Ultra-thin, Ultra-light MacBook Pro coming by year end

Trusted sources informed MacScoop that Apple is headed towards the release of a notebook that is so small and light that it could redefine the standards of ultra-portable computing.

The new notebook is likely to complete the MacBook Pro line-up with a smaller version featuring a 12 inch display — a form factor that was formerly used on the PowerBooks' entry-level but was discontinued when the line-up made the switch to the Intel architecture in 2006.

Compared to the original 12 inch PowerBook, which is Apple's smallest notebook released so far, the new notebook is said to be half as thick, or something between 0.6 and 0.7 inch (15 to 18 millimetres). It will also be, by far, the lightest computer Apple ever released, or less than 3 pounds (<1.36Kg), sources told MacScoop.

The company's current MacBook Pro line-up features 15 inch and 17 inch models with respective weights of 5.4 pounds (2.44Kg) and 6.8 pounds (3.08Kg). Both of the current form factors offer 1 inch of thickness (25 mm). The 12 inch PowerBook weighted 4.6 pounds (2.02Kg) and was 1.18 inch thick (30 mm).

One thing MacScoop's sources did not clearly specify is whether or not the new notebook will include an optical drive. One hint for the answer to this question is another question: Can any currently available drive fit into such a slim notebook? Well, maybe!

Apple's MacBook Pros currently include a 0.37 inch (9.4 mm) thick drive, which was the thinnest optical drive in the industry until earlier this year, when Panasonic Communication, Ltd. announced an optical drive which is 0.27 inch (6.8 mm) thick and weights 0.218 pounds (99g). It can play or record CDs and DVDs and could be a good candidate for inclusion in new the notebook.

MacScoop was the first to report last year that Apple has been developing an ultra-thin 12 inch laptop. Further reports MacScoop obtained described what appeared to be an ultra-thin but full featured notebook.

Release timeframe remains, as always, quite vague, but sources feel certain that the new notebook will be released before the end of this calendar year.

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