its final testing stage. Although the machine is reportedly in final testing, there is no word on a release date, and it's also not confirmed wheather it will be called a MacBook Air or MacBook Pro.
TUAW adds that they believe that this new notebook will fall under the "MacBook Pro" branding alongside a thin 17-inch model. Also, they believe it might be available in time for Christmas.
"Many now expect that Apple's design choices in the Air will eventually make their way to the MacBook Pro product, with the use of integrated SSD and lack of optical drive being the most notable changes allowing for such a thin design. While we don't know for a fact, we expect that any future "ultra thin" laptop from Apple will also dispense with a built-in optical drive. As evidenced by its recent release of the optical drive-less Mac mini, Apple has no problem leaving physical media behind," MacRumors said.
The ultra-thin market is also about to get much more competitive this fall as Intel's partners begin launching their Ultrabook notebooks.
For one thing, the optical drive will almost certainly be eliminated. Luckily for Apple, that particular item is not a priority among their users. iTunes and the Mac App Store are popular, and Apple Stores themselves are increasingly bereft of boxed software.
Furthermore, Thunderbolt presents an extremely easy way to add a high-speed peripheral. No optical drive? No problem: $100 external drive operating with no loss of speed compared to the wired-in original.
Storage is a bit more complicated. As popular as streaming solutions are, local storage is still very important for editing media, something Apple has been pushing on consumers hard with the iLife suite -- though pros may be jumping ship after the poor reception of Final Cut X. 256GB of flash storage is nice, but people want terabytes. Yet 2.5&Prime laptop drives are still too thick to include in an Air-like body. Or are they? Some laptop drives with a terabyte of space are coming in at under 10mm thick. You couldn't fit that at the sharp end of the Air but there might be room for a 2.5&Prime right at the top right edge, where the optical drive would go. Apple is happy to customize PCBs to optimize space.